Wednesday, 24 February 2016

This Week In 1991: February 24, 1991

Given how big a fan of '80s music I am, you might think that my all-time favourite song would come from that decade. Actually, it's a song that debuted on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1991.

The best song of all time

Although it wasn't the biggest of the many hits the singer has had over the years, it's a song that excited me the minute I heard it. And, to this day, nothing else has surpassed it. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 24, 1991

This week in 1991, no other song could surpass Londonbeat's "I've Been Thinking About You", which remained at number 1 for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 89 "Whatcha Do To My Body" by Lee Aaron
Peak: number 74
Every so often a female singer would come along to break up the hair metal boys' club, but although relatively successful in her homeland of Canada, Lee Aaron didn't take off in Australia.

Single Of The Week
"Walk Through Babylon" by Seven Stories
Their previous single, "Sleeping Through Another War", had sneaked to number 68 in 1990, but despite the featured position on this week's ARIA chart, follow-up "Walk Through Babylon" didn't even dent the top 100. I previously compared Seven Stories (who were originally named Tall Stories) to bands like Hunters & Collectors (for their sound), and Girl Overboard and Bang The Drum (for their inability to become the next big thing) - but on this track, they emulate Midnight Oil's efforts to shine a light on the issues facing Australia's Indigenous population.

New Entries
Number 35 "Sadness (Part 1)" by Enigma
Peak: number 2
Remember when Gregorian chant dance music was a thing? Masterminded by Romanian-born, German-based producer Michael Cretu, Engima blended (uncredited) vocals from a medieval-style choir with synths and a Soul II Soul beat on debut single "Sadness (Part 1)" (aka "Sadeness (Part 1)", its original title). Thrown into the mix were some female vocals courtesy of Michael's then-wife, pop star Sandra, who'd had a string of European hits in the late '80s, including one of my favourite versions of "Everlasting Love"
A massive sensation around the world, "Sadness" briefly made monk prayer music cool - at least in new age circles, with all sort of copycat releases following Engima's lead and giving massage clinics something to play other than pan flute music and rainforest sounds. The type of song that could easily have made its performer a one-hit wonder, "Sadness" was actually followed by a handful of other hits, while Engