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  • Gavin Scott

Number 2 Hits On The Australian Chart: The 1990s

Originally posted in 2018. Updated in 2020.


It originally took a lot longer than I thought after compiling all the number 2 hits from the '80s, but I finally found time to look back at those songs that just missed out on topping the ARIA chart throughout the '90s.


For the first half of the decade, I've already recapped the songs in my weekly top 50 recaps, but it's nice to see the number 2 hits all gathered together and consider what might have been if one pesky song hadn't been standing in their way. For one thing, Michael Bolton would have enjoyed two number 1 hits in Australia, so in some cases, we should be thankful for small mercies.


They came close — twice! — but Backstreet Boys just couldn't get to number 1 in the '90s

In theory, if a number 1 song is the very best music has to offer, then a number 2 is almost perfection. But as we all know, not every chart-topper is great (cough "Achy Breaky Heart" cough) and so it goes to follow that not every runner-up approaches greatness a fact borne out by this list of songs that reached number 2 on the ARIA chart.

Indeed, in many cases we should think ourselves lucky these singles didn't make it to the top and, on a good number of occasions, take a second to ponder what we were collectively thinking. If you insist on being a glass half full type of person, there are some great tracks coming up as well.

1990

"I Feel The Earth Move" by Martika

Date reached number 2: January 14, 1990

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Love Shack" by The B-52s

Having established herself with the serious "Toy Soldiers", Martika cut loose and had some fun with this spirited version of the Carole King classic. The former Kids Incorporated cast member would go all the way and top the ARIA chart in 1991.

More on "I Feel The Earth Move" here.



"I Want That Man" by Deborah Harry

Date reached number 2: January 21, 1990

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Love Shack" by The B-52s

Her last comeback had yielded top 5 single "French Kissin' In The USA", but Blondie frontwoman Deborah Harry achieved her biggest solo hit with this Thompson Twins-penned bop.

More on "I Want That Man" here.



"Ride On Time" by Black Box

Date reached number 2: February 4, 1990

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Love Shack" by The B-52s

One of the dance hits of the turn of the decade, this Italo house tune took the best bits of Loleatta Holloway's disco cut "Love Sensation"... and then paid dearly for not crediting them.

More on "Ride On Time" here.



"Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt / Aaron Neville

Date reached number 2: March 4, 1990

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor

Blocked from the top by another ballad, this duet put Linda Ronstadt back near the top of the chart for the first time in 12 years and introduced Aaron Neville's distinct vocal style to a wider audience. 

More on "Don't Know Much" here.



"How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton

Date reached number 2: March 11, 1990

Weeks at number 2: Four

Kept off number 1 by: "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor

A minor top 50 entry for Laura Branigan in 1983, Michael Bolton's remake of the emotional mega-ballad he'd written turned him from "that guy who covered Otis Redding" into a housewives' heartthrob.

More on "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" here.



"Hold On" by Wilson Phillips

Date reached number 2: July 15, 1990

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette

Boasting impeccable musical heritage (The Beach Boys and The Mamas & The Papas) and flawless harmonies, this trio of second generation hit-makers were huge in the US, but only had this one big single locally.

More on "Hold On" here.



"Joey" by Concrete Blonde

Date reached number 2: September 2, 1990

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Epic" by Faith No More

Also landing just one major hit in Australia was alternative rock band Concrete Blonde and even that success wasn't deliberate. An unlikely smash, "Joey" was about as much fun as you'd expect a song about an alcoholic to be.

More on "Joey" here.


"Close To You" by Maxi Priest

Date reached number 2: September 23, 1990

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "Blaze Of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi

The second of reggae singer Maxi Priest's three top 10 hits, "Close To You" came with two music videos the desert-set one we got in Australia and another one I've never seen until just now.

More on "Close To You" here.


"Suicide Blonde" by INXS

Date reached number 2: October 14, 1990

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Blaze Of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi

Not even INXS's first single since the Kick era could shift the immovable Jon Bon Jovi from the top of the chart. "Suicide Blonde" would turn out to be the Aussie band's final top 10 hit with Michael Hutchence as lead singer.

More on "Suicide Blonde" here.



