Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Best Of Kylie Minogue

Originally posted on the 25th anniversary of "Locomotion" in 2012.

So we're all aware that on July 20, 1987, Kylie Minogue released her debut single: the original version of "Locomotion", right? Excellent!

To celebrate the anniversary, and since I like charts and lists (what, you hadn't noticed?), I've decided to count down my 25 favourite Kylie singles.

Number 25 "Some Kind Of Bliss"
Year: 1997
Album: Impossible Princess
Charts: #27 (Australia), #22 (UK)
The '90s were a funny time for Kylie. Who would have expected, given her output at the start of the decade, that she'd be teaming up with half of Manic Street Preachers seven years later? Turns out the Impossible Princess album was exactly the right thing to do given the music climate at the time. Sure, it's not my favourite of her albums (Body Language is the only one I like less), but songs like "Some Kind Of Bliss" and "Did It Again" showed versatility and had the added bonus of getting the Australian public back on side. This lead single from the album didn't chart very well, but it's my favourite nevertheless.

Number 24 "Never Too Late"
Year: 1989
Album: Enjoy Yourself
Charts: #14 (Australia), #4 (UK)

The third single from Kylie's second album was another Stock Aitken Waterman pop gem, even if it wasn't quite as good as her previous singles. I loved the cheesy video, complete with decade-skipping costume changes and easy-to-learn dance moves - but within 12 months, the era of Smiley Minogue would be over for good.

Number 23 "Kids"
Year: 2000
Album: Light Years
Charts: #14 (Australia), #2 (UK)
It was a genius decision to team up with Robbie Wiliams, the UK's hottest male singer at the time, on her comeback album. But "Kids" wasn't just a savvy career move, it was also a brilliant song - and one that goes down a treat at karaoke (I usually do the Kylie bit).

Number 22 "Word Is Out"
Year: 1991
Album: Let's Get To It
Charts: #10 (Australia), #16 (UK)

Let's Get To It is an interesting album - mostly because it feels like Stock and Waterman (Aitken had moved on by this stage) threw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what stuck. That's not to say that it's bad, but it does feel a bit all over the place stylistically. "Word Is Out" mimicked the new jack swing sound coming out of the States - at least the UK version did. In Australia, we got the smoother Summer Breeze Mix, but I always preferred the original version. I was never too sure about the hooker video, though.

Number 21 "Get Outta My Way"
Year: 2010
Album: Aphrodite
Charts: #69 (Australia), #12 (UK)

Aphrodite is up there with Light Years and Rhythm Of Love in terms of consistency (i.e. there are no dud tracks), but the singles released weren't anywhere near as memorable as the hits from those other albums. "Get Outta My Way" was my favourite, but clearly didn't connect with the Australian public, being her lowest ARIA top 100 chart peak up until that point.

Number 20 "Celebration"
Year: 1992
Album: Greatest Hits
Charts: #21 (Australia), #20 (UK)

Even though SAW palmed off main production duties on this track to PWL cohorts Harding and Curnow, it was a fitting end to Kylie's time with the Hit Factory. For me, the release of the song coincided with the completion of my final Year 12 exams so it was especially appropriate. I always liked the video as well, mostly because it seemed like Kylie was genuinely enjoying herself.

Number 19 "Spinning Around"
Year: 2000
Album: Light Years
Charts: #1 (Australia), #1 (UK)

As comebacks go, this has to be one of music's most successful of all time. A lot of credit is given to those hot pants - and sure, they played a part - but "Spinning Around" showed Kylie knew which side her bread was buttered. The excursions into indie and club music were all well and good, but it's shiny pop tunes like this that she's always done better than anything else.

Number 18 "Turn It Into Love"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: N/A (Australia), N/A (UK)

OK, it was only a single in Japan, but that's good enough for me. A classic cut from Kylie's debut album, SAW realised the song was too good to waste and gave it to Hazell Dean to release in the rest of the world. It's not one of Kylie's best vocals (even with the Calrec Soundfield Microphone), but the song is pure pop gold.

Number 17 "If You Were With Me Now"
Year: 1991
Album: Let's Get To It
Charts: #23 (Australia), #4 (UK)

It's probably one of her most forgotten about singles, but this duet with American soul singer Keith Washington is a sweet love ballad. The clip was gorgeous, too.

Number 16 "On A Night Like This"
Year: 2000
Album: Light Years
Charts: #1 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Forever associated with the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, the second single from Light Years was another instant classic, even if it had been released by two other artists (Pandora, Anna Vissi) in the 12 months prior to Kylie's version coming out.

