This Week In 1989: October 29, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
Pop music has always been a fairly fickle business — and that was as evident as ever this week in 1989 on the ARIA singles top 50. Four of the performers debuting on the chart had enjoyed massive hits just months earlier but struggled with their latest releases.
In all four cases, the downturn in chart fortunes was probably warranted — the singles in question weren't up to standard and the artists weren't massive enough in their own right (although one had previously been) to overcome that. While those acts struggled, a male solo artist proved to be as popular as ever with his first chart appearance in two years.
At number 1 for a second week this week in 1989, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers continued to rule the roost with "Swing The Mood", while Cher bided her time at number 2 with "If I Could Turn Back Time".
Off The Chart
Peak: number 100
Like Donna Summer, music veteran Cliff Richard turned to producers Stock Aitken Waterman for their hit-making services. Although the single flopped here, it was another top 3 hit in the UK for the singer (and the Hit Factory).
Number 80 "Cold Hearted" by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 68
In the US, it was her third number 1 hit on the trot, but Australia was still proving to be only moderately interested in choreographer-turned-singer Paula Abdul's musical output... for now.
Number 78 "Cheer Down" by George Harrison
Peak: number 78
Included on the soundtrack to Lethal Weapon 2, this stand-alone single saw George Harrison continuing to collaborate with his Traveling Wilbury band-mates Tom Petty, who co-wrote it, and Jeff Lynne, who co-produced the track.
Peak: number 31
Yes, here she is again — the incorrectly dubbed one-hit wonder Collette with her third top 40 hit. "That's What I Like About You" followed in the watered down house footsteps of her previous two singles, "Ring My Bell" and "All I Wanna Do Is Dance", and — surprise, surprise — she was once again sporting more lycra than can be healthy in the accompanying music video.
I know I go on about Collette's lyrca a lot — let's face it, it's better than me discussing her voice — but it was clearly an important part of her appeal. Once she stopped wearing the workout wear, she stopped landing top 50 hits. Her next single, 1990's "Who Do You Think You Are?" (which I actually thought was her best effort), stalled at number 56.
Number 44 "Angelia" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 32
Here Richard Marx's record company was, thinking they had a sure-fire hit with another ballad hot on the heels of chart-topper "Right Here Waiting" — and "Angelia" went and flopped, relatively speaking. Well, that was the case in Australia, where the song (which featured one of the more obscure girls' names in pop history as its title) got no further than number 32. In the States, the third single from Repeat Offender gave Richard his seventh straight (and final) top 5 smash.
Number 36 "I Got You" by Paul Norton Peak: number 31
Next, another song failing to live up to the success of a preceding single — in this case, Paul's number 3 debut "Stuck On You". I can see why "I Got You" was such a chart disappointment — the chorus is nowhere near as strong as "Stuck On You", feeling like a bit of anticlimax after the lengthy build-up of the verse and bridge.
Peak: number 26
It's kind of amazing that Mötley Crüe ever had any kind of success, what with all the boozing and in-fighting, which was so bad that the producer of their fifth album, Dr Feelgood, worked with each member in the studio separately. Despite — or perhaps because of — all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, Mötley Crüe enjoyed their most profitable period in 1989/1990, with the album's lead single and title track becoming their biggest ever Australian and US hit. "Dr Feelgood" was one of four top 30 singles from the album in America, while in Australia only three reached the top 50, as we'll see in months to come.
Number 25 "Chocolate Box" by Bros
Peak: number 23
After six straight top 20 singles, Bros's streak came to an end with this second single from The Time — and fair enough, since "Chocolate Box" wasn't a patch on their previous efforts. While a position of number 23 wasn't a disaster, the fact The Time peaked 30 places lower than debut album Push on the albums chart said it all — the former teen sensations were on their way out.
Number 20 "We Didn't Start The Fire" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 2
When some people turn 40, they try to forget just how old they are, but Billy Joel used the fact as inspiration for this lead single from the Storm Front album. "We Didn't Start The Fire" recounts in list form 118 (or 119, depending if "heavy metal suicide" is one or two things) separate events and high profile figures since 1949 — the year Billy was born.
The novelty of the lyrics meant it was, inevitably, a massive hit and, just as inevitably, a song I hated. I'm not opposed to list songs — I like "Hello" by The Beloved and the spoken bit in Madonna's "Vogue" — but "We Didn't Start The Fire" is like an angry history lesson.
Billy's biggest Australian single since 1983's number 1 "Uptown Girl", it would also be the last time we'd see him anywhere near the top of the chart until 1993, when he made up for lost time by hitting number 1 again with "The River Of Dreams/No Man's Land".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: one of the best dance tracks of the '80s sneaks into the very end of the decade, plus a cover version that had real-life implications and the return of the singer currently wowing UK audiences with her latest comeback.