1991

"Sadness (Part 1)" by Enigma

Date reached number 2: March 24, 1991

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Sucker DJ" by Dimples D

Centuries after it was previously the coolest music trend in the world, Gregorian chant had a brief resurgence thanks to this dance track masterminded by producer Michael Cretu.

More on "Sadness (Part 1)" here.


"Rhythm Of My Heart" by Rod Stewart

Date reached number 2: June 9, 1991

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "The Grease Megamix" by Olivia Newton-John / John Travolta

In the late '80s and early '90s, Rod Stewart made a habit of finding dreary, obscure songs to warble all over like this cover of a tune first recorded by René Shuman. (Who? Exactly.)

More on "Rhythm Of My Heart" here.


"Rush Rush" by Paula Abdul

Date reached number 2: June 23, 1991

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "The Grease Megamix" by Olivia Newton-John / John Travolta

Finally as big in Australia as she was in the US, choreographer-turned-pop star Paula Abdul traded pop/R&B for a timeless ballad, which was accompanied by a music video paying tribute to Rebel Without A Cause.

More on "Rush Rush" here.



"Unforgettable" by Natalie Cole with Nat "King" Cole

Date reached number 2: August 11, 1991

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams

Speaking of paying tribute, Natalie Cole's version of one of her late father's classic tunes was a Grammy-winning phenomenon that, thanks to some studio wizardry, also featured Dad's original vocals.

More on "Unforgettable" here.



"More Than Words" by Extreme

Date reached number 2: September 1, 1991

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams

As their name suggests, they normally rocked much harder, but this acoustic ballad provided Extreme with major crossover success.

More on "More Than Words" here.



"Break In The Weather" by Jenny Morris

Date reached number 2: October 27, 1991

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Rush" by Big Audio Dynamite II

A decade after her first solo single, Jenny Morris's chart pinnacle came with this single from the Honey Child album although for me, it's far from her best song.

More on "Break In The Weather" here.



1992

"Cream" by Prince & The New Power Generation

Date reached number 2: January 12, 1992

Weeks at number 2: Four

Kept off number 1 by: "Black Or White" by Michael Jackson for two weeks and "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt 'n' Pepa for two weeks.

Not as brazen as some of his singles from this era, this innuendo-filled Diamonds & Pearls track was Prince's best performing single since 1989's "Batdance" another number 2 hit.

More on "Cream" here.



"Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)" by Kate Bush

Date reached number 2: March 22, 1992

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Saltwater" by Julian Lennon

Considered by some (well, readers of British newspaper The Observer) to be the best cover of all time, Kate Bush's take on the Elton John single from 1972 was lifted from the Two Rooms tribute album.

More on "Rocket Man..." here.



"Get Ready For This" by 2 Unlimited

Date reached number 2: April 12, 1992

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Marvellous!" by The 12th Man featuring M.C.G. Hammer

By 1992, Australian was certainly ready for this Belgian-produced, Dutch-fronted duo to bring techno to the upper reaches of the chart. 

More on "Get Ready For This" here.



"Way Out West" by James Blundell / James Reyne

Date reached number 2: April 26, 1992

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Under The Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

A very different kind of duo now this remake of The Dingoes song from 1973 introduced country singer James Blundell to a mainstream audience, thanks in no small part to the involvement of a much more famous James.

More on "Way Out West" here.



"Please Don't Go" by KWS

Date reached number 2: August 2, 1992

Weeks at number 2: Four (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Hazard" by Richard Marx for two weeks and "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" by José Carreras / Sarah Brightman for two weeks

Frustrated for an entire month from repeating its UK chart-topping success in Australia, this reworking of the KC & The Sunshine Band tune was based on a rival cover version a fact that led to legal wranglings.

More on "Please Don't Go" here.



"Life Is A Highway" by Tom Cochrane

Date reached number 2: October 4, 1992

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus

Only marginally more enjoyable than the song that held it off the top spot, this was the biggest hit of Canadian Tom Cochrane's career. He wrote it after a trip to Africa on behalf of World Vision.

More on "Life Is A Highway" here.



