Saturday, 21 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 21, 1984

We all have those songs we can't stand. Sometimes it's an irrational, inexplicable hatred - it just rubs you up the wrong way. Sometimes, it's "Agadoo". And as much as I love music from the '80s, that decade was also responsible for some horrors, like "Don't Worry Be Happy" and "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)".

I have a very different type of feeling when I hear this song

This week in 1984, one of my least favourite songs by an Australian act debuted on the ARIA singles chart. A future top 5 hit, it's always been a track that gets under my skin - and not in a good way. Given its success, however, I may well be alone in my hatred for it.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 21, 1984

A song a lot of people grew to despise moved into the number 1 position this week in 1984. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder started an eight-week stretch at the top.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Glam To Wham" by The Takeaways
Peak: number 85
"Singing In The Shower" would clearly have been a better single choice (and ended up being covered by Solid Citizens), but I have a feeling this moody track performed by alternate singer Christine (portrayed by Sandra Lillingston, singing voice provided by Deckchairs Overboard's Cathy McQuade) was more plot relevant in Sweet And Sour.

Number 96 "Bravo Bravo (Whaling)" by DD Smash
Peak: number 70
This single by the New Zealand band was a top 10 hit back home, but lead singer Dave Dobbyn would have to wait until his solo career for that kind of success in Australia.

Number 93 "Everlasting Love" by Vicki Sue Robinson
Peak: number 83
Her disco remake of "To Sir With Love" was an unexpected top 10 hit, but Vicki Sue Robinson's take on this much-covered gem didn't fare anywhere near as well.

Number 76 "There Goes My Baby" by Donna Summer
Peak: number 52
Speaking of disco stars under-performing with covers, Donna Summer's version of The Drifters song just missed the ARIA top 50. In the US, the lead single from Cats Without Claws reached number 21.

New Entries
Number 50 "The Lucky One" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 48
Or, the unlucky one, as it would turn out. Wedged in between two top 3 singles, "The Lucky One" became Laura Branigan's least successful single since her breakthrough with "Gloria". The follow-up to "Self Control" and second single from the album of the same name, "The Lucky One" came with a rags-to-riches music video in which Laura played a service station worker given the Pygmalion treatment and treated to a taste of the glamorous life.

Number 49 "The Glamorous Life" by Sheila E
Peak: number 11
Speaking of... here's a song called "The Glamorous Life" - the debut single by Prince percussionist and singer Sheila E (short for Escovedo). Written and co-produced by his Purpleness, the lead single from the album of the same name turned her from band member to solo star, reaching the US top 10 and just missing the ARIA one. "The Glamorous Life" had originally been intended for Apollonia 6 to record, but Prince changed his mind and instead gave it to Sheila, who had made her vocal debut on classic Prince B-side "Erotic City" and would go on to be the support act for his Purple Rain tour. 

Number 42 "Soul Kind Of Feeling" by Dynamic Hepnotics
Peak: number 5
So here's the song I couldn't stand - the breakthrough hit for Sydney band Dynamic Hepnotics. Their second single for Mushroom Records, "Soul Kind Of Feeling" had a throwback, rock'n'roll-era vibe, while still managing not to sound out of place in 1984. So what was my problem with it? At the risk of sounding inarticulate, something about it just irked me and I've always found it a little too smug. But as I said at the start, it was a top 5 hit, so I may be out of my own on this one.

Number 35 "Madame Butterfly" by Malcolm McLaren
Peak: number 16
We finish off with another song with which I wasn't that enamoured. Fresh from merging record scratching, skipping and world music with pop, British all-rounder Malcolm McLaren turned his attention to opera. "Madame Butterfly" incorporated the best-known aria, "Un bel dì veldremo", from the Puccini opera of the same name. Experimental and interesting, yes, but not exactly a sing-along pop hit. Still, it gave Malcolm a third top 20 hit.

Next week: the solo debut of a male singer who'd topped the chart three years earlier with his former band. Plus, a second top 50 single by another male artist whose only other hit had also come in 1981.

