Wednesday, 16 August 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: August 16, 1992

As we've seen over the past few years, Australia was slow to embrace hip-hop - and when we did so, it was often only the highly commercial, occasionally novelty varieties of rap that scored highly on the ARIA chart. A band that helped open things up made their debut this week in 1992 with a song inspired by serious events.

Arrested Development gave rap music a new dimension

Meanwhile, the ARIA top 50 printout received another facelift this week in 1992, only five months after its most recent revamp had been rolled out nationally. Gone were the changing colours and landscape orientation, replaced by a red and black template (and lots of Coca-Cola mentions) that would remain until mid-1998. Sadly, the redesign meant the Breakers were no more - a section I had enjoyed seeing since it had been instituted in 1986.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 16, 1992

A new-look chart deserved a new number 1 - and it got one with "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" vaulting up from number 7 for the first of six weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 60 "Step In, Step Out" by Weddings Parties Anything
Peak: number 60
With vocals shared by Mick Thomas and Jen Anderson, this second single from Difficult Loves didn't live up to the success of "Father's Day" and it'd take another year for the band to return to the top 50.

Single Of The Week
"My House" by Melissa
Peak: number 119
Her first three singles had all reached the top 20, but Melissa missed the mark in spectacular style with this fourth song, which was the only one that came out following the release of her debut album, Fresh. The fact that "My House" was already available coupled with it not being a very good song pretty much meant the single was doomed - something that was borne out by its peak outside the top 100.

New Entries
Number 50 "Live And Learn" by Joe Public
Peak: number 45
Most of the new jack swing tracks that'd so far made their presence felt on the ARIA chart had either come from male solo stars (like Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson) or male vocal harmony groups (like Color Me Badd and Boyz II Men), but this US top 5 hit was performed, co-written and co-produced by the members of four-piece band Joe Public. Packed with the amount of samples we'd come to expect from any modern R&B song worth its salt, "Live And Learn" was the only hit - here or in America - for the group.

Number 48 "It's Probably Me" by Sting with Eric Clapton
Peak: number 23
Sting's solo career, while not at Police levels of success, had started out pretty well, with one top 20 single each year between 1985 and 1987. Since then, his only hit had been 1991's "All This Time", which reached number 26. The only other times he's visited the top 40 (to date) have been with songs taken from movie soundtracks - the first one being this collaboration for Lethal Weapon 3. Although Eric Clapton is also a named artist on the track, the cruisy "It's Probably Me" involved input from saxophonist David Sanborn and Michael Kamen, who composed the score for the original Lethal Weapon, which is incorporated into the song. Sting's second movie hit would be another collaboration - and would take him back to the top of the chart in 1993.

Number 46 "Tennessee" by Arrested Development
Peak: number 14
Although hip-hop was well established on the Australian chart by this point, it's still pretty remarkable a serious track like "Tennessee" did as well as it did locally. Yes, it has a strong chorus hook, but when you think about the types of hip-hop tunes that'd been really successful over the previous couple of years - "U Can't Touch This", "Now That We Found Love", "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)", "Sucker DJ", "Wiggle It", "Ice Ice Baby", etc. - they were generally much more poppy and/or gimmicky. 
Inspired by two deaths in frontman Speech's family, "Tennessee" was intensely personal and had a less polished, rawer feel to it. Assisting Speech (real name: Thomas Todd) on vocals were band member Aerle Taree (the horseshoes bit) and guest vocalist Dionne Farris (the part at the end). The song also included a snippet of Prince singing the word "Tennessee" in "Alphabet St" - a sample that wasn't cleared and would end up costing $100,000 after the fact.

Number 43 "Boy In The Moon" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 21
In 1991, Margaret Urlich had appeared on two back-to-back number 1 singles in Australia - but neither of them were her songs. The New Zealand-born, locally based singer had provided backing vocals for both "The Horses" by Daryl Braithwaite and Ratcat's "Don't Go Now". If only her own material was as successful. This pretty lead single from second album Chameleon Dreams became her latest release to land around the number 20 mark. "Boy In The Moon" was written and produced by the team behind "Escaping" and much of her debut album, however Margaret did branch out on Chameleon Dreams, working overseas with the likes of Rob Fisher (of Climie Fisher), Tony Swain (of Jolley & Swain) and Ian Prince (who'd worked on recent albums by Glenn Medeiros and Sheena Easton).

