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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1998: The "Final" ARIA Chart Printout

As I mentioned in my very first blog post, I left Australia to go backpacking in May 1998. A few short weeks later, ARIA stopped producing the printed chart, with the last one dated June 7, 1998. Coincidence?

Obviously I wasn't the only one obsessively collecting the top 50 printouts each week, because a couple of months later, the ARIA chart returned (due to popular demand?) to record stores like Sanity although not Brashs, where I used to work casually during university, because that chain had closed earlier in the year.

So I thought it might be fun to mix things up and venture back to that "final" chart to see what songs were in the top 50 for the momentous occasion the date of ARIA's most disastrous decision since they decided to scrap the collectable charts for a poster-size version in 1986.

So let's work our way through the full top 50 to the number 1 single for the week ending June 7, 1998, which just happened to be the worst single by one of my favourite pop acts of all time.

Number 50 "When The Rain Begins To Fall" by Pappa Bear


Peak: number 50

His hit version of "Cherish" was still in the top 30 after 16 weeks, but the Dutch rapper born Godwijn June Orlando Ray Rollocks (yes, really) thankfully had no such luck with this terrible remake of the Pia Zadora/Jermaine Jackson tune from 1984.

Number 49 "You Sexy Thing" by T-Shirt

Peak: number 6

Speaking of terrible remakes, this dreadful rendering of the Hot Chocolate tune from 1975 clearly had the blessing of frontman Errol Brown, whose vocals can be heard (in between all the "do ya, do ya"s) and who put in an appearance at the end of the music video. This was the British one-hit wonder's 32nd and final week in the top 50.

Number 48 "Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls


Peak: number 1

Next up, a song spending the first of what would be a 33-week run inside the top 50 (including five weeks at number 1). Taken from the Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan film, City Of Angels, "Iris" was the third biggest single of the year in Australia and easily the biggest thing Goo Goo Dolls ever released. The rock ballad probably would've reached number 1 in the US as well if it had been released there as a commercial single. Instead, it spent a record 18 straight weeks atop the airplay chart, and by the time the rules were changed at the end of the year to allow non-singles to feature in the Hot 100, the best it could manage was a number 9 placement. In the UK, where I was living by this time, "Iris" was never a hit, peaking at number 50 and so it wasn't until I returned to Australia in 2000 that I began to appreciate just what a huge song it had been.

Number 47 "All Night All Right" by Peter Andre

Peak: number 30

Conversely, Peter Andre was by this point a much bigger deal in the UK, where he'd scored two number 1s, than at home. He managed one final top 50 hit with this Warren G and Coolio-featuring single from third album Time.

Number 46 "I Don't Ever Want To See You Again" by Uncle Sam

Peak: number 36

There's a reason this only top 50 entry for Sam Turner sounded like a watered down "I'll Make Love To You" it was written and produced by Nathan Morris from Boyz II Men, who'd signed the singer and provided backing vocals on the song.

Number 45 "Frozen" by Madonna

Peak: number 5

I always think this lead single from Madonna's first studio album in four years reached number 1 in Australia again, blame the fact that I spent a lot of 1998 in the UK, where it did top the chart. Quite why it didn't do even better here is beyond me. Instead, "Frozen" had to settle for being her joint biggest hit (with "Bedtime Story", "Secret" and "Rain") since "Erotica".

Number 44 "Nice & Slow" by Usher

Peak: number 44

We'll see breakthrough hit "You Make Me Wanna..." later, but Usher's follow-up just couldn't get past number 44 as it re-entered the top 50 to spend a second week there. The 19-year-old would have a bit of a wait until he scored his second big hit, which wouldn't come until 2001.

Number 43 "Next Time" by Marie Wilson

Peak: number 21

In the post-Jagged Little Pill era, every record company jumped on the rock chick bandwagon and Marie Wilson was Warner Music Australia's big hope. But "Next Time" would be as good as it got for the Melbourne singer, who managed one more top 40 hit later in the year.