Back to: Oct 14, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 28, 1984

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: October 18, 1992

Welcome to another instalment of Once Were Hitmakers. That's right, our flashback to the ARIA chart from this week in 1992 features a bunch of artists who'd all previously reached the top 10 but stumbled with their latest singles.

From two female performers who were massive in 1990 to two acts that had much more recently almost topped the chart to two local male singers whose top 10 days were behind them, it's a cavalcade of under-performers.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 18, 1992

An artists who would soon - but not soon enough - be joining the ranks of former hitmakers was at number 1 this week in 1992. "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus stayed on top for a third week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "When We Were Young" by Paul Norton
Peak: number 99
Two years after he was last seen in the top 40 and three-and-a-half after number 3 hit "Stuck On You", Paul Norton returned with this taste of second album Let It Fly.  

Number 97 "Let Me Take You There" by Betty Boo
Peak: number 97
Landing pretty much where she last peaked in mid-1991, Betty Boo didn't find the Australian public any more receptive to this dreamy cut from second album GRRR! It's Betty Boo

Number 95 "We Can Dream" by Mark Williams
Peak: number 95
Like Paul Norton, Mark Williams had last featured in the top 40 in 1990, but this lead single from the Mind Over Matter album didn't send him back to the heights "Show No Mercy" had scaled.

Number 93 "Crying" by Roy Orbison and kd Lang
Peak: number 71
Both the late singer and this song - a number 1 for him in 1961 - had done better on the Australian chart before, but at least this duet remake from King Of Hearts achieved more than the album's first single, Roy's cover of "I Drove All Night", which missed the top 100.

Number 88 "Start The Car" by Jude Cole
Peak: number 59
The only act who hadn't previously scored on the ARIA chart was American singer/songwriter Jude Cole. This title track from his third album was his only top 100 appearance.

Single Of The Week
"Song Instead Of A Kiss" by Alannah Myles
Peak: number 152
The biggest fall from grace this week belongs to Canadian singer Alannah Myles, who, like Betty Boo, had shot to success locally in 1990, albeit with a very different style of music. The first single from second album Rockinghorseunderstated ballad "Song Instead Of A Kiss", was also pretty different from the two hits Alannah had enjoyed simultaneously in Australia, "Love Is" and "Black Velvet". Apparently, Alannah had been in favour of releasing "Our World, Our Times" (which ended up as the third single) instead, since it was more in line with what people would expect from her, but her label insisted on going with "Song Instead...". While their choice did well in Canada, it came nowhere near the ARIA top 100.

New Entries
Number 48 "Sad But True" by Metallica
Peak: number 48
It was fair enough that this latest Metallica track didn't progress any further than this entry position - it was, after all, the fourth release from Metallica in Australia and the previous three singles had all peaked inside the top 10. Written about the hold religion has on some people, "Sad But True" crept into the top 50 to become the least successful single from the album locally, including a fifth single that was still to come.

Number 47 "Pressure Drop" by Izzy Stradlin And The Ju Ju Hounds
Peak: number 47
He'd been responsible for co-writing some of Guns n' Roses biggest hits, like "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Patience", "You Could Be Mine" and "Don't Cry", but as his former band continued to lift singles from their Use Your Illusion albums, guitarist Izzy Stradlin embarked on a new musical journey. With his new band, The Ju Ju Hounds, he released an eponymous album, which contained this blistering remake of a song originally recorded by reggae band The Maytals in 1970. It would end up as Izzy's only solo top 50 appearance. 

Number 46 "No Regrets" by Tom Cochrane
Peak: number 26
"Life Is A Highway" was still inside the top 10 and it was joined on the top 50 by this far less memorable follow-up. In fact, not only could I not remember this at all from 1992, but I've just listened to it now and I still couldn't sing it for you. A much more modest hit, "No Regrets" would be the last time we'd see the Canadian singer on the chart.