Next week: the return of the king of new jack swing, plus the latest singles from two Australian pop acts who were on a hit streak.

Back to: Aug 9, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 23, 1992

Saturday, 12 August 2017

This Week In 1984: August 12, 1984

It's funny how many career-defining moments almost never happen. This week in 1984, a single debuted that would completely revitalise a female artist's career, but the song had been offered to a number of different artists previously. If any of them had decided to record it, things would have played out very differently.

Tina Turner's look in "What's Love Got To Do With It" was as iconic as the song itself

Of course, the singer did release it and it not only solidified her musical comeback but it went all the way to number 1 in Australia. Not bad for a song she wasn't that fond of.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 12, 1984

The number 1 song in the country this week in 1984 was still "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, which held off Prince's "When Doves Cry" for a second week and spent its fourth week overall on top.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "If You Ever Feel The Need" by Colleen Hewett
Peak: number 72
A final top 100 appearance for the Australian singer/actress who'd previously come close to topping the chart twice. A stand-alone single, I wonder if it had been intended as the lead release from an album to follow-up 1983's Colleen that never eventuated?

Number 96 "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)" by Joe Jackson
Peak: number 96
The first single from Body & Soul just made the top 50, this second one was lucky to creep into the top 100 despite being one of Joe Jackson's best songs (and a US number 15 smash).

Number 94 "Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno / Ann Wilson
Peak: number 52
Three singles from Footloose had reached the top 50 and the movie's "love theme", which was co-written by Eric Carmen, became the third to miss the mark. Vocals on the big ballad were handled by the singers of Loverboy and Heart (respectively).

Number 83 "Tour De France" by Kraftwerk
Peak: number 60
This synth track by the German electronic legends was actually remixed and re-released around this time after featuring in Breakin', but this Australian single seems to have included the original 1983 mixes.

New Entries
Number 47 "If Ever You're In My Arms Again" by Peabo Bryson
Peak: number 20
In the '90s, he performed on two big hits that provided Disney characters with sweet romantic moments, but in the '80s, his two ARIA chart appearances came with songs that daytime soap characters made passionate love to. Following 1983's "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" (which featured in Days Of Our Lives), Peabo Bryson returned with his only solo top 50 hit, which was used in Santa Barbara as the theme for characters Joe and Kelly (who was played by Robin Wright). 
The stirring ballad - the key change soars! - was composed by three songwriting legends: Michael Masser (who'd also co-written "Tonight, I Celebrate..."), Tom Snow ("You Should Hear How She Talks About You", "Let's Hear It For The Boy") and Cynthia Weil ("Running With The Night", "Don't Know Much"). With talent like that behind it, no wonder it was big - as well as its top 20 peak locally, it gave Peabo his first US top 10 hit. 

Number 45 "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 1
Tina Turner's comeback had been going so-so up until this point. Her remake of "Let's Stay Together" had been a decent-sized hit, although the follow-up - her version of The Beatles' "Help!" - didn't do too well (if it was released in Australia at all). But then came "What's Love Got To Go With It", along with the album Private Dancer. Both would turn out to be massively successful.
The single, written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, had been offered to everyone from Cliff Richard to Donna Summer to Bucks Fizz (who did record it but shelved it when Tina's version was a hit). When it finally found its way to Tina, she wasn't overly thrilled with its message, but trusted her manager Roger Davies's instinct. Good thing she did - the tune that suggested love was "a sweet old-fashioned notion" obviously connected with a lot of people. 
The track went to number 1 in Australia and the US, and won Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year at the 1985 Grammys (along with Best Female Pop Performance). The video, which showed Tina strutting around New York in that iconic denim and leather outfit (and big, big hair), also won the MTV VMA for Best Female Video. As well as all its accolades, the success of "What's Love Got To Do With It" well and truly meant Tina's career was back on track - with many years of hits to come. 

Next week: the arrival of an Australian band that loved to party, plus a single by one local group that was later covered by another and yet another homegrown band remakes a tune originally released by the world's most successful group ever.

