Wednesday, 13 May 2015

This Week In 1990: May 13, 1990

After last week's ballad-heavy slew of new singles, the ARIA chart perked up a little this week in 1990 with six new entries that breathed a bit more life into the top 50. 

Billy Idol was (eventually) back to his pelvic thrusting best in 1990 

As was standard in 1990, half of the six songs were rock anthems while the other half were dance and hip-hop tracks - no prizes for guessing which songs interested me more. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 13, 1990

On top for a second week was Madonna's double A-side "Vogue / Keep It Together", while right at the other end of the top 50, mention should be made of Milli Vanilli's "Baby Don't Forget My Number", which spent its 38th and final week inside the top 50 despite never getting any higher than number 17.

EDIT: It's been brought to my attention by eagle-eyed Dannii Minogue fans that "Love And Kisses" seemingly dropped out of the top 50 from its number 9 position last week. Actually, Dannii's debut single was number 9 this week as well - but that position is curiously missing from the printed chart. 

Off The Chart
Number 94 "Quicksand" by Peter Blakeley
Peak: number 81
And just like that, Peter Blakeley's top 50 career came to an end, with this pleasant but unmemorable third single from Harry's Cafe De Wheels failing to follow its predecessors up the chart.

For whatever reason (increased sales despite declining chart position? Record company priorities?), three of this week's breakers were songs that were in the top 50 last week - which is kind of unfair to the singles moving up the chart that could've got a look-in.

New Entries
Number 50 "Principal's Office" by Young MC
Peak: number 50
Having registered two big hits as the writer of Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing" and co-writer of follow-up "Funky Cold Medina", the rapper born Marvin Young stepped into the spotlight with his own records in 1989. Australia, naturally, was a little slow on the uptake and "Principal's Office" became a minor hit here in 1990 ahead of the chart-topping success of "Bust A Move", which had actually been released in the US way back in May 1989. Like Tone's singles, "Principal's Office" combined a storytelling lyric with a hooky sample (from "Who Could Want More", a track on Lee Michaels' 1969 self-titled album) and although it wasn't a massive success, it did set the stage for Young MC's earlier release to make its belated charge up the chart in the coming months.

Number 47 "Touch Me" by 49ers
Peak: number 18
You've got to give Dawn Mitchell credit for trying to sell herself as the vocalist behind this Italo house anthem - she does her best to wrap her mouth around the sampled lyrics in the clip below, but it's actually two different singers entirely who were responsible for the vocals. Anyone with even a passing interest in music will recognise the unmistakable voice of Aretha Franklin in the verses of "Touch Me", which were lifted from the Queen of Soul's 1986 single "Rock-A-Lott"while the chorus is taken from "Touch Me" by Alisha Warren, which had been released in 1989. Dawn did end up singing on 49ers' debut album before being replaced by Ann-Marie Smith for later releases. 

Number 42 "Forgotten Years" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 26
They'd sold truckloads of albums over the past decade, but most of those LPs only yielded one top 10 hit (if that). Even Diesel And Dust, which contained two top 10s in "The Dead Heart" and "Beds Are Burning", kind of fits the pattern since the earlier of those two singles predated the album by a full year. Keeping things consistent, this follow-up to number 8 single "Blue Sky Mine" was another mid-table hit for Midnight Oil. It was also another song with a message - what else would you expect from the Oils? - with the lyrics talking about the efforts of Australian soldiers fighting the Japanese in World War II.

Number 40 "Infinity (1990's: Time For The Guru)" by Guru Josh
Peak: number 4
More like "A Couple Of Months in 1990: Time For The Guru", as the man behind this saxaphone-featuring club track became one of the decade's first one-hit wonders. One of the only rave tracks of the early '90s to become a big hit in Australia, "Infinity" actually peaked one place higher here than in the UK. For a couple more months in 2008, Guru Josh (or Guru Josh Project, if we're being accurate) was a chart act once more when a remix of "Infinity" took the song back into the UK top 10.

Number 26 "Cradle Of Love" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 10
It'd been four years since leather-clad, sneer king Billy Idol had released a new album - and just as he prepared to unleash his latest offering, the unfortunately titled Charmed Life, he was involved in a motorbike accident that left him temporarily unable to walk, thrust or swivel his hips. As a result, Billy only appears in the David Fincher-directed video for "Cradle Of Love" from the waist up and on TV screens around the house where a Lolita-type teenager gets an older man all hot under the collar. In Australia and the US, "Rock The Cradle" put Billy back in the top 10 for what would turn out to be the last time.

Number 19 "Dogs Are Talking" by The Angels
Peak: number 11
In between recapping their 1985 output in my flashbacks to that year and revisiting their later singles here, I always seem to be writing about The Angels and more or less saying the same thing - variations on "it wasn't a very big hit and I didn't like it". 
This time, the first part of that isn't true - "Dogs Are Talking" was the band's first major chart success since the live version of "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" also reached number 11 in 1988. In fact "Dogs Are Talking" became one of the most successful singles of The Angels' lengthy career, with only "No Secrets" (number 8 in 1980) and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" (number 7 in 1987) peaking higher. 
Interestingly, on the B-side to "Dogs Are Talking" wasn't another song by The Angels - instead, the band featured tracks by up-and-coming Australian bands, including The Baby Animals. In New Zealand, Shihad was one of the acts featured on the single's B-side. Despite having all that to say about "Dogs Are Talking", the second part of my normal summation is true - I didn't like the song at all. Way too raucous and headache-inducing for me.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:

Next week: he was one-half of a massive '80s duo, but no one ever expected him to have a solo career - but for five minutes in 1990, he did. Plus, the debut of the song which would go on to win the ARIA Award for Best Single. 

Back to: May 6, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 20, 1990


  1. It's surprising that the local record company didn't delete 'Baby Don't Forget My Number' earlier in its chart run.

    Peter Blakeley's voice was possibly at its most strident during the chorus of 'Quicksand'. He really does sound like a black female soul singer.

    Strange that 3 of the breakers were singles that debuted last week. Even if there was a sales increase on the previous week's figures, surely it wasn't substantial. It didn't help the 'breaking' singles much in any event.

    'Bust a Move' was also released here in 1989, and I caught it several times on 'Countdown Revolution'. I was surprised when it finally charted out of the blue a year later. It's kind of strange that a then-22 year-old man would release a song about going to the principal's office, but I guess it was the teen market he was aiming for. 'Principal's Office' could have easily been a DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince song.

    'Peter Pan and his nan' was my alternative take on the 49ers 'Touch Me' lyrics. Somewhat fitting that the real lyric is 'People can't understand it' - at least, that's what Hit Songwords transcribed it as. 'Bring a pen and a spare pad' is another interpretation I read online a while back, and found amusing. I love the confused looks Dawn gives in the video. I wonder if they were sued, or whether the samples were cleared beforehand?

    'Forgotten Years' is one of those song titles tempting fate.

    I didn't notice that there was a colon in the subtitle of the Guru Josh track until buying the cassingle. Previously, I'd thought it was 1990's (as in the year is) time for the Guru, which was at least slightly believable. But proclaiming the whole decade as his during its first year was a tad too cocky, and of course, he was proved wrong. Ha ha at 'A couple of months in 1990'. Great track though, despite his vocals being rather dodgy. Still, at least they were kept minimal compared to the following release.

    I like 'Cradle of Love' a lot; well, the first 2 minutes and a bit (until the 'these are the wages* of love' [*I never knew it was that until now] breakdown, which I think is sublime and could listen to it over and over). After that, starting with the rocking out guitar solo middle 8, it becomes a tad superfluous. The subject matter, and the video featuring a probably 30-ish man lusting after a precocious 'hot' teen, might be deemed a bit too risqué these days, for a lead 'comeback' single release anyway.

    I never really understood what 'the dogs are talking' was meant to mean. The bitchy gossipers ('dogs') having a field day at the singer's 'hot' new love affair? Deliberately giving them 'something to talk about' with it?

  2. I just noticed that all of the state top 10 charts this week other than NSW are mistakenly the state albums charts. Skid Row were certainly disproportionately popular in South Australia.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that too. Not as big an error as completely leaving off #9, though! Someone was clearly having a bad week.