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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1989: September 3, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

Singers emerging from TV shows might seem like a relatively recent thing, but this week in 1989, two of the new entries on the ARIA single chart came from artists who'd started their careers on the small screen.

Step by step... Martika made her way from TV star to chart-topper

One was an Australian singer who won the first season of a TV talent quest, while the other was an American performer who started out on a musical comedy series that existed decades before Glee

Meanwhile, after it looked like they were out of the running for the top spot last week, Simply Red rebounded from number 4 to number 1 this week in 1989 with "If You Don't Know Me By Now". Their stay at the summit would be short-lived, with one of this week's new entries charging towards number 1.


"California Blue" by Roy Orbison

Peak: number 65

He'd already managed two big hits from Mystery Girl, but there were few takers for this third single, which was once again written with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, but lacked the oomph of "You Got It". While The Big O wouldn't appear in the ARIA singles top 50 again, the late singer would return to the albums chart with a couple of posthumous projects and regular greatest hits releases.

New Entries

Number 50 "The World Seems Difficult" by Mental As Anything

Peak: number 19

The arrival of a new Mental As Anything single was usually accompanied by a madcap music video to match the jaunty tune, but the hijinks-loving band defied expectations with this sombre song and a clip with minimal hamming it up for the camera. Despite being uncharacteristically serious, "The World Seems Difficult" returned the Mentals to the top 20, and both it and previous hit "Rock And Roll Music" were included on the band's latest album, Cyclone Raymond. Although that album under-performed - struggling to a peak of number 34 and yielding no further hits - the title did end up being given to a real-life cyclone in 2005, so that's something.

Number 49 "Wait" by Gyan

Peak: number 14

Before The X Factor, The Voice and even Australian Idol, there was Star Search. Hosted by Greg Evans in the mid-'80s, it was responsible for launching the Daddo brothers onto an unsuspecting public - Cameron won the spokesmodel category and replaced Greg as host of Perfect Match (and then came his brothers). But, I digress. Singer Gyan Evans (no relation to Greg) took out the overall grand final of Star Search, winning $20,000 and going on to be signed by Charles Fisher (the producer behind 1927's ...ish)

Three years later, "Wait", which was co-written by Gyan with 1927's Garry Frost and Geoffrey Stappleton from GANGgajang, emerged as her debut single and a bright career looked certain. As we'll see when her second single appears on the top 50 at the end of the year, "Wait" was as good as it got for Gyan - but she certainly made a lasting impression with this, her biggest hit. After all, who doesn't remember the sight of her standing on the clifftop, bellowing out the song's title? 

Number 45 "Bat Attack '89" by The Crime Fighters Inc. Peak: number 29

The third Batman-related single to feature on the ARIA chart (one as a breaker) in less than a year, "Bat Attack '89" has the desperate whiff of a cash-in. Riding on the coattails of Prince's "Batdance", the track combined the theme tune to the '60s TV show with a vaguely piano house beat. The Crime Fighters Inc. seems to be a one-off project by Australian producers Doug Brady, Ross Inglis and Ean Sugarman, whose names would all pop up again the following year on "I Need Your Body" by Tina Arena.

Number 41 "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard

Peak: number 26

Two years after its release in the UK and 16 months after it started its climb to number 2 in the US, this single from the Hysteria album finally found its way onto the ARIA top 50 as the fifth hit (out of six releases) from Def Leppard's multi-million selling opus. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" had also been originally released in Australia 16 months earlier - in May 1988 between "Hysteria" and "Love Bites" - but missed the top 100 that time. Since Hysteria had spent three weeks at number 1 on the albums chart in early August, the song was never going to be massive, but a top 30 placement is not bad going. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" had two music videos - the original clip set in a house being demolished by a wrecking ball and a more straightforward performance clip the band preferred.

Number 37 "Mixed Emotions" by The Rolling Stones

Peak: number 25

They hadn't had as much chart success during the '80s as previously, but The Rolling Stones had racked up one major worldwide hit from each of their four studio albums released during the decade - Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You, Undercover and Dirty Work. In each case, it was the lead single that performed well - and "Mixed Emotions" followed that trend, reaching the US top 5 as the first release from the Steel Wheels album. In Australia, the single - which was a back-to-basics rock'n'roll song - became the band's biggest hit since 1986's "Harlem Shuffle" and would be their last top 50 appearance for five years.

Number 35 "Toy Soldiers" by Martika

Peak: number 5

Here's our second artist making the transition from TV to the charts - Marta Marrero was one of the child stars of American musical comedy Kids Incorporated. The show was also the launching pad for performers Fergie and Jennifer Love Hewitt, who both featured alongside other cast members as backing vocalists in the chorus of "Toy Soldiers", which became Martika's breakthrough single in Australia. In the US, previous single "More Than You Know" had already reached the top 20, but this anti-drugs ballad, co-written by Martika, hit number 1 there and the top 5 locally. Fifteen years later, the song would be sampled by Eminem for "Like Toy Soldiers", which peaked one place higher on the ARIA chart.

Number 32 "Blush" by The Hummingbirds

Peak: number 19

With their jangly guitars and close harmonies, The Hummingbirds sounded like they could have emerged from the same British scene that spawned The Primitives and The Darling Buds, but they were an Australian band - and the first hit act from fledgling indie record label rooART. A short burst of exuberant guitar pop, "Blush" was the exception to the rule for The Hummingbirds, who never hit the top 50 again, placing in the lower section of the top 100 with all their subsequent releases.

Number 11 "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx

Peak: number 1

Richard Marx had released ballads before, but nothing as drippy as this tear-jerker, written to his wife, Dirty Dancing star Cynthia Rhodes (who'd also appeared in her future husband's "Don't Mean Nothing" clip). The couple had married earlier in 1989, which might explain why this love song was quite so gooey. While I preferred Richard's rockier singles, like "Satisfied" and "Should've Known Better", Australia went crazy for "Right Here Waiting", sending it sky-rocketing into the top 50 at number 11 on its way to the very top of the chart, where it would stay for five weeks. Sadly, 25 years later, Richard and Cynthia split up - ending their marriage in the past year.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: six new entries, six massive stars - including a '70s shock rocker, a side project for the singer of Australia's greatest musical export and the latest from the pop star he corrupted.

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