Thursday, 12 July 2012

25 Years Ago This Week: July 12, 1987

A week after picking up my first ARIA chart, I decided I just had to have the next one. Similarly, after writing about the week ending July 5, 1987 last week, I've decided to carry on with a look at the following week’s ARIA chart. And it featured the debut of the year's most controversial song, "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael. But more on that later...

George Michael explores monogamy

There’s not much point going through the full top 50 again - you can click on the chart below for a look at the rundown. But I thought it'd be fun to talk about that week’s breakers and the three new entries to crack the main chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending July 12, 1987

Each week, five songs that hadn't sold quite enough copies to make it into the top 50 were listed as “breakers”. I’m not sure – and somebody will no doubt be able to help me out here – whether they were the biggest jumps inside the top 100 or whether they were the next five songs moving upwards just outside the top 50.

Either way, it was a great way to discover new tunes, especially since many breakers didn’t wind up earning a play on Take 40 Australia. I'd often go into my local Brashs store and ask the staff to play me the songs I'd seen as breakers. They must have hated me, especially since I only ever bought a fraction of the records I asked to hear - but hey, pocket money only stretched so far.

This week's breakers included:

Of course, not every breaker was a winner. Last week, I derided the Dutch duo's godawful "Holiday Rap" - and thankfully, the Australian public saw enough sense to not let this follow-up (which, similarly, bastardised Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" and Sister Sledge's "We Are Family") into the top 50. It eventually stalled perilously close to becoming a proper hit at number 51 - more than high enough.

"Laser Light" by Latin Lover
Peak: number 58
And now for some decent Euro dance. I still have the 12" single of this Italo disco classic, which was reasonably similar in style to the much more successful Michael Bow song, "Love And Devotion". I'm not sure quite what had overcome the normally rock-oriented music buying public - but it was a good sign that songs like this were finding an audience, even if that audience could only propel it to number 58.

New Entries
Number 48 “Shakedown” by Bob Seger
Peak: number 9
He would wind up having one of the year's biggest hits with "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll", a re-release from 1984 which at that stage was still outside the top 50, but for my money, this track from the Beverly Hills Cop 2 soundtrack was way better. Although this and "I Want Your Sex" were both taken from the film's soundtrack, the album was nowhere near as successful as the soundtrack to the first movie, which of course featured "The Heat Is On", "Neutron Dance" and "Axel F".

Number 42 “City Flat” by Boom Crash Opera
Peak: number 42
After two top 20 singles with "Great Wall" and "Hands Up In The Air", Boom Crash Opera were on a bit of a roll - emphasis on the "were". The third single from their debut self-titled album didn't get any higher, which was disappointing for fans of the band like me. In retrospect, while "City Flat" is a good song, they really should have gone with "Her Charity" (which ended up being the fourth single) instead. BCO still gig around the country and their under-rated back catalogue is worth a revisit.

Number 31 “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael
Peak: number 2
Which brings us back to... sex. And in 1987, sex was definitely a dirty word as far as TV and radio stations were concerned, with the first taste of George Michael's hotly anticipated debut solo album banned to varying extents. Although from memory, Australia was a little more liberal than the UK and US - no surprise there.
Even at the time, I wasn't sure what the fuss was all about. Lyrically, if "I Want Your Sex" encourages anything, it's responsible love making. As for the racy video, sure, the lingerie, writhing limbs, and blindfold play between George and then-girlfriend Kathy Jeung were titillating, but it hardly felt R-rated (for our international guests, that's restricted to 18 and over). Even as a 12-year-old, it didn't feel like anything I hadn't seen before.
Possibly the problem more conservative types had with the song was that it was so brazen, and not a coy or overly romanticised approach to sex. Of course, being banned has never hurt a song's chart success before (see also: "Relax" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, "Ebeneezer Goode" by The Shamen) and George quickly ascended to the runners-up spot in Australia, and similar heights around the world.

There you have it: another look back at the ARIA charts 25 years ago. Next week in this part of Chart Beats, we'll remember the arrival of one of the best power ballads of the decade.

Back to: July 5, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: July 19, 1987


  1. Breakers were (usually) the 5 highest-charting singles outside of the top 50 that had not yet cracked the top 50, and (generally) were moving up the chart. However, I remember a few exceptions to this; I'm pretty sure that Rick Astley's 'Take Me To Your Heart' is listed as a 'breaker' on the 12th March 1989 ARIA top 50 chart, despite having entered (and peaked) within the top 50 a few weeks earlier. Breakers were listed in order of chart position that week.

    Unfortunately, ARIA have never released their in-house chart's positions 51-100 between June 1988 and December 1989, and so breakers are the only way really to guestimate which songs nearly hit the top 50, but didn't.

    1. I knew someone would know the answer to this. I remember seeing some songs linger for an agonisingly long time in the breakers section never to make it into the top 50.

  2. I remember songs moving up the breakers and getting so excited but then some would move up the breaks then never make the Top 50 and I'd get so frustated.