Number 45 "Rock Your Baby" by KWS
Peak: number 38
British dance trio KWS had reached number 2 with their cover of KC & The Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go", which spent its final week inside the top 20 this week, and they didn't venture too far with their follow-up. Another remake of a disco classic, "Rock Your Baby" was originally recorded by George McCrae (and taken to number 2 in Australia in 1974), and was written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of... KC & The Sunshine Band. Lightning didn't strike twice for KWS, however, with their take on the tune barely making the top 40, probably because it was nowhere near as good as "Please Don't Go". The group would make one final visit to the top 40 with another cover in two years' time.

Next week: a completely different kind of chart week, with three new hits from some of the world's biggest names that all burst straight into the top 20.

Back to: Oct 11, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 25, 1992

Saturday, 14 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 14, 1984

It must suck to be a celebrity with a sibling who's more famous than you are. No matter what you do, it's always going to be overshadowed by what your brother or sister does.

Jermaine Jackson: the Dannii Minogue of the Jackson brothers

This week in 1984, one of the new entries on the ARIA chart came from a performer who was constantly compared to one of his (many) brothers - a singer who just happened to be responsible for the world's most successful album of all time. Tough act to follow.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 14, 1984

Speaking of musical competition, the top 3 singles this week in 1984 were all among the decade's biggest hits. At number 1, George Michael's "Careless Whisper" held on for a fourth and final week, while "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder jumped up into second place. Funnily enough, last week's runner-up and this week's number 3, "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr, would end up higher on the year-end chart than those other two songs despite not reaching the top.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "I Love You, Suzanne" by Lou Reed
Peak: number 71
Eleven years after "Walk On The Wild Side" scraped the absolute bottom of the top 100 in Australia, Lou Reed made only his second appearance on our chart with this single from New Sensations

Number 84 "Ballet Dancer" by The Twins
Peak: number 84
"Not The Loving Kind" had been a hit here, but not in The Twins' home country of Germany. This follow-up did the reverse - flopping here but giving the duo their first German hit.

This week also saw the debut of "Hole In My Shoe" by neil, which spent two weeks at number 94. It would achieve much more success when re-released in a year's time.

New Entries
Number 50 "Dynamite" by Jermaine Jackson
Peak: number 28
Ever since The Jackson Five burst on to the music scene, Jermaine Jackson had played second fiddle to brother Michael. Both were co-lead singers of the family group and began their solo careers around the same time (1971-72), but Michael had always received more attention and enjoyed greater success. 
By 1984, Jermaine, who'd quit The Jackson Five when they left Motown Records in 1975, had visited the Australian top 50 on two occasions - in 1973 with number 27 single "Daddy's Home" and in 1980 with "Let's Get Serious", which peaked at number 24. Michael, meanwhile, was coming off the Thriller juggernaut.
For his self-titled 10th studio album, Jermaine also finally left Motown Records (for Arista), but so far, Jermaine Jackson had been overshadowed by Victory, The Jacksons album to which he - and Michael - contributed (but, as we saw a couple of weeks ago, both had been too busy to appear in the music video for "Torture"). 
The two albums had entered the ARIA top 100 in the same week in late July - Victory at number 29; Jermaine Jackson at number 96 - and Jermaine's lead single, "Sweetest Sweetest", had done nowhere near as well as "State Of Shock". Finally, Jermaine turned things around with the album's second single, "Dynamite", and its memorable, dancing on tables, prison-set music video, returning to the 20s for a third and final time. It deserved much better - wonder how well it would've done if Michael had recorded it...

Number 49 "Boys Do Fall In Love" by Robin Gibb
Peak: number 48
Here's another singer best known as one member of a band comprised of him and his brothers - in this case, a group that'd long been absent from the top 50. Of course, that was because between 1981 and 1987, Bee Gees only broke their recording hiatus once to release 1983's "The Woman In You". That's not to say they weren't making their presence felt - most notably as songwriters of hits by other acts, like "Heartbreaker" and "Islands In The Stream". And, occasionally, with solo efforts like this synthy track by Robin Gibb, which he wrote and produced with brother Maurice, who also released a single in 1984. The lead single of Robin's third solo album, Secret Agent, "Boys Do Fall In Love" didn't venture very high up the chart, but it did stay on the top 100 for half a year.

