Wednesday, 16 December 2015

This Week In 1990: December 16, 1990

It's that time of year again - when the ARIA charts got ready to close down for the festive period. This week in 1990, the final top 50 bearing a date that year was released, with the next chart covering the three-week period up until January 6, 1991.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending December 16, 1990

There was no change at the top of the singles chart this week in 1990 as "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers stayed at number 1 for a fourth week.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "C'mon" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 84
A slow start for the Newcastle rock band with this debut single sneaking into the top 100. Things would get, er, better for them in 1991.

Number 94 "New Power Generation" by Prince
Peak: number 91
Named after the backing band who'd start to receive a credit on his releases in 1991, this follow-up to "Thieves In The Temple" wasn't the most auspicious of starts for Prince's new crew.

Number 92 "Upside Down" by Collette
Peak: number 91
Not even a cover of Diana Ross's number 1 hit from 1980 could revive Collette Roberts' chart fortunes. This mediocre remake was the Australian singer's final top 100 appearance.

Number 68 "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" by Bombalurina
Peak: number 66
We should think ourselves lucky - this cheesy cover of the 1960 Bryan Hyland smash masterminded by kids' presenter Timmy Mallet and Andrew Lloyd-Webber was a three-week number 1 in the UK.

New Entries
Number 48 "I Come Off" by Young MC
Peak: number 43
Poor Young MC. Even though "Bust A Move" was certainly a hard song to beat, his other top 50 hits, "Principal's Office" and "I Come Off" deserved to do better on the Australian chart than they did. This fifth single from Stone Cold Rhymin' featured a sample from "Hercules" by Aaron Neville and original vocal contributions from American singer N'Dea Davenport, who would be introduced through Young MC's label, Delicious Vinyl, to UK acid jazz band The Brand New Heavies and become their lead singer. As for Marvin Young, this would be his final appearance on the ARIA top 50 (although he did feature on a bonus track on Euphoria's "Do For You" single in 1992).

Number 46 "Love Takes Time" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 14
Just when Mariah Carey and her record label thought her debut, self-titled album was done and dusted, she and original songwriting partner Ben Margulies whipped up this ballad. Mariah thought it would end up on album number two, but so impressed were the record company execs that they moved heaven and earth to get it onto Mariah Carey. It was such a last-minute inclusion that initial copies of the album sleeve didn't even have the song listed.
All the effort paid off, with "Love Takes Time" becoming a second number 1 in the US for one of 1990's biggest new stars. The track did surprisingly well in Australia considering the fact that such sentimental non-rock ballads weren't generally so popular locally - making a slow but steady climb to peak just in time for Valentine's Day. The success of the single also boosted the album, which returned to the chart in its wake and enjoyed a much longer top 10 run than the one week it had spent at number 10 following "Vision Of Love"

Number 44 "I'm Free" by The Soup Dragons
Peak: number 9
It's the classic tale - indie darlings become mainstream success story after a well-timed cover that sounds nothing like their usual music and are subsequently unable to ever match their chart performance with their original music. In this case, it's Scottish band The Soup Dragons, who'd had a string of guitar pop hits on the British indie chart, then suddenly found themselves in the UK and Australian top 10 with their remake of The Rolling Stones track from 1965. Influenced by the rock/dance sound of Madchester, this update of "I'm Free" also featured a rap from reggae star Junior Reid and succeeded locally where other British hits from the genre like "Step On" and "Groovy Train" failed.

Number 33 "Disappear" by INXS
Peak: number 23
This might've seemed like a sudden and shocking downturn in success for INXS, especially given the number 2 peak of previous single "Suicide Blonde" and the fact that the first three singles from last album Kick had all gone top 10. But, if you think about it, Kick was the anomaly. 
In 1985, "What You Need" had also peaked at number 2 and its follow-up, "This Time", ventured no further than number 19. So in that context, "Disappear" did about as well as you could expect for a band whose fans traditionally rushed out and bought their albums straight away, but didn't necessarily pick up subsequent singles.
And before you try to point out that the first three singles from The Swing also made the top 10, two of those were released before the album came out, as opposed to one lead single from each of Listen Like Thieves, Kick and X. The pattern would be the same for future albums Welcome To Wherever You Are and Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, with first singles greatly out-performing later ones.
None of that is to suggest that I think "Disappear" shouldn't have done better - in fact, I far prefer it to "Suicide Blonde" - but it was possibly a little too safe to become a big hit. Huge chart singles were going to prove elusive for INXS from this point on - which probably came down to a combination of the inevitable tall poppy backlash against them for all that overseas success and the fact that, although they still had quite a few good songs left in them, they weren't quite at the level of their '80s output.

