Wednesday, 6 May 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: May 6, 1990

Rock ballads, power ballads, electro ballads, piano ballads... sometimes nothing beats an emotive downtempo number - and 25 years ago this week, ballads of all varieties descended on the ARIA singles chart.

All Heart want to do is never perform their number 1 hit again

Not all the ballads were big hits, however, with some going all the way to the top 10 while others floundered much lower down the rankings. Many of them were also horrible, horrible songs.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 6, 1990

Meanwhile, blasting from its number 19 debut last week straight to number 1 was Madonna's "Vogue/Keep It Together", which benefited from a full week on sale right around the country. It would be the first of five weeks on top in total for the track.


Off the chart
Number 95 "Forever" by KISS
Peak: number 73
I mentioned this song last week - the second single from Hot In The Shade was one of many rock ballads to hit the US top 10 in 1990 that failed to connect in Australia. Fun fact: "Forever" was co-written by power ballad king Michael Bolton

Number 76 "The Way You Live" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 75
It's got a little too much kick to technically be a ballad, but this more downbeat single didn't find as many takers as the band's rockier fare like "Do You See What I See" and "Say Goodbye".


Breakers
"Dirty Deeds" by Joan Jett
Peak: number 59
This one's definitely not a ballad - a cover of the 1976 single by AC/DC (which had reached number 29) lifted from an album of rock covers by a Blackheart-less Joan. I'm not a fan of Acca Dacca at the best of times, and I find "Dirty Deeds" a bit monotonous - so nothing about this remake appealed to me. Joan's versions of "Love Hurts" and "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" were also released as singles, but neither troubled the top 100.




"All My Life" by Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville
Peak: number 57
As "Don't Know Much" spent its final week inside the top 10, Linda followed it up with an identikit middle-of-the-road ballad, once again featuring Aaron Neville as her duet partner. Lightning didn't strike twice in this case - at least not in Australia, although in the States, "All My Life" narrowly missed the top 10, peaking at number 11.




New entries
Number 48 "Run Silent" by Shakespear's Sister
Peak: number 47
Previous single "You're History" was a musical revelation, and former Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey and new band-mate Marcella Detroit continued to defy expectations with this electro-ballad follow-up. A chart disappointment here and in the UK, where it stiffed at number 54, "Run Silent" sounds like a song in need of a stronger chorus.




Number 47 "Only My Heart Talkin'" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 47
Like KISS, Alice Cooper was a relic from the '70s enjoying something of a resurgence in the early '90s - but he really should have stuck to the likes of "Poison" or "Bed Of Nails" where his voice was smothered by layers of guitars and production, instead of tackling a rock ballad like "Only My Heart Talkin'". Whereas KISS frontman Paul Stanley has the vocal chops to handle a song like this, Alice's performance is strangled at best, unlistenable at worst. And being a serious and sensitive artist isn't what Alice Cooper was ever about, so who knows what anyone was thinking with this.




Number 46 "Without You" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 46
Sticking with the turgid rock ballads, the Crüe took some time out from hell-raisers like "Kickstart My Heart" and "Dr. Feelgood" to release this slowie, which sounded like it could have been performed by any number of generic hard rock bands. Written by bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist Mick Mars about drummer Tommy Lee's relationship with serial rock star dater Heather Locklear, the song gave the band the second and final top 10 hit of their career in the States when it reached number 8.




Number 36 "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" by Heart
Peak: number 1
Ugh, it just gets worse. I can understand Heart's disdain for this song - I can't stand it, either. But I didn't record it and see my bank balance increase when it sold a stack of copies around the world, so the band's refusal to play it live stinks. Written by the future Mr Shania Twain, Robert "Mutt" Lange, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" is one of those rock ballads that tells a story - in this case, the intriguing/disturbing tale of a woman initiating a one-night stand in order to fall pregnant. Since this seemed to be the year of dreary ballads spending an interminable amount of time at number 1, I had to put up with "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" atop the chart for four weeks.




Number 18 "How Can We Be Lovers?" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 3
Now, this is how you do it. 1) Enlist the biggest power ballad songwriters of the time, namely Michael, Diane Warren and Desmond Child. 2) Give the song a bit of oomph, with rocking production and an impassioned vocal by Mr Mullet himself. 3) Build in some whoh-whohs in the lead-up to the sing-along chorus. 4) Throw in a key change and some nah-nah-nahs at the end. Genius. 