Number 48 "I Walk Away" by Split Enz
Peak: number 45
They'd been a regular presence on the chart for the past half a decade, but Split Enz were winding down with the release of their final album, See Ya 'Round - their first without founding member Tim Finn. Despite lead single "I Walk Away" being, in my opinion, one of the band's best ever songs, it barely made the top 50, suggesting they were wise to call it a day. What I didn't know until just now is that Neil Finn revived "I Walk Away" with his next band, Crowded House, and included it on the North American release of their self-titled debut album. This version is better. Split Enz released one further single from See Ya 'Round, but "One Mouth Is Fed" failed to chart.

Number 42 "Flesh For Fantasy" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 28
For an artist who'd made his name with party starters like "White Wedding" and "Rebel Yell", it was a little surprising that Billy Idol would've followed "Eyes Without A Face" with another pretty subdued track like "Flesh For Fantasy". I actually prefer it to "Eyes Without A Face", but "Flesh For Fantasy" charted significantly worse than its predecessor, not only in Australia, but in the UK and the US as well.

Number 35 "No Say In It" by Machinations
Peak: number 14
Proving "Pressure Sway" was no fluke, Machinations rallied after top 50 miss "Jumping The Gap" to land their biggest hit with this irresistible piece of synthpop. The first single from their upcoming second album, Big Music"No Say In It" was produced by Julian Mendelsohn, whose name I know from his later work for Pet Shop Boys, Level 42 and Tasmin Archer, but who I never realised was Australian. Rather than striking while the iron was hot, it would be another seven months before Machinations would be back on the chart with "My Heart's On Fire" in mid-1985.

Next week: the latest genre-blending concoction from Malcolm McLaren, plus one of my least favourite Australian singles of the '80s.

Back to: Oct 7, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 21, 1984

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: October 11, 1992

1992 really was a year for big ballads - and they didn't come much bigger than the song making its debut on the ARIA chart 25 years ago this week. 

It was actually only the start of really big things for Boyz II Men

An emotional ballad written and produced by one of the biggest teams in the business, it made itself at home at number 1 in Australia for a month, which was actually a fraction of the time it spent on top in the US, where it broke the record for the longest chart-topper.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 11, 1992

In Australia, our new entry would also go on to have the honour of dethroning Billy Ray Cyrus from the number 1 spot. This week in 1992, "Achy Breaky Heart" spent its second week on top. 

Off The Chart
Number 95 "I Missed The Bus" by Kris Kross
Peak: number 95
They'd been chart-toppers themselves just four months earlier, but rap duo Kris Kross scraped the bottom of the top 100 with their Sammy Davis Jr-sampling third single.

Number 91 "Mary Mary" by Mantissa
Peak: number 55
They changed their name (from Killing Time) and their chart fortunes (previous release Dream Alone made the top 30) with this single released contemporaneously with debut album Mossy God.

Number 90 "Rest In Piece" by Extreme
Peak: number 76
Don't let the string quartet intro fool you, Extreme were back to their hard rocking ways with this lead single from third album III Sides To Every Story.

Number 80 "Iron Lion Zion" by Bob Marley
Peak: number 71
Just as "One Love/People Get Ready" had promoted Legend eight years earlier, so too was this early-'70s song issued as a single in support of the Songs Of Freedom box set.