Back to: Aug 5, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 19, 1984

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: August 9, 1992

In the five-plus years I've looked back at the ARIA charts of the 1980s and '90s, I've written about all sorts of songs. Often in the same week, there'll be singles from different ends of the musical spectrum to talk about. But I don't think any songs were as polar opposite as the two highest entries on the top 50 from this week in 1992. On the one hand, we had this...

And on the other, this...

Both were huge hits, but only one of the two would go all the way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 9, 1992

At the top of the singles chart this week in 1992, Richard Marx spent a third week at number 1 with "Hazard", but his days were numbered thanks to this week's high-flying debut.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "If You Asked Me To" by Celine Dion
Peak: number 52
"Beauty And The Beast" was still in the top 20, but Celine found herself just outside the top 50 once again with her latest solo single. This one was written by big ballad queen Diane Warren.

Number 93 "We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions" by Queen
Peak: number 81
Back in 1977, the combined might of this double A-side single was enough to send it to number 8. In 1992, this latest re-release wasn't as well received as "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Number 91 "She's A Dish" by Hard-ons
Peak: number 64
The consistently unlucky Australian rock band peaked short of the top 50 for a third and final time with this track that appeared on EP Dateless Dudes Club

Number 87 "Missing You Now" by Michael Bolton featuring Kenny G
Peak: number 61
It was a battle of the mullets in this single from Time, Love & Tenderness, which charted 15 months after lead release "Love Is A Wonderful Thing". And yes, that's Teri Hatcher in the video.

Single Of The Week
"Haven't Got A Clue" by Dramarama
Someone was very keen on making a success out Dramarama in 1992, with the American band featured as Single Of The Week for the second time in two months, but unlike "What Are We Gonna Do?", "Haven't Got A Clue" didn't manage to crack the top 100 at all - and I have a feeling this was its second time being released. 

New Entries
Number 48 "Barcelona" by Freddie Mercury / Montserrat Caballé
Peak: number 42
The latest Queen re-release might've tanked, but it wasn't the only old song featuring the late Freddie Mercury on the top 100 this week in 1992. This 1987 duet with opera singer Montserrat Caballé was re-released to coincide with the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The song named after the host city had actually been written with the Olympics in mind and was performed by Montserrat (with a backing track that featured Freddie's vocals) at the opening ceremony. The pop star and the opera soprano actually recorded an entire album together, also titled Barcelona, which would be Freddie's final solo work before passing away in 1991.

Number 45 "Tear Me Apart" by The Angels
Peak: number 33
It normally goes the other way, but each of The Angels' three singles from Red Back Fever peaked 10 places higher, with "Tear Me Apart" improving on the number 43 position achieved by "Once Bitten Twice Shy" (which in turn had out-performed the number 53 non-hit "Some Of That Love"). Also worth noting (and giving me cause to breathe a sigh of relief after having been forced to recap so many songs by the band these past five years) is that "Tear Me Apart" was The Angels' last ever top 50 appearance.

Number 40 "How Do You Do!" by Roxette
Peak: number 13
Roxette's imperial phase had well and truly ended when the final single from Joyride, "Church Of Your Heart", failed to make the top 50. But the Swedish duo bounced back with yet another top 20 hit - their 10th - with this lead single from Tourism. Or, to give the band's fourth kind-of studio album its full title, Tourism: Songs From Studios, Stages, Hotelrooms & Other Strange Places. Yes, the band were clearly in demand all around the world and cobbled together an album as best they could while on the fly, but in between its confusing concept and the songs not being quite up to standard, perhaps it would've been a better idea to hold off and not rush something out. To be fair, "How Do You Do!" is not so bad - it's got that catchiness Roxette were known for - but it's not one of my favourites of theirs. And nothing else from Tourism ventured in to the top 50.

