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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1988: February 21, 1988

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.

The new entries from this week in 1988 can pretty much be divided into two categories: Aussie rock and pop music originating from Britain - and there was a clear division between the fans of each genre. In 1988, you'd never get someone who was into rock music admitting to liking a pop, dance or R&B song.

Not even all those bubbles could wash Aussie rock out of the top 50

In recent years, musical genres have become much more fluid, with R&B adopting '90s dance sounds, rock being influenced by '80s synthpop, and country and folk becoming more mainstream. Despite being primarily a pop fan, I've always liked my fair share of pop/rock music (or "music with guitars", as I thought of it in the '80s), but the homegrown bands who debuted on the ARIA top 50 this week were too far along the rock spectrum for my taste.

One of this week's pop new entries would soon be the number 1 song in the country, but for now, "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" from Dirty Dancing held on to the top spot for a third week.

Off The Chart

Number 95 "Hot In The City (remix)" by Billy Idol

Peak: number 58

The original release had given Billy Idol his first hit in 1982 - it reached number 18 - but this re-release in support of the expanded version of the Vital Idol compilation fell just shy of the top 50. 

Number 93 "When The Word Came Down" by Separate Tables

Peak: number 82

In 1989, they'd change their name - and singer Lisa Schouw's hairstyle - but until then, the band eventually known as Girl Overboard tiptoed into the top 100 with their major label debut.

Number 92 "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" by The Smiths

Peak: number 91

The Smiths' second - and final - single to make the ARIA top 100 wasn't released in the UK after it was banned by the BBC following a real-life massacre due to its reference to mass murder. Two decades later, Mark Ronson gave it a makeover as "Stop Me" featuring Daniel Merriweather on vocals.

New Entries

Number 46 "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" by The Angels

Peak: number 11

Along with Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, The Angels represent everything I don't like about Aussie rock. Having said that, I can absolutely see why all three bands were so popular - their sound was just too hard for my liking. "Am I Ever..." was The Angels' debut single, released back in 1976 when it peaked at number 58. The reason for this new version hitting the chart was that it was taken from the band's double live album, Liveline, which had come out at the end of 1987. This single - which received airplay with the crowd's "no way, get fucked, fuck off" chants bleeped out - would chart much higher than the original, almost making the top 10.

Number 44 "Forget About The Working Week" by V. Spy V. Spy

Peak: number 44

Originally known as just Spy Vs Spy, this Sydney band were forced to change their name due to the threat of legal action from Mad magazine (who ran the comic after which they were named). No matter what they were called, V. Spy V. Spy always did much better on the albums chart than the singles chart. Debuting where it would peak, this was the most successful single from their third album, Xenophobia (Why?), which reached number 15. Meanwhile, their biggest hit single, 1986's "Don't Tear It Down", only got to number 31, but parent album A.O. Mod. TV. Vers. peaked at number 12. Like Midnight Oil, the band performed quite issue-driven songs, but they weren't catchy enough to pique my interest.

Number 42 "Shame" by Eurythmics

Peak: number 39

We'll leave aside the Aussie rock for the time being - and here's a single by British pop duo Eurythmics that I'd completely forgotten about since it doesn't appear on the greatest hits album of theirs that I own. That, and the fact that it barely scraped into the top 40. "Shame" was the second single from the Savage album, and was a much better track than lead single "Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)", which I hated with a passion. After four straight studio albums which had reached the Australian top 5, Savage was quite a disappointment, only managing number 15, while neither of the subsequent singles even made the top 50 in Australia. I wonder what would have happened if this song, which is reminiscent of "The Miracle Of Love", had been the first single...

Number 28 "Boys Will Be Boys" by Choirboys

Peak: number 14

More Aussie rock - and although I (and pretty much all of Australia) had liked "Run To Paradise", follow-up "Boys Will Be Boys" did nothing for me. With a chorus just made for drunken sing-alongs, the single reached the top 20 and helped ensure Big Bad Noise made a healthy showing in the albums top 5 after it was released in April.

Number 19 "Father Figure" by George Michael

Peak: number 5

This is more like it! Hot on the heels of yet another number 1 single, George released the third cut from Faith and, although it didn't top the chart, it brought his tally of consecutive top 5 singles to six - a strike rate that dated back to 1984's "Careless Whisper". George wouldn't see the top 5 again for almost four years - but it wasn't for want of trying, with three more singles still to come from Faith. "Father Figure" would return to the chart in 1993 - when it was heavily sampled on P.M. Dawn's top 20 hit, "Looking Through Patient Eyes".

Number 10 "I Should Be So Lucky" by Kylie Minogue

Peak: number 1

It doesn't get much more pop than this - and there was therefore no artist as reviled in Australia by the rock fraternity as Kylie was in 1988. Still on Neighbours at that point, "the singing budgie" (as she was dubbed) fit in a quick visit to the UK and came home with this follow-up to "Locomotion" - an original track written and produced by Britain's top pop purveyors, Stock Aitken Waterman. Proving she'd be no one-hit wonder, Kylie spent six weeks at number 1 after she eventually dislodged "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life". I've written elsewhere about this song, but suffice it to say, it established Kylie would be a force to be reckoned with on the charts - both here and in the UK. As well as the classic walking through a house, bouncing on a bed and having a bubble bath music video that Australia mostly aired, there was also a tourism ad-style clip featuring Kylie being driven around Sydney in a convertible that seemed tailored to what would soon enough become her adopted home.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:

Next week: four new entries, all of them songs I liked - and one of them by an act who'd evenutally have an important part to play in Kylie's career.

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