Number 42 "I Get Lonely" by Janet Jackson

Peak: number 21

Also peaking at number 21 was this third single from Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope, which was remixed from the album version by Teddy Riley and featured Blackstreet on guest vocals. I preferred one of the other remixes a dance version by remixer of the moment Jason Nevins.

Number 41 "La Primavera" by Sash!

Peak: number 36

Speaking of dance music, German club act Sash! had still to really break through in Australia, landing another mid-table hit with a song that had been much bigger in Europe. In the UK, this lead single from second album Life Goes On reached number 3, a slight dip after three consecutive number 2 singles. Fun fact: "La Primavera" is Spanish for "Spring".

Number 40 "Polyester Girl" by Regurgitator

Peak: number 14

The commercial peak of Regurgitator's career, "Polyester Girl" bounded up 10 places this week and would quickly find its way into the top 20 the first and only time the genre-shifting Brisbane band would reach so high.

Number 39 "Show Me Love" by Robyn

Peak: number 34

In 2018, Scandipop fans eagerly await the return of Robin Carlsson with promised new music, but 20 years ago, she was just starting out on her career with fine Cheiron-produced numbers like this UK and US top 10 hit, which shockingly remains her most recent ARIA top 50 appearance.

Number 38 "Cry" by The Mavis's

Peak: number 13

Like Regurgitator, Victorian band The Mavis's achieved their greatest chart success with a shiny pop track that wasn't really indicative of the rest of their output. And "Cry" was an even more pronounced exception to the rule, ending up the band's only top 50 single.

Number 37 "Brimful Of Asha" by Cornershop

Peak: number 35

Proof that all a song needs sometimes is a decent remix, a flop single from 1997 was turned into a UK chart-topper in 1998 thanks to the handywork of Norman Cook, who was soon to dominate the dance scene as Fatboy Slim. In Australia, "Brimful Of Asha" was a more modest success and the only hit for Cornershop.

Number 36 "It's Tricky" by Run-DMC vs Jason Nevins

Peak: number 15

His remix of "It's Like That" had done phenomenally well and was still selling plenty of copies but Jason Nevins' remix of 1987 track "It's Tricky" didn't have quite the same impact. In 2006, the song was the subject of a lawsuit when The Knack sued Run-DMC for the use of "My Sharona" without permission.

Number 35 "Turn Back Time" by Aqua

Peak: number 10

Proving they were more than just a novelty Eurodance act, Denmark's Aqua took a break from their string of campy pop tracks to go into serious mode with this ballad included on the soundtrack of Siliding Doors. The move paid off, going on to give Aqua a fourth (and final) top 10 hit.

Number 34 "Ava Adore" by The Smashing Pumpkins

Peak: number 19

They'd scored what would be their only top 10 hit with 1997's Batman & Robin single, "The End Is The Beginning Is The End", but this lead single from fourth album Adore, which continued The Smashing Pumpkins' embrace of more electronic sounds, just made the top 20.

Number 33 "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" by Will Smith

Peak: number 6

One of five songs on this chart to register over 20 weeks inside the top 50, this was Will Smith's second big solo success, following his chart-topping debut with "Men In Black". "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" made extensive use of two key samples the instrumental hook from Sister Sledge's "He's The Greatest Dancer" and a vocal line from "Sang And Dance" by The Bar-Kays.

Number 32 "He Got Game" by Public Enemy

Peak: number 25

Four years after Australia finally awarded Public Enemy a top 50 single, the hip-hop group achieved a second and final hit with this title track from the Spike Lee film. Like "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It", "He Got Game" features prominent use of a sample, in this case from Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", with vocalist Stephen Stills appearing in the music video.

Number 31 "The Unforgiven II" by Metallica

Peak: number 9

The first song in the series had reached number 10 back in 1991, and this sequel to "The Unforgiven", which flipped the heavy-then-soft structure of the original, had gone one better when it was released as the second single from ReLoad. A third part would follow in a decade's time, appearing as a track on Death Magnetic. Although not released as an official single, "The Unforgiven III" still managing to register inside the top 50.

