This Week In 1989: April 9, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
There are some songs that get covered over and over, in a variety of genres and by a wide assortment of artists - and this week in 1989, two such songs entered the ARIA top 50 singles chart.
One of the debuts was the original version of a song by a girl band who wouldn't be around for very much longer (until the inevitable reunion some years later), while the other was a novelty reworking of a classic rock song - and regular readers will know how I generally feel about joke records.
At number 1 in Australia this week in 1989, Fine Young Cannibals kept Madonna at bay for a second week, but the chart battle between "She Drives Me Crazy" and "Like A Prayer" wasn't over yet.
This was also the first week the ARIA chart included accreditations for gold (35,000), platinum (70,000) and multi-platinum (multiples of 70,000) sales with a handful of singles achieving gold status this week - compared to the situation today where pretty much every entry in the top 50 has some accreditation or other.
Peak: number 51
What a difference a few years makes. When the Ultravox vocalist's debut solo album was released in 1985, Midge was fresh from his pivotal role in Band Aid (he co-wrote "Do They Now It's Christmas?"), and the single "If I Was" became a hit in both the UK (where it topped the chart) and Australia (where it reached number 10). Four years later, Midge couldn't even crack the top 50 in either country with this second single from the Answers To Nothing album.
Number 50 "Veronica" by Elvis Costello
Peak: number 27
Last week, we saw that Elvis' album Spike had already entered the albums top 50 ahead of the arrival of its lead single. This week in 1989, "Veronica" finally debuted on the singles chart, where it would go on to become his second biggest hit, peaking three places lower than 1979's "Oliver's Army". The song, which Elvis co-wrote with Paul McCartney (who played bass on the track), told the story of an elderly woman losing her memory and featured Zoe Carides in flashbacks to her life in the music video.
Number 49 "Stuck On You" by Paul Norton
Peak: number 3
As we'll see over the next year when we come to his two subsequent top 50 entries, Australian pop/rock singer Paul Norton doesn't quite qualify for my list of '80s one-hit wonders, but I imagine most people (myself included) would be hard pushed to name either of his other singles. By way of contrast, "Stuck On You" was a massive hit in 1989 - the sixth highest-selling single by an Australian artist for the year. Not bad for a singer whose only previous chart action had been with his band, Runners, in 1982 when "Sure Fire Thing" reached number 43.
Number 48 "Paradise City" by Guns 'n' Roses
Peak: number 48
It had been working its way up the top 100 for weeks and finally "Paradise City" popped into the top 50 for a single week at this position. It's bizarre now to think of this song as a flop, since it's such a well-known metal anthem, but obviously the Australian contingent of Gunners fans already owned it on Appetite For Destruction, which spent well over a year in the top 50 albums chart. The song would achieve a higher position (number 35) almost a decade later thanks to a terrible dance cover version by N-Trance that even I didn't like.
Number 46 "Twist In My Sobriety" by Tanita Tikaram
Peak: number 23
Whether it was the sombre tone of this breakthrough single, that deep voice or the artsy video shot in Bolivia, nothing about "Twist In My Sobriety" suggested it was the work of a 19-year-old, but that's exactly how old Tanita Tikaram was when the track hit the Australian chart. In her adopted home country of England (she was born in Germany), Tanita had already landed a hit single before "Twist..." - the decidedly perkier "Good Tradition" - but this would be her only top 50 appearance in Australia. Side note: within the year, the song had been covered by none less than Liza Minnelli for her Pet Shop Boys-produced album, Results - one of a number of remakes over the years.
Number 39 "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles
Peak: number 1
"Twist In My Sobriety" might have had a few covers over the years, but that tally pales in comparison to the amount of times this global mega-hit has been remade since 1989. Yep, "Eternal Flame" is the first of the two much-covered songs I was referring to at the start of this post, with Human Nature and Atomic Kitten two of the better-known acts to tackle it.
The second single from the Everything album, it restored The Bangles to chart glory in Australia (and kept intact the hit-flop-hit-flop pattern of their singles' success), ultimately spending three non-consecutive weeks at number 1 and winding up as the fourth-highest-selling single of the year in this country.
As these things so often go, despite the band enjoying one of their biggest hits, it was the beginning of the end for The Bangles, with internal friction pushing the group to breaking point - but we'll get to that when we see the follow-up to "Eternal Flame" hit the chart in a few months' time.
Number 38 "Wild Thing" by Sam Kinison
Peak: number 19
Here's the other oft-covered track, which dated right back to 1965 and an original version by The Wild Ones. It was the cover by The Troggs the following year which turned "Wild Thing" into a hit (number 1 in Australia), and since then everyone from The Jimi Hendrix Experience to The Goodies had given the song a go.
This novelty version by American comedian Sam Kinison owed a lot of its success to its rock star-studded film clip, which also featured a provocative dance routine by Jessica Hahn, who came to infamy after a sex scandal involving TV evangelist Jim Bakker.
Sam was an ex-evangelist himself who became known as one of the most politically incorrect comedians during the 1980s and would likely have gone on to have a long career in comedy had his life not been cut short in 1992 when he was involved in a fatal car accident.
Number 33 "She's A Mystery To Me" by Roy Orbison
Peak: number 17
Last week, I talked about how The Big O was dominating the albums chart, and Roy had a similarly impressive presence on the singles chart, with "You Got It" still inside the top 10 and both Traveling Wilburys singles hanging around the top 40. Joining those tracks was his newest entry and the second hit from the Mystery Girl album, which was written by U2's Bono and The Edge. With hit records dating back more than three decades, it was a great way for the late singer to conclude his top 50 career.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: the other "Wild Thing" makes its first top 50 appearance, as does a song I was convinced was never a hit here.