Annual Chart
ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart for 1990

And the next 50:

51.    "Leave A Light On" by Belinda Carlisle
52.    "Love Is" by Alannah Myles
53.    "Ooops Up" by Snap!
54.    "Love And Kisses" by Dannii
55.    "Better The Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue
56.    "Heart In Danger" by Southern Sons
57.    "I'll Be Your Shelter" by Taylor Dayne
58.    "I Remember You" by Skid Row
59.    "The Right Combination" by Seiko / Donnie Wahlberg
60.    "Lily Was Here" by David A Stewart featuring Candy Dulfer
61.    "Doin' The Do" by Betty Boo
62.    "The King Of Wishful Thinking" by Go West
63.    "Sweet Surrender" by Wet Wet Wet
64.    "Dogs Are Talking" by The Angels
65.    "The Power" by Snap!
66.    "Vision Of Love" by Mariah Carey
67.    "Show Me Heaven" by Maria McKee
68.    "Roam" by The B-52's
69.    "Baby Don't Forget My Number" by Milli Vanilli
70.    "That's Freedom" by John Farnham
71.    "Italo House Mix" by Rococo
72.    "Turtle Power" by Partners In Kryme
73.    "Bound For Glory" by Angry Anderson
74.    "Black Betty (remix)" by Ram Jam
75.    "Black Cat" by Janet Jackson
76.    "Still Got The Blues (For You)" by Gary Moore
77.    "I'm Your Baby Tonight" by Whitney Houston
78.    "Let's Make It Last All Night" by Jimmy Barnes
79.    "Escaping" by Margaret Urlich
80.    "Dub Be Good To Me" by Beats International
81.    "Shake" by Andrew Ridgeley
82.    "Burn For You" by John Farnham
83.    "Tonight" by New Kids On The Block
84.    "Megamix" by Technotronic
85.    "I Feel The Earth Move" by Martika
86.    "Here We Are" by Gloria Estefan
87.    "Please Send Me Someone To Love" by Johnny Diesel & The Injectors
88.    "Miss Divine" by Icehouse
89.    "Tom's DIner" by DNA featuring Suzanne Vega
90.    "Back Street Pick Up" by The Angels
91.    "Step Back In Time" by Kylie Minogue
92.    "Check Out The Chicken" by Grandmaster Chicken & DJ Duck
93.    "Fools Gold / What The World Is Waiting For" by The Stone Roses
94.    "I Wish It Would Rain Down" by Phil Collins
95.    "Praying For Time" by George Michael
96.    "Tell Me A Story" by 1927
97.    "Let The Night Roll On" by The Angels
98.    "Thieves In The Temple" by Prince
99.    "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection" by Nelson
100.  "Escapade" by Janet Jackson

So there it is - one of the most debated year-end charts among chart geeks fans like me. Why the controversy? 

Well, for one thing a couple of the year's chart-toppers - like "Blaze Of Glory", which spent six week at number 1, and "Bust A Move", which had a decent run in the top 50 (including the 13 weeks it took to reach the top) - are surprisingly low. That's especially the case compared to tracks like reigning number 1 "Unchained Melody" and upcoming chart-topper "Ice Ice Baby", which had only been out for a handful of weeks. Yes, sales might've been lower when "Blaze..." and "Bust..." ruled the roost, and the current top 2 would no doubt have been selling huge amounts in the lead-up to Christmas - but it is still curious.

Another contentious point? The total absence in the year-end top 100 of number 8 hit "She Ain't Worth It" by Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown despite the presence of songs like "Vision Of Love" and "Turtle Power", which were on the chart around the same time and didn't peak as high. Also missing: Technotronic's "Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over)", although we did get three singles by The Angels between 51 and 100.

Those quibbles aside, other things to note are that 26 of the entries on the year-end chart were by Australian acts (or New Zealanders spending a lot of time here). I haven't done a year-on-year comparison, but that seems like a pretty strong showing.

Throughout the year, I talked a lot about how different musical genres - specifically rap, R&B and dance - had started to be represented on the weekly top 50. How did they fare in the year-end listing? Twenty-one singles from those genres are among the top 100, including the worst song for 1990, "Check Out The Chicken". Rock tracks of varying hardness were still dominant, with 34 singles on the list.

