25 Years Ago This Week: August 20, 1995
Of all the odd things to occur during the life of Michael Jackson, his short-lived marriage to Lisa Marie Presley must be among the top 10 most bizarre. And this week in 1995, the two flaunted their relationship in the music video for his latest single.
The song wasn't only noteworthy for that PDA, it also became the first single to ever debut at number 1 in the US - something that had first happened in Australia a decade earlier.
This week in 1995, the departure of the latest single to debut at number 1 resulted in a three-way tussle for the top spot, with Jann Arden's "Insensitive" the victor. But for how long?
Off The Chart
Number 96 "Whoomph! (There It Is)" by Clock
Peak: number 96
Their rendition of "Axel F" had done so well overseas that Eurodance duo Clock (or the people behind them) decided another cover was order - this time of the Tag Team hit, which came with an added 'h' for extra oomph.
Peak: number 88
The A-side of this single by the American hip-hop/rock band was a cover of a 1982 top 50 miss by KISS and was used in comedy film Tommy Boy. The AA-side was an original track.
Number 90 "Heroin Girl" by Everclear
Peak: number 76
They'd have more luck with subsequent singles from Sparkle And Fade, but this lead release from the American rock band's breakthrough second album got their top 100 career started.
Number 89 "There Is A Party" by DJ BoBo
Peak: number 89
The first two singles from There Is A Party had reached the top 50, but this more laidback title track was the first of a series of chart misses for the Swiss dance act.
Number 84 "I Wonder..." by Renegade Funktrain
Peak: number 68
Their former band, Sound Unlimited (Posse), had managed a couple of hits, but the top 50 eluded Rosano and Tina Martinez (and this song) for the time being in their new outfit.
Peak: number 67
Australia showed the good taste not to reward this textbook Eurodance duo with a hit for their summer holiday tune, which was big on the continent in 1995.
Number 72 "Greg! The Stop Sign!!" by TISM
Peak: number 59
This follow-up to "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" was as close as TISM came to the top 50 again, and was probably more relevant to Victorians given it was based on a public service announcement screened there.
Number 50 "Search For The Hero" by M-People
Peak: number 37
With the exception of "Moving On Up", M-People really under-performed in Australia, with this latest UK top 10 hit - the dance group's eighth in a row - only just scraping into the top 40. A change of pace from their usual party-starters, "Search For The Hero" has had one of the greatest afterlives of an M-People song, popping up in TV series and ads in the decades since.
Peak: number 8
And while a classy downtempo dance track like "Search For The Hero" didn't find that many takers, this nonsense did. The latest in 1995's series of novelty dance smashes, the scat singing tune took 53-year-old John Larkin all the way to the top 10. And while I acknowledge that the melody of "Scatman" was catchy enough, the rapped verses and, well, all that scatting was enough to turn me off. It almost goes without saying that the professional jazz musician-turned-dance artist, who passed away in 1999, was a one-hit wonder in Australia.
Number 47 "Trick With A Knife" by Strawpeople
Peak: number 37
Formed in the late '80s by Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney, New Zealand's Strawpeople achieved their only ARIA chart success with this second single from third album Broadcast, which featured Headless Chickens' Fiona McDonald on vocals (and was co-written by her). The sort of cool dance track that Triple J championed at the time, "Trick With A Knife" had a rather lengthy journey to the top 50, having been released back in May and first charting on the top 100 in early July. The song dated back even further in New Zealand, where it was released in 1994 and was inspired by the infamous knife-wielding skills of Lorena Bobbitt. In Australia, it was followed by the band's cover of The Church's "Under The Milky Way", which had been the first single from Broadcast in NZ, but the remake missed our top 100.
Number 16 "Never Forget" by Take That
Peak: number 12
How typical - after years of waiting for Take That to properly take off in Australia, they had to go and start disintegrating just as they reached their full potential on the ARIA chart. As the five-piece were gearing up to release this follow-up to chart-topper "Back For Good", Robbie Williams decided to quit the band in July - the first step in what would ultimately be the demise (for the time being) of the boy band. By August 1995, the group's resident bad boy had embarked on his journey of partying at Glastonbury, getting into fights with Oasis and beginning a solo career, leaving his former band-mates to soldier on with a song that could easily have served as their swansong given its nostalgic sentiments. Unusually for a Take That single, lead vocals on "Never Forget" were handled by Howard, with some prominent ad libs towards the end by Robbie, which the remaining members would have to cover when they toured Australia the following month.
Number 10 "You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 7
I don't know about you but I can't get through very much of the music video for this second single from HIStory without needing to turn it off. About a minute, in fact. It's not that it's a bad song - although, I much prefer the Frankie Knuckles dance remix - it's just that the sight of Michael Jackson's semi-naked body cavorting with his soon-to-be ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, in a similar state of undress, is fairly unsettling. I'm not entirely sure what the aim of such a video was - if it was to convince the world that the unexpected union between the King Of Pop and the King's daughter was legit, that was undone while the song was still on the chart, with the couple separating by the end of the year.
Perhaps it was to undo the damage done by child abuse allegations by showing Michael as just a regular guy getting it on with his wife. Whatever the motivation, it definitely seemed like a point was being made and I think that's why it feels so forced and unconvincing to me. None of that seemed to put off his American fans, who sent the R. Kelly composition straight in at number 1 - the first time a single had debuted at the top on the Billboard Hot 100 - while in Australia, it instantly became Michael's latest top 10 hit.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1995 (updated weekly):
Next week: the return of an ab-tastic Australian pop star and the debut of one of my favourite rock bands of all time.