This Week In 1994: November 27, 1994
A few weeks ago, I talked about how a covers album is often the kind of thing an artist does when their career has hit a rough patch and they don't know what else to do. I mentioned that Christmas albums fall into the same category, and we've seen countless examples over the years of singers sticking out a collection of festive favourites when they've run out of other ideas.
This week in 1994, however, a very different type of Christmas release debuted on the ARIA singles chart. Taken from a holiday album that came when the singer responsible was very much in the ascendancy, it has, in the 25 years since, become a modern day Christmas classic. And, in the streaming age, it returns to the chart each year, having finally reached number 1 last Christmas.
At number 1 in the lead-up to Christmas 1994, silverchair held on to the top spot for a fifth week with "Tomorrow".
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Sly" by Massive Attack
Peak: number 98
Maintaining their strike rate of being completely underappreciated on the Australian chart, this lead single from second album Protection, which features vocals from Nicolette, was barely a blip on the top 100.
Number 96 "Give It All You Got" by Marcia Hines
Peak: number 53
The first single from Right Here And Now just made the top 50; this follow-up just missed. "Give It All You Got" was given a couple of releases, with the link above taking you to the 1995 remix version.
Number 95 "Dance Naked" by John Mellencamp
Peak: number 79
"Wild Night" had taken John Mellencamp into the top 20 for the first (and what would end up as the only) time during the '90s, but the title track of his 13th album did not follow suit.
Peak: number 66
A fairly hideous Eurodance track (even by my standards) that took its hook, like so many other songs, from "Let's All Chant". It was the only top 100 entry for the Swedish group.
Number 50 "My Wave" by Soundgarden
Peak: number 50
"Black Hole Sun" had taken them into the top 10 and even (slightly) appealed to grunge-resistant me, but this follow-up scraped the very bottom of the top 50 and is not a song I even recall hearing at the time. "My Wave", which was inspired by "My Beach" by Surf Punks, certainly didn't have the immediacy or sing-along chorus of their big hit, which probably explains its lowly peak.
Peak: number 39
Just when you thought dance music couldn't sink any lower than "Swamp Thing" and "Everybody Gonfi Gon", along came Melinda Schneider to yodel all over this cynical cash grab from Australian group Audio Murphy Inc, who released one more track in 1995: "Fiddler Man" featuring Slim Dusty. Thankfully, that didn't chart. Melinda, meanwhile, would go on to have quite a respectable music, TV and radio career.
Number 47 "Sure" by Take That
Peak: number 31
Despite the best efforts of the boy band and their record company, Take That had still to really happen in Australia, the top 10 placement of "Pray" notwithstanding. The Everything Changes album had paid a brief visit to the top 30 mid-year but the title track and "Love Ain't Here Anymore" hadn't amounted to much locally. So what about a brand new song from their then-upcoming third album? "Sure" was an instant number 1 in the UK - albeit the lowest selling chart-topper for the year there - and in Australia it was... another minor hit. For me, "Sure" wasn't among Take That's best songs and seemed a bit like an obvious attempt to appeal more to the US. Then there were those bizarre outfits in the music video - the likes of which hadn't been seen since their debut clip. All in all, it felt like some odd decisions were being made, but Take That would course correct in about six months' time.
Peak: number 2 (in 1994); number 1 (in 2018)
Even Mariah Carey herself was unsure about how wise it was to release a Christmas album when she was only three albums in to her career - and that career up until then had been one of the most successful debuts of all time. But her record company, headed up by her then-husband, Tommy Mattola, pushed for the project, Merry Christmas, which featured a selection of festive standards and three new songs, co-written by Mariah with regular collaborator Walter Afanasieff. One of those, "All I Want For Christmas", a 1960s-sounding love song with a holiday theme, was chosen as the lead single and was a substantial hit at the time (her second number 2 following "Endless Love").
But it's what happened next that makes the song truly remarkable. Over the years, the track, which works as both a season-specific tune and a pop song, has established itself as a Christmas classic in the vein of "White Christmas" or "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and is covered by other artists on their Christmas albums, performed at Carols By Candlelight, has appeared in films and TV shows, and is inescapable in the month leading up to December 25. And, since the streaming era, "All I Want For Christmas" has returned regularly to the ARIA top 50. It reached number 40 in 2012-13, number 33 in 2013-14, number 14 in 2014-15, number 17 in 2015-16, number 15 in 2016-17, number 6 in 2017-18 and, finally, went all the way to number 1 last Christmas.
Naturally, the song never hangs around in the top 50 for very long - its original seven-week run has yet to be beaten - but unless something dramatic happens to the chart in the coming years, we can rest assured that "All I Want For Christmas" will pay a visit each December for some time.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: an eclectic mix of new entries, including some British indie, a reggae remake, a spooky dance song and some Aussie rock.