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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1990: January 7, 1990

Happy New Year, chart fans. This week in 1990, it was not only a new year but also the dawn of a new decade on the ARIA chart. Of course, music didn't change dramatically overnight - or even in the three weeks it had been since the last chart. But big developments were just around the corner - I'm thinking grunge, techno and MC Hammer.

John Waite transformed himself from a mid-'80s pop star into the lead singer of '90s soft rock band Bad English

Fittingly, the highest new entry this week in 1990 came from a man who'd looked very different on his last top 50 outing but whose transformation hadn't happened overnight, either. Indeed, it'd been more than five years since he'd last had a hit single.

The first chart for the year came with a brand new number 1, "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which benefitted from ARIA's summer shutdown by registering three weeks at the top in one go. Not that the song needed any help staying at number 1 - it'd be there for a good while longer.

Off The Chart

Number 99 "1-2-3" by The Chimes

Peak: number 73

The first of two excellent singles by the UK soul group fronted by Pauline Henry that peaked outside the top 50 before an adventurous remake gave them a hit later in the year.


"Living In Sin" by Bon Jovi

Peak: number 64

Was it really such a big deal for unmarried couples to have sex or live together in 1990 - or 1988, when parent album New Jersey was first released? I guess it was or it might've seemed a bit quaint for Bon Jovi to get so dramatic about it. And "Living In Sin" was fairly angsty - even the video was uncharacteristically OTT. 

Despite starting off sounding like a rock "Father Figure", this fifth single from New Jersey was, for me, the hair metal band's worst single since their breakthrough with "You Give Love A Bad Name" - and it justifiably became their first to miss the top 50 since then. They lapped it up in the States, however, where "Living In Sin" became the fifth straight top 10 hit from the album.

"Body Heat" by Roxus

Peak: number 60

Next up, it's Australia's answer to Bon Jovi, who were still waiting for their big breakthrough hit, having briefly visited the top 50 late in 1989. Listening to "Body Heat" now, I'm kind of surprised it wasn't more successful. Yes, it's a little dated and mid-'80s sounding, but it's actually pretty catchy. 

"Street Of Love" by Jenny Morris

Peak: number 51

It only makes sense for someone with a chart career as yoyo-ing as Jenny Morris to go from landing the biggest hit of her career (1989's number 5 "She Has To Be Loved") to missing the top 50 with the follow-up. The only song on Shiver not composed by Jenny or the album's producer, Andrew Farriss, "Street Of Love" was written by Paul Kelly. He also released the track - as "Beggar On The Street Of Love" - in 1990. A live version was the B-side to his single "Most Wanted Man In The World".

New Entries

Number 48 "Woman In Chains" by Tears For Fears

Peak: number 39

After the Beatle-ish "Sowing The Seeds Of Love", Tears For Fears shifted gear again for the follow-up, this duet with lounge singer Oleta Adams. The story of Curt and Roland from TFF discovering Oleta while she performed in a hotel bar in Missouri during their American tour is well known, but what I didn't realise is that she's not the only guest artist on this track - Phil Collins plays drums on "Woman In Chains" as well. The song was probably too subtle to be a massive hit, and duly became the band's least successful top 50 appearance in Australia up until that point.

Number 37 "Cover Girl" by New Kids On The Block

Peak: number 22

Before Christmas, we saw NKOTB's festive single, "This One's For The Children", enter the chart and this week in 1990, it reached its peak position of number 40. Three spots higher, the boy band charted again with this latest release from Hangin' Tough. "Cover Girl" would do much better than "This One's...", but still fall some way short of the lofty chart heights scaled by New Kids' 1989 trio of hits. Had the bubble burst already? 

Not quite, as we'd discover later in the year. But, even NKOTB fans (of whom there was only a finite number in Australia judging by this track's performance compared to its number 2 placing in the US) had to admit the release of "Cover Girl" was a halfhearted effort. The song didn't even get a proper music video, with live footage taken from the same concert that was seen in the clip for "Hangin' Tough" used instead.

Number 31 "When I See You Smile" by Bad English Peak: number 4

In 1984, John Waite, the former vocalist for The Babys (biggest hit: 1978's number 1 "Isn't It Time"), reached number 5 in Australia and number 1 in the US with "Missing You", the lead single from his second solo album, No Brakes. Nothing he released after that essential '80s track performed anywhere near as well and after a few years of slogging away on his own, John got back in the band business.

He teamed up with some ex-Babys bandmates and a few other musos to form Bad English. To ensure they looked the part, the five-piece sported the obligatory teased up big hair but with this breakthrough hit, which was written by power ballad queen Diane Warren, they sounded less Bon Jovi and more 1927. "When I See You Smile" was another chart-topper in the States and did pretty well in Australia, too, ending up as the year's 21st biggest seller locally.

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

Next week: A belated entry from a sequel Christmas single plus a classic '80s ballad duet finally makes the ARIA top 50. And, I'll add an exciting (for some) new section to my recaps.

Plus, I'll go further back into music history as I take a look at what was happening on the singles chart in 1985. Back to: Dec 17, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 14, 1990

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