This Week In 1990: February 25, 1990
For some musical acts, chart success is a breeze, while others have to slog away making slow progress towards their first top 40 hit. This week in 1990, both situations played out on the ARIA singles chart.
In one case, a band with three top 10 hits already under their belt arrived with what would turn out to be their fourth to reach the top tier. In the other, a band who'd already released two classic singles debuted with the song that would see them finally slip into the top 40. I was a fan of both, so it was good news all round as far as I was concerned.
A song I wasn't a fan of made major chart news this week in 1990. After debuting last week at number 37, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor made a chart-shattering leap of 36 places to knock Aerosmith from the number 1 spot.
The last song to make a jump to number 1 from within the top 50 anything like that was "99 Luftballons" by Nena, which advanced from number 17 to number 1 in March 1984. Since then, only "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx had managed to jump from outside the top 10 to number 1 (moving 11-1), making Sinéad's feat all the more remarkable.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Can't Shake The Feeling" by Big Fun
Peak: number 97
The world's worst boy band follow up the most awful cover of "Blame It On The Boogie" with an actually quite good Stock Aitken Waterman original. Pity about those vocals.
Peak: number 74
Featuring a live version of his composition "Beggar On The Street Of Love" (as performed with a shorter title by Jenny Morris) on the B-side, this was the final single from So Much Water So Close To Home.
Peak: number 86
Their cover of "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" had put them on the map, but this original track didn't get any further than this debut position... and is only online in an acoustic version.
Number 81 "Happy Birthday" by Concrete Blonde
Peak: number 81
1990 would bring a much bigger - and darker-sounding - hit for the American band, but this single from the Free album is much more my kind of thing.
Number 74 "Heart Of Stone" by Cher
Peak: number 70
Recorded the year earlier by Bucks Fizz as one of their final singles, Cher's version - and title track of her then-current album - made the US top 20 but fizzled in Australia.
Number 72 "Never Gonna Stop" by Indecent Obsession
Peak: number 72
I'm convinced flop ballad "Come Back To Me" caused this fourth single from the Aussie pop band, which was almost as good as hits "Say Goodbye" and "Tell Me Something", to be completely overlooked.
Peak: number 59
Seems like opting for "Steamy Windows" instead of "I Don't Wanna Lose You" as the second single from Foreign Affair in Australia had been a good choice, with this more laidback song (which had been the second single in Europe) failing to follow its predecessors into the top 40. Despite another three singles being lifted from the album, none would perform in Australia - and Tina wouldn't return to the upper reaches of the chart until 1991, when a pair of cover versions gave her back-to-back number 16 hits.
Peak: number 52
By 1989, Jeffrey Townes and Will Smith were already up to their third album, And In This Corner... - and this track referencing the boxing champ was its lead single. But despite its topical subject matter (Tyson was in the midst of career and personal strife), both the single and album were relative disappointments in the US compared to their previous efforts. In Australia, "I Think I Can..." became another single to land around the number 50 mark for the duo and it'd be another three-and-a-half years before they finally landed their musical TKO.
Number 46 "Get A Life" by Soul II Soul
Peak: number 38
After all but ignoring "Keep On Movin'" and "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)", Australia was slowly starting to catch onto worldwide R&B stars Soul II Soul, with "Get A Life" becoming their first single to breach the top 40. The song, which swapped out Caron Wheeler for Marcie Lewis on guest vocals, was the lead single from the band's second album, Vol. II: 1990 - A New Decade.
Caron, meanwhile, moved on to a solo career in 1990, although her debut single, "Livin' In The Light", didn't register in the ARIA top 100. A song that did register (for a second time) on the top 100 as a result of the success of "Get A Life" was "Back To Life", which re-entered at number 45 on the chart we'll see next week.
Number 44 "Dangerous" by Roxette
Peak: number 9
While Soul II Soul were having a hard time crossing over in Australia, Roxette notched up their fourth straight top 10 hit here with "Dangerous". a remarkable feat given their album, Look Sharp!, had already spent 35 weeks on the top 50 - including four weeks at number 2 - and gone double platinum. And as we've seen so often, latter singles don't usually do as well once the album's been out for a while. Yes, "Dangerous" was remixed for the single - but it wasn't that different. Clearly, Australia just couldn't get enough of the Swedish duo (who, coincidentally, are playing in Sydney tonight!).
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:
Next week: the arrival of one of 1990's worst singles, plus the top 50 debut of a rock band that'd become a major chart force in the years to come.