Number 15 "Got To Be Certain"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: #1 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Kylie's third number one in a row in Australia even debuted in pole position, which was very rare at the time. There are a few slightly different edits of the music video, but my favourite has always been the one that includes footage of Kylie singing on a shaky merry-go-round and maintaining her composure while the horse she's sitting on jerks up and down.

Number 14 "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: #11 (Australia), #2 (UK)

I always thought it was funny this song was retitled "I Still Love You (Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi)" for the Aussie single release - did Mushroom assume we couldn't cope with a foreign song title?

Number 13 "What Kind Of Fool (Heard All That Before)"
Year: 1992
Album: Greatest Hits
Charts: #17 (Australia), #14 (UK)

Now here's a single it would've been great to hear on Kylie's recent Anti-tour. A new track on her first Greatest Hits, the "Heard All That Before" in the song title was a cheeky nod to her detractors.

Number 12 "Wow"
Year: 2008
Album: X
Charts: #11 (Australia), #5 (UK)

Kylie's 10th album was a bit hit and miss for me (loved half of it, didn't care for the likes of "Speakerphone" or "Nu-di-ty") but "Wow" was a standout.

Number 11 "I Should Be So Lucky"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: #1 (Australia), #1 (UK)

Whatever the real story is about this song's composition and exactly who came up with the song title (Stock and Waterman's accounts differ), there is no denying that it changed Kylie's future forever. At the peak of the Australian backlash against Kylie, I recall one radio station playing the intro of this song before drowning it out with the sound of gunfire. No wonder she moved to London.

Number 10 "Step Back In Time"
Year: 1990
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #5 (Australia), #4 (UK)

It's no mistake that the four singles from Rhythm Of Love are all in my top 10 Kylie singles of all time. SAW were doing some of their best work and Kylie was clearly much more in control of her music and image. Compared to the fun but cheap-looking retro-inspired video for "Never Too Late", "Step Back In Time" was cool and sophisticated.

Number 9 "Your Disco Needs You"
Year: 2001
Album: Light Years
Charts: #20 (Australia), N/A (UK)

This is one of those songs like Pet Shop Boys' version of "Go West". It's over-the-top, it's ridiculous but it's just so good. From the male choir to the spoken French lyrics, it's a kitsch, camp tour de force.

Number 8 "Hand On Your Heart"
Year: 1989
Album: Enjoy Yourself
Charts: #4 (Australia), #1 (UK)

A great start to her second album, I can't hear "Hand On Your Heart" without picturing the accompanying video. When you think about it, it was really just Kylie wandering around a simple set in a range of primary colour dresses, but for some reason it worked.

Number 7 "Shocked"
Year: 1991
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #7 (Australia), #6 (UK)

One of the only Kylie singles to feature a rap, "Shocked" would have been my last choice of single from Rhythm Of Love in its original form. Thankfully, remixers DNA whipped the lengthy album track into shape and another pop classic was created.

Number 6 "Better The Devil You Know"
Year: 1990
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #4 (Australia), #2 (UK)

The first single from album number three has my favourite ever video of Kylie's - and it still looks great today. At the time, I remember the clip and the song surprising a lot of people and, looking back, it was the first hint that Kylie could be more than just a pop puppet and had become an artist taking charge.

Number 5 "Especially For You"
Year: 1988
Album: Greatest Hits
Charts: #2 (Australia), #1 (UK)

I wrote about this song recently, so all I'll say here is that it would have been really great to see Kylie and Jason perform it again live all these years later. Let's hope they find another occasion to make that long-awaited duet happen.

Number 4 "Love At First Sight"
Year: 2002
Album: Fever
Charts: #3 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Kylie's biggest worldwide hit, "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" doesn't rank in my top 25. I get why it was so successful, but for me, the best track from Fever was the third single, "Love At First Sight".

Number 3 "Wouldn't Change A Thing"
Year: 1989
Album: Enjoy Yourself
Charts: #6 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Until "Better The Devil You Know" came along, this was my favourite Kylie video. I loved the backyard frolicking and the switch from rehearsal gear to stage outfits (a trick recently used by Beyonce for her "Love On Top" clip).

Number 2 "Locomotion"
Year: 1987
Album: single only
Charts: #1 (Australia), #2 (as "The Loco-motion") (UK)

The song that started it all - and the song which I famously (well, in my household anyway) watched nine times in a row after it received its first airing on one of the last episodes of Countdown. I'm not a fan of the SAW remix, which I feel takes away a lot of the joy from the Australian original (not to mention the "chug-chug-chug" bit). Deservedly the biggest Australian hit of the '80s.