New Entries
Number 50 "Keep It Comin' (Dance Till You Can't Dance No More)" by C+C Music Factory featuring Q-Unique & Deborah Cooper
Peak: number 46
I didn't see this coming. After four hits from debut album Gonna Make You Sweat - including two top 10 singles - and another top 20 placing with a release as Clivillés & Cole, I would've thought it'd be a given that a brand new song from C+C Music Factory would do well on the chart. But despite being another catchy rap-sung concoction, this single from the soundtrack to the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie tanked. Vocals for "Keep It Comin'..." were handled by Deborah Cooper, who'd performed on C&C's remake of "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" and "A Deeper Love", and rapper Q-Unique filling the position previously held by Freedom Williams.

Number 40 "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men
Peak: number 1
While Australia had previously taken to C+C Music Factory with almost as much enthusiasm as America, Boyz II Men hadn't received the same sort of warm reception locally. To date, only one of their four Billboard top 50 hits, "Motownphilly", had made the same section of the chart here - and then only at number 32. But the vocal harmony group made up for lost time with a song that was also a brand new recording taken from a film.
Written and produced by LA Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons, "End Of The Road" was included on the LaFace soundtrack to Eddie Murphy's Boomerang. The heartfelt song about the conclusion of a relationship was originally going to be performed by Babyface himself, but Boyz II Men were approached when it was decided it'd suit them better. Indeed, it's hard to imagine the ballad being sung by anyone but the four-piece, who wailed all over the track in what would become their trademark style.
A four-week number 1 in Australia, "End Of The Road" stayed on top for 13 weeks in the US, beating the record long held by Elvis Presley's 11-week chart-topper, "Don't Be Cruel / Hound Dog". For me, who'd been a big fan of Boyz II Men's debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, to which "End Of The Road" was added, the song was too plodding and depressing. I can see why it was massive, especially at this time of year, but it just felt so overwrought compared to their earlier releases.

Next week: follow-ups to two number 2 hits, plus the first post-Guns n' Roses chart appearance by a former member of the band.

Back to: Oct 4, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 18, 1992

Saturday, 7 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 7, 1984

This time last week, we were reminiscing about a major hit from a man in full make-up and an eye-catching outfit. This week, we look back at another, albeit a very different type of song (and performer).

Twisted Sister's Dee Snider

Also this week in 1984, the ARIA singles chart welcomed the single that would go on to spend the longest stretch at number 1 for the year from a man who'd come very close to reaching the top on two previous occasions.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 7, 1984

A man who was no stranger to the number 1 spot, especially in 1984, remained there this week in 1984. "Careless Whisper" by George Michael spent a third week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 94 "Heart To Sell" by The Promise
Peak: number 94
Not to be confused with the identically named British band of a couple of years later, this The Promise were from Brisbane and this under-rated slice of synthpop was their first single for Festival Records.

New Entries
Number 45 "Cover Me" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 17
Despite the fact that "Dancing In The Dark" fell from its peak position of number 5 this week, its chart run was far from over and would continue long after this follow-up dropped out of the top 50. The second single from Born In The U.S.A., "Cover Me" had actually been written by Bruce Springsteen with Donna Summer in mind, but he was persuaded to keep it for himself. Interestingly, no music video was made for the song - and I wonder if it might have been a bigger hit had there been one, although it sure got a belting on radio.

Number 42 "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister
Peak: number 6
Before Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Warrant and the rest of the glam metal brigade made any sort of impression in Australia, there was Twisted Sister. Fronted by the frankly quite hideous Dee Snider, the band had come together in the '70s and released its first album in 1982 before being catapulted to the big time on the strength of the lead single from their third album, Stay Hungry
With its non-specific lyrics of defiance and rebellion, "We're Not Gonna Take It" was a classic rock anthem that spoke to kids everywhere, firing them up against whatever or whoever stood in their way. That sentiment was brought to cartoon-ish life in the music video, which featured Animal House star Mark Metcalf as a tyrannical dad whose kids transform into the band's members and take their revenge.
Like last week's new entry "She Bop", "We're Not Gonna Take It" was part of the Filthy 15 - a list of songs to which the Parents Music Resource Center objected. In this case, it was deemed too violent, however in his testimony before a Senate hearing, Dee pointed out that the lyrics aren't violent at all and that the action in the music video was inspired by the type seen in Road Runner cartoons.
This was Twisted Sister's only major hit in Australia, but as we'll see in coming months, they managed one further top 50 appearance, which prevented them from becoming legitimate one-hit wonders.

