This Week In 1990: August 5, 1990
This week in 1985, the highest new entry on the ARIA top 50 singles chart was soundtrack hit "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner. Five years later, the movie tie-in single was alive and well, with two of the week's newcomers appearing in films.
Despite sharing that trait in common, the two records couldn't have been more different in all other respects - one was a subtle instrumental from a foreign film while the other was an ultra-commercial rap song from a cartoon-to-big screen adaptation.
It was a good time for rap this week in 1990. As well as the aforementioned soundtrack release, a second hip-hop track debuted on the top 50 and would go all the way to number 1 - a position held this week by MC Hammer with "U Can't Touch This", which registered its third week on top.
Off The Chart
Number 96 "Jealous Again" by The Black Crowes
Peak: number 96
Their brand of Southern American rock would take a couple of years to catch on, with the debut single from the Georgia band getting no higher than this debut position.
Number 95 "Lately" by No Justice
Peak: number 91
Appearing in Pugwall's Summer, the second season of kids' TV series Pugwall, this was the only top 100 appearance from the Melbourne trio signed to Molly Meldrum's Melodian label. Still, that's one more than The Orange Organics managed.
Number 88 "The Other Side" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 73
This fourth single from Pump would have been otherwise unremarkable were it not for the fact that Motown hitmakers Holland-Dozier-Holland ended up with a songwriting credit since "The Other Side" sounds awfully similar to "Standing In The Shadows Of Love".
Peak: number 51
One of a handful of songs I still own on 7" single, having never found it on iTunes or CD single, "Sittin' In The Lap Of Luxury" was the only major US hit for the singer born Louis Cordero - and was one of many singles in 1990 that received a little help up the ARIA top 100 thanks to American Top 40, which had started broadcasting in Australia by this point. Like plenty of tracks to feature on AT40 that we'll see in the weeks and months to come, it faltered just short of the top 50, but would likely not even have got that far without that exposure - in Sydney, AT40 aired in the prime slot of Sunday afternoon/evening alongside our own Take 40 Australia. Things I didn't know about "Sittin'..." until now: 1) Michael Bay directed the video. 2) Louis played Madonna's pissed off boyfriend in the clip for "Borderline".
Number 48 "Walk On Fire" by Shane Howard
Peak: number 48
His former band, Goanna, had struggled to ever release anything as big as classic Aussie song "Solid Rock", with their next best effort the number 36 placing of follow-up "Razor's Edge". So too would singer Shane Howard find the charts tough going with this lead single from second solo album The River peaking right here at number 48. Not an altogether terrible song, "Walk On Fire" was reasonably commercial in a Black Sorrows kind of way - but then it wasn't terribly memorable, either.
Number 47 "Bust A Move" by Young MC
Peak: number 1
Making its long-overdue appearance on the top 50 is this Grammy-winning single first released in the US in May 1989 and in Australia at some point that year. Re-promoted in the wake of follow-up "Principal's Office" making a fleeting visit to the top 50 back in May, "Bust A Move" made more of an impression this time around - slowly but surely jumping up the chart until it finally reached number 1 late in October.
As you'd expect, the rap single was heavily sample-based, with the main hook taken from "Found A Child" by Ballin' Jack (listen out at the 1:46 mark) and drum patterns lifted from a variety of other tracks (including a Bette Midler song of all places). And yes, that is Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers playing bass in the video at the 2:00 mark.
Those musical components were all - no pun intended - instrumental in the success of "Bust A Move". But probably the main reason the track became such a hit here in Australia, where there was pretty much zero hip-hop culture to speak of in 1990, was thanks to its incredibly quotable lyrics. To this day, I can recall whole chunks of the rap - and I imagine that's true for anyone who was a teenager in 1990.
Peak: number 10
A couple of weeks ago on my 1985 recap when we saw the debut of Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F", I commented that there weren't very many truly instrumental chart hits - and here to prove my point is what I'm pretty sure was the next single without any vocals after "Axel F" to reach the top 10. I'm not including Yello's "Oh Yeah" or "Infinity..." by Guru Josh since they have some form of vocal - but someone let me know if I've forgotten anything.
Anyway, this atmospheric guitar and saxaphone duet was also taken from a film - but unlike Beverly Hills Cop, it's not a movie very many Australians will have seen (myself included). Retitled Lily Was Here for the English-language market, Dutch drama De Kassière featured a soundtrack by Dave Stewart, who went by his full name as a solo artist and had time for such enterprises with Eurythmics on hiatus.
On this title track, Dave employed the talents of hitherto unknown Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer, who used the appearance as a launchpad for an enduring career of her own - in recent years, she's served as a judge on the Dutch version of The X Factor. Not surprisingly, this was Candy's only ARIA top 50 appearance, but as it turned out, it would also be Dave's only hit single away from Eurythmics, making them both one-hit wonders.
Number 37 "Close To You" by Maxi Priest
Peak: number 2
He'd made his name in the '80s with a couple of cover versions - reaching number 12 in the UK with a remake of "Some Guys Have All The Luck" in 1987, and hitting the UK and Australian top 10s with his take on Cat Stevens' "Wild World" the following year. But funnily enough, the biggest single by the reggae performer born Max Elliott was one he actually co-wrote. Sounding more than a little influenced by Soul II Soul, "Close To You" fell just short of topping the Australian chart, held at bay for three weeks by Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze Of Glory", which we're yet to see debut. It was a different story in the US, where the song went all the way to number 1. We wouldn't see Maxi in the ARIA top 50 for another six years, but when we did, it would be with his third top 10 hit. If nothing else, he was consistent.
Number 24 "Turtle Power" by Partners In Kryme
Peak: number 15
Our second soundtrack hit and rap song to debut this week was always going to be big - and looking back, I'm actually surprised this song from the film adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't do any better. Not because it's a good song - far from it - but because TMNT were so massive at this point that anything relating to the heroes in a half-shell was generally a must-have item for their legions of fans.
A four-week number 1 single in the UK, "Turtle Power" was the handiwork of James Alpern and Richard Usher, who seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth as quickly as they found fame. That said, it was always going to be difficult to establish a credible career after what is essentially a novelty record with lyrics explaining in some detail the plot of the movie.
Peak: number 8
This must've been the last thing anyone saw coming. Famed for his slush-fest cover of George Benson album track "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" from 1987 (which reached its number 10 peak in Australia in March 1988), Hawaiian teen star Glenn Medeiros was about as cheesy and clean cut as pop acts get. But when his debut self-titled album and its follow-up, Not Me, yielded no further hits, it was time for a career reinvention.
Who better to add some much-needed cred to Glenn's squeaky clean image than the bad boy of R&B, Bobby Brown? With its new jack swing-lite production and a guest rap from Bobby, "She Ain't Worth It" made Glenn seem (relatively) cool - a perception that was maintained by showing as little of his dancing in the music video as possible.
The overhaul worked and "She Ain't Worth It" went on to spend four straight weeks at number 8 in Australia and top the US chart. Sadly, Glenn's renewed success didn't last and the "Grease"-sounding follow-up, "All I'm Missing Is You" (which I also liked), bombed, making him a two-hit wonder in Australia.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:
Next week: the arrival of one of the '90s most successful female singers and the follow-up to the biggest hit of the year. Plus, three local acts disappoint with their latest releases.