This Week In 1988: December 25, 1988
Merry Christmas! What better way to celebrate than to look back at the ARIA Top 50 dated Christmas Day, 1988, right? Unlike in the UK, where the festive chart is a huge deal, Australia's never had the same rush for the Christmas number 1 spot or even much of an interest in holiday singles.
That was never more in evidence than on the chart from this week in 1988, where the two big contenders for the UK Christmas number 1 spot didn't even rate a mention (although they would turn up on the next chart, which covered the two weeks from Boxing Day to January 8). It wasn't all bah humbug, however - the week's highest debut had a festive connection.
Meanwhile, Australia's Christmas number 1 was, as it had been for the previous six weeks, Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy", but at least this was his seventh and final week on top.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 99
Big ballad "Anything For You" had taken the Latin band within a whisker of the top 10, but this party track was inexplicably a major flop locally despite reaching the US top 3.
Number 78 "Victim Of Pleasure" by Mandy
Peak: number 78
Returning to the ARIA top 100 for the first time since her debut single, this fourth effort from the model-turned-pop star was her second in a row to be produced by the PWL B-team, with Stock Aitken Waterman concerning themselves with more successful artists.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 87
One of two songs sharing the SOTW status (we saw the other hit the chart two weeks ago), "Too Young To Despair" was the comeback single - after a four-year absence - for the Aussie rock group who'd been responsible for "Alone With You", "Happy Man" and "You Need A Friend". It wasn't the original line-up of the band, however - they'd broken up in 1984. Instead, it was a new version led by original member Jeremy Oxley. Sunnyboys had never been chart superstars, but the low peak of this single, which was pretty consistent in sound to those earlier songs, must have been a disappointment. Subsequent singles and an album in 1989 did no better.
Number 42 "Angel Of Harlem" by U2
Peak: number 18
What was happening? Two singles in a row by U2 that I actually liked. After topping the ARIA chart with "Desire", follow-up "Angel Of Harlem" didn't perform as well as I would have expected - but perhaps everyone either had Rattle And Hum or received it for Christmas that year? My enthusiasm for U2 was brief - I wouldn't like another of the band's singles for three years.
Peak: number 5
While the big summer movie in Australia was undoubtedly Cocktail, local film Young Einstein also raked in the bucks at the local box office - although not from me, since it's a movie I've never seen. This cover of the 1957 rock standard by Chuck Berry (which had already been remade by The Beatles and The Beach Boys) was taken from the Yahoo Serious comedy - and there was no better band to contribute to the soundtrack than professional jokesters Mental As Anything. In fact, since "Live It Up" had appeared on the soundtrack to Crocodile Dundee, they seemed to be the go-to band for comedy film songs in this country. Their take on "Rock And Roll Music" was pretty safe - and the broad appeal of the song saw it become one of their biggest hits and their last top 10 hit in Australia.
Number 29 "Stand Up For Your Love Rights" by Yazz
Peak: number 22
"The Only Way Is Up" was still way up in the Australian top 5 after three months on the chart, but Yazz became one of 10 acts with two tracks on the top 50 this week in 1988 with the arrival of her second single as main artist (and first without The Plastic Population). Co-written by Yazz, "Stand Up For Your Love Rights" maintained the pop-meets-acid house sound of her previous records, but wasn't as big a hit here as it was in the UK. Two further singles ("Fine Time" and "Where Has All The Love Gone") followed from debut album Wanted but missed the top 50 here and, except for a single week spent at number 100 in 1990 with "Treat Me Good", that was that for Yazz in Australia.
Peak: number 6
These days, everyone's collaborated with everyone else - twice. But, in the '80s, an all-star duet was a much rarer occurrence - and often fairly random. Quite why Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and soul legend Al Green ended up performing this cover of the 1969 single by Jackie DeShannon for the Bill Murray movie Scrooged, I'm not sure. What I do know is that, on first listen, I quite liked it - however, the more times I heard it, the less I enjoyed it.
I don't think either of their voices suit the production and they also don't mesh well together. Throw in the horrible key change and the whole thing's a bit of a shambles. Still, it hit the Australian top 10, giving Annie her first solo success outside Eurythmics and, remarkably, giving Al his first hit in Australia. Yep, despite releasing some of the best soul tracks of the '70s, he'd only ever managed a number 85 placing for "Sha-la-la (Make Me Happy)" before this song came along.
With the year drawing to a close, it was also time for ARIA's year-end countdown:
Since I have spoken about every single one of those songs on this blog before, there's not much more to say - other than how happy I was that "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" beat out "Simply Irresistible" to be the year's biggest seller.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next time: ARIA took a two-week break before publishing its next chart, so I'll be back to kick off 1989 on January 8.