Number 29 "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot
Peak: number 8
"I like big butts and I cannot lie." With those words, Sir Mix-A-Lot provided a voice for people who like a bit of junk in the trunk and aren't turned on by the types of stick-thin, bottom-less women normally seen in magazines, on TV and in films. The rapper (real name: Anthony Ray) wrote "Baby Got Back" due to that under-representation of fuller-figured women and helped bring some diversity to the types of body shapes seen in popular culture. 
And, because it was a catchy rap track about huge butts, it was (rather appropriately) massive, reaching number 1 in the US and the ARIA top 10. Although it was Sir Mix-A-Lot's only hit single, "Baby Got Back" has never really gone away, continually referenced and sampled since 1992, most recently by Nicki Minaj on her 2014 single "Anaconda", which also reached number 8.

Number 7 "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" by José Carreras / Sarah Brightman
Peak: number 1
From a raunchy rap song we move now to a sentimental fusion of pop and opera with the official theme for the 1992 Olympic Games. Performed at the closing ceremony on August 9, "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" teamed British musical theatre star Sarah Brightman with Spanish tenor José Carreras on a song co-written by Sarah's ex-husband Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Encapsulating the kind of positivity and cross-cultural mateship the Olympics encourage, the track was the kind of thing people who don't usually buy music would rush out and purchase, since it was as much about being part of a moment in history as it was about the song itself (see also: Elton John's "Candle In The Wind '97"). Naturally, I couldn't stand it. Although it spent six seemingly endless weeks at number 1, the single disappeared after its run at the top almost as quickly as it arrived, ultimately only staying inside the top 50 for 13 weeks. The song, however, would be back before the end of the year...

Next week: the ARIA chart gets yet another makeover, plus the debut of a hip-hop group that had an amazing successful start to their career.

Back to: Aug 2, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 16, 1992

Saturday, 5 August 2017

This Week In 1984: August 5, 1984

It only ran for 20 episodes, but ABC music drama Sweet And Sour looms large in my memories of the mid-'80s. For one thing, it had an awesome theme song, which made its debut on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1984.

The first pop album I ever owned

For another, the soundtrack album was the first non-children's release added to my music collection - I received it for Christmas that year. And that title track theme remains one of my favourite songs from that year.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 5, 1984

Another of my favourite songs from that year held down the number 1 spot yet again this week in 1984. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! spent its third week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 92 "The Modern Bop" by Mondo Rock
Peak: number 85
The first two singles from The Modern Bop had reached the top 20 - one almost topped the chart - but the top 5 album's title track had a much more muted reception. Not a bad song, though.

Number 91 "Friday Night" by Redgum
Peak: number 82
This latest single from Frontline maintained the light feel of "I've Been To Bali Too", but didn't chart anywhere near as high. This was Redgum's final top 100 appearance with John Schumann as singer.

Number 84 "It's A Hard Life" by Queen
Peak: number 65
They'd had back-to-back top 10 hits so far in 1984, but this third single from The Works let the side down (but did reach the UK top 10). The album's fourth single wouldn't chart until mid-1985.

Number 59 "I'm A Fair Dinkum" by John Williamson
Peak: number 59
"The Vasectomy Song" had broken his decade-plus chart drought, but this dinky-di follow-up just missed the top 50. A similarly patriotic track would do the trick in a couple of years.

Number 55 "Busy Bleeding" by Wide Boy Youth
Peak: number 53
This reggae song was recorded by radio and TV presenter Jonathan Coleman, who'd also missed the top 50 in 1981 with his take on the "Stars On 45" craze called "Aussies On 45".

New Entries
Number 49 "Sweet And Sour" by The Takeaways
Peak: number 13
I only watched it the once - was it even repeated? - but I have vivid memories of tuning in to ABC's musical drama Sweet And Sour in mid-1984. I especially remember the scene where the aspiring band were given their name by manager Darrell (Ric Herbert) at a backyard gig. Of course, one of the best things about the series was its theme song, which was written by Sharon O'Neill, who recorded her own version in 1987, and performed by Deborah Conway, who provided the singing voice for the band's vocalist, Carol, instead of actress Tracy Mann. The song's music video, which was the subject of episode 18, couldn't be more '80s if it tried - with its then-tricky animation, the clicking/arm waving dance employed by saxophonist/singer Christine (Sandra Lillingston) and, of course, the presence of a singlet-wearing Reyne brother. But the single has aged very well, still sounding great today. 

