This Week In 1994: September 25, 1994
As half of one of America's top songwriting and production teams, he'd been responsible for some of the biggest US hits of the late '80s and early '90s — only a fraction of which had translated locally. He'd even scored a few big singles as a singer himself, but it took until this week in 1994 for Australia to welcome Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds into the top 50.
Funnily enough, Babyface's top 50 debut occured in the same week that one of his most successful compostions and productions also entered the chart. And while his solo single just missed the top 30, the song he'd written for the biggest vocal harmony group of the time went all the way to number 1.
Spending its second week at number 1 this week in 1994 was "Confide In Me" by Kylie Minogue, which would remain on top until the Babyface-written tune knocked it off in a few weeks' time.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Honest And Sober" by The Sharp
Peak: number 99
Although "Alone Like Me" boasted a harder edge, it still sounded like The Sharp. This next single from Sonic Tripod was quite a departure — and became the band's final top 100 appearence.
Number 96 "Leave Them Alone" by Twenty 4 Seven
Peak: number 89
Also registering their final top 100 placing were Eurodance act Twenty 4 Seven, with this formulaic fourth and final single from Slave To The Music the least successful yet.
Number 95 "Breathe" by Collective Soul
Peak: number 95
Top 10 hit "Shine" was still inside the top 30, but the second single from the American rock band's debut, Hints, Allegations And Things Left Unsaid, only spent this one week on the chart.
Number 94 "Found Out About You" by Gin Blossoms
Peak: number 94
Here's another rock one-week wonder, but unlike "Breathe", this follow-up to "Hey Jealousy" was less deserving of that fate. Like its predecessor, an early version of "Found Out About You" had originally appeared on the band's 1989 debut album, Dusted.
Number 85 "Undone - The Sweater Song" by Weezer
Peak: number 63
Still going 25 years later, Weezer have never bettered the chart peak of this debut single in Australia. The first song written by singer Rivers Cuomo for the band, it is about depression and, like the whole album, was produced by the late Ric Ocasek.
Number 49 "When Can I See You" by Babyface
Peak: number 31
"It's No Crime". "Tender Lover". "Give U My Heart". These were all excellent songs released by Babyface in his capacity as a solo performer. He'd also been part of The Deele (biggest song: "Two Occasions"), which is where he first worked with future partner Antonio "L.A." Reid. Together, the songwriting and production duo were responsible for hits by the likes of Karyn White, Pebbles, The Whispers, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Sheena Easton, After 7, Johnny Gill, TLC, Toni Braxton and Boyz II Men. Quite a list. In 1993, Babyface had released his third album, For The Cool In You, and by September the following year, his Australian record company must have thought he'd never cross over in his own right, with three singles from the album having achieved nothing here. Finally, acoustic ballad "When Can I See You" gave the prolific musician a hit — even if it would be completely overshadowed by another of his compositions...
Number 48 "Poison" by The Poor
Peak: number 48
"More Wine Waiter Please" and their debut album, Who Cares, had both made it into their respective top 10s, but Australian metal band The Poor's second single, "Poison", would only spend this solitary week in the bottom of the top 50.
Number 42 "Gimme" by Boom Crash Opera
Peak: number 14
Despite (or, perhaps, due to) being the same type of sing-along pop/rock tunes that had brought them success in the second half of the '80s, the singles from Boom Crash Opera's third album, Fabulous Beast, had been commercial disappointments. And so in the lead-up to fourth album Born, the Australian band shook things up. Boasting a more adventurous sound than previously, "Gimme" meshed 1970s glam rock influences with a 1990s electronic feel — and gave Boom Crash Opera their biggest hit since 1989's "Onion Skin". As a big fan of the band, I understood the need to do something significant to turn things around and quite enjoyed "Gimme", even if it isn't one of my favourites of theirs.
Number 39 "Fly Girl" by Kulcha
Peak: number 26
This Australian boy band owed a debt to the music of LA Reid & Babyface (along with Jam & Lewis and Teddy Riley), and after two decent takes on new jack swing, it was time for the requisite quiet storm ballad. Not as big a hit as "Shaka Jam" or "Don't Be Shy", the top 30 success of "Fly Girl" is more than many similar downtempo tracks by Kulcha's US contemporaries had managed.
Number 26 "Come Out And Play" by The Offspring
Peak: number 8
Although Green Day's "Longview" beat it into the top 40, this is the song I always associate with the rise of pop punk, especially in Australia, where the California band achieved their first mainstream top 10 hit. The lead single from The Offspring's third album, Smash, "Come Out And Play" might only have reached number 8, but it spent 30 weeks in the top 50, half of those in the top 10. I remember constantly selling out of the song (and the album) in my casual music retail job and placing multiple orders with independent label Shock that consisted entirely of singles and albums by The Offspring - we also sold quite a few copies of their two previous albums and the chart run of "Come Out And Play" continued into that of follow-up single "Self Esteem".
Peak: number 24
Just as The Offspring would do, R.E.M. had started out on a small independent label before making the move to a major and hitting the big time. And in 1994, a new album from the band fronted by Michael Stipe was a major deal, coming as it did after the back-to-back successes of Out Of Time and Automatic For The People. But Monster would be quite a different beast to those multi-platinum albums. Musically, as demonstrated by lead single "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?", Monster was a louder, rockier affair, while the lyrics were written in character - in this song, Michael Stipe took on the persona of an older man trying to make sense of Gen X. As for the song's title itself, there's an expansive explanation here.
Peak: number 1
As with Babyface, Australia had been a little late to the Boyz II Men party. Yes, "Motownphilly" had been a minor hit here, but nowhere near as big as in the US, and everything else from the original version of debut album Cooleyhighharmony had been ignored. But epic chart-topper "End Of The Road" changed that. When it was time for the vocal harmony group to launch second album II, their record company once again enlisted Babyface, by now writing and producing without L.A. Reid, who was focussing more on the business side of LaFace. One of two songs he contributed to II, "I'll Make Love To You" picked up where "End Of The Road" left off. Hyper-emotional and overblown, it was the biggest ballad in a year marked by massive ones. Apparently there was some resistance among the group to releasing "I'll Make Love To You" as the lead single, but this was a case where the record company execs knew best — the song went to number 1 in Australia as well as in the US, where it equalled Whitney Houston's 14-week stretch at the top with "I Will Always Love You".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: another of the year's big ballad hits, plus the debut of a teenage trio who'd take the world by storm.