This Week In 1989: May 21, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
So far this year, we've looked back on some of 1989's biggest hits as they made their debut on the ARIA singles chart. In fact, just last week, two songs that ended up among the year's top 10 highest sellers entered the top 50. It was a different story this week that year.
Although one of this week's new arrivals hit the top 10 (and another would do the same in an alternate version a few years later), none of the songs featured in the ARIA year-end top 50. Not only were the singles not particularly massive, but none of them were even the biggest hits by the artists in question. Still, there's more than a couple of overlooked gems in there.
There was nothing overlooked about the song that stormed back to number 1 this week in 1989. For a fifth and final week, "Like A Prayer" ruled the roost, pushing "The Living Years" aside in the process and thankfully limiting that single's run at the top to a solitary week.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 80
"What I Am" had reached the top 20, but this understated follow-up from Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars didn't give the folky band a second hit.
Peak: number 53
After being one of the exceptions to the rule and making inroads into the Australian chart with their house hit "Theme From S'Express", the dance act with the slightly amended name couldn't break into the top 50 with their third single, which took elements from Sly & The Family Stone's "Dance To The Medley". The track was among my favourites for 1989 but will always be overshadowed by "Theme..." and "Superfly Guy".
Number 50 "House Of Cards" by James Reyne
Peak: number 17
He'd had mixed fortunes with the singles from his self-titled debut solo album, but three of those releases ("Fall Of Rome", "Hammerhead" and "Motor's Too Fast") were bigger hits than this lead single from second album Hard Reyne. Although the video was familiar, I couldn't really recall the song until I listened to it again - and then wished I hadn't. Must have been one of those songs I fast-forwarded through after taping the rage top 50 countdown. Still, a top 20 hit is not to be sneezed at, even if it would be his last for a while.
Number 47 "One" by Metallica Peak: number 38
Speaking of rage... This song wasn't on the chart for very long - at least, not yet - but I distinctly remember it seeming like it took forever to fast-forward through the seven-minute video every week that it was on the top 50. The first hit for Metallica, "One" was also the first song for which the already massively popular heavy metal band made a music video. A live version of the track would make a much bigger impact on the Australian chart in 1994, reaching number 5, although even that release would be surpassed by other singles by the band.
Number 45 "The Crack-Up" by The Black Sorrows Peak: number 40
Just when they'd finally landed a bit hit single with "Chained To The Wheel", The Black Sorrows went back to middling chart appearances with this latest release from Hold On To Me. "The Crack-Up" was the fourth of five singles from the album, with final release "Fire Down Below" not getting anywhere near the top 50, but the band would return for some more mid-table chart appearances with tracks from 1990's Harley And Rose.
Number 39 "Let Me Be" by Daryl Braithwaite Peak: number 26 Seems Daryl was developing a bit of a pattern with his single releases - great sing-along pop/rock track, boring ballad, great sing-along pop/rock track... which meant it was time for another boring ballad from Edge. In this case, a cover of a flop single by Cats Under Pressure. As the fourth single from an already successful album (and one that was about to spend three weeks at number 1 on the albums chart), I'm surprised "Let Me Be" got as high as it did - no doubt it received a helping hand from commercial radio. That wasn't the case with Edge's fifth single, "Sugar Train", which missed the top 50 - and it would be a year and a half before Daryl returned to the chart.
Number 35 "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper Peak: number 11 Her first two albums had been packed with hit singles, so a third album by Cyndi Lauper should have been a big deal - but despite this lead single from A Night To Remember almost cracking the top 10 here (like it did in the US and UK), "I Drove All Night" would become known as much for its high-profile alternate versions (Roy Orbison, Celine Dion) as for being the last substantial chart appearance of Cyndi's career.
Number 26 "Help!" by Bananarama Peak: number 25 A cover of The Beatles' hit from 1965, "Help!" was 1989's official Comic Relief record in the UK - which explains the presence of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke (aka Lananeeneenoonoo) in the music video and on one version of the song (I, naturally, preferred the version with just Bananarama on it). Bananarama wasn't the only Stock Aitken Waterman act French & Saunders lampooned around the time, with sketches devoted to Sonia and Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky".
Number 18 "Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals Peak: number 7 Here's the highest of the week's entries - and this follow-up to number 1 smash "She Drives Me Crazy" would also go on to be the biggest hit of all the week's new songs. But, even though it made the top 10 in Australia (and was a second consecutive US number 1 for the trio), I'd still suggest that it comes a distant third or fourth in the list of most remembered FYC songs (after "She Drives Me Crazy", "Suspicious Minds" and perhaps "Johnny Come Home"). Like the band's cover of "Ever Fallen In Love", which also appears on The Raw & The Cooked, "Good Thing" dates back to 1987, first performed by the group in the movie Tin Men.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: two of the world's biggest bands vie for supremacy with rival rock ballads, and the return of one of music's biggest mullets.