Number 30 "The Way" by Fastball

Peak: number 14

Here's another song, like "Iris", that didn't qualify for the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released and was relegated to the airplay chart in the US instead. In Australia, Fastball's only local hit, which was inspired by real-life events, spent exactly half a year inside the top 50, and although it didn't quite reach the top 10, it sold enough to end up as one of 1998's 50 biggest sellers.

Number 29 "Grease The Remix EP" by Olivia Newton-John / John Travolta

Peak: number 27

Like the Metallica song, here's another entry with a link back to 1991, the year when "The Grease Megamix" had topped the ARIA chart. This EP, released to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the cinema release of Grease, included that PWL medley, two new remixes by Martian of "You're The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights", as well as the original versions of those two tunes. While this release might not have done so well, the re-released soundtrack did set up camp again inside the top 10 and even managed to get in another week at number 1.

Number 28 "Lollipop (Candyman)" by Aqua

Peak: number 3

Their first two hits in Australia had both reached number 1, but this third smash from Aquarium hadn't been able to dislodge "It's Like That" and "Never Ever" (both of which are still to come), spending five straight weeks stuck at number 3 behind those two chart-toppers.

Number 27 "Breathe" by Kylie Minogue

Peak: number 23

She'd just kicked off her Intimate And Live tour, which would turn out to be a major turning point in her career in Australia, but this third single from Kylie Minogue's Impossible Princess album couldn't quite manage to break into the top 20 despite bubbling just under for a couple of months.

Number 26 "Cherish" by Pappa Bear

Peak: number 7

We reach the halfway mark as we started with a dodgy remake of an '80s tune by Pappa Bear. His take on the Kool & The Gang smash from 1985 was much better than the song we saw at number 50 and was working its way down the chart from its top 10 peak.

Number 25 "Cleaopatra's Theme" by Cleopatra

Peak: number 25

With a name like Cleopatra Madonna Higgins, the lead singer of this trio of sisters was always going to be famous and for a brief time she and siblings Yonah and Zainam were thanks to perky pop/R&B tunes like this debut single.

Number 24 "Twisted (Excuse Me)" by Wayne G featuring Stewart Who?

Peak: number 19

It was pretty unusual for a club record as dark as this to become such an enduring hit, but this trance track by the British DJ/producer spent almost half a year in the top 50. Probably had something to do with its F-bomb-featuring lyrics and risque music video.

Number 23 "High" by Lighthouse Family

Peak: number 1

They'd been having hits in the UK for a couple of years with their radio-friendly pop/soul, but this future chart-topper from second album Postcards From Heaven was the first single by duo Lighthouse Family to crack the Australia market. And crack it "High" did, spending a mammoth 17 weeks in the top 10 and ending 1998 as the year's 11th biggest seller.

Number 22 "Brick" by Ben Folds Five

Peak: number 13

I'm kind of suprised this single from the US college rock trio constitutes the only top 50 appearance by one-time honorary Australian Ben Folds, whether as part of this band or solo. One thing I didn't know until now: "Brick" is about an abortion Ben's high school girlfriend had.

Number 21 "You Make Me Wanna..." by Usher

Peak: number 6

We saw the follow-up earlier, and here is Usher's breakthrough single, which reached number 2 in the US and topped the UK chart. "You Make Me Wanna..." was not Mr Raymond's first single, however he'd been releasing music since 1993.

Number 20 "All I Have To Give" by Backstreet Boys

Peak: number 4

Early 1998 was peak Backstreet Boys, with the best boy band of all time achieving a hat trick of top 5 hits, of which "All I Have To Give" was the third. They'd even reach the top 10 later in the year with a dreary ballad from 1995 that had originally appeared on their debut album.

