This Week In 1992: October 25, 1992
Ever since the days of Elvis Presley, pop music and sex have been inextricably linked. But by 1992, we'd come a long way from gyrating hips being deemed offensive. This week that year, an artist who'd become known for pushing the envelope on notions of decency debuted with a song that made no secret of its sexual agenda.
The sexually charged track debuted in a week that saw two more music superstars who'd broken through in the '80s continue to dominate the ARIA chart. All three made the top 10 with their latest hits and would top the album chart with their accompanying albums.
On top of the singles chart this week in 1992, "Achy Breaky Heart" continued its stranglehold on the ARIA chart as Billy Ray Cyrus spent his fourth week at number 1.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Let It Be (live)" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 99
The band had ceased to exist since ending their final tour earlier in the year, but a greatest hits album was released in time for Christmas. This live recording of The Beatles' final single (during their existence) served as Noiseworks' last-ever single release.
Number 89 "Everglade" by L7
Peak: number 85
The follow-up to "Pretend We're Dead" was a less commercial offering — and therefore a smaller hit on the ARIA chart. The band would return to the top 100 one last time in 1994.
Number 84 "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden
Peak: number 80
Badmotorfinger had failed to give the Seattle band their mainstream breakthrough, with this third single also missing the top 50. Things would change with next album Superunknown, however.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 120
With its shuffling Soul II Soul-style beat, this song wouldn't have sounded out of place on Maxi Priest's last album, Bonafide, which featured his biggest hit single, "Close To You". But as the lead release from follow-up album Fe Real, it was a bit underwhelming, both in terms of not being a step forward musically and in terms of it chart performance here, as well as in the UK and the US, where it missed the top 40.
Number 50 "Drive" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 34
With their previous album Out Of Time, R.E.M. had well and truly broken out of the alternative scene and into the mainstream, earning consecutive top 20 hits with "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People". Follow-up album Automatic For The People would be an even bigger success, having debuted at number 2 the previous week, but its dark and sombre lead single ended up about as big a hit as it sounded. More commercial singles and bigger hits were to come from the album, which would end up spending a year's worth of weeks on the top 50.
Peak: number 18
Originally recorded by Queen during the sessions for 1989 album The Miracle, this song's co-writer Brian May turned it into a solo track following the death of Freddie Mercury and, after performing it at the tribute concert to his former band-mate in April 1992, released it as the second single from his debut album, Back To The Light. Naturally, everyone thinks "Too Much Love Will Kill You" is about Freddie, but it was actually written about the breakdown of Brian's first marriage, which makes me feel better about calling it overwrought.
Peak: number 16
They lost me (and much of Australia) with "Workaholic", but 2 Unlimited were back on form (and in the top 20) with fourth single "The Magic Friend". Tucked away on the flip side/as a bonus track was the dance duo's obligatory megamix, combining all four of their techno anthems to date. Unless I'm mistaken, though, there was no neat radio edit of "Megamix" but just two extended mixes: Murphy's Megamix (which you can hear below) and Automatic Megamix.
Number 16 "Erotica" by Madonna
Peak: number 4
The lowest of our big-name new entries would end up being the largest of the three as Madonna landed her 14th top 5 with a song that pushed the boundaries like never before. The spiritual sequel to "Justify My Love", the similarly half-spoken, half-sung "Erotica" saw Madonna take on the character of Dita, an S&M mistress, in the closest music has ever come to sounding like sex.
Although the notion of sex had never been far from Madonna's music and image previously, "Erotica", the album of the same name and the accompanying coffee table book, Sex, combined to deliver a controversial cocktail of sexually charged material. Varying from suggestive to explicit, titillating to artistic, the work signalled a bold step away from crowd-pleasing pop.
As a song, "Erotica", with its dark and dingy bassline, moaned vocals and edgy production, was the sound of a singer completely throwing caution to the wind. What might have killed the career of a less established artist was just the latest reinvention of a musical chameleon whose audience would follow wherever she led them.
Number 11 "Keep The Faith" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 10
For a band that's so strongly associated with the late '80s, it's easy to forget how big Bon Jovi still were in the early '90s. This week in 1992, they were welcomed back to the ARIA chart with their first single in three years and their biggest hit since "Bad Medicine" reached the top 5 at the same time of year in 1988.
In the years since their previous top 50 single, "Lay Your Hands On Me", lead singer Jon Bon Jovi had done something his band would never do — topped the chart with solo single "Blaze Of Glory". And although "Keep The Faith", the title track of their fifth album, just scraped the bottom of the top 10, it established the band were as popular as ever.
Written by the dream team of Jon, guitarist Richie Sambora and frequent collaborator Desmond Child (who'd also released a solo record in the previous few years), "Keep The Faith" is one of my favourite Bon Jovi songs. With its almost dance-like beat — I always thought an "Even Better Than The Real Thing"-style remix would've been great — and rousing chorus, it felt like a step forward from the hair metal sound they'd perfected six years earlier, while still feeling like a Bon Jovi track.
Interestingly, it was about this time that Bon Jovi's success in the US started to be eclipsed by their performance in the UK. "Keep The Faith" was the first of 14 consecutive UK top 20 hits taking them all the way up to 1996, while in the US, the song peaked at number 29. In Australia, it was the first of three back-to-back number 10 hits.
Number 9 "My Name Is Prince" by Prince
Peak: number 9
The third '80s superstar who was still doing incredibly well in the '90s blasted straight into the top 10 with "My Name Is Prince", not that anyone actually needed any reminding since a) the song could only have been released by him and b) his name still was Prince at this stage. The track was the second single from what has become known as his Love Symbol Album — the actual title being an unpronounceable symbol that he'd take as his stage name in 1993 following contractual and artistic disputes with Warner Bros.
Conversely to the last time Prince and Madonna simultaneously debuted on the chart with brand new songs (the racy "Sexy MF" and the subdued "This Used To Be My Playground" respectively), this week saw something of a reversal with Madonna's "Erotica" contrasting with the non-sexual "My Name Is Prince". Instead, Prince's tune was about how funky he was — a fact that was pretty well established by this point.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:
Next week: two former chart-topping bands return to the top 50. One, for the first time in a decade as their back catalogue received renewed interest, and the other, with their biggest hit since their only number 1 single.