Number 44 "No More Words" by Berlin
Peak: number 23
They'd made a fleeting visit to the top 100 in 1983 with "Sex (I'm A...)/The Metro" (which would return just as briefly in 1985), but "No More Words" gave American synthpop group Berlin their first hit in 1984. The lead single from the band's third album, Love Life, it was co-produced by no less a legend than Giorgio Moroder and came with a Bonnie & Clyde-themed music video that was perfect for MTV. As a result, "No More Words" also became a hit in the US - peaking at number 23 there as well.

Number 40 "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat
Peak: number 8
From an American synthpop act with their first hit we move now to a British synthpop group with their first ever single. Bronski Beat made quite a splash with their debut release - and not just because the music video was partly set at a swimming pool. Both lyrically and visually, "Smalltown Boy" captured the homophobia and rejection faced by young same-sex attracted people. In a decade when political content in pop hits wasn't as unusual as it is now, the song's powerful, raw honesty made it stand out. Speaking of standing out, "Smalltown Boy" also introduced the world to the piercing falsetto of vocalist Jimmy Somerville, whose voice floated over the track's much-sampled riff and would be heard on a few more major hits before the decade was out. 

Number 30 "Burn For You" by INXS
Peak: number 3
It was a bit of a week for great synthpop tracks, wasn't it? With possibly their synthiest single ever, INXS racked up their third top 3 hit in a row from The Swing, which had yet to leave the top 20 and was actually on its way back up towards the top 10. Such runaway success for a song from an already huge album was as sure a sign as any that INXS were firmly established as the nation's biggest band. And it's that success that made the fiction of Sweet And Sour probably not far from the truth - what group of musically inclined kids around the country weren't getting together their own bands and hoping to emulate the chart-conquering INXS?

Next week: the chart-topping single that gave a music star a second stretch as a hitmaker, plus a big ballad from a man who'd become synonymous with Disney ballads in the early '90s.

Back to: Jul 29, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 12, 1984

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: August 2, 1992

Sometimes a song's chart peak isn't the full story. For example, it might reach number 1, but if it doesn't hang around very long, it might end up selling only a faction of the amount of copies that lower-charting singles do. Similarly, a track that peaks low but racks up a lot of weeks might end up being a decent-sized hit. This week in 1992, we'll see an example of the latter debut on the top 50.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 2, 1992

Meanwhile, the number 1 single from this week in 1992 spent its second of three weeks on top. "Hazard" by Richard Marx would also remain on the top 100 for almost half a year and wind up as 1992's 10th biggest hit.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Crucify" by Tori Amos
Peak: number 83
We saw "Winter" infiltrate the top 50 a few weeks ago, and as it dropped out of the top 100, it was replaced by this next single from Little Earthquakes. I like "Crucify" even more than "Winter", but I prefer the single remix over the album version, which is heard in the video.

Number 73 "House Of Fun" by Madness
Peak: number 73 (original peak: number 5)
It became their highest-charting single a decade earlier, but Madness's latest re-release didn't inspire the same excitement this time around - either here or in the UK, where it puttered out at number 40.

New Entries
Number 50 "Pretend We're Dead" by L7
Peak: number 50
Yes, it peaked here at number 50 and only spent this one week inside the top 50, but this rock classic from L7 lasted 22 weeks in total on the top 100. In the process, it established itself as one of the more popular songs released during the grunge era, even though the all-female band had been around long before the genre they became associated with, having formed in the mid-'80s. Easily their best known - and most accessible - song, "Pretend We're Dead" was inspired by a breakup and the track's popularity became a sore point for L7, who, to use the words of its songwriter, singer Donita Sparks, would be known to "shit on their hit".

Number 46 "Deeply Dippy" by Right Said Fred
Peak: number 38
Not only did the group behind "I'm Too Sexy" have a third top 40 hit in Australia, but they did it with a song that spent three weeks on top of the UK chart. Trading in the dance beats of their earlier two singles for a guitar-based and brass-soaked feel, "Deeply Dippy" was another pure pop tune, but Australia seemed to have lost its appetite for such sugary confection.

Next week: oh my God, Becky, look at that Olympics-related hit. It is so big.