Number 19 "Crush On You" by Aaron Carter

Peak: number 9

BSB were so big at this point that even this woeful cover of The Jets' US and UK top 5 hit by Nick Carter's 10-year-old brother made it into the top 10. And yes, it's still as painful to listen to as it was in 1998.

Number 18 "Teardrop" by Massive Attack

Peak: number 16

From the ridiculous to the sublime, trip hop pioneers Massive Attack finally landed a long overdue hit with this pristine piece featuring the haunting vocals of Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser. From 2004, "Teardrop" was used as the theme to medical drama House.

Number 17 "Now I Can Dance" by Tina Arena

Peak: number 13

Since 1995, Tina Arena's singles had followed the pattern of big hit, not-so-big hit, big hit, not-so-big hit, and so after "If I Didn't Love You" just missed the top 40, this flamenco-tinged third release from Don't Ask performed as expected.

Number 16 "It's Like That" by Run-DMC vs Jason Nevins

Peak: number 1

The second highest-selling of 1998 had been in the top 20 since the very start of the year, and as well as topping the chart for a week in March, had spent six weeks at number 2. The remix of the hip-hop trio's debut single from 1983 would amass 37 weeks in the top 50 and sell millions of copies around the world.

Number 15 "Gotta Be... Movin' On Up" by P.M. Dawn featuring Ky-Mani

Peak: number 13

It'd been a while between hits for our next hip-hop act, who achieved their biggest single since 1991's "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" with this track, which sampled Imagination's "Just An Illusion" and featured Bob Marley's son Ky-Mani. "Gotta Be... Movin' On Up" would end up being the duo's final top 50 appearance.

Number 14 "My Heart Will Go On (The Remixes)" by Celine Dion

Peak: number 1

The chart history of this mega-ballad was everything that was wrong with the music industry in 1998. Multiple versions of "My Heart Will Go On" were released and deleted over the course of the first half of the year the original single, the "Valentine's version" (with a different range of bonus tracks) and the club mixes. But despite these being quite distinct releases, all of them contributed to the one chart run for the song, which at one point saw the "single" progress 1-24-64-59-35-10-3. Ridiculous.

Number 13 "The Impression That I Get" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Peak: number 11

They'd been around since ska was last big (as 2 tone) in the early '80s, but it wasn't until this lead single from fifth album Let's Face It that Boston's The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (briefly) reached a mainstream audience.

Number 12 "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" by N.Y.C.C.

Peak: number 12

The original version had given Beastie Boys their first (and, until July 1998, only) hit in Australia in 1987, just making the ARIA top 40. This cover by German DJ/producer Sören Schnakenberg was presumably inspired by the success of the Run-DMC remix, but came off sounding like the cynical cash-in it clearly was.

Number 11 "Maria" by Ricky Martin

Peak: number 1

Here's another single that received the Celine Dion treatment. At this point in its chart run, the CD single of Ricky Martin's breakthrough Spanglish hit consisted solely of versions of "Maria" and had been bobbing around the top 20 since March. But teamed with the recently released World Cup theme, "The Cup Of Life", it jumped from here to number 1 in two weeks and stayed there for six. Then, as it started to drop down the top 10, it was deleted and sped out of the top 50.

Number 10 "Sex And Candy" by Marcy Playground

Peak: number 8

One-hit wonder time. Alternative rock band Marcy Playground reached the same position in Australia and the US with this song, which got its title from something once said to singer John Wozniak when he was in his girlfriend's college dorm room.

Number 9 "Thinking Of You" by Hanson

Peak: number 6

Hanson are often wrongly described as a one-hit wonder thanks to the overwhelming success of "MmmBop", but this fifth and final single from Middle Of Nowhere was the trio's fourth (of five) top 10 hits in Australia. Its stay in the top 50 was limited to a brief seven-week run, dropping like a stone in the subsequent weeks.