"The Best Things In Life Are Free" by Luther Vandross / Janet Jackson

Date reached number 2: October 11, 1992

Weeks at number 2: Five

Kept off number 1 by: "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus

Billy Ray Cyrus was also responsible for keeping this soundtrack hit at bay. The duet from Mo' Money also featured brief appearances by Bell Biv DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant.

More on "The Best Things In Life Are Free" here.



"The Day You Went Away" by Wendy Matthews

Date reached number 2: December 6, 1992

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men

Eclipsing anything she'd performed lead vocal on before, this ARIA Award-winning ballad became Wendy Matthews' signature song. What few myself included realised was that it was a cover.

More on "The Day You Went Away" here.



1993

"Can't Get Enough Of Your Love" by Taylor Dayne

Date reached number 2: August 1, 1993

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" by UB40

Here's another remake, which was blocked from number 1 by yet another cover. Taylor Dayne's version of the Barry White song placed her firmly back in dance diva territory.

More on "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love" here.



"Sweat (A La La La La Long)" by Inner Circle

Date reached number 2: August 29, 1993

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "The River Of Dreams / No Man's Land" by Billy Joel

1993 was one of those years when reggae randomly took over the singles chart. Benefiting from the spike in interest in the genre was Jamaica's Inner Circle, active since the late '60s and finally landing a huge hit with this lyrically dodgy earworm.

More on "Sweat..." here.



"What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes

Date reached number 2: September 12, 1993

Weeks at number 2: Five

Kept off number 1 by: "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf

4 Non Blondes were fronted by future go-to songwriter Linda Perry (Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful", "Get The Party Started" by Pink). I didn't love this, but thankfully we were spared the even worse hit dance remake by DJ Miko.

More on "What's Up" here.



"Dreams" by Gabrielle

Date reached number 2: November 14, 1993

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "All That She Wants" by Ace Of Base

She debuted at number 2 in the UK (a record for a new female artist at the time) and progressed to the top the following week, but the eye patch-sporting R&B singer stalled in second place here. Also unlike in Britain, where she embarked on a string of successes, Gabrielle would have a long wait until her next Australian hit.

More on "Dreams" here.



1994

"Shoop" by Salt 'n' Pepa

Date reached number 2: January 30, 1994

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "All For Love" by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting

Exactly two years after they hit the top of the ARIA chart, Salt 'n' Pepa were still talking about sex, with this racy, The Ikettes-sampling ode to a man who makes them want to "shoop", whatever that is.

More on "Shoop" here.



"Asshole" by Denis Leary

Date reached number 2: February 13, 1994

Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Give It Up" by Cut 'n' Move

Successful around the same time as "Creep" and "Loser", "Asshole" was the one and only foray into the chart for stand-up comedian and future serious actor Denis Leary.

More on "Asshole" here.



"Slave To The Music" by Twenty 4 Seven featuring Stay-C & Nance

Date reached number 2: February 20, 1994

Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Give It Up" by Cut 'n' Move for one week and "It's Alright" by East 17 for one week

Earlier UK hit "I Can't Stand It" had done nothing here, but Dutch Eurodance group Twenty 4 Seven made up for it with "Slave To The Music" (which, conversely, flopped in Britain).

More on "Slave To The Music" here.



"Said I Loved You... But I Lied" by Michael Bolton

Date reached number 2: March 13, 1994

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "It's Alright" by East 17

Here he is again, mullet still intact, with the first of his mid-decade ellipsis-featuring creep-fests. A real slow burn, "Said I Loved You..." took 16 weeks to reach its peak.

More on "Said I Love You..." here.



"Whatta Man" by Salt 'n' Pepa with En Vogue

Date reached number 2: March 20, 1994

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "It's Alright" by East 17

And here Salt 'n' Pepa are again, with En Vogue helping them update an obscure soul song from 1968 by Linda Lyndell. Celebrating the best mankind has to offer, "Whatta Man" was a second straight number 2 for the rap trio, and featured rappers 2Pac and Naughty By Nature in the video.

More on "Whatta Man" here.



"Breathe Again" by Toni Braxton

Date reached number 2: May 1, 1994

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "The Sign" by Ace Of Base

Before they brought us Pink and Avril Lavigne, LaFace Records launched R&B ballad queen Toni Braxton onto the world in 1993 (one year before debut albums by Usher and OutKast). "Breathe Again" was her first appearance on the ARIA top 50... but it would not be her last.