Number 1 "What Do I Have To Do"
Year: 1991
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #11 (Australia), #6 (UK)

As I warned in my Hit Factory post, this song tops a lot of my lists since it is my favourite song of all time by any artist. I don't know what it will take for me to like another song more, but I'm more than happy if I never do.

And in the spirit of K25 and the aforementioned Anti-tour, I've also come up with my top 25 Kylie non-singles. Kylie's been fairly prolific in her two-and-a-half decades making music, so there are plenty of album tracks, bonus tracks and B-sides to choose from, but these are my favourites:

1. "Too Much Of A Good Thing" (from Let's Get To It)
2. "Made In Heaven" (B-side to "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi")
3. "Nothing To Lose" (from Enjoy Yourself)
4. "Fever" (from Fever)
5. "So Now Goodbye" (from Light Years)
6. "Do It Again" (B-side to "Wow" and "In My Arms")
7. "Disco Down" (from Light Years)
8. "Time Will Pass You By" (from Kylie Minogue)
9. "Just Wanna Love You" (B-side to "Hand On Your Heart")
10. "Koocachoo" (from Light Years)
11. "Rhythm Of Love" (from Rhythm Of Love)
12. "Loveboat" (from Light Years)
13. "All I Wanna Do Is Make You Mine" (B-side to "Especially For You")
14. "Tightrope" (from Fever)
15. "Secrets" (from Rhythm Of Love)
16. "I'm So High" (from Light Years)
17. "I Don't Need Anyone" (from Impossible Princess)
18. "Love At First Sight" (from Kylie)
19. "Enjoy Yourself" (from Enjoy Yourself)
20. "Aphrodite" (from Aphrodite)
21. "I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)" (from Enjoy Yourself)
22. "Right Here, Right Now" (from Let's Get To It)
23. "Under The Influence Of Love" (from Light Years)
24. "Light Years" (from Light Years)
25. "Paper Dolls" (B-side to "Spinning Around")

And to think it all started with a charity performance for a football club...

That's it for my look back at my favourite Kylie songs. On August 2, we'll look back at what else was going on in music the week "Locomotion" made its chart debut.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Best Of 1981 - part 3

JUMP TO: 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

Right, let's not dilly-dally, here are my 10 favourite songs for 1981...

Kim Wilde could look a bit happier about her 1981 success

At number 10: "It Must Be Love" by Madness, which must be one of the sweetest songs of all time - and probably the last thing anyone would have expected from the rabble-rousing funsters. I always forget it's a cover version, the original recorded 10 years earlier by Labi Siffre. The Madness version was actually a hit twice in the UK - once in 1981 and again in 1992 when it was re-released to promote the Divine Madness greatest hits collection (as was the trend around that time).

An Australian and American chart-topper is at number 9: "Centrefold" by J Geils Band. At the time, everybody loved this song (you find me someone who didn't!), but now I can't hear it without thinking of my university law revue's performance which featured the altered lyrics: "my lawyer is a dinosaur". From memory, I was dressed all in green and had to swing my tail in time with the music. Seriously.

Here they are again... at number 8 it's "Planet Earth" by Duran Duran, their debut single, which reached a respectable number 8 in the Aussie charts. Of course, Australia would have a huge love affair with the band over the next few years, with their third album, Seven And The Ragged Tiger, being recorded in Sydney and massive pull-out posters coming with Smash Hits well into 1987.

Number 7 is "Chequered Love" by Kim Wilde, who is beaten by only Madonna and Kylie Minogue in my all-time list of favourite female singers. This was her second single from her debut self-titled album and reached number 6 in Australia. More from Kim later...

At number 6 is the best TV theme song of all time: "Believe It Or Not" by Joey Scarbury. Well, I should qualify that: it's the best TV theme to make the charts. My favourite theme song is actually "As Long As We Got Each Other" from Growing Pains. Anyway, "Believe It Or Not" was the theme to The Greatest American Hero, which I watched at the time but now can't recall anything about (except for the fact that the titular hero, played by William Katt, wore a rather fetching red outfit).

Finally some synthpop at number 5: "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, an Australian and UK number 1, and another cover that wound up way more successful than the original (which was recorded by Gloria Jones in 1965). Try as I might, I've never been able to get into any other Soft Cell tracks, but I do like a handful of singer Marc Almond's solo singles.