Number 7 "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder
Peak: number 1
We'd last seen Stevie Wonder in the top 10 in mid-1982 (along with Paul McCartney) on number 2 hit "Ebony And Ivory" and his previous solo top 10 single had been 1980's "Master Blaster (Jammin')", another chart runner-up. In 1984, he finally went one better with "I Just Called To Say I Love You", which stormed into the top 10 (up from number 51 last week) and would quickly plant itself at number 1 for eight weeks - longer than any chart-topper all year. 
The sickly sweet ballad was taken from the film The Woman In Red, for which Stevie recorded the soundtrack album (with a little help from Dionne Warwick). While the Gene Wilder/Kelly Le Brock rom-com wasn't one of the year's more successful movies, "I Just Called..." was massive, even if some of Stevie's fans felt its ultra-commercial sound strayed too far from his earlier more soul and funk-based efforts. As well as topping the chart in Australia, the US, the UK and pretty much everywhere else in the world, the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, beating four other US number 1 hits - the only time all five nominees have been chart-toppers.
There was some question about the eligibility of "I Just Called..." for the Oscar when it came out Stevie had written the music for the song in 1976. That fact was revealed during legal proceedings for plagiarism, with a pair of songwriters alleging Stevie had borrowed from a song they played him later that year. In the end, Stevie won the case and, given the lyrics to "I Just Called..." had been added to the tune for its inclusion on the soundtrack, that was clearly sufficient for the song to be considered as having been written specifically for the movie.

Next week: the biggest hit by an Australian synthpop band and the final hit by a New Zealand new wave band.

Back to: Sep 30, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 14, 1984

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: October 4, 1992

Seven years is a long time between chart hits. Eight years is even longer. But for the pair of singers behind the most successful new entry on the ARIA chart this week in 1992, it was better late than never for them to land another top 10 hit.

Don Henley and Patty Smyth: sometimes singing on your own just ain't enough

Separately, they'd visited the upper reaches of the top 50 in the mid-'80s and failed to match that success in the years since, but they broke their string of flops by teaming up on one of the year's biggest duets.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 4, 1992

The year's biggest song of all time ascended to the number 1 spot this week in 1992. Billy Ray Cyrus knocked Bobby Brown off the top spot to commence a seven-week run at the summit with "Achy Breaky Heart"

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Baby-Baby-Baby" by TLC
Peak: number 95
Like En Vogue last week, TLC would've been better skipping over this down-tempo song more suited for the American market and going with "What About Your Friends" instead.

Number 90 "Say It" by Clouds
Peak: number 56
Two singles from Penny Century had just sneaked into the top 50, but this lead release from mini-album Octopus peaked just outside. The album did give them another top 30 placing, however.

Number 88 "Blood Makes Noise" by Suzanne Vega
Peak: number 61
The remix of "Tom's Diner" aside, Suzanne Vega hadn't seen the inside of the top 50 since 1987. This third single from 99.9F° did at least make the top 100, unlike the earlier two.

Number 86 "LSI (Love Sex Intelligence)" by The Shamen
Peak: number 53
This lead single from Boss Drum might not have hit the top 50, but it sure did try, yoyo-ing up and down the chart for 22 weeks, ultimately overshadowed by its controversial follow-up.

Number 84 "We The People" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 70
Things weren't go well for the singles from the newly released Cut, with "We The People" following "Head Above Water" by missing the top 50. That'd change in 1993.

Number 78 "Superstar" by Jon Stevens
Peak: number 55
As the Jesus Christ Superstar cast album spent its 10th and final week at number 1, this next track was lifted as a single but didn't make as big an impression as "Everything's Alright".

