This Week In 1993: February 21, 1993
A cappella singles don't come around that often, but when they do, they tend to have mixed fortunes on the Australian chart. For every "Caravan Of Love" or "Don't Worry Be Happy", there was a single like The Flying Pickets' remake of Yazoo's "Only You", which reached number 1 in the UK but flopped here.
This week in 1993, a brand new vocal harmony group landed themselves a big hit with a song that, in its best version, was entirely without accompanying music. It was huge in America, too - it spent eight weeks at number 2 stuck behind "I Will Always Love You".
Speaking of the Whitney Houston mega-ballad, which had its own a cappella introduction, it spent its 10th and final week at number 1 on the ARIA chart this week in 1993.
Off The Chart
Number 94 "The Lumberjack" by Jackyl
Peak: number 92
Were it not for the chainsaw solo (yes, really) by singer Jesse James Dupree, I reckon this debut single by the Southern rock band would've made even less of an impression locally.
Peak: number 81
After 14 weeks on the top 50, "Jump Around" finally reached its peak just as the hip-hop group's second single debuted. The music video features a rapid-fire intro by Denis Leary.
Number 86 "Get Away" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 54
"Good Enough" had been, well, good enough to reach the top 50, but this generic Teddy Riley-produced slice of new jack swing peaked just outside - and also broke Bobby's string of US top 10 singles.
Number 85 Sanctuary MCMXCIII by The Cult
Peak: number 51
The 1985 original was the goth-turned-hard rock band's first UK hit, but missed the top 100 here. This indie dance remix by Youth was issued to promote compilation album Pure Cult.
Peak: number 73
As "Would I Lie To You?" dropped out of the top 10 this week, the nowhere near as memorable Buffalo Springfield-sampling follow-up crept into the other end of the chart.
Number 74 "An Emotional Time" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 57
The Irish folk rock band had been struggling on the ARIA chart for some time, and this difficult lead single from third album Songs From The Rain didn't help matters.
Number 47 "Connected" by Stereo MCs
Peak: number 47
Before we get to this week's big singles, we have a couple of releases that just sneaked into the top 50. First up is the title track of British dance group Stereo MCs' third album. A top 20 hit in the UK and the US, "Connected" only made a small impact in Australia, but has enjoyed an incredibly lengthy shelf life, popping up in TV shows, movies and ads ever since. The song gets its riff from "Let Me (Let Me Be Your Lover)" by R&B singer Jimmy "Bo" Horne. And no, that's not the actual music video below.
Number 44 Whore's Moaning by Sonic Youth
Peak: number 44
They'd missed the top 50 with possibly their best known song, "100%", but it would've been pretty rude if Australia hadn't made this exclusively released EP a hit locally. Coming out to coincide with the band's Australasian tour, Whore's Moaning - the title a play on Hormoaning by Nirvana from the year before - featured "Sugar Kane" and had a slightly different tracklisting to the UK release of that single. This would be Sonic Youth's only ARIA top 50 appearance.
Number 43 "Sleeping Satellite" by Tasmin Archer
Peak: number 14
For some reason, I always think this debut single by British singer/songwriter Tasmin Archer was a bigger hit in Australia. Perhaps that's because it reached number 1 in the UK in October 1992 and was among my favourite songs for that year. Lyrically, "Sleeping Satellite" is about NASA's abandoned Moon exploration program - a fact someone has already neatly summarised here. Although Tasmin had just won a BRIT Award for Best Breakthrough Act in mid-February and continued releasing music for the next decade half, she never came anywhere near the success of "Sleeping Satellite" again, especially in Australia, where it was her only top 100 appearance. Like "Connected", the song has endured, partly thanks to a series of cover versions by everyone from Aurora featuring Naimee Coleman to Kim Wilde.
Number 34 "Sweet Thing" by Mick Jagger
Peak: number 18
I can't say I've ever been particularly interested in the music of The Rolling Stones or the solo projects of lead singer Mick Jagger, but it's a little surprising to me that I have no recollection of this song whatsoever. Most of what Mick and his band had released in the '80s caught my attention, but this lead single from his third solo album, Wandering Spirit, made no impression on me at all. And it was a reasonably sized hit - Mick's biggest since 1985's "Just Another Night". Produced by Rick Rubin, the funk-inflected"Sweet Thing" would be Mick's last Australian hit, with not even at attempt to do a Paul McCartney in 2011 enough to return him to the ARIA top 50.
Number 29 "If I Ever Fall In Love" by Shai
Peak: number 4
With the return of vocal harmony groups in the early '90s, there was no greater proof that they really could sing than the a cappella rendition of one of their hits. Normally performed during TV appearances or radio station visits, the unaccompanied harmonisation would establish their credentials, but if they really wanted to show off their vocal chops, they'd release a song performed entirely without music.
Boyz II Men had done it with their remake of "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday", which would skirt the bottom of the top 100 in Australia later in 1993, but spent five weeks at number 2 in the US in 1991-92. Fellow R&B quartet Shai did even better with their debut single, "If I Ever Fall In Love", which not only spent eight weeks in the runner-up spot on the Billboard Hot 100, but became a top 5 smash here.
As with the Boyz II Men track, there was a subtly accompanied version of "If I Ever Fall In Love", but not only was the a cappella version far superior, it was also the one favoured by music TV and radio. Three years later, a completely different version of the song, titled just "If You Ever", was released by East 17 featuring Gabrielle. After Shai's original had only just made the UK top 40, that duet remake went all the way to number 2 in Britain.
Number 22 "Bed Of Roses" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 10
Bon Jovi's ballads had traditionally not performed as well in Australia as their rockier songs, but that changed with this second single from Keep The Faith, which equalled the peak of the album's upbeat title track and gave the band their fourth top 10 single on the ARIA chart. In the US, where their power ballads had always done well, "Bed Of Roses" also returned them to the top 10 after the blip that had been "Keep The Faith". For me - and I liked "Wanted Dead Or Alive" and "Never Say Goodbye" - "Bed Of Roses" was just too slow and kind of boring. A sign of what was to come from Bon Jovi in the '90s (i.e. more of the same), it signalled their shift to a mature, adult contemporary rock sound.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:
Next week: the arrival of my favourite song from 1993 and the return of the band who had my favourite song of 1982. Plus, as Whitney Houston lets go of the number 1 spot, she debuts with another Bodyguard hit.