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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1990: March 4, 1990

I'm just going to get this out of the way at the start - this week in 1990 was a terrible one on the ARIA chart as far as I was concerned. I'm talking really awful.

The best-known (and least dressed) line-up of Red Hot Chili Peppers 

Why so bad? In between the horrendous novelty track that was the week's highest new entry on the top 50 and the cavalcade of dreariness arriving lower down the chart, it's no wonder I was focusing more and more on what was going on in the UK and the US at this stage.

What's more, still firmly lodged at number 1 this week in 1990 was a song I'd quickly grown very sick of. "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor spent a second week on top, and even earnt itself a bullet for a significant sales increase despite not shifting position.

Off The Chart

Number 99 "Heaven And Earth" by Tania Bowra

Peak: number 99

I'd forgotten all about this Australian singer/songwriter, who kind of sounds like Toni Childs doing a Melissa Etheridge song. The track seems to have disappeared off YouTube, however.

Number 94 "Welcome To The Terrordome" by Public Enemy

Peak: number 81

Released between rap classics "Fight The Power" and "911 Is A Joke", this second single from Fear Of A Black Planet slipped into the top 100, probably thanks to Triple J play.

Number 93 "Black Wedding Ring" by Gyan

Peak: number 93

This third and final single from Gyan's self-titled album certainly didn't have the mass appeal of "Wait" - and duly performed much worse as a result. 


"Working Man" by Rita MacNeil

Peak: number 56

This single had been bouncing around the top 100 all year, but it actually dated back even further - to 1988, when Canadian folk singer Rita MacNeil released her fifth album, Reason To Believe. Written about the difficult conditions faced by coal miners, "Working Man" became a bit of a working class anthem and almost cracked the UK top 10. And since I have nothing that could be considered nice to say about the song, I'll move on...

New Entries

Number 49 "Higher Ground" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Peak: number 45

There are a couple of reasons why, after releasing three albums that passed most music fans by, Red Hot Chili Peppers suddenly jumped into the mainstream in 1990. Clearly, the band's decision to release a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1973 single to launch their Mother's Milk album played an important part. By turning the soul classic into a furious blast of funk-infused hard rock, RHCP made an instant impact.

The other main reason behind the band's new-found success was the settling of the line-up, after years of member changes, drug addictions and even a death in their ranks. RHCP now consisted of Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante and Chad Smith, and clearly the new roster gelled. Their true commercial crossover would come with album number five, but "Higher Ground" was a start, as it and Mother's Milk performed better than anything released by any previous incarnation of the band.

Number 42 "Turn A Blind Eye" by Hunters & Collectors

Peak: number 42

Here's my favourite song this week - but it pretty much earns that title by default since it's the best of a bad bunch for me. Furthermore, as far as singles by Hunters & Collectors go (and I'm a fan of quite a few), this follow-up to "When The River Runs Dry" is a bit on the dull side. 

Number 36 "Check Out The Chicken" by Grandmaster Chicken & DJ Duck

Peak: number 16

As if "The Birdie Song" (or "The Chicken Dance") wasn't already bad enough - this travesty, which combined the novelty song with a dodgy rap performed by cheaply animated characters, was the worst thing to hit the ARIA top 50 all year. Coming out of the Netherlands, the track was masterminded by Dutch performer and producer Eddy Ouwens, who'd previously co-written the winning entry of the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest, "Ding-a-dong" by Teach-In. If only "Check Out The Chicken" were half as good as that song.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:

Next week: my faith in the ARIA chart was restored with eight new entries, none of which I despised. In fact, I liked quite a lot of them - including the single that finally gave Paula Abdul a smash hit and the pop debut of Australia's favourite younger sister.

Back to: Feb 25, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 11, 1990

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