More on "Breathe Again" here.



"Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)" by Jam & Spoon featuring Plavka

Date reached number 2: June 5, 1994

Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" by Prince for one week and "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by Crash Test Dummies for one week

They also landed a couple of big hits in their guise as Tokyo Ghetto Pussy, but this slice of Eurodance, which got its hook from classical piece "Leyenda" by composer Isaac Albéniz, was the biggest single for the German duo.  

More on "Right In The Night..." here.



"Absolutely Fabulous" by Absolutely Fabulous

Date reached number 2: July 24, 1994

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet

A Pet Shop Boys single in all but name, this Eurodance-inspired track featured snippets of dialogue from the British comedy series, which, in 1994, was still funny and hadn't yet worn out its welcome.

More on "Absolutely Fabulous" here.



"100% Pure Love" by Crystal Waters

Date reached number 2: July 31, 1994

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet

First big hit "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" had just missed the top 10 and American house vocalist Crystal Waters was unlucky again as the much less irritating "100% Pure Love" fell one spot short of number 1.

More on "100% Pure Love" here.



"Endless Love" by Luther Vandross / Mariah Carey

Date reached number 2: October 2, 1994

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Confide In Me" by Kylie Minogue

Poor Luther, no matter which big-name female star he duetted with, he couldn't quite reach number 1 the position achieved by the original version of "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross.

More on "Endless Love" here.



"Always" by Bon Jovi

Date reached number 2: October 23, 1994

Weeks at number 2: Seven

Kept off number 1 by: "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men for one week and "Tomorrow" by Silverchair for six weeks

Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi is responsible for a couple of entries on this list not reaching the chart summit, but karma struck his band, who spent the decade's highest number of weeks waiting in the wings with this power ballad.

More on "Always" here.



"All I Want For Christmas" by Mariah Carey

Date reached number 2: December 25, 1994

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Zombie" by The Cranberries

The original peak of this song couldn't have happened on a more perfect date and, like the Ghost Of Christmas Omnipresent, Mariah Carey's festive favourite has returned to high rotation each holiday season ever since (and even, topped the chart... eventually).

More on "All I Want For Christmas" here.

1995

"Pure Massacre" by Silverchair

Date reached number 2: January 29, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Zombie" by The Cranberries

Funny thing karma. We saw Bon Jovi pay for their singer's number 1-hogging run with "Blaze Of Glory". And now Silverchair, who'd prevented "Always" reaching the summit for six weeks, had to make do with the number 2 spot for their second single.

More on "Pure Masscare" here.



"Here Comes The Hotstepper" by Ini Kamoze

Date reached number 2: February 19, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Another Night" by MC Sar & The Real McCoy

Packed with naggingly catchy hooks and vaguely familiar samples, this breakthrough hit from reggae performer Ini Kamoze featured in the Robert Altman film Prêt-à-Porter.

More on "Here Comes The Hotstepper" here.



"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Nicki French

Date reached number 2: April 2, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Four (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Here's Johnny" by Hocus Pocus

The Bonnie Tyler original had ruled the roost for six weeks in 1983, and this hi-NRG revamp produced by Stock & Aitken came agonisingly close to doing the same for future Eurovision entrant Nicki French.

More on "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" here.



"Think Twice" by Celine Dion

Date reached number 2: April 23, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Here's Johnny" by Hocus Pocus for one week and "Back For Good" by Take That for one week

No stranger to the number 1 slot (including with this ballad in the UK), Celine Dion took exactly half a year to reach number 2 with "Think Twice" in Australia.

More on "Think Twice" here.



"Scream" by Michael Jackson / Janet Jackson

Date reached number 2: June 11, 1995

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Mouth" by Merril Bainbridge

One of the biggest musical events of the decade, this collaboration between the famous siblings promoted Michael Jackson's HIStory collection. "Scream" was also notable for its ridiculous expensive music video and having the then-highest debut in US chart history.

More on "Scream" here.



"Excalibur" by F.C.B.

Date reached number 2: August 20, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "Insensitive" by Jann Arden for one week and "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal for two weeks

Australia went nuts for techno in 1995, with this single, which laid Orff's "O Fortuna" over a club-friendly track, nearly matching the chart-topping performance of "Here's Johnny" by Hocus Pocus.

