This Week In 1992: July 26, 1992
Girl groups, it would seem, are like buses - and after waiting for the flood of American girl groups in the late '80s and early '90s to make a connection in Australia, two hit the top 50 for the first time this week in 1992. (They both also happen to be among my favourite girl groups of all time).
In doing so, they joined two local all-female groups to lend a bit of girl power to the ARIA singles chart, long before that became a thing. Both of the US groups would enjoy much bigger hits later in the decade, but they had to start somewhere, right?
The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1992 was "Hazard" by Richard Marx, which replaced "Save The Best For Last" at number 1 and stayed there for the next three weeks.
Off The Chart
Number 95 "100%" by Sonic Youth
Peak: number 67 A decade after they began releasing music, the American rock band started to get noticed in Australia. The Spike Jonze co-directed video features an appearance by skateboarder (and soon-to-be actor) Jason Lee.
Number 90 "I Hear You Knocking" by Craig McLachlan
Peak: number 90
His rock power ballads weren't really working, so Craig McLachlan injected some dance beats into this remake of the much-covered track... and still came up empty. Musical theatre beckoned.
Peak: number 60
With the Absent Friends project having run its course, Sean Kelly formed a new band with many of the same musicians and released this soul-influenced track as their debut single. Like his previous group - and Models, actually - chart success wouldn't come straight away, but it would come...
Peak: number 53
Nevermind had gone double platinum and was still in the top 50 after 38 weeks, so it's not that surprising the album's third single didn't become Nirvana's third chart hit. Named after the drug used to treat some forms of depression, "Lithium" was about a man plagued by thoughts of suicide who finds religion.
Peak: number 36
They'd reached the US and the UK top 5 with debut single "Hold On", and repeated that feat with this lead single from second album Funky Divas. This time, however, female vocal harmony group En Vogue also infiltrated the ARIA top 50 with "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)". Underpinned by a James Brown sample, the track was a slinky, seductive-sounding R&B track with a lyrical sting in the tail - an access denied kiss-off to no-good men. Besides the "oooh bop" intro, the best bit of the song is clearly the breakdown, which was handily announced in the middle of the song. It'd be another couple of years before En Vogue really struck it big in Australia, but this was better than nothing.
Peak: number 47
Continuing the weather theme of their previous single, Crowded House achieved a fifth hit from Woodface - a much more impressive tally than they'd managed with the singles from Temple Of Low Men. That said, none of Woodface's singles had reached the top 10 (as one song had done from each of their previous albums) and "Four Seasons In One Day" only just crept in to the top 50. The band has never confirmed whether the song's lyrics about changeable weather were inspired by Auckland or Melbourne - or both.
Peak: number 6
Musical theatre had been around for decades, but it achieved a new resurgence in the early '90s with chart stars popping up in everything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The most successful of the stage show revivals was easily the update of Jesus Christ Superstar, performed more like a rock concert and featuring some of the biggest names in Australian music. Besides the trio featured on this single - Farnsey played Jesus (naturally), Kate was Mary Magdalene and the Noiseworks frontman portrayed Judas - the cast also featured Angry Anderson, John Waters and Russell Morris. The accompanying soundtrack album was even bigger, dominating the number 1 spot for 10 straight weeks.
Peak: number 12
Last week, I mentioned I would've chosen Madonna's "This Used To Be My Playground" as an end-of-year song for my graduating Year 12 class in 1992 - timely and lyrically relevant. Instead, we got this. Of course, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", written (and performed) by Bob Dylan about a dying character in the 1973 Western Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, was entirely inappropriate as a school leavers' song. But there was no denying the might of the Gunners, who notched up yet another hit from the Use Your Illusion albums (this one appeared on UYI II) and were easily one of the most popular bands in the country.
The band had been playing the song live for years and already released it twice - a live version was a B-side in 1987, while an earlier studio version appeared on the Days Of Thunder soundtrack. Still, thanks no doubt to having performed it at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert a couple of months earlier, this single version gave Guns n' Roses a fifth top 15 hit from the combined UYI project and peaked just two places shy of Bob's original release.