Female performers also had a good year, with Sinéad O'Connor at number 1 and another 28 singles by solo or featured female singers in the top 100. Then, there were all the groups with female vocalists - Roxette, Heart, Concrete Blonde, Wilson Phillips, Absent Friends and Black Box, to name a few.

If you want to go back to any of the individual weeks in 1990, the links are all at the bottom of this post. And finally, my personal favourites from 1990 can be found here. What were yours?

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

Next time: the first new chart for 1991, featuring a slow start for a future number 1, yet another single from an album that came out in 1989 and a new version of a classic Australian single from the '80s.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Charts - 1990

Jan 7 II Jan 14 II Jan 21 II Jan 28 II Feb 4 II Feb 11 II Feb 18 II Feb 25 II Mar 4 II Mar 11 II Mar 18 II Mar 25 II Apr 1 II Apr 8 II Apr 15 II Apr 22 II Apr 29 II May 6 II May 13 II May 20 II May 27 II Jun 3 II Jun 10 II Jun 17 II Jun 24 II Jul 1 II Jul 8 II Jul 15 II Jul 22 II Jul 29 II Aug 5 II Aug 12 II Aug 19 II Aug 26 II Sep 2 II Sep 9 II Sep 16 II Sep 23 II Sep 30 II Oct 7 II Oct 14 II Oct 21 II Oct 28 II Nov 4 II Nov 11 II Nov 18 II Nov 25 II Dec 2 II Dec 9 II Dec 16

Back to: Dec 9, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 6, 1991


  1. I liked Collette's remake of 'Upside Down', but there was no way she was going to have another hit at this point.

    I read about the Bombalurina track in Number One, and saw it in the shops, but never actually heard the song or saw the video anywhere until looking it up out of curiosity on youtube in the mid-late 00's, so I'm surprised it even charted locally.

    I thought 'I Come Off' deserved to do better, too.

    I preferred 'Love Takes Time', and the subsequent singles from Mariah's debut, to 'Vision of Love'.

    Although it seems obvious now, I didn't realise 'I'm Free' was a cover until a few years ago.

    It was a bit surprising at the time that 'Disappear' and subsequent singles from the 'X' album didn't fare so well in Australia.

    I probably didn't notice it at the time, but this end of year chart shows a decline in quality in charting music from the previous year's, IMO. I was getting more into non-chart (or music that charted, but not so well) music around this time, which probably explains it. Although dance was doing better on the whole, there were way too many MOR American ballads and rock songs littering the end of year chart for my liking. It's funny to see Dannii marginally outselling one of Kylie's better-remembered hits from this era, though.

  2. Love the 1990 year end clip. Interesting to see them use "No." before the number. I thought Rage brought that in 1994.

    Also on most year ends when they have the Rage logo they stated it was the year end by saying top 60 of the year and I could have sworn the 1990 year end had a funky one.

    1990 was a great year in music and all top 60 songs scream out classic.

    Thanks for the work you put into this. I look forward to 1991.

    1. You're right - rage didn't bring the 'No.' thing into the top 50 (properly) until 1994. Using it for this end of year chart was a once-off.

      The end of year chart typography rage used varied year by year; at least until I stopped recording them in 1996. In 1995, for example, they had 'Top 50 of the Year' beside the rage logo, but in other years they mentioned the year specifically.

  3. I watched the year-end Top 60 for 1990 when Rage aired it in December 1990, and I didn't think it was all that controversial at the time (I was 12). Although I was puzzled as to why "Epic" by Faith No More (still one of my fave songs ever), no.1 for 3 weeks, was placed lower than songs that didn't even get to no.1, such as those by Tina Arena, Wilson Phillips and Milli Vanilli.

    Now, all these years later and having seen the full Top 100 list Gavin has posted here, I can see there were some controversial entries/placings. Why did Technotronic's "Get Up" not appear but "Megamix" did? Why are Janet Jackson's "Escapade" and The Angels' "Back Street Pick Up" in there, both of which failed to make the top 20? Who knows? All I can assume is that ARIA were compiling the year-end (and weekly) charts differently back then.

    1. In contrast to the weekly charts, which were compiled from the sales data ARIA received directly from retail outlets, the year-end charts were based on sales figures supplied by record companies. My guess is that some record companies over-reported sales, or counted shipments as sales, while others under-reported them.