Next week: Like rock? The Angels, Midnight Oil and Billy Idol have you covered. Meanwhile, my tastes were catered for with some new Italo house, hip-hop and a piano house anthem that made a big claim.


Back to: Apr 29, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 13, 1990


8 comments:

  1. If I remember correctly, the Kiss single dented the AMR top 40, which confused me at the time (that it did so despite missing the ARIA top 50), and is another example of the occasional large discrepancies between the ARIA and AMR charts. I don't remember it receiving any local promotion, which probably explains the low chart peak, but heard it numerous times on American Top 40. It's quite a pleasant ballad for the genre, I thought. I didn't know that Michael Bolton co-wrote it, but I can easily picture him singing it.

    Both the Hunters & Collectors and Joan Jett tracks made the 'Hits of 1990 Volume 3' compilation, which I bought, despite not technically really being 'hits'.

    I don't recall ever seeing a video for 'All My Live', and I guess there wasn't one. I'm surprised it flopped so badly here.

    I liked 'Run Silent', but agree that the chorus is lacking a little something. Siobhan apparently doesn't like the song, and hence why it wasn't included on their 'Best of', despite being one of their few (sort-of) 'hits'. I wonder why the ', Run Deep' part of the song's title was omitted for the single release - perhaps to avoid potential legal issues with the movie of the same name? I didn't know it at the time, but they were obviously influenced by 'Life In a Northern Town' some years before Dario G, with the 'hey um um...' section just after the middle 8.

    Occasionally ballads by 'metal'/rock acts work well, but 'Only My Heart Talking' isn't one of them. It's a bit too corny and unconvincing. I liked his ballad single from a few years later, 'It's Me', though.

    'Without You' was similarly corny. I think the peak should be 45 though (unless australiancharts.com has it wrong).

    'All I Wanna Do' was also corny, though I liked it at the time. It's the kind of song I would have felt embarrassed about if it came on the radio in my parents' car, due to the subject matter. It's definitely not in the same league as their other rock ballads, 'What About Love', 'Alone', or even 'These Dreams'. I'm thinking now that it might have kicked off the trend of blatant 'sex' themed songs (including in the title, though this one was slightly more subtle) going to #1 in Australia over the following 2 years.

    I'm not ashamed to say that I like 'How Can We Be Lovers' a lot. It's easily my favourite song of his, and the key change is amazing.

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    1. Without You peaked at #46. I generally use the other Gavin's book (and the font is so small it's sometimes hard to distinguish between 5s and 6s), but I just double checked by going through the actual charts, so the website must have it wrong.

      Forever got to #38 on AMR.

      Love all those other Heart songs you mention. I saw them live when they played with Def Leppard - and I wasn't that upset they didn't play All I Wanna Do... but I feel sorry for fans of that song who would've expected to hear it.

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    2. Thanks for checking. Slightly concerning that the site has some mistakes, considering I've seen it referenced many times for Australian chart peaks on wikipedia.

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  2. I just noticed that last week's top 50 chart was the first one to include the 'For detailed weekly chart information, send $100 to...' spiel at the bottom. I remember seeing that and wondering what the 'detailed weekly chart information' was. Had I known it was the full top 100, I would have tried to scramble together enough pocket money to subscribe to it; though $200 a year would have taken a large chunk out of my Smash Hits/Number One/Hit Songwords/cassingles fund.

    Given that this didn't appear on the printed chart until now, I wonder how anyone knew the ARIA report full top 100 was available for issue 1 back in January 1990?

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    1. I remember considering subscribing as well - but when it was the equivalent of 25-30 singles, it really was out of the question. Assume record company people knew all about it from the get go.

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  3. Another trainspotter thing I just noticed - curiously, ARIA didn't include No Face's 'Hump Music' as a breaker this week, when it was a) moving up the chart to a new peak, and b) charting higher than 'All My Life' or 'Dirty Deeds'.

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    1. That I don't have an answer for - unless they were worried about promoting a song with that kind of title?

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    2. I was thinking along the same lines, though surely they wouldn't have been that prudish?

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