Number 8 "Ray Of Light" by Madonna

Peak: number 6

Enjoying her 29th top 10 hit this week in 1998 was Madonna with the title track from her seventh album. "Ray Of Light" would go on to win two Grammy Awards (for Best Dance Recording and Best Short Form Music VIdeo), which was the first time she'd received a Grammy for one of her songs, having won previously for Blond Ambition World Tour Live (Best Long Form Music Video in 1992).

Number 7 "Big Mistake" by Natalie Imbruglia

Peak: number 6

Proving "Torn" had been no one-off, the ex-Neighbours star solidfied her musician cred by performing not only an original song, but one she co-wrote. The success of "Big Mistake" helped push the Left Of The Middle album into the top 10 for the first time and eventually to number 1 in August.

Number 6 "Never Ever" by All Saints

Peak: number 1

A seven-week number 1 in March and April, "Never Ever" was All Saints' first hit in Australia a vast improvement on the number 67 peak of debut release "I Know Where It's At". That earlier single would do better second time around, eventually reaching number 12. Twenty years and several hiatuses later, All Saints are stil going, with a new album due in July.

Number 5 "Stop" by Spice Girls

Peak: number 5

While All Saints offered a cool alternative in the girl group market, Spice Girls continued their pure pop streak with their fifth top 10 hit, "Stop". In the UK, the Spice World track was the only one of their 10 singles released between 1996 and 2000 not to reach number 1 in the UK, blocked from the top by the Run-DMC remix.

Number 4 "Second Solution / Prisoner Of Society" by The Living End

Peak: number 4

Double A-sides were huge in 1998, accounting for three of the year's 10 highest-selling singles. In some cases, a previous single was deleted and whacked on the follow-up as added incentive; in others, two previous flops were repackaged together. But in cases like this breakthrough hit for Aussie rock The Living End, it was a genuine single that boasted two lead tracks. Although it didn't get higher than this number 4 position, the double header lasted 47 weeks in the top 50 and ended up as 1998's number 6 single overall.

Number 3 "You're Still The One" by Shania Twain

Peak: number 1

Our final three entries are all chart-toppers, starting with the only Australian number 1 for country crossover star Shania Twain. Ballad "You're Still The One" fell from the top spot this week, where it had spent four weeks ruling the roost (possibly helped by the appearance of 1996's top 5 entry "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here!" as a bonus track). Shania would come close to number 1 on two more occasions, ultimately falling just short.

Number 2 "All My Life" by K-Ci & JoJo

Peak: number 1

Spending a second week at number 2 this week was another big ballad, "All My Life" by brothers Cedric and Joel Hailey. Far outperforming their only hit in their guise as members of Jodeci ("Freek'n You" reached number 23 in 1995), the R&B anthem would claim the top spot in seven days' time.

Number 1 "5,6,7,8" by Steps

Peak: number 1

If you have a look at my personal year-end favourites for 1998, you can't help but notice I was quite taken by Steps in 1998. (And in subsequent years. And last year, when they put out a new album.) But it wasn't love at first listen. I was not a fan of this line-dancing hit, which became the highest-selling single in the UK not to reach the top 10. The cheesy novelty was embraced whole-heartedly in Australia, and although it only spent one week at number 1, it was deleted and added as a bonus track on follow-up "Last Thing On My Mind", which stormed into the ARIA chart at the end of June on its way into the top 5.

The five-piece had been put together Spice Girls-style, with the project adverstised in The Stage magazine, following which auditions for pop star wannabes were held. Were it not for the early involvement of Pete Waterman, Steps may well have gone down in music history as a one-hit wonder or kept flogging the country-meets-dance gimmick. Instead, they moved on from "5,6,7,8" to their "ABBA on speed" sound and became one of the UK's most successful pop acts of the late '90s and early 2000s. In Australia, they had a couple more top 10 hits and a few more minor ones before the general public lost interest.

Listen to my Spotify playlist of the "final" ARIA chart (or as many of the songs as are available):

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