This Week In 1991: January 27, 1991
Every so often, TV characters will become so popular that someone will think it's a great idea for them to release a single. On this blog alone, we've seen hit records by Kylie Mole, Neil from The Young Ones and ALF.
his week in 1991, the most popular TV character of the year debuted on the ARIA top 50 with a spin-off single. For me, it was every bit as awful as those other TV-related songs. Naturally, it went to number 1.
At number 1 this week in 1991 was "Ice Ice Baby". The Vanilla Ice single spent its third and final week on top as two future chart-toppers moved in for the kill.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Being Boring" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 82
They were asking for it with this song title - and the subtleties of "Being Boring" were even lost on a massive PSB fan like me at the time. Although a chart failure, it's gone on to be one of the duo's most beloved tracks.
Peak: number 89
In the US, this song was the breakthrough hit for the new jack swing trio featuring brothers Dwayne Wiggins and Raphael Saadiq, and cousin Timothy Riley. In Australia, it'd be two more years before their time came.
Number 95 "After The Rain" by Nelson
Peak: number 75
More hair metal-lite from the twins with the longest hair in the business - but unlike their previous single, the title track of their debut album didn't catch on in Australia. In the US, "After The Rain" reached number 6.
Number 84 "What Time Is Love?" by The KLF
Peak: number 73
The second of three versions of "What Time Is Love?" released by The KLF, this remix of the 1988 original made the UK top 5 but failed to ignite much interest locally - despite a re-release following their later chart smashes.
Number 80 "Movies" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 66
The latest single from Hothouse Flowers' Home album ended up being overshadowed by the return of "I Can See Clearly Now", which re-entered the top 100 the following week on its way to becoming the band's biggest Australian hit.
Peak: number 55
New track "Never Enough" had kicked off the promotion for The Cure's remix album, Mixed Up, but the band delved back into the past for the follow-up. A number 7 hit in early 1986, "Close To Me" was one of the band's most popular songs and pretty flawless in its original form. This minimalist version came with a completely new video, which continued the story of the band's experience in (and out of) the original clip's closet.
Peak: number 34
It'd worked a treat for Absent Friends - giving the Australian supergroup their first and only major hit in "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You". But, would covering an old soul track from the 1970s be just as good a move for former Absent Friends singer Wendy Matthews? Originally released by Bobby Womack in 1972, "Woman's Gotta Have It" was chosen as the second single from Wendy's Émigré album - but perhaps it was too laidback a tune to grab the attention of the public in the way that ballad "Token Angels" had and her next, more upbeat single would.
Number 48 "Giving You The Benefit" by Pebbles
Peak: number 48
A brief in-and-out appearance on the top 50 for this US top 5 hit from the singer born Perri McKissack. "Giving You The Benefit" was yet another production by Pebbles' then-husband, LA Reid, and his partner in song, Babyface, that didn't cross over in Australia - and the lead single from her second album, Always. Once she'd finished promotion for the album, Pebbles turned her attention to the launch of an all-girl trio she'd signed to her fledgling management company, Pebbitone. You might have heard of the group: TLC.
Peak: number 33
It'd been seven years since former The Sports singer Stephen Cummings had ventured inside the ARIA top 40 - despite releasing a steady stream of singles and albums in the intervening years. And, although "Hell (You Put Me Through)", which harked back to the sound of debut album Senso, broke his hit single drought, it was nowhere near as far-reaching as the "I Feel Better Now" jingle he co-wrote the previous year for Medibank Private.
Number 46 "Where Are You Baby?" by Betty Boo
Peak: number 19
Just as "Doin' The Do" was sliding down the chart, Betty Boo's second solo single charged into the top 50. The same mix of cutesy and feisty, "Where Are You Baby?" wasn't as huge as its predecessor, but it solidified the British rapper as one of the most exciting new artists of the time. Then it all went wrong. During a promotional tour in mid-1991, Betty was caught out lip-syncing when she dropped her microphone during a short set in a Melbourne nightclub. Even though dance acts like Betty were hardly selling records on the basis of their live performance skills, such obvious miming was a massive no-no in a post-Milli Vanilli world. The scandal destroyed any hope that the performer born Alison Clarkson would ever have another big hit in Australia.
Number 45 "Do The Bartman" by The Simpsons
Peak: number 1
Remember when The Simpsons was new and exciting? In 1991, it was a cartoon series like nothing we'd ever seen before. Irreverent, topical and with characters that were far from good role models for children - it's little surprise that the animated show quickly developed an audience of fans that spanned several generations. The most popular of those badly behaving characters - at least initially - was 10-year-old Bart, whose catchphrases were just waiting to be put to music.
In the end, however, it wasn't "Ay Caramba!" or "Eat My Shorts" that became Bart's spin-off single but a DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince-style rap called "Do The Bartman", which came with an accompanying dance. The Bartman may never have taken off as a dance craze, but the single raced to number 1 in Australia and the UK, and likely would have done the same in the US if it had have been released as a commercial single there.
Although he's not credited on the track, big Simpsons fan Michael Jackson actually co-wrote "Do The Bartman" and provided background vocals, but the terms of his record contract with Sony Music prevented his official involvement.
Number 36 "All This Time" by Sting
Peak: number 26
He last appeared on the Australian top 50 in 1987 with "We'll Be Together", the lead single from the ...Nothing Like The Sun album, and in 1991, Sting returned to the chart with the first release from The Soul Cages. Once again, it would be the only single from the album to make the top 50. Despite its cheery sound, "All This Time" - and, in fact, the entire album - was written about the death of Sting's father.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: the world's biggest boy band received a much-needed musical makeover. Plus, a dance/rap hybrid becomes the latest one-hit wonder on the ARIA chart.