New Entries
Number 44 "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" by Patty Smyth / Don Henley
Peak: number 5
She hadn't been seen on the top 50 since her late-1984 top 10 hit, "The Warrior", with her former band, Scandal; he hadn't since a few months after that when he enjoyed back-to-back hits in early 1985 with "The Boys Of Summer" and "All She Wants To Do Is Dance". Together, they hauled their asses back up the chart with this ballad about a failing relationship. 
"Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" was co-written by Patty, who'd performed backing vocals on two of Don's albums and played him the demo, prompting him to agree to appear on the track for her self-titled second solo album. A massive hit both here and in the US, where it reached number 2, the song prevented Patty from becoming a one-hit wonder locally (since "The Warrior" was credited to Scandal featuring Patty Smyth), but she never did manage a third hit.

Number 40 "Something Good" by Utah Saints
Peak: number 10
Their 1991 debut single, "What Can You Do For Me", sampled Eurythmics' "There Must Be An Angel Playing With My Heart" and "Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent" by Gwen Guthrie to great effect, resulting in a UK top 10 slot, but no chart action (yet) in Australia. Second time around, the British dance duo comprised of Tim Garbutt and Jez Willis delved back into the same mid-'80s era and took a vocal line from Kate Bush's 1985 single "Cloudbusting", which missed the top 100 locally as the follow-up to "Running Up That Hill". The sample was combined with a thundering rave track, resulting in not only one of the best dance tunes of 1992 but one of the best singles of any genre of the year. "Something Good" would end up being Utah Saints' only top 50 single in Australia - although it returned in remixed form in 2008 to reach number 32, which technically counts as a second hit.

Number 28 "Hey Hey We're The Broncos" by Ipswich Connection
Peak: number 28
Performed by three members of 1992's premiership winning Brisbane Broncos - Allan Langer, and twins Kerrod and Kevin Walters (all previously members of the Ipswich Jets) - this football song was a shoddy spin on "(Theme From) The Monkees", which sports-appropriate lyrics substituted for the original words. Mercifully, it only spent two weeks in the top 50.

Next week: one of the hottest dance acts of 1991 returns, plus an R&B group that also made its debut in 1991 discovers they can have much bigger hits if they turn the slush factor right up.

Back to: Sep 27, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 11, 1992

Saturday, 30 September 2017

This Week In 1984: September 30, 1984

It seems kind of appropriate with everything that's going on in Australia in 2017 for this week's flashback to the ARIA chart of 1984 to include the debut of a top 10 smash by drag queen-turned-pop star Divine. It's a reminder that the '80s were a pretty progressive time in many ways, and that for every step forward in diversity and tolerance, there's always someone wanting to drag us backwards.

Divine did it in a dress in 1984 - and went all the way to the ARIA top 10

On a lighter note, Divine's hit marked the chart debut of a trio of producers who would come to define pop music over the next five years and be responsible for chart-topping singles by four different artists (none of whom were Divine).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 30, 1984

The chart-topping single this week in 1984 was still "Careless Whisper" by George Michael, which spent a second week on top and looked set to stay there for a while as it made a clean sweep of the state charts.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "She's Fresh" by Rock Steady Crew
Peak: number 85
Not to be confused with Kool & The Gang's "Fresh", this follow-up to "Up Rock" traded in the street beats for a more straightforward pop tune. Not the best idea.

Number 90 "Half A Boy And Half A Man" by Nick Lowe
Peak: number 66
Returning to the top 100 exactly five years to the day since his 1979 hit, "Cruel To Be Kind", debuted, Nick Lowe brought a bit of Tex Mex flavour to the chart. He'd do better with straight out rock'n'roll in 1986.

New Entries
Number 48 "Blue Jean" by David Bowie
Peak: number 12
More popular than ever, David Bowie had enjoyed the best chart run of his career with the singles from Let's Dance, so expectations were high for his next album, Tonight. David didn't stray too far from the sound that'd gained him a legion of new fans, with lead single "Blue Jean" a natural musical successor to the likes of "Modern Love". A bunch of music videos were made for the track, including a 20-minute Grammy-winning mini-film, Jazzin' For Blue Jean. Although "Blue Jean" gave David another top 15 hit, it would be his only major success from the album.