Back to: Jul 26, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 9, 1992

Saturday, 29 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 29, 1984

Not everyone can claim to have a song written about them; even fewer people have one that specifically names them - although if you're famous, the chances are probably higher. This week in 1984, a British girl group entered the ARIA top 50 with a song that name-checks a world-renowned American actor.

If someone writes a song about you, it's only polite to meet them

The song isn't actually about the actor per se, but he figures as a fantasy in the story told by the lyrics. Although not a massive success in Australia, the song gave the girl group their equal-biggest hit in the UK and is one of their best known singles.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 29, 1984

The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1984 was "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, which held down the number 1 spot for a second week and would continue to do so for some time.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "I Feel Like Buddy Holly" by Alvin Stardust
Peak: number 64
More than a decade after he topped the Australian chart with "My Coo Ca Choo", the English singer born Bernard Jewry made one last top 100 appearance with this tune, written and produced by Mike Batt.

Number 97 "Big In Japan" by Alphaville
Peak: number 67
But not in Australia. The debut single by the German synthpop group was successful in Europe, while in Australia, they'd have a minor top 50 hit with their original version of "Forever Young" the following year.

Number 85 "Farewell My Summer Love" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 68
Taken from an album (with the same name) of previously lost but recently found recordings from 1973, this sweet ballad was another US top 40 and UK top 10 hit, but Australia kept their distance.

New Entries
Number 50 "I Can Dream About You" by Dan Hartman
Peak: number 3
Back in 1979, Dan Hartman had reached the Australian top 10 with disco track "Instant Replay" and then was not seen on the chart again for five years when he returned with an even bigger hit, "I Can Dream About You". The song was included in the film Streets Of Fire, but Dan did not perform the version heard in the film. Instead, session singer Winston Ford recorded the song for the movie and it was lip synced by actor Stoney Jackson, who played the frontman of the film's doo-wop group, The Sorels. Dan, however, ensured his version would appear on the soundtrack album and be released as a single. Fair enough - he did write the song. 
Just to confuse matters, footage of The Sorels performing the track is included in both of the single's music videos. In the version featuring Dan (below), the group can be seen on a TV in the background. But another version exists comprised wholly of clips from the movie and the performance by the fictional group. It's this alternate video that is responsible for me believing Dan Hartman looked like Stoney Jackson for many years. "I Can Dream About You" was Dan's only other successful single in Australia, making him a two-hit wonder, but the late singer/songwriter/producer also gave the world "Relight My Fire" (later covered by Take That) and "Love Sensation" by Loleatta Holloway (later sampled by Black Box). He passed away in 1994.

Number 49 "All Of You" by Julio Iglesias / Diana Ross
Peak: number 19
He'd just reached the top 5 (alongside Willie Nelson) with "To All The Girls I've Loved Before", while her most recent visit to the same chart heights had been (alongside Lionel Richie) on 1981's number 1 "Endless Love". Together, Latin crooner Julio Iglesias and superstar performer Diana Ross made sweet music on this schmaltzy ballad taken from Julio's crossover album, 1100 Bel Air Place. For him, "All Of You" continued his move into the English-language market, while for Diana, the duet was a return to chart success after nothing from her previous two albums, Silk Electric and Ross, had really worked. 

Number 46 "Robert De Niro's Waiting" by Bananarama
Peak: number 40
Finally entering the top 50 in its 11th week on the top 100 is one of three songs that reached number 3 in the UK for Bananarama (the other two are "Love In The First Degree" and "Help!"). In Australia, "Robert De Niro's Waiting" was only a minor hit, but its unusual title and even less typical subject matter made it more memorable than its chart peak would normally indicate. Although not as lyrically explicit as it apparently was to begin with, the song is about date rape, with the victim disappearing into a fantasy world in which the Hollywood star is her boyfriend. As the photo at the start of this post attests, the trio ended up meeting Robert De Niro after the song's success, famously steeling themselves with a few drinks before... going out for a drink with the actor.

Next week: four brilliant songs, including a hit by a fictional band and the debut of a male singer with a very high voice.