Number 43 "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" by TLC
Peak: number 28
Formation dancing, matching outfits, pretty harmonies... those are the things you most often associate with girl groups. New trio TLC threw those rules out the window and did things their way. Loud and rambunctious, they sang about wanting (safe) sex and had a unique, streetwise style: comedy hats! Condoms as apparel!
By the time their debut single, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" was released, they comprised singers Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, and rapper Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes. Original vocalist Crystal Jones had been replaced by Rozonda, and the nicknames were created so they could still use TLC and have each letter correspond to a different member.
Not a remake of the similarly titled song by The Temptations, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" was written by producer Dallas Austin, with Lisa penning her rap, but lists more than a dozen other songwriters thanks to its liberal use of samples from tracks by funk and R&B acts like Average White Band, Kool & The Gang and Sly & The Family Stone.
At the very end of the music video, TLC's then-manager, Pebbles, who got them signed to her husband's LaFace Records, makes a brief appearance as the girls are counting money - a scene that would end up proving pretty ironic given the legal disputes and bankruptcy the trio would go through later in the decade.
Number 40 "Life Is A Highway" by Tom Cochrane
Peak: number 2
Despite all the great singles making their debuts this week, the highest-charting of them all was this old school rock track from Canadian musician Tom Cochrane. Previously the frontman for Red Rider (biggest hit: "Lunatic Fringe", number 52 in 1982), Tom reignited his solo career for the first time since the early '70s and hit paydirt with this lead single from Mad Mad World, with the song reaching the Australian and US top 10. A huge star (with and without Red Rider) in Canada, this was easily Tom's greatest success locally. Think he was a one-hit wonder? Not quite - we'll see another top 30 appearance by him later in the year.
Number 33 "Girl's Life" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 15
Out-performing the best girl groups America had to offer - both in terms of its entry position and its eventual peak - was the follow-up to chart-topping single "Take It From Me", which exited the top 10 this week. More new jack swing-lite fare, "Girl's Life" contained a rap towards the end of the song and featured some serious choreography in the accompanying music video. Most interestingly, it even utilised the phrase "girl power" in the chorus - something that's been made a lot of in news reports about a possible 25th reunion performance by the group. At the time, though, the fact that the girls' second single didn't reach the top 10 must have been somewhat of a disappointment. Yep, the anti-pop backlash had already begun.
Number 32 "Warm It Up" by Kris Kross
Peak: number 21
Here's another follow-up to a number 1 single that fell some way short of matching its predecessor's success - and it's easy to see why. Despite another shouted hook that gets stuck in your head, "Warm It Up" just isn't as good as "Jump". The song, which samples Parliament, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and more, was Kris Kross's final appearance on the ARIA top 50. They'd manage one more US top 20 hit from each of their second and third albums, but never did end up releasing a fourth. In 2013, Kris Kross were back in the news due to the death of Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly from a drug overdose.
Number 26 "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Snap!
Peak: number 3
The '90s were full of one-album wonder Eurodance acts like La Bouche, Culture Beat and Black Box - groups that churned out hit after hit from one album and then... nothing. And it looked like Germany's Snap! would fall into that group after the lead single from second album The Madman's Return, "Colour Of Love", missed the top 50 earlier in 1992. Then came "Rhythm Is A Dancer", which was easily the best song the dance act, now comprised of rapper Turbo B and singer Thea Austin, ever released (despite that "serious as cancer" line). Not only did it put them back in the top 50 but it eclipsed all their previous hits and remains one of the best dance tracks of the decade.
Number 11 "Jam" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 11
The hits just kept coming from Dangerous, with this fourth single just missing out on giving Michael Jackson four straight top 10 hits from his latest album. Another collaboration with Teddy Riley (among others), the new jack swing track benefitted from Jacko's latest event music video that saw him and basketballer Michael Jordan trading the tricks of their respective trades. The song also boasted a rap by Heavy D, who'd previously helped out Michael's sister Janet on the single version of "Alright".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:
Next week: things quieten back down on the top 50 with a couple of new entries - one of which was the third hit by a supposed one-hit wonder.