This Week In 1994: March 20, 1994
If 1993 had been the year of reggae, 1994 was shaping up to be the year of the big ballad. In weeks past, we've seen hits by Celine Dion and Mariah Carey arrive, and this week in 1994, another female singer debuted on the ARIA singles chart with one of the year's biggest love song dedications.
Unlike Celine and Mariah, the week's newcomer was enjoying her first hit in Australia, and she'd almost top the chart with her big ballad - a style she'd become known for throughout the decade (with the odd upbeat jam thrown in for good measure).
A song that did manage to top the chart was enjoying its third week at number 1. East 17 stayed put with "It's Alright".
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Come Baby Come" by K7
Peak: number 68
This is exactly the sort of fun hip-hop song that usually translated in Australia, but the US top 20 and UK top 5 hit by the rapper born Louis Sharpe couldn't manage a home run here.
Number 95 "Tones Of Home" by Blind Melon
Peak: number 83
Originally Blind Melon's debut single, this was re-released, apparently with a brand new video that picked up where the clip for "No Rain" left off, although the one linked to above is perhaps the original version since there's no Bee Girl in sight.
Number 92 "What's Up?" by DJ Miko
Peak: number 92
Not even a thumping Eurodance remake of the 4 Non Blondes hit by Italian dance act DJ Miko could make me like the song. In the UK, this version peaked at number 6.
Number 84 "Careless Whisper" by Sarah Washington
Peak: number 78
Another dance cover, and UK singer Sarah Washington's George Michael revamp was the follow-up to her rendition of "I Will Always Love You". Her original material in a couple of years' time would be much better.
Number 56 "Choose" by Color Me Badd
Peak: number 56
Perhaps this brilliant second single from CMB's criminally overlooked second album, Time And Chance, should have been released first (instead of the ordinary title track)?
Number 47 "Breathe Again" by Toni Braxton
Peak: number 2
A month ago, we saw Toni Braxton miss the top 50 with the lead single from her debut self-titled album, "Another Sad Love Song" - the song that had put her on the map in the US when it reached number 7. She recitified the situation in Australia wth the follow-up, "Breathe Again", a Babyface-penned plea for a lover not to end a relationship. For me, "Breathe Again" had the whiff of desperation about it - "if you walk right out my life/God knows I'd surely die" - and its lethargic, overly schmaltzy feel was where Babyface started to lose me, having been a big fan of his and LA Reid's (involved here as co-producer) from the late '80s. I much preferred Toni's debut single, "Love Shoulda Brought You Home" from 1992, as well as that year's Babyface collaboration, "Give U My Heart" (both from the Boomerang soundtrack), but she'd win me back with her next ARIA top 50 hit.
Number 45 "I Can See Clearly Now" by Jimmy Cliff
Peak: number 17
Back in late 1990, Hothouse Flowers had finally landed a decent-sized hit in Australia with their version of Johnny Nash's number 3 hit from 1972 peaking just outside the top 20. Thanks to its appearance on the soundtrack to Cool Runnings, Jimmy Cliff's reggae update did even better and gave the veteran performer his first top 20 hit in the process. Twenty-four years earlier, Jimmy had reached number 31 with his 1970 version of "Wild World", on which Maxi Priest had modelled his successful 1988 reggae cover.
Number 44 "Helping Hand" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 25
Continuing the one-on, one-off pattern of the previous singles from second album Tear Of Thought, this fourth single returned the band to the top 50 after the failure of "Here I Go/Hard Drugs". No doubt the cruisy, jazzy sound of "Helping Hand", which wasn't really what you'd expect from The Screaming Jets, helped it stand out. And given its 19 weeks inside the top 50 (quite a long time for a relatively modest hit), it clearly appealed beyond the band's normal fanbase.
Number 41 "Let Me Show You" by K-Klass
Peak: number 18
One of those dance acts that seemed to manage a brilliant single once a year (see also: JX), K-Klass hadn't made any waves in Australia with "Rhythm Is A Mystery" (1991) or "Don't Stop" (1992), but they belatedly broke through with 1993's "Let Me Show You". Like their previous tracks, the British dance act utilised the lead vocals of female singer Bobbi Depasois on this, their best song.
Number 32 "Mr Jones" by Counting Crows
Peak: number 13
I'm sure there are going to be many of you with fond memories of this debut single by California rock band Counting Crows. Not me. I couldn't stand "Mr Jones", which, like the work of Hootie And The Blowfish later in the decade, was inescapable at the time, being the type of thing FM radio lapped up. Turns out, singer Adam Duritz came to hate the song, too, but for very different reasons - he came to regret the lyrics' suggestion that "when everybody loves me, I will never be lonely". In the US, "Mr Jones" was one of the decade's big radio hits that were never released as singles there (see also: "Don't Speak", "Torn"), requiring people to buy the album to own the song. And they wonder why people turned to illegal downloading as soon as they could...
Number 22 "Loser" by Beck
Peak: number 8
We finish this week with another of 1994's breakthrough hits - and again it's not a song I particularly like, although I'm sure many disagree with me. Originally released by Beck independently, "Loser" led to him being signed by Geffen Records and it was issued as his maor label debut. Like "Asshole", which was spending its final week inside the top 10, "Loser" was somewhat of a throwaway novelty track, but Beck would go on to become one of the most musically diverse, critically beloved artists of the past 25 years.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: two classic songs - one from the '60s and one from the '70s - return to the chart in quite different versions. Plus the return of the woman best known for releasing the highest selling single of 1990.