This Week In 1994: May 22, 1994
Australian and New Zealand music acts have often taken genres that originated overseas and made them their own - think of all those '80s synthpop bands like Pseudo Echo, Real Life and Wa Wa Nee.
This week in 1994, an Australian vocal harmony group tried their hand at new jack swing, while a Kiwi hip-hop group learnt the hard way (no pun intended) about the importance of clearing samples.
Meanwhile, for a fourth and final week, the most popular song in Australia was "The Sign" by Ace Of Base.
Off The Chart
Number 96 "Philadelphia" by Neil Young
Peak: number 89
As "Streets Of Philadelphia" fell out of the top 10, this song, which played at the end of Philadelphia, ventured into the other end of the chart. "Philaldelphia" was also nominated for an Oscar, losing out to Bruce Springsteen's track.
Number 92 "Sunshine" by Cut 'n' Move
Peak: number 92
More laidback than their previous two Eurodance hits, this third top 100 entry from the Danish group, like "Peace, Love & Harmony", put rapper MC Zipp front and centre.
Number 88 "Talk To Me" by GANGgajang
Peak: number 88
If "Hundreds Of Languages", with its fun, attention-grabbing music video, couldn't crack the top 50, there was no way this nice but forgettable second single from Lingo was going to.
Peak: number 71
This is the song I would've released instead of "Sail Away" to follow the British dance act's two big hits. Unfortunately, with momentum lost, the title track of their album bombed when finally put out as a single.
Number 81 "C'est La Vie" by UB40
Peak: number 59
Something of an improvement on the performance of Promises And Lies' third single, "Bring Me Your Cup", which didn't dent the top 100, this would end up being UB40's final top 100 appearance.
Peak: number 57
You would've thought the combined might of Jimmy Barnes and his former guitarist-turned-solo star would've resulted in a hit, but this track, written by Diesel, got stuck at its peak for three straight weeks. This was Jimmy's second single in a row to miss the top 50 - a career first.
Number 48 "Greedy People" by Electric Hippies
Peak: number 29
This short and snappy song has been on my iTunes wish list so long that I now don't even really download from iTunes anymore. The debut single from ex-Noiseworks members Steve Balbi and Justin Stanley in their new guise as duo Electric Hippies, "Greedy People" achieved what their former band-mate Jon Stevens hadn't been able to do with his solo (i.e. not including Jesus Christ Superstar-related) efforts since the demise of the band - it reached the top 30. But it was the only time the pair saw the inside of the top 50.
Number 46 "Hey Jealousy" by Gin Blossoms
Peak: number 28
At some point in 1994, I moved from the stationery department of Grace Bros (where I'd started as a Christmas casual in late 1993) to the music department. And I'll always remember this breakthrough hit by American rock band Gin Blossoms for being possibly the first song I had sung to me by a customer who didn't know what it was called or who it was by. It was certainly one of the most hilarious instances of that happening - let's just say the customer was no Robin Wilson (the band's lead singer).
Despite its upbeat feel, "Hey Jealousy" was written by guitarist Doug Hopkins about his experience with depression and featured on the band's 1989 debut album, Dusted, before being re-recorded for inclusion on second album New Miserable Experience. Shortly after the latter was recorded in early 1992, Doug, who also battled alcoholism, was fired from the band. It wasn't until late 1993 that Gin Blossoms started to take off in the US, and the eventual success of "Hey Jealousy" did nothing to help Doug's problems, which had only gotten worse and led to him committing suicide in December 1993 - a fact I wasn't aware of until now and which is discussed by Robin in this interview with Rolling Stone. This was Gin Blossoms' only top 50 appearance.
Number 43 "Shaka Jam" by Kulcha
Peak: number 7
Next up, a local group that made seven top 50 appearances, the biggest of which was this new jack swing-flavoured debut single. Presumably envisioned as Australia's (somewhat belated) answer to Boyz II Men, Bell Biv DeVoe, Riff, Shai and Silk, Kulcha had clearly studied the moves, harmonies and look (shirts optional) of their American contemporaries and did a decent job of replicating the sound. At the time, I didn't think too much of "Shaka Jam" - I found the chorus too monotonous - but it actually holds up pretty well. Yes, it's dated, but only as much as any new jack swing-era track is.
Number 40 "Hip Hop Holiday" by 3 The Hard Way
Peak: number 17
From Australian R&B we move now to New Zealand hip-hop and the debut single from 3 The Hard Way. Based around an interpolation of the hook from 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday" - switching out "reggae" for "hip-hop" - "Hip Hop Holiday" was immediately familiar. And if online claims are to be believed, the sample was not cleared, meaning that despite reaching the ARIA top 20 and topping the NZ chart for three weeks, the royalties for the song all went to 10cc's Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart. This was 3 The Hard Way's only hit in Australia, but they hit number 1 back home again in 2003 following a lenghty hiatus.
Number 38 "Mama Said Knock You Out" by Defryme
Peak: number 38
We jump back across the Tasman now for some more hip-hop. Kind of. Achieving what they couldn't with any of their original tracks, Melbourne's genre-blurring metal band Defryme burst into the top 50 with their version of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out". I have to say I prefer the original.
Number 5 "One" by Metallica
Peak: number 5
Although billed as a re-entry, this single was actually a repackage of Metallica's breakthrough hit, which had entered the top 50 exactly five years earlier. A vast improvement on the number 38 peak of that initial chart run, the new release of "One" teamed the album version with a demo and a live recording of the song, the latter taken from the band's concert box set, Live Shit: Binge & Purge. Since the original version of "One" was still the lead track, I guess that accounts for its re-entry status, although I'd consider it a separate chart entry. I'm pretty sure the live performance below isn't the one contained on the single, but it's the one on Metallica's official YouTube account, so you'll just have to make do with that.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: a dance track that would get a second lease of life years later when performed by an animated lemur and more songs that missed the top 50 that shoudn't have.