We're on a synthpop roll now... at number 4 it's "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode. This, their third single, was the last they released with input from Vince Clarke (who quit to form Yazoo then The Assembly and finally Erasure). It's nice to see the group still performs this live from time to time even though their sound has evolved considerably.

The last of our synthpop triple play is at number 3: "Don't You Want Me" by Human League, which was the UK's Christmas number 1 in 1981 and would go on to be a massive worldwide hit. The trenchcoat, the storyline involving a waitress in a cocktail bar, Phil Oakey's haircut... what wasn't to love?

At number 2: "Our Lips Are Sealed" by The Go-Go's, a title often mistakenly heard as "Alex the seal" apparently. This feel-good song still sounds brilliant today - on record and performed live by Belinda Carlisle, who's toured Australia twice in the past two years and always performs the biggest hits by The Go-Go's.

And at number 1 for what was quite a stellar year for pop classics it's "Kids In America" by Kim Wilde, who is one of the only artists I've been a fan of for years who I've yet to see live in concert. One day, Kim, one day.

My full top 175 for 1981:

1          KIDS IN AMERICA Kim Wilde
2          OUR LIPS ARE SEALED The Go-Go’s
3          DON'T YOU WANT ME Human League
4          JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH Depeche Mode
5          TAINTED LOVE Soft Cell
6          BELIEVE IT OR NOT Joey Scarbury
7          CHEQUERED LOVE Kim Wilde
8          PLANET EARTH Duran Duran
9          CENTREFOLD J. Geils Band
10        IT MUST BE LOVE Madness
11        THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE Bucks Fizz
12        LET’S HANG ON Barry Manilow
13        STAR Kiki Dee
16        STAND AND DELIVER Adam & The Ants
17        JESSIE’S GIRL Rick Springfield
18        MY OWN WAY Duran Duran
20        NEVER TOO MUCH Luther Vandross
21        WIRED FOR SOUND Cliff Richard
22        THE BREAK-UP SONG (THEY DON’T WRITE ’EM) Greg Kihn Band
23        KEEP ON LOVING YOU REO Speedwagon
24        COUNTING THE BEAT The Swingers
25        GIRLS ON FILM Duran Duran
26        URGENT Foreigner
27        WATER ON GLASS Kim Wilde
28        BOYS IN TOWN Divinyls
29        YOUNG TURKS Rod Stewart
30        I AM THE BEAT The Look
31        SHAKE IT UP The Cars
32        CARELESS MEMORIES Duran Duran
33        MAKING YOUR MIND UP Bucks Fizz
34        WALK RIGHT NOW The Jacksons
35        BREAKING AWAY Balance
36        THE VOICE Ultravox
37        LOVE SONG Simple Minds
38        WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE Steve Winwood
39        TURN YOUR LOVE AROUND George Benson
40        I’VE DONE EVERYTHING FOR YOU Rick Springfield
41        ALONE WITH YOU Sunnyboys
42        YOU MAKE MY DREAMS Hall & Oates
43        PIECE OF THE ACTION Bucks Fizz
44        PHYSICAL Olivia Newton-John
45        AI NO CORRIDA Quincy Jones
46        LADY (YOU BRING ME UP) Commodores
47        HAPPY BIRTHDAY Stevie Wonder
50        SUPERFREAK Rick James
51        FANTASTIC VOYAGE Lakeside
52        DON’T STOP THE MUSIC Yarbrough & Peoples
53        WALLS Flowers
55        FADE TO GREY Visage
56        WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE Diana Ross
57        BETTE DAVIS EYES Kim Carnes
58        ARTHUR’S THEME (BEST THAT YOU CAN DO) Christopher Cross
59        WAITING FOR A GIRL LIKE YOU Foreigner
60        QUIET LIFE Japan
61        MISPLACED LOVE Rupert Hine
62        YOU MIGHT NEED SOMEBODY Randy Crawford
63        NOBODY TOLD ME The Monitors
64        COOL WORLD Mondo Rock
65        PRETTY IN PINK Psychedelic Furs
66        VISAGE Visage
67        LET’S GROOVE Earth Wind & Fire
68        IF YOU LEAVE ME CAN I COME TOO? Mental As Anything
69        THE ONE THAT YOU LOVE Air Supply
