This Week In 1991: February 3, 1991
Some artists are great at reinventing themselves - able to tell when it's a good idea to change musical direction or make over their image. Others get pigeonholed as one thing and are never able to move on, no matter how much they try.
This week in 1991, two acts that had enjoyed top 10 success suddenly found themselves just scraping in to the top 40 with singles that were nothing like their big hits. Bad moves or just bad songs?
Moving up to number 1 this week in 1991, "I Touch Myself" gave Divinyls their first - and only - Australian chart-topper, knocking off "Ice Ice Baby" in the process.
Off The Chart
Number 84 "More" by The Sisters Of Mercy
Peak: number 74
Better late than never - the British goth rock band finally reached the ARIA top 100 with this epic lead single from third and final album Vision Thing.
Peak: number 55
Back in the days when Rage used to play the ARIA top 60, I remember fast-forwarding through this track the handful of weeks it charted between numbers 60 and 51. I wasn't adverse to the odd bit of Australian indie rock from this era - like The Hummingbirds or The Clouds - but I found the verses of "Lock It" by Canberra band Falling Joys a bit dull and I don't think I ever gave the song a chance to get to the rousing chorus. If "Lock It" was released today, I'd probably quite like it, so I might need to give this some retrospective attention.
Number 50 "I Saw Red" by Warrant
Peak: number 36
Oh, c'mon Warrant. You can't release a single like "Cherry Pie" and then expect us to take you seriously after that. OK, the shift back to a "Heaven"-style song might've worked in America, where they lapped up this kind of hair metal power ballad and sent "I Saw Red" to number 10. But, in Australia, Warrant would never be anything but the band behind the lyric "she wanted me to feed her/so I mixed up the batter/and she licked the beater", among other gems. "I Saw Red" was a very different tale of Jani Lane-style love and romance - the Warrant singer wrote the track about being confronted with the sight of his girlfriend and his best friend in bed together.
Number 43 "Games" by New Kids On The Block
Peak: number 33
Oh, c'mon New Kids On The Block. You can't release singles like "Step By Step" and "Tonight" one minute, then expect us to buy you as purveyors of Bell Biv Devoe-lite hip-hop the next. In all fairness, NKTOB, as they now styled their name, had to do something drastic. Fans were quickly tiring of their sickly sweet tunes. Recent allegations of miming - however unfounded they were - didn't help their cause, either. So it was out with the bubblegum pop, and in with the hip-hop and house beats, and an angry rap "to all those non-believers out there" from co-writer Donnie Wahlberg.
A more traditional New Kids-sounding version of "Games" had originally appeared on the Step By Step album, but the boy band recruited white hot remixers Robert Clivillés & David Cole (of C&C Music Factory fame) to turn the "Hangin' Tough"-style track into something much more credible. Musically, this was the most exciting thing the boys had ever released, but all the rebranding and posturing in the world couldn't disguise the fact that this single and the whole No More Games remix album project smacked of desperation rather than a genuine musical metamorphosis.
Number 35 "Wiggle It" by 2 In A Room
Peak: number 3
Next up, a track that also fused hip-hop and dance, but didn't feel at all forced. A feel-good anthem with a cautionary warning about drink-driving worked in, "Wiggle It" was the perfect end-of-summer tune and its beach party music video was quickly on high rotation. Proof that America wasn't entirely being left behind while Europe charged ahead in the dance music stakes, the track was the only big hit by duo 2 In A Room, which was comprised of producer Roger "Rog Nice" Pauletta and rapper Rafael "Dose" Vargas. I actually wasn't a massive fan of "Wiggle It", but I could see why a lot of people were.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: it takes two... of my most hated singers at the time teaming up for a dreadful cover version. Plus, dud singles by two other artists I normally liked. Thank goodness for two of the songs that didn't make the top 50.