This Week In 1988: July 31, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
It had a been a while since a comedy record had entered the Australian top 50, so we were overdue for another one this week in 1988. The spoof song that debuted just happened to be by one of the most successful comic performers of all time.
In fact, "Weird Al" Yankovic (real name: Alfred Yankovic) had already landed a number 1 hit in Australia back in 1984 with "Eat It", his take on Michael Jackson's "Beat It" (which had only reached number 2).
At number 1 this week in 1988, John Farnham barged Kylie Minogue out of the way as "Age Of Reason" took up a four-week residency at the top of the singles chart.
Number 48 "Theme From S'Express" by S'Express
Peak: number 11
Still on the topic of number 1 records, here's a song that had spent two weeks at the top of the UK chart in May 1988 - and although it didn't quite manage to break into the Australian top 10, its peak position here was pretty good for a sample-based club record. Over a dozen samples are used in the track, most prominently the intro from "Is It Love You're After" by Rose Royce and some vocals from "I've Got The Hots For You" by TZ. I didn't quite know what to make of the record at the time - it was so different from anything else I'd been exposed to until that point, but I knew I liked it. My favourite bit? The "drop that ghetto blaster" line.
Number 46 "Hey What Now" by The Cockroaches
Peak: number 28
The group that would become The Wiggles released a new album, Fingertips, in 1988 - and this was the lead single from it, but the disappointing chart performance of both single and album was the beginning of the end for the "Hardest Working Band In The Country" (according to one local newspaper). I could not remember this single at all and kept singing the title over the melody to the "hey let's go" bit from "She's The One", but "Hey What Now" is a bit heavier than that, although still very in-keeping with The Cockroaches '60s-influenced brand of pop/rock.
Peak: number 33
It was back-to-back rock ballads for Jimmy as he lifted a fourth single from Freight Train Heart. I was never a fan of Jimmy, but I have to say this was probably the song I objected to the least from his '80s output.
Number 22 "Simply Irresistible" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 1
Meanwhile, here's one of the songs I most objected to by Robert Palmer (and I am a fan of quite a few of his other songs). The British singer repeated the music video concept from "Addicted To Love" and "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" for this lead single from the Heavy Nova album, since it seemed people couldn't get enough of the "hot chicks playing musical instruments" idea. The clip became one of the most played at the time - and, naturally, the song sped up the chart and ended up spending five weeks at number 1. The song was also a massive US hit, but at least British audiences weren't so easily impressed and "Simply Irresistible" bombed out at number 44 there.
Number 15 "Fat" by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Peak: number 12
Continuing the food consumption gag he'd started in "Eat It", "Weird Al" turned Michael Jackson's "Bad" into "Fat" and called his accompanying album Even Worse. "Fat" is still pretty funny - from the black and white section at the start of the music video (which sends up the similar portion of "Bad") to first line "your butt is wide" to that fat suit, the comedian doesn't miss a chance for a gag - and Michael was clearly in on the joke since he gave his permission for the song to be released (as he'd done with "Eat It"). Of course, as songwriter of "Bad", Michael received additional royalties from "Fat", but since money was the last thing he needed at the time, he didn't have to give his approval - and I'm sure there are many artists who would have refused.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: a three-year-old song that received a chart boost thanks to a two-year-old movie and the arrival of 1988's most controversial record.