70        ENDLESS LOVE Diana Ross / Lionel Richie
71        DON’T WANT TO WAIT ANYMORE The Tubes
72        STEPPIN’ OUT Kool & The Gang
74        ONE OF US ABBA
75        HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT Pat Benatar
76        ANGEL OF THE MORNING Juice Newton
77        GANGSTERS OF THE GROOVE Heatwave
78        JUST THE TWO OF US Grover Washington Jnr
79        DOWN UNDER Men At Work
80        BEAUTIFUL WORLD Devo
81        HOMOSAPIEN Pete Shelley
82        TOO MANY TIMES Mental As Anything
83        OPEN YOUR HEART Human League
84        HAPPY BIRTHDAY Altered Images
85        NEW LIFE Depeche Mode
86        JUST ONCE James Ingram
87        YOU WEREN’T IN LOVE WITH ME Billy Field
88        SAY I LOVE YOU Renee Geyer
89        THE UNGUARDED MOMENT The Church
90        THE AMERICAN Simple Minds
91        I’M IN LOVE Evelyn “Champagne King
92        GOING BACK TO MY ROOTS Odyssey
93        JITTERBUGGIN’ Heatwave
94        ONE DAY IN YOUR LIFE Michael Jackson
95        LOUISE (WE GET IT RIGHT) Jona Lewie
96        QUEEN OF HEARTS Juice Newton
97        PRECIOUS TO ME Phil Seymour
98        CAMBODIA Kim Wilde
99        VIENNA Ultravox
100      AH! LEAH! Donnie Iris
101      WAITING FOR YOU Sharon O’Neill
102      BIG CITY TALK Marc Hunter
103      YOU’LL NEVER KNOW Hi-Gloss
104      HOW ’BOUT US Champaign
105      TWILIGHT CAFÉ Susan Fassbender
106      TURN ME LOOSE Loverboy
107      FALLING IN AND OUT Mi-Sex
108      DON’T WALK AWAY The Four Tops
109      DO YOU LOVE ME? Patti Austin
110      GET DOWN ON IT Kool & The Gang
111      JEALOUS GUY Roxy Music
112      IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND Viola Wills
113      TAKE IT TO THE TOP Kool & The Gang
114      BUSTIN’ LOOSE Moving Pictures
115      SHUT UP Madness
116      LOVE ACTION (I BELIEVE IN LOVE) Human League
118      THE NIGHT OWLS Little River Band
119      SUMMER OF ’81 Mondo Rock
120      ATTENTION TO ME The Nolans
121      TWO HEARTS Stephanie Mills / Teddy Pendergrass
122      WHATCHA GONNA DO FOR ME Chaka Khan
123      MAKE THAT MOVE Shalamar
124      HAPPY MAN Sunnyboys
125      STOP DRAGGIN’ MY HEART AROUND Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
127      WHO CAN IT BE NOW? Men At Work
128      I MISSED AGAIN Phil Collins
129      GUILTY Classix Nouveau
130      ONCE IN A LIFETIME Talking Heads
131      NO REPLY AT ALL Genesis
133      MESSAGE OF LOVE Pretenders
134      REWARD The Teardrop Explodes
135      TROUBLE Lindsay Buckingham
136      CHEMISTRY Mondo Rock
137      TAKE IT ON THE RUN REO Speedwagon
138      LATELY Stevie Wonder
139      LOVE IN MOTION Icehouse
141      WHEN SHE WAS MY GIRL The Four Tops
142      FOR YOUR EYES ONLY Sheena Easton
143      NOBODY WINS Elton John
144      DREAMING OF ME Depeche Mode
145      SLOW HAND The Pointer Sisters
147      WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE FOOLIN’ Donna Summer
148      GLORIA U2
149      GIVE IT TO ME BABY Rick James
150      CHANT NO.1 (I DON'T NEED THIS PRESSURE ON) Spandau Ballet
153      DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN Renee Geyer
154      THE FREEZE Spandau Ballet
155      CEREMONY New Order
156      UNDER PRESSURE Queen & David Bowie
157      DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ Journey
159      HIP SHAKE JERK The Quick
161      GREY DAY Madness
162      PULL UP TO THE BUMPER Grace Jones
163      IN THE AIR TONIGHT Phil Collins
164      INTUITION Linx
165      RAPTURE Blondie
166      INVISIBLE SUN The Police
167      PAINT ME DOWN Spandau Ballet
168      HEARTBREAK HOTEL The Jacksons
169      THE MODEL Kraftwerk
170      I GO TO SLEEP Pretenders
172      MUSCLEBOUND Spandau Ballet
173      WHO’S CRYING NOW Journey
174      LEATHER AND LACE Stevie Nicks / Don Henley
175      BAD HABITS Billy Field