Back to: Jul 22, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 5, 1984

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: July 26, 1992

Girl groups, it would seem, are like buses - and after waiting for the flood of American girl groups in the late '80s and early '90s to make a connection in Australia, two hit the top 50 for the first time this week in 1992. (They both also happen to be among my favourite girl groups of all time).

In doing so, they joined two local all-female groups to lend a bit of girl power to the ARIA singles chart, long before that became a thing. Both of the US groups would enjoy much bigger hits later in the decade, but they had to start somewhere, right?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 26, 1992

The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1992 was "Hazard" by Richard Marx, which replaced "Save The Best For Last" at number 1 and stayed there for the next three weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "100%" by Sonic Youth
Peak: number 67
A decade after they began releasing music, the American rock band started to get noticed in Australia. The Spike Jonze co-directed video features an appearance by skateboarder (and soon-to-be actor) Jason Lee.

Number 90 "I Hear You Knocking" by Craig McLachlan
Peak: number 90
His rock power ballads weren't really working, so Craig McLachlan injected some dance beats into this remake of the much-covered track... and still came up empty. Musical theatre beckoned.

"Gonna Get High" by The Dukes
Peak: number 60
With the Absent Friends project having run its course, Sean Kelly formed a new band with many of the same musicians and released this soul-influenced track as their debut single. Like his previous group - and Models, actually - chart success wouldn't come straight away, but it would come...

"Lithium" by Nirvana
Peak: number 53
Nevermind had gone double platinum and was still in the top 50 after 38 weeks, so it's not that surprising the album's third single didn't become Nirvana's third chart hit. Named after the drug used to treat some forms of depression, "Lithium" was about a man plagued by thoughts of suicide who finds religion.

New Entries
Number 50 "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" by En Vogue
Peak: number 36
They'd reached the US and the UK top 5 with debut single "Hold On", and repeated that feat with this lead single from second album Funky Divas. This time, however, female vocal harmony group En Vogue also infiltrated the ARIA top 50 with "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)". Underpinned by a James Brown sample, the track was a slinky, seductive-sounding R&B track with a lyrical sting in the tail - an access denied kiss-off to no-good men. Besides the "oooh bop" intro, the best bit of the song is clearly the breakdown, which was handily announced in the middle of the song. It'd be another couple of years before En Vogue really struck it big in Australia, but this was better than nothing.

Number 49 "Four Seasons In One Day" by Crowded House
Peak: number 47
Continuing the weather theme of their previous single, Crowded House achieved a fifth hit from Woodface - a much more impressive tally than they'd managed with the singles from Temple Of Low Men. That said, none of Woodface's singles had reached the top 10 (as one song had done from each of their previous albums) and "Four Seasons In One Day" only just crept in to the top 50. The band has never confirmed whether the song's lyrics about changeable weather were inspired by Auckland or Melbourne - or both.

Number 46 "Everything's Alright" by John Farnham / Kate Cebrano / Jon Stevens
Peak: number 6
Musical theatre had been around for decades, but it achieved a new resurgence in the early '90s with chart stars popping up in everything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The most successful of the stage show revivals was easily the update of Jesus Christ Superstar, performed more like a rock concert and featuring some of the biggest names in Australian music. Besides the trio featured on this single - Farnsey played Jesus (naturally), Kate was Mary Magdalene and the Noiseworks frontman portrayed Judas - the cast also featured Angry Anderson, John Waters and Russell Morris. The accompanying soundtrack album was even bigger, dominating the number 1 spot for 10 straight weeks.

Number 44 "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 12
Last week, I mentioned I would've chosen Madonna's "This Used To Be My Playground" as an end-of-year song for my graduating Year 12 class in 1992 - timely and lyrically relevant. Instead, we got this. Of course, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", written (and performed) by Bob Dylan about a dying character in the 1973 Western Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, was entirely inappropriate as a school leavers' song. But there was no denying the might of the Gunners, who notched up yet another hit from the Use Your Illusion albums (this one appeared on UYI II) and were easily one of the most popular bands in the country. 
The band had been playing the song live for years and already released it twice - a live version was a B-side in 1987, while an earlier studio version appeared on the Days Of Thunder soundtrack. Still, thanks no doubt to having performed it at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert a couple of months earlier, this single version gave Guns n' Roses a fifth top 15 hit from the combined UYI project and peaked just two places shy of Bob's original release.