More on "Excalibur" here.



"Alice, Who The F*** Is Alice?" by The Steppers

Date reached number 2: September 10, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal

What the f*** even was this? Testing the assumption that just about anything could be turned into a hideous dance track, The Steppers took their profanity-ridden lead from Gompie with yet another remake of the song made famous by Smokie in 1976.

More on "Alice, Who The F*** Is Alice?" here.



"Where The Wild Roses Grow" by Nick Cave / Kylie Minogue

Date reached number 2: October 15, 1995

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Stayin' Alive" by N-Trance featuring Ricardo Da Force

As well as giving Nick Cave easily the biggest hit of his career, this duet from his Murder Ballads album continued the transformation of Kylie Minogue from derided pop princess into national treasure.

More on "Where The Wild Roses Grow" here.



"Let's Groove" by CDB

Date reached number 2: November 26, 1995

Weeks at number 2: Six (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring LV

Australia finally caught on to the boy band craze in the mid-'90s with this remake of the Earth Wind & Fire tune unfortunate to have been released at the same time as Coolio's chart-topping behemoth. 



Merkin Ball by Pearl Jam

Date reached number 2: December 17, 1995

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring LV

Coolio also saw off a challenge by grunge favourites Pearl Jam and this two-track EP, which was recorded with Neil Young for his album Mirror Ball, but, for contractual reasons, was not able to be included on his release.



1996

"Boom Boom Boom" by The Outhere Brothers

Date reached number 2: January 14, 1996

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring LV

It might have been a new year, but the story at the top of the chart was the same as "Gangsta's Paradise" had enough momentum to stop this crowd participation hip-house tune in its tracks.

More on "Boom Boom Boom" here.



"One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey / Boyz II Men

Date reached number 2: January 21, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Jesus To A Child" by George Michael

In the US, this musical shouting match between the world's top over-singers became the longest-running number 1 single of all time a record it retains (but now shares with "Despacito"). Thank goodness for George Michael's long-awaited comeback, hey?



"Be My Lover" by La Bouche

Date reached number 2: February 4, 1996

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Boombastic" by Shaggy

A song I always incorrectly remember as a chart-topper, "Be My Lover" kicked off a handful of rapid-fire hits from German-based duo La Bouche before they disappeared from the top 50 just as quickly  the Eurodance norm.



"Missing" by Everything But The Girl

Date reached number 2: March 17, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Six

Kept off number 1 by: "One Of Us" by Joan Osborne for four weeks and "How Bizarre" by OMC for two weeks

Not only did this persistent runner-up give the British duo a long-awaited smash, but thanks to the popularity of Todd Terry's remix, it provoked a musical change of direction for Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt.



"Father And Son" by Boyzone

Date reached number 2: April 28, 1996

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "How Bizarre" by OMC

One of countless (OK, 17) top 5 hits the Irish boy band had in the UK, this was also one of their many successful cover versions. Main singer Ronan Keating would later re-record "Father And Son" with its original performer, Cat Stevens, who at that point was known professionally as Yusuf Islam.



"X-Files Theme" by Triple X

Date reached number 2: June 9, 1996

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Fastlove" by George Michael

More gratuitous dance music now with one of two beat-driven revisions of the sci-fi series theme released in 1996. Once again, George Michael proved he was that year's MVP by keeping this from the top.

More on "X-FIles Theme" here.



"Nobody Knows" by The Tony Rich Project

Date reached number 2: June 16, 1996

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Fastlove" by George Michael

Songwriters that try to make it as artists in their own right have mixed fortunes for every Julia Michaels, there's an Ester Dean. Tony Rich briefly fell in to the former category with this R&B ballad. 

More on "Nobody Knows" here.



"Theme From Mission: Impossible" by Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen

Date reached number 2: July 14, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "Killing Me Softly" by Fugees

It's kind of unfair to call either of these guys one-hit wonders, but this reworking of the TV series theme tune for the first big screen adaptation is the only chart single by either U2 member under their own names.

More on "Theme From Mission: Impossiblehere.