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1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
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Monday, 23 July 2012

The Best Of 1981 - part 2

JUMP TO: 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

For the second part of our trip through the best that 1981 had to offer, we'll go from number 20 to number 11 - and we've (mostly) left the American power rock behind. What will we find instead? Here's a clue...
Planet Earth embraced Duran Duran in 1981

Before we get to the new romantics, at number 20 is a soul classic: “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross, a song I was introduced to thanks to a 1989 remix, which was about the time he broke through in a major way in the States. In Australia, he wouldn't chart until his duets with Janet Jackson (on 1992's "The Best Things In Life Are Free") and Mariah Carey (on their 1994 cover of "Endless Love"), both of which reached number 2 here.

Two decades before she perfected the art of fence-sitting on Australian Idol, at number 19 it’s “Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees” by Marcia Hines. This was Marcia's last big hit, but she'd spent the previous five years as a major star in this country. This song was a fitting end to a great pop career.

At number 18 it's "My Own Way" by Duran Duran, which was the fourth single of the year by the British band. "My Own Way" never appears on the band's compilation albums, probably because it only got to number 14 in the UK. In Australia, it did slightly better, making it to number 10 and is an overlooked classic. More from DD before we get to number 1...

How about some Australian power rock? At number 17 it's "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield, who was actually nicely settled in the States by this point and embarking on his daytime soap career in General Hospital. Rick's often mistakenly considered to be a one-hit wonder, but he followed this number 1 single with "I've Done Everything For You" and "Don't Talk To Strangers". If you don't know those songs, look 'em up, they're quite good.

I always associate the song at number 16 with nearly drowning. "Stand And Deliver" by Adam & The Ants was another hit for the British group (although a number 12 peak in Australia was somewhat disappointing), and I always recall seeing the 7" single in the record collection of some family friends when I was about six or seven and being very envious. What's that got to do with almost drowning? Well, before rifling through their vinyl stash, I'd fallen into the family's backyard swimming pool (this was before the days of compulsory pool fences). After my dad dived in to pull me out, I was whisked inside for a hot bath and change of clothes. Trust me to turn the situation into an opportunity to wander around the house and track down the music. It would be a good six years before I'd buy my own first 7" single, so I understand the fascination I must have had for other people's records. Good thing I wasn't a klepto.

At number 15"History Never Repeats" by Split Enz, who Australia had more or less claimed as our own, never mind the fact that they were from New Zealand - something we'd see again and again over the years. It always amuses me when we take credit for a successful music artist or actor (see also: Bee Gees, Russell Crowe) simply because they spent a bit of time on our shores, although we're also more than willing to remember exactly where someone's from when it suits us (see also: Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe).

Number 14 is "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police, who'd had a pretty good chart run in Australia the previous few years. There's not much else to say about this one - it's a great track that's stood the test of time. C'mon, not every song can have a life-or-death anecdote!

A pure pop delight is at number 13: "Star" by Kiki Dee, who will always be best known for duetting with Elton John on "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" back in 1976. This track wasn't successful in Australia, which may explain why it took until the 2000s for me to hear it. When I did, it was being used in a piece of video performance art at Sydney's Museum Of Contemporary Art. "Star" played while the artist held a party for one in her own living room - something I'll admit to doing myself once I bought the song. There are two different videos for the song, one below and one if you click the song title above.

Number 12 is "Let's Hang On" by Barry Manilow, which got to number 4 in Australia and remains his last top 10 hit in this country. The song is a cover of The Four Seasons' 1965 hit and I don't think I've ever seen the kitsch-tastic video until now. My memories of this song come from it playing on the radio of our Torana while I sat in the back, squashed into the middle seat clutching an ice cream container in case I got car sick (quite a regular occurence, and, despite what some of you may think, nothing to do with Barry). Gee, I was a problematic child.

Proving there can be life after Eurovision at number 11: "The Land Of Make Believe" by Bucks Fizz. It got to number 15 here to be their second biggest hit (after "Making Your Mind Up", obviously). In 1985, my teacher used this song for what must have been a decidedly low impact aerobics class. The fact that we also learned how to do the barn dance (step two three kick, step back two three together) to "Physical" (also from 1981) suggests she'd used the same tape of songs for several years.

That just leaves my top 10 for 1981 - and some of that promised synthpop will finally make an appearance as well as the debut of my third favourite female singer of all time.

1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
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