Number 43 "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" by TLC
Peak: number 28
Formation dancing, matching outfits, pretty harmonies... those are the things you most often associate with girl groups. New trio TLC threw those rules out the window and did things their way. Loud and rambunctious, they sang about wanting (safe) sex and had a unique, streetwise style: comedy hats! Condoms as apparel!
By the time their debut single, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" was released, they comprised singers Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, and rapper Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes. Original vocalist Crystal Jones had been replaced by Rozonda, and the nicknames were created so they could still use TLC and have each letter correspond to a different member.
Not a remake of the similarly titled song by The Temptations, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" was written by producer Dallas Austin, with Lisa penning her rap, but lists more than a dozen other songwriters thanks to its liberal use of samples from tracks by funk and R&B acts like Average White Band, Kool & The Gang and Sly & The Family Stone.
At the very end of the music video, TLC's then-manager, Pebbles, who got them signed to her husband's LaFace Records, makes a brief appearance as the girls are counting money - a scene that would end up proving pretty ironic given the legal disputes and bankruptcy the trio would go through later in the decade.

Number 40 "Life Is A Highway" by Tom Cochrane
Peak: number 2
Despite all the great singles making their debuts this week, the highest-charting of them all was this old school rock track from Canadian musician Tom Cochrane. Previously the frontman for Red Rider (biggest hit: "Lunatic Fringe", number 52 in 1982), Tom reignited his solo career for the first time since the early '70s and hit paydirt with this lead single from Mad Mad World, with the song reaching the Australian and US top 10. A huge star (with and without Red Rider) in Canada, this was easily Tom's greatest success locally. Think he was a one-hit wonder? Not quite - we'll see another top 30 appearance by him later in the year.

Number 33 "Girl's Life" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 15
Out-performing the best girl groups America had to offer - both in terms of its entry position and its eventual peak - was the follow-up to chart-topping single "Take It From Me", which exited the top 10 this week. More new jack swing-lite fare, "Girl's Life" contained a rap towards the end of the song and featured some serious choreography in the accompanying music video. Most interestingly, it even utilised the phrase "girl power" in the chorus - something that's been made a lot of in news reports about a possible 25th reunion performance by the group. At the time, though, the fact that the girls' second single didn't reach the top 10 must have been somewhat of a disappointment. Yep, the anti-pop backlash had already begun.

Number 32 "Warm It Up" by Kris Kross
Peak: number 21
Here's another follow-up to a number 1 single that fell some way short of matching its predecessor's success - and it's easy to see why. Despite another shouted hook that gets stuck in your head, "Warm It Up" just isn't as good as "Jump". The song, which samples Parliament, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and more, was Kris Kross's final appearance on the ARIA top 50. They'd manage one more US top 20 hit from each of their second and third albums, but never did end up releasing a fourth. In 2013, Kris Kross were back in the news due to the death of Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly from a drug overdose.

Number 26 "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Snap!
Peak: number 3
The '90s were full of one-album wonder Eurodance acts like La Bouche, Culture Beat and Black Box - groups that churned out hit after hit from one album and then... nothing. And it looked like Germany's Snap! would fall into that group after the lead single from second album The Madman's Return, "Colour Of Love", missed the top 50 earlier in 1992. Then came "Rhythm Is A Dancer", which was easily the best song the dance act, now comprised of rapper Turbo B and singer Thea Austin, ever released (despite that "serious as cancer" line). Not only did it put them back in the top 50 but it eclipsed all their previous hits and remains one of the best dance tracks of the decade. 

Number 11 "Jam" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 11
The hits just kept coming from Dangerous, with this fourth single just missing out on giving Michael Jackson four straight top 10 hits from his latest album. Another collaboration with Teddy Riley (among others), the new jack swing track benefitted from Jacko's latest event music video that saw him and basketballer Michael Jordan trading the tricks of their respective trades. The song also boasted a rap by Heavy D, who'd previously helped out Michael's sister Janet on the single version of "Alright".

Next week: things quieten back down on the top 50 with a couple of new entries - one of which was the third hit by a supposed one-hit wonder.

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