"Return Of The Mack" by Mark Morrison

Date reached number 2: August 25, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion for one week and "Macarena" by Los Del Rio for one week

Not so much a return as a debut ARIA chart appearance for the German-born, British-based singer. A worldwide smash, "Return Of The Mack" sampled a number of songs, most noticeably "Games" by Chuckii Booker.



"Macarena" by Los Del Mar

Date reached number 2: September 8, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio

For three weeks, the top two positions on the ARIA chart were taken up by versions of dance craze single "Macarena" thanks to this cover by Spanish duo Los Del Mar charting concurrently with the Los Del Rio original.

More on "Macarena" here.



"Hero Of The Day" by Metallica

Date reached number 2: September 29, 1996

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio

The third of five singles held off the top of the chart by the unstoppable "Macarena" was this second single from Metallica's Load, which followed the band's first ever number 1 hit in Australia, "Until It Sleeps".



"You're Making Me High" by Toni Braxton

Date reached number 2: October 6, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio

We saw her earlier with "Breathe Again", and two years later, Toni Braxton got her groove on with this much-sampled and remade jam. "You're Making Me High" was also her first of two consecutive US chart-toppers.



"I Love You Always Forever" by Donna Lewis

Date reached number 2: October 20, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio for two weeks and "Wannabe" by Spice Girls for one week

Think it's unlucky to spend three weeks at number 2? How about nine? That's how many weeks this sole hit by Welsh songbird Donna Lewis was stuck in second spot behind what else? "Macarena" in the US.

More on "I Love You Always Forever" here.



"What's Love Got To Do With It" by Warren G featuring Adina Howard

Date reached number 2: November 10, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Five (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Wannabe" by Spice Girls

Tina Turner's comeback went into overdrive when her original version climbed to number 1 in 1984, but Warren G couldn't budge the might of girl power to do the same with his revision from the Jackie Chan movie Supercop.



"Where Do You Go" by No Mercy

Date reached number 2: December 8, 1996

Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)

Kept off number 1 by: "Wannabe" by Spice Girls

The first of two number 2s for No Mercy, who also fell foul of Sporty, Scary, Posh, Baby and Ginger. The German trio's debut single had been a remake of Everything But The Girl's "Missing", while "Where Do You Go" had been originally recorded by La Bouche but not released by them as a single.



1997

"Break My Stride" by Unique II

Date reached number 2: January 19, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "To The Moon And Back" by Savage Garden for one week and "Freak" by Silverchair for two weeks

Another cover version, this time of the 1983 hit that peaked four places lower for Matthew Wilder, who in 1997 was basking in his success as the producer of No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom.

More on "Break My Stride" here.



"I Finally Found Someone" by Barbra Streisand / Bryan Adams

Date reached number 2: February 9, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Five

Kept off number 1 by: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt

Speaking of No Doubt, they held off this assault by former chart-toppers Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams. The ballad was taken from The Mirror Has Two Faces, which Babs starred in and directed. 



"Breathe" by The Prodigy

Date reached number 2: March 16, 1997

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt

"Firestarter" had got Australia excited about big beat act The Prodigy, but we really went ballistic over follow-up "Breathe", which spent its first 24 weeks on the chart inside the top 10.



"Last Night" by Az Yet

Date reached number 2: March 23, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Four

Kept off number 1 by: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt for one week and "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden for three weeks

I much preferred their Chicago cover, but it was this Babyface co-written and co-produced quiet storm number that was the bigger hit in Australia. "Last Night" also featured in The Nutty Professor.



"2 Become 1" by Spice Girls

Date reached number 2: May 4, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden

"Say You'll Be There" had reached a relatively disappointing number 12, but it was back near the top of the chart for Spice Girls' first ballad single (and first UK Christmas number 1). As big as the girl group was, Savage Garden were bigger. 



"Your Woman" by White Town

Date reached number 2: May 18, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden

Featuring that distinctive 1930s trumpet hook (taken from "My Woman" by Al Bowlly) and echoey vocal, this one and only hit by the band otherwise known as Jyoti Mishra sounded like nothing else all decade. 

More on "Your Woman" here.



