This Week In 1988: May 29, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
Music and controversy often go hand in hand, and this week in 1988 saw the arrival on the ARIA chart of Sinéad O'Connor, a female artist who'd rival Madonna for headline-grabbing antics in years to come.
Also this week: the return of a man who'd once released a song called "Controversy" and would court it over the next few years with racy lyrics and unpredictable career choices. Little did anyone know at the time, but Prince and Sinéad would go on to have much more in common in years to come, but for now, their only link was debuting new songs in the same week.
At number 1 this week in 1988, Billy Ocean spent his fifth and final week on top with "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car". What took over? Find out next week.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Paid In Full" by Eric B & Rakim
Peak: number 78
Thanks to a remix by Coldcut which added a stack of samples to an already sample-heavy track, this became the biggest global hit for the hip-hop duo comprised of Eric Barrier (the DJ) and William Griffin Jr (the rapper).
Peak: number 75
Back with their first new music in three-and-a-half years - and a new record company - Hall & Oates scored one last US top 10 hit, but didn't ignite the same interest locally.
Peak: number 73
She'd managed a pair of number 7s from her debut album, but this tepid lead single from Stacey Q's second LP, Hard Machine, became her second song to peak in the 70s.
Peak: number 80
I didn't think this would be on YouTube, but I guess I underestimated fans of AFL - although at this point, Port Adelaide played in the SANFL and, just as expected, won that year's season. And yes, the song is terrible.
Peak: number 56
First up this week, a female artist (OK, technically, they're a band, but can anyone name any member other than Sade?) who's about as uncontroversial as you can get. Sade had provided dinner parties around the world with a soothing soundtrack thanks to the albums Diamond Life and Promise in 1984 and 1985 (which both went top 10 here). In 1988, she/they returned with album number three, Stronger Than Pride. This first single didn't reach the top 50, but, "Smooth Operator" aside, Sade had always been more of an albums act in Australia. In fact, it wouldn't be until 1993, that Sade would get anywhere near the number 20 peak of their best known song again.
Number 50 "Mandinka" by Sinéad O'Connor
Peak: number 39
From the song's weird title (named after an African tribe) to Sinéad's unique vocal delivery, "Mandinka" was like nothing else on the chart in 1988. And, although the track from her debut album, The Lion And The Cobra, only just scraped into the top 40, it made enough of an impact to get people excited about the Irish singer. Naturally, her appearance - in the image-obsessed '80s - was also a talking point, but having a buzz cut would be the least of the things for which Sinéad would become known.
Peak: number 36
Finally, TTD's debut single - and my favourite track from Introducing The Hardline... - cracked the Australian top 50. A failure on these shores first time round, the subsequent success of "Wishing Well" and "Sign Your Name" gave "If You Let Me Stay" the boost it needed, even if it couldn't become as big a hit as those two songs.
Number 47 "Alphabet St." by Prince
Peak: number 20
Possibly the most controversial thing about Prince's 1988 album, Lovesexy, was that the end of one song ran into the beginning of the next, resulting in a continuous mix and, on CD versions of the album, a single track. That sort of nonsense is a real pet hate of mine (together with hidden tracks) but I did like this first single lifted from the album. Coming in at just under two and a half minutes, the 7" edit of "Alphabet St." was great for sticking on the end of mix tapes when you didn't have quite enough room for any other song. And, it gave Prince another top 20 hit.
Number 38 "Heart" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 18
After a brief excursion away from Actually with "Always On My Mind", PSB plucked another single from their second studio album, gave it a bit of a remix, got Ian McKellen to appear in the music video as a vampire and, hey presto!, landed themselves another UK chart-topper. "Heart" wasn't quite as big here - and would be the duo's last top 20 hit in Australia for three years. Originally conceived during the sessions for their debut album, "Heart" was initially considered for submission to both Hazell Dean and Madonna, but ultimately Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe opted to keep it for themselves. Whether or not either singer would have recorded it is a question we'll never know the answer to.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: new songs from four acts who'd been dominating music in recent months. Plus, an underrated Australian band returned to the top 50.