This Week In 1989: April 23, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
When I was counting down my favourite songs from 1999, I recalled a chart battle in the UK between two Spice Girls with solo singles out the same week. A decade before that, a much less hyped stoush took place between two former members of an Australian pop/rock band.
For one of the vocalists from the group, a top 50 solo hit ended up being just out of reach, while the other managed to crack the top 20 - for the second time in his career. That's what I call a decisive victory.
Speaking of chart battles, "Like A Prayer" and "She Drives Me Crazy" swapped places at number 1 again this week in 1989 - with the Fine Young Cannibals track spending its third and final week on top of the singles chart.
Off The Chart
Number 96 "The Harder I Try" by Brother Beyond
Peak: number 78
Producers Stock Aitken Waterman were so hot at this point that when they put up their services at a charity auction, EMI paid 20 thousand pounds for the Hit Factory to live up to their name. Unfortunately this UK top 3 hit for the previously struggling pop group didn't connect in Australia.
Number 95 "Come Out To Play" by UB40
Peak: number 95
"Where Did I Go Wrong" had given the reggae band their biggest hit in years (and best performing original track of all time), but this follow-up barely made a dent on the chart.
Number 86 "Love House" by Samantha Fox
Peak: number 86
It had been released back in January as the lead single from I Wanna Have Some Fun, and the acid-tinged "Love House" finally cracked the top 100 one week ahead of second single "I Only Wanna Be With You".
Peak: number 55
Here's the first of our two ex-members of Australian band Models. One of the group's two lead singers, Sean Kelly only released this one solo single before super-group Absent Friends took off (and included it on that band's album). Sharing its title with the last tour conducted by Models (and with a book written by the wife of his former band-mate), "...Thankyou Goodnight" is a fairly understated affair, which may explain its disappointing chart position.
Number 50 "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 27
Although this was her first major hit (she'd released two previous singles with limited success), former Laker Girl and in-demand choreographer Paula Abdul's influence on pop music had been felt for some time - at least visually. Responsible for the choreography in many of Janet Jackson's music videos from the Control album, Paula was signed as a recording artist in her own right, despite the fact that her voice was even weaker than Janet's. Where Paula shone was in her music videos, and the David Fincher-directed "Straight Up" clip allowed her to showcase her sought-after moves. She also had some of the best songwriters and producers in the business in her corner, and this single became the first of six US number 1s. She'd have to wait a bit longer to top the Australian chart, however.
Number 47 "Hurricane" by James Freud
Peak: number 20
Our second ex-Model had much more success with his first solo offering following the demise of the group that'd hit the Australian number 1 spot with 1985's "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight". But. "Hurricane" wasn't James's first chart hit under his own name - he'd previously reached number 12 in 1980 with "Modern Girl". That song was actually credited to James Freud And The Radio Stars, a name similar to another previous band both James and Sean Kelly had been members of: Teenage Radio Stars. In fact, the pair had been in a number of bands together dating right back to their high school days. Although "Hurricane" cracked the top 20, the accompanying album, Step Into The Heat, was a monumental flop - spending five weeks on the chart and only reaching number 26 despite reportedly being Mushroom Record's most expensive album to date.
Number 41 "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler
Peak: number 1
Interestingly, "Wind Beneath My Wings" wasn't chosen as the lead single from the soundtrack to Beaches, the hit 1989 tearjerker starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. Instead, Bette's cover of "Under The Boardwalk" was released in the US first (and would end up being a chart hit in Australia later in 1989), but it was "Wind Beneath My Wings" that proved to be the standout track from the film and its soundtrack.
The song itself had narrowly missed the Australian top 50 when released by Colleen Hewett back in 1983 - one of many versions of the songs recorded before Bette got her hands on it and turned it into a chart-topping, multi-Grammy Award-winning record. For Bette, who'd mostly concentrated on movies like Down And Out In Beverly Hills and Ruthless People for the previous few years, it was her first chart hit since 1984's "Beast Of Burden" (which reached number 12 in Australia) and the first number 1 single of her career - either here or in the US.
Number 39 "Young Years" by Dragon
Peak: number 18
The last time we'd seen Dragon in the top 50 was with their timely cover of Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" back on the first chart for 1988, but they returned with this first single proper from the Bondi Road album. "Young Years" actually followed flop single "River", which missed the top 50 and wasn't even included on Bondi Road. Like many of Dragon's singles from the mid to late '80s, "Young Years" was better than its chart position suggests. Like "Cry", "Dreams Of Ordinary Men" and "Speak No Evil", it was a top 20 hit that should have been bigger - and would end up being the band's final ARIA top 50 appearance.
Number 38 "Fire Woman" by The Cult
Peak: number 24
Although they'd made their breakthrough in the UK with 1985's "She Sells Sanctuary", it took Australia a few more years to catch on to goth rockers The Cult - and even I didn't mind this lead single from Sonic Temple (although I've always thought it could have benefitted from a dance remix). At the time, I remember the song being quite alternative, although listening to it again now, it's a pretty straightforward rock track - and the chorus, which is what sucked me in at the time, is every bit as rousing.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: two songs that first found success in the '60s and the arrival of the crown prince of new jack swing.