This Week In 1990: December 2, 1990
Just like the chart from this week in 1985, there were also clear signs that the Christmas release period was in full effect this week in 1990. Three new singles stormed into the top 20 - all from albums that were huge priorities for the festive period.
The three songs were also all by artists who have enjoyed decades of musical success in Australia - in fact, one of the performers had already achieved that by 1990. But none of the new entries would go on to top the ARIA chart because...
...for the second of seven weeks, "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers was firmly ensconced at number 1.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 67
Just when you thought we'd seen the last of the megamix-loving rabbit, this medley featuring the likes of "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Boney Maroney" became the act's final - and lowest charting - top 100 effort. Even the UK was starting to tire of the novelty, with "Let's Swing Again" the first Jive Bunny single to miss the top 10.
Peak: number 18
Before we get to the week's big trio of new entries, this club track that had been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic also made its debut. First released in December 1989 in the UK, "Dirty Cash (Money Talks)" finally reached its number 2 high in May 1990 before climbing to number 25 in the US. With such chart credentials, it was more or less assured the song would do well in Australia, which was still somewhat selective about which international dance hits were welcomed onto our top 50.
It would be the only such appearance on the chart for The Adventures Of Stevie V, which got its name from producer Steve Vincent, and also comprised singers Mick Walsh (who co-wrote "Dirty Cash") and Melody Washington. Twenty years later, "Dirty Cash" would be sampled by Dizzee Rascal in his 2010 single "Dirtee Cash", which also hit the UK top 10.
Number 16 "Burn For You" by John Farnham
Peak: number 5
The rapid-fire release schedule of singles from John Farnham's Chain Reaction continued with ballad "Burn For You" landing here nine weeks after "That's Freedom" hit the top 40 (which had been six weeks after "Chain Reaction" did the same). With those singles, which had both peaked at number 6, still on the chart, John was the only performer with three separate entries on the top 50 this week - as clear a sign as any that Farnsey's popularity remained high, even if he couldn't manage a chart-topper from his latest album. The emotive "Burn For You" was co-written by John and album producer Ross Fraser with Southern Sons' Phil Buckle, whose writing credits on "Heart In Danger" and "Always And Ever" meant that he was also responsible for three top 50 hits this week.
Number 14 "Justify My Love" by Madonna
Peak: number 4
Here's the proud owner of the number 1 album this week in 1990, with Madonna's first greatest hits collection, The Immaculate Collection, debuting right at the top. While I welcomed a best of by one of my favourite artists, the album broke just about all the rules I have for such releases - significantly, original single versions were replaced by remixes and plenty of big hits weren't included.
On the singles chart, Madonna had to made do with a top 20 entry for new single "Justify My Love" - but the controversial track would climb as high as number 4 to give the Queen of Pop her 13th top 5 hit in Australia. The start of Madonna's overtly sexual era, "Justify My Love" was co-written by Lenny Kravitz and Graffiti Bridge co-star Ingrid Chavez, although the latter had to sue to receive an official songwriting credit.
Less melodic than anything Madonna had released up until that point, the song was comprised mostly of moans and whispered vocals - a sound that didn't really work for me either at this point or when she replicated it on "Erotica" two years later. As a result, neither of those singles rank among my favourite 55 Madonna singles.
The suitably risqué music video accentuated the sound of the track, with visuals of Madonna cavorting in a Paris hotel with a variety of males and females in all manner of undress. Directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who'd helped Madonna push the envelope back in 1986 with the video for "Open Your Heart", the clip for "Justify My Love" was banned by just about everyone. But that mattered little when fans could go out and buy a copy of the video single, released by Madonna's record company in a world-first move.
Number 8 "Step Back In Time" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 5
Besting both John Farnham and Madonna to storm into the top 10, Kylie Minogue's second new single of the year preceded her third album, Rhythm Of Love, by two weeks - and while she seemed to have no trouble still landing big hits, the same couldn't be said of her performance on the albums chart. It'd take Rhythm Of Love until March to crack the albums top 10 - and then only for a single week at number 10. And that's despite it being one of the best albums of her career.
Like "Better The Devil You Know", "Step Back In Time" is still regarded by many as one of the highlights of Kylie's time with producers Stock Aitken Waterman and allowed her to continue to flirt with a more grown-up, stylish image while recapturing the sense of fun that had characterised her early singles. A joyous disco pastiche, the lyrics referenced '70s hits "The Bus Stop", "The Hustle", "Blame It On The Boogie", "Float On", "Keep On Truckin'", "Ball Of Confusion", "Walking In Rhythm" and "Love Train" as well as the performers of the latter, The O'Jays. And unlike Madonna's single, "Step Back In Time" does feature in my list of favourite Kylie songs.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:
Next week: one of the most memorable Australian bands of the '80s returns with the controversial song that provided them with their international breakthrough. Plus, the second top 10 hit from an artist often credited as being a one-hit wonder and a couple of cover versions arrive on the top 50.