Tuesday, 16 February 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: February 16, 1986

Despite the odd chronological inaccuracy, the Molly miniseries provided a fun snapshot of a bygone era - one we revisit each week as we look back at the ARIA singles chart from 30 years ago. This week in 1986, one of the the new entries on the top 50 was by an artist who became very good friends with Molly Meldrum over the lifespan of Countdown

Elton John and George Michael kept their sexuality under wraps in the '80s

In the miniseries, the disconnect between that singer's public and personal lives was touched on - and it's also summed up by the song that hit the chart 30 years ago this week. In public, the performer was one thing, while in private, he was wrapped up in completely different circumstances.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 16, 1986

At number 1 this week in 1986, "We Built This City" by Starship held on to the number 1 spot for a fourth and final week in a completely static top 7.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 63
This first of two releases - and versions - of "Opportunities..." hung around the top 100 for a while, but neither it nor the later remixed single ever became a big hit here like in the UK or the US.

Number 93 "Toughen Up" by Olivia Newton-John
Peak: number 93
This is more like it. After the try-hard "Soul Kiss", Livvy reverted to perky pop with this track written by the team behind "What's Love Got To Do With It" and originally offered to Tina Turner. 


New Entries
Number 49 "Lost Weekend" by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
Peak: number 49
Last year, as we looked back at the charts of 1985, we saw a total of four singles by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions fall between numbers 51 and 100 on the ARIA chart. Imagine the celebrations there must've been when this second release from the Easy Pieces album finally broke that trend and finally sneaked into the top 50. Well, I'm sure the local record company was happy if nothing else. The triumph was short-lived, as "Lost Weekend", which was also the band's best song, fell back down into the 50s for the four following weeks.




Number 48 "Never" by Heart
Peak: number 48
Maintaining their new-found MOR sound, Heart released a slightly more upbeat power ballad to follow "What About Love?". "Never" went down a storm in the US, where the band landed consecutive top 10 hits for the first time in their lengthy career. In Australia, the track got stuck at number 48 for three weeks before reversing slowly out of the top 100.




Number 47 "The Bottom Line" by Big Audio Dynamite
Peak: number 34
It probably worked out for the best that Mick Jones had been kicked out of The Clash a few years earlier. As we saw last year, his former band managed one last gasp with "This Is England" before disintegrating completely in 1986. Meanwhile, Mick had been able to get on with things with new band Big Audio Dynamite, who made the top 40 on their first attempt with "The Bottom Line". The lead single from This Is Big Audio Dynamite is one of those songs I didn't think I knew - the name didn't ring a bell. But, the distinctive guitar riff in the opening seconds of the song is certainly familiar.




Number 43 "Wrap Her Up" by Elton John
Peak: number 22
The follow-up to "Nikita", "Wrap Her Up" is one of those overlooked Elton John songs from the '80s you don't hear anymore. And, for the second time in a row, it was a single that featured George Michael, who, along with Nik Kershaw, had provided backing vocals on "Nikita". For "Wrap Her Up", George played a more prominent role, not that you'd know it given the lack of an official credit. 
On the track, Elton and George sang "wrap her up/I'll take her home with me" and finished off with a call list of famous females like Samantha Fox, Marilyn Monroe and Katharine Hepburn. It's all pretty lighthearted - Kiki Dee appears in the video to be greeted by a cream pie in the face - rather than constituting any sort of macho posturing. Even so, it was songs like this, not to mention Elton's then-marriage to Renate Blauel, that kept the public buying the straight act he (and George) was selling at this point of his career.




Number 33 "Blue" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 13
Next up, the second single by Fine Young Cannibals - and although the British public might not have taken to "Blue", which fell one place short of the UK top 40, in Australia, the song actually peaked one place higher than "Johnny Come Home". Another polished pop/soul track that showcased Roland Gift's unique vocal, "Blue" further established FYC as one of the decade's most interesting new bands - a reputation they'd sporadically live up to for the rest of the '80s.




Next week: Seven new entries, including one of the most iconic Australian singles of the '80s. Plus, a British group lands its biggest hit after the departure of its lead singer.


Back to: Feb 9, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 23, 1986


2 comments:

  1. I didn't know it at the time, but Big Audio Dynamite's "The Bottom Line" would often be used by Wide World of Sport as the music bed for various segments. Also "The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby, which would appear in the 1986 charts a bit later in the year.

    Thanks for the memories :)

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  2. It's interesting that 'Opportunities' was a (semi) 'hit' here before 'West End Girls', unlike the UK. Does anyone know if we also got the later remixed version as a single release as well (I guess we might have, given that rage have aired the second video too), or did they leave it after the original did this 'well'? This version had the better video, I think.

    I'm not a huge Olivia fan, but 'Toughen Up' isn't bad.

    I didn't know 'Lost Weekend' or 'Never' until a couple of years ago, but they're both good.

    Like ozzmosis, I didn't think I knew 'The Bottom Line' either until it aired on rage a few years ago, but knew the riff from 'Wide World of Sports'.

    Is that George Michael in the verses of 'Wrap Her Up' too? If so, I didn't know he could sing so high.

    'Blue' is a track I'd forgotten I knew until getting the remastered 'Fine Young Cannibals' album a few years ago. It's probably my favourite single of theirs... and an anti-Thatcher song too, to boot. I have to laugh though at the balcony rail that looks like it's about to fall off at several points in the video.

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