"When I Die" by No Mercy

Date reached number 2: June 15, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Five

Kept off number 1 by: "MMMBop" by Hanson

Yet another remake now for No Mercy, "When I Die" had first been recorded by The Real Milli Vanilli (i.e. the attempt to salvage the band after Rob and Fab were exposed). The cover isn't that surprising when you consider No Mercy were formed by Frank Farian, the mastermind behind the lip syncing duo and Boney M.



"Burn" by Tina Arena

Date reached number 2: July 20, 1997

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "MMMBop" by Hanson

Expectations were high for Tina Arena's follow-up to the juggernaut that was Don't Ask, and she delivered with this lead single from In Deep, which remains her biggest hit to date.



"Bitch" by Meredith Brooks

Date reached number 2: July 27, 1997

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by:"MMMBop" by Hanson

One of the slew of post-Jagged Little Pill hits by feisty female artists with guitars, "Bitch" might not have reached number 1, but parody response song "Bloke" by Chris Franklin did.

More on "Bitch" here.



"Where's The Love" by Hanson

Date reached number 2: August 17, 1997

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112

No doubt, lazy programmers and compilers refer to them now as one-hit wonders, but teen (and pre-teen) trio Hanson nearly topped the chart with two singles other than "MMMBop". Here's the first.



"I Will Come To You" by Hanson

Date reached number 2: December 14, 1997

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba

And here's the other near miss, which reduced the tempo after the peppy "Where's The Love". Three top 2 hits in six months? Not a bad way to make a first impression.



1998

"As Long As You Love Me" by Backstreet Boys

Date reached number 2: January 18, 1998

Weeks at number 2: Five

Kept off number 1 by: "Doctor Jones" by Aqua for three weeks and "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion for two weeks

Proof "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" had been no one-off, Backstreet Boy solidified their status as Australia's favourite boy band (for the time being) with this sentimental mid-tempo tune.



"Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia

Date reached number 2: March 1, 1998

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion

It'd been a while since a Neighbours star had launched a spin-off music career, and Natalie Imbruglia did it in style, with her cover of a tune that'd already been recorded three times since 1993 becoming a worldwide mega-hit for her.



"Fuel" by Metallica

Date reached number 2: June 28, 1998

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "The Cup Of Life / Maria" by Ricky Martin

Metallica make another appearance, this time with a single from Reload. Bigger than the two tracks already lifted from the album, "Fuel" was the last time the heavy metal band saw the inside of the ARIA top 10.



"Ghetto Superstar" by Pras featuring ODB and introducing Mya

Date reached number 2: August 9, 1998

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls

Like Warren G's "What's Love Got To Do With It", Fugees member Pras Michél bastardised an '80s chart-topper Kenny and Dolly's "Islands In The Stream" and had to settle for the number 2 spot.



"When The Lights Go Out" by Five

Date reached number 2: August 30, 1998

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls

The boy band unimaginatively (and eventually inaccurately) named Five gave Backstreet Boys a run for their teenage fanbase's pocket money. With this second single, they also commenced a run of nine straight top 20 hits (all but one of which made the top 10).



"Viva Forever" by Spice Girls

Date reached number 2: September 20, 1998

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith

The departure of Geri Halliwell from the group in May 1998 no doubt provided the publicity this fourth single from Spice World needed to become the album's biggest hit.



"Redundant / Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day

Date reached number 2: October 4, 1998

Weeks at number 2: Five

Kept off number 1 by: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith

Independently, these two singles from Nimrod had both peaked much further down the chart. Re-released as a double A-side, they became the biggest single of Green Day's career up until that point.


"From This Moment On" by Shania Twain

Date reached number 2: November 8, 1998

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith

Shania Twain has never been bigger than she was in 1998-99. The follow-up to chart-topper "You're Still The One", "From This Moment On" had started life as a duet with fellow country singer Bryan White, but it was a re-recorded solo version that became a hit.



1999

"That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain

Date reached number 2: March 7, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Seven

Kept off number 1 by: "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears

And here she is again, with the third of four consecutive top 5 hits. With her leopard print outfit in the video and namechecking of Brad Pitt in the lyrics, Shania ironically went from popular singer to pop culture phenomenon with "That Don't Impress Me Much". 



