This Week In 1990: May 6, 1990
Rock ballads, power ballads, electro ballads, piano ballads... sometimes nothing beats an emotive downtempo number. This week in 1990, ballads of all varieties descended on the ARIA singles chart.
Not all the ballads were big hits, however. Some went all the way to the top 10 but others floundered much lower down the rankings. Many of them were also horrible, horrible songs.
Meanwhile, blasting from its number 19 debut last week straight to number 1 was Madonna's "Vogue/Keep It Together", which benefited from a full week on sale right around the country. It would be the first of five weeks on top in total for the track.
Off The Chart
Number 95 "Forever" by KISS
Peak: number 73
I mentioned this song last week - the second single from Hot In The Shade was one of many rock ballads to hit the US top 10 in 1990 that failed to connect in Australia. Fun fact: "Forever" was co-written by power ballad king Michael Bolton
Peak: number 75
It's got a little too much kick to technically be a ballad, but this more downbeat single didn't find as many takers as the band's rockier fare like "Do You See What I See" and "Say Goodbye".
Peak: number 59
This one's definitely not a ballad - a cover of the 1976 single by AC/DC (which had reached number 29) lifted from an album of rock covers by a Blackheart-less Joan. I'm not a fan of Acca Dacca at the best of times, and I find "Dirty Deeds" a bit monotonous - so nothing about this remake appealed to me. Joan's versions of "Love Hurts" and "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" were also released as singles, but neither troubled the top 100.
Peak: number 57
As "Don't Know Much" spent its final week inside the top 10, Linda followed it up with an identikit middle-of-the-road ballad, once again featuring Aaron Neville as her duet partner. Lightning didn't strike twice in this case - at least not in Australia, although in the States, "All My Life" narrowly missed the top 10, peaking at number 11.
Number 48 "Run Silent" by Shakespear's Sister
Peak: number 47
Previous single "You're History" was a musical revelation, and former Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey and new band-mate Marcella Detroit continued to defy expectations with this electro-ballad follow-up. A chart disappointment here and in the UK, where it stiffed at number 54, "Run Silent" sounds like a song in need of a stronger chorus.
Number 47 "Only My Heart Talkin'" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 47
Like KISS, Alice Cooper was a relic from the '70s enjoying something of a resurgence in the early '90s - but he really should have stuck to the likes of "Poison" or "Bed Of Nails" where his voice was smothered by layers of guitars and production, instead of tackling a rock ballad like "Only My Heart Talkin'". Whereas KISS frontman Paul Stanley has the vocal chops to handle a song like this, Alice's performance is strangled at best, unlistenable at worst. And being a serious and sensitive artist isn't what Alice Cooper was ever about, so who knows what anyone was thinking with this.
Peak: number 46
Sticking with the turgid rock ballads, the Crüe took some time out from hell-raisers like "Kickstart My Heart" and "Dr. Feelgood" to release this slowie, which sounded like it could have been performed by any number of generic hard rock bands. Written by bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist Mick Mars about drummer Tommy Lee's relationship with serial rock star dater Heather Locklear, the song gave the band the second and final top 10 hit of their career in the States when it reached number 8.
Peak: number 1
Ugh, it just gets worse. I can understand Heart's disdain for this song - I can't stand it, either. But I didn't record it and see my bank balance increase when it sold a stack of copies around the world, so the band's refusal to play it live stinks. Written by the future Mr Shania Twain, Robert "Mutt" Lange, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" is one of those rock ballads that tells a story - in this case, the intriguing/disturbing tale of a woman initiating a one-night stand in order to fall pregnant. Since this seemed to be the year of dreary ballads spending an interminable amount of time at number 1, I had to put up with "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" atop the chart for four weeks.
Peak: number 3
Now, this is how you do it. 1) Enlist the biggest power ballad songwriters of the time, namely Michael, Diane Warren and Desmond Child. 2) Give the song a bit of oomph, with rocking production and an impassioned vocal by Mr Mullet himself. 3) Build in some whoh-whohs in the lead-up to the sing-along chorus. 4) Throw in a key change and some nah-nah-nahs at the end. Genius.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:
Next week: Like rock? The Angels, Midnight Oil and Billy Idol have you covered. Meanwhile, my tastes were catered for with some new Italo house, hip-hop and a piano house anthem that made a big claim.