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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1986: January 26, 1986

We'd had Band Aid, USA For Africa and, er, Incredible Penguins - and in 1986, the charity singles kept coming. On the ARIA chart from this week alone, two separate fundraising records by collectives of well-known performers reached the top 50.

With friends like these, chart domination was assured

One song was a touchy-feely cover of a Bacharach and Bayer Sager ballad, while the other was an angry protest record - and both went on to reach the Australian top 5. One of the singles went all the way to number 1.

There was a new number 1 in Australia this week in 1986. "We Built This City" by Starship dislodged Midnight Oil to spend its first of four weeks on top.

Off The Chart

Number 100 "Go Home" by Stevie Wonder

Peak: number 92

He also appeared on one of this week's top 50 entries, but this second single from In Square Circle didn't match the success of predecessor "Part-Time Lover". In the US, "Go Home" remains Stevie's final top 10 hit.

Number 99 "Get Some Humour" by Jenny Morris

Peak: number 82

Three years after her first couple of singles, INXS backing singer Jenny Morris tried her hand at a solo career again. Good thing she didn't give up, success would come later in 1986.


Once again, I have nothing to talk about in this section since four of the breakers went on to make the top 50. And, I previously mentioned the fifth single, "Brothers In Arms" by Dire Straits, here.

New Entries

Number 44 "The Sun Always Shines On TV" by a-ha

Peak: number 19

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's the proof that a-ha were not one-hit wonders in Australia - a tag they're frequently saddled with. Sure, chart-topper "Take On Me" was not only a big hit but became a cultural phenomenon thanks to its cutting-edge music video. But, a top 20 placing for its follow-up should not be so easily dismissed. Especially when the song in question is as good as "The Sun Always Shines On TV".

After the pure pop delight that is "Take On Me", the atmospheric synths and moody vocals of "The Sun Always Shines On TV" was quite a change of pace from the Norwegian trio, although, as it would turn out, this style of song would prove to be more in line with the band's subsequent output. In the UK, "The Sun..." actually better the number 2 peak of "Take On Me" to give a-ha their only British chart-topper, while in their homeland, it was the second of five consecutive number 1s.

Number 43 "Don't Break My Heart" by UB40

Peak: number 37

Here's another band returning after an Australian number 1. For their next trick, UB40 followed up "I Got You Babe" with a song based around that single's B-side. Instrumental track "Theme From Labour Of Love" was the flip side to the reggae band's Sonny & Cher cover - and with added vocals it became "Don't Break My Heart". The sombre single didn't do anywhere near as well as "I Got You Babe" on the ARIA chart - although it did reach number 3 in the UK - and UB40 wouldn't be back in our top 50 until they recruited Chrissie Hynde for another collaboration in a couple of years.

Number 37 "One Vision" by Queen

Peak: number 35

Also peaking in the UK top 10 but in the 30s in Australia was this brand new single by Queen, which would wind up on their upcoming studio album, A Kind Of Magic. It was, at least, a return to the ARIA top 50 for the first time since 1984's "I Want To Break Free". For me, "One Vision" makes all the right noises of being another classic Queen anthem - crunching guitar riff, inspirational lyrics and a rousing vocal by Freddie Mercury - but it doesn't ever get to a big pay-off in the chorus.

Number 23 "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid

Peak: number 4

Our first charity single is a song I haven't heard in close to 30 years - and that's probably because "Sun City" dealt with a state of affairs that no longer exists and did so in a very specific manner. In 1986, South Africa was still governed by a political party that enforced the policy of racial segregation known as apartheid - and part of the process of keeping races separate was the creation of independent states within South Africa where specific ethnic groups then had to reside. 

In one of these "bantustans" was the holiday resort of Sun City, which became involved in the international boycott against South Africa. Big-name musical acts had been invited to play at Sun City since its establishment in 1979, and despite the likes of Frank Sinatra, Cher and Queen accepting gigs there, many artists had started to say no. 

Masterminded by E Street Band member (and future star of The Sopranos) Steven Van Zandt and producer Arthur Baker, Artists United Against Apartheid was a protest group who made their intentions very clear through the single "Sun City". Featuring vocal contributions from, among others, Run-DMC, Pat Benatar, Bono, Bruce Springsteen and even our own Peter Garrett, the track's chorus declared: "I ain't gonna play Sun City".

As well as raising money for anti-apartheid efforts, "Sun City" helped make apartheid a hot-button issue in the way that Band Aid and USA For Africa had raised the level of awareness of starvation in Ethiopia. Only a moderate hit in the US, the single reached the top 5 in Australia, suggesting that this country's appetite for charitable records was undiminished.

Number 22 "Miami Vice Theme" by Jan Hammer

Peak: number 14

Last week, we saw the Glenn Frey single "You Belong To The City", which was written expressly for TV series Miami Vice - and here we find the crime show's theme tune. The synth-heavy instrumental was performed by its Czech composer, Jan Hammer, who even got to act out scenes from a pretend episode in the music video. By this stage, Miami Vice was so massive around the world that this Grammy Award-winning theme reached number 1 in the US. The accompanying soundtrack album, which debuted on this week's ARIA albums top 50, also hit the top in America - for a record-setting 11 weeks. Meanwhile, another Miami Vice-related single by Jan Hammer, "Crockett's Theme", climbed as high as number 2 in the UK. Australia was a little more conservative in its fandom.

Number 18 "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick & Friends

Peak: number 1

The week's second new charity record couldn't have been more different to "Sun City" if it tried - and, incidentally, Elton John was one of the performers who had agreed to perform at the South African resort a few years earlier. But, while his decision making might have been questionable on that issue, he was at the forefront of artists supporting research into HIV/AIDS, which was the cause supported by this record.

Along with Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, Elton was recruited by Dionne Warwick to perform this cover version of "That's What Friends Are For", a tune penned by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and originally recorded by Rod Stewart. A full-on slush-fest that could only have been released in the '80s, the worthy single was a number 1 in Australia and the US (where it also topped the year-end chart), and a dual Grammy Award winner. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: a flood of new entries, including solo singles by members of two hugely influential bands, a new local synthpop hit and one of the biggest European songs of 1985 finally swings its way down under.

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