Number 45 "Torture" by The Jacksons
Peak: number 32
What do you do when the two lead singers on your latest single won't feature in its music video? Carry on without them - and rent a wax dummy to take the place of one of them. With Michael Jackson unavailable to film "Torture" and Jermaine refusing to appear, the other Jackson brothers soldiered on and worked around them, which involved borrowing the Madame Tussaud's statue of Michael to be included in a few scenes. The expensive, horror-themed video was the first choreographed by Lakers cheerleader Paula Abdul, who'd quickly become one of the most in-demand choreographers for music videos (especially by Jackson sister Janet) and film. For The Jacksons, the future wasn't so bright and "Torture" would end up being their final top 50 appearance in Australia.

Number 41 "Agadoo" by Black Lace
Peak: number 16
If there's a radio station in Hell, chances are it has this novelty record on repeat. Originally recorded in the early '70s as "Agadou" and at one point used as the theme tune for Club Med - which says it all, really - "Agadoo" was the first English-language version of the song and became a Brits abroad summer holiday smash during the European summer of 1984. Performed by the latest incarnation of lineup-shifting former Eurovision contestants Black Lace, the song thankfully wasn't as huge in Australia as it was in the UK, where it was only blocked from number 1 by George Michael and ended up as the year's eighth highest-selling single.

Number 39 "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 6
To completely contradict my opening statement about the mid-'80s being a progressive time, here's one of the songs that wound up on the Filthy Fifteen, a list of tracks deemed the most offensive in pop music by the Parents Music Resource Center, who were responsible for the institution of parental advisory stickers on music releases. Of course, America has always been more conservative than some parts of the Western world and even a song like "She Bop", which makes no direct references to its female masturbation subject matter, was found to be objectionable. Cyndi Lauper, who landed her third top 10 hit in a row with the song, deliberately kept its true meaning implied so younger listeners (like nine-year-old me) could assume the lyrics referred to dancing and enjoy it on that level - something she carried over to the innuendo-laden music video.

Number 38 "Sunglasses At Night" by Corey Hart
Peak: number 16
Featuring one of the most iconic synth riffs of the '80s, "Sunglasses At Night" was the debut single by then-22-year-old Canadian singer Corey Hart. Signed a couple of years earlier after recording demos with Billy Joel's backing band, Corey had his debut album, First Offense, ready to go... except for "Sunglasses At Night". At home in Canada when the inspiration for the song struck, Corey was sent back to the UK, where he'd recorded the album, to cut the track and add it to the LP. Issued as its lead single, the song became a US top 10 hit (although a more modest number 24 single in Canada) and was the first of Corey's three top 40 appearances in Australia.

Number 33 "You Think You're A Man" by Divine
Peak: number 8
1984 had already given us Marilyn, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Bronski Beat, but one of music's most diverse years still had another queer mega-hit up its sleeve in the form of this top 10 smash by drag queen Divine. A frequent collaborator of movie director John Waters, Divine (real name: Harris Milstead) snarled into the top 10 with "You Think You're A Man", the first chart hit for producers Stock Aitken Waterman. 
Although not written by SAW - the song was penned by Geoff Deane, who'd go on to write the screenplay for the film Kinky Boots - the track established the template for the Hit Factory's Hi-NRG-meets-pop sound. The song was especially successful in Australia, where it eclipsed the number 16 peak of the tune in the UK, resulting in Divine making a memorable and well-received appearance on Countdown. It would turn out to be the only hit for the larger-than-life drag star, despite a string of singles between 1981 and 1987, including another SAW production, "I'm So Beautiful" - but what a hit it was.

Next week: the longest-running number 1 of 1984 debuts, plus a rebellious anthem from a briefly huge hair metal band.

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