"Why Don't You Get A Job?" by The Offspring

Date reached number 2: April 25, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears for one week and "No Scrubs" by TLC for one week

Racking up back-to-back top 10 hits for the first time since 1994-95, The Offspring followed "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" with another comment on suburban American life.



"We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)" by Vengaboys

Date reached number 2: May 9, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Four

Kept off number 1 by: "No Scrubs" by TLC

I have a like-hate relationship with Vengaboys. Songs like this grate on my nerves (see also: "Shalala Lala", "We're Going To Ibiza"), while we'll come across an example of one of their songs I enjoy shortly...



"I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys

Date reached number 2: June 6, 1999

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "No Scrubs" by TLC

Criminally, BSB's finest moment didn't give them their first number 1 in Australia they'd have to wait until 2005 for that but it did provide ample scope for parody.



"Sometimes" by Britney Spears

Date reached number 2: July 25, 1999

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "If You Had My Love" by Jennifer Lopez

"...Baby One More Time" would end up as the second-biggest single of the year in Australia, while Britney Spears' second single played second fiddle to another new female superstar-in-the-making.



"Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!" by Vengaboys

Date reached number 2: August 22, 1999

Weeks at number 2: One

Kept off number 1 by: "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam

I'm amazed this Dutch quartet actually managed two number 2 singles locally, but at least one of them was this serving of Eurodance cheese.



"If Ya Getin' Down" by Five

Date reached number 2: August 29, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Three

Kept off number 1 by: "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam

Their second album was called Invincible, but this "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life"-sampling track didn't live up to that title, unable to overcome the might of a brand new Pearl Jam single.



"Genie In A Bottle" by Christina Aguilera

Date reached number 2: October 3, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Four

Kept off number 1 by: "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega

With Britney a bona fide pop sensation, the floodgates were opened for every other teen blonde singer to invade the chart and Christina Aguilera emerged as her biggest rival thanks to pop ditties like this, which, if anything, downplayed her talent.



"Don't Call Me Baby" by Madison Avenue

Date reached number 2: November 21, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Six

Kept off number 1 by: "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65

Before that ARIA Awards performance, Madison Avenue were one of the most exciting acts in local dance music and "Don't Call Me Baby" would go on to become a UK chart-conquering hit.



"The Millennium Prayer" by Cliff Richard

Date reached number 2: December 26, 1999

Weeks at number 2: Two

Kept off number 1 by: "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65

Wow, what an anti-climactic way to end a fantastic year for pop. While Cliff Richard's religious dirge was a pre-Christmas number 1 in the UK, Australia preferred a little blue man as our decade-end chart champ.



Longest Runs At Number 2 In The '90s (* = non-consecutive weeks)

Seven weeks: "Always" by Bon Jovi, "That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain

Six weeks:"Let's Groove" by CDB*, "Missing" by Everything But The Girl, "Don't Call Me Baby" by Madison Avenue

Five weeks:"The Best Things In Life Are Free" by Luther Vandross / Janet Jackson, "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes, "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Warren G featuring Adina Howard, "I Finally Found Someone" by Barbra Streisand / Bryan Adams, "When I Die" by No Mercy, "As Long As You Love Me" by Backstreet Boys, "Redundant / Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day

Four weeks:"How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton, "Cream" by Prince & The New Power Generation, "Please Don't Go" by KWS*, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Nicki French*, "Last Night" by Az Yet, "We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)" by Vengaboys, "Genie In A Bottle" by Christina Aguilera


Biggest Number 2 Hit By Year

1990: "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton (number 7 for the year)

1991: "More Than Words" by Extreme (number 7)

1992: "The Best Things In Life Are Free" by Luther Vandross / Janet Jackson (number 6)

1993: "Sweat (A La La La La Long)" by Inner Circle (number 4)

1994: "Always" by Bon Jovi (number 3)

1995: "Let's Groove" by CDB (number 8)

1996: "Missing" by Everything But The Girl (number 7)

1997: "Breathe" by The Prodigy (number 9)

1998: "Redundant / Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day (number 8)

1999: "Don't Call Me Baby" by Madison Avenue (number 7)

Listen to all the number 2 hits of the 1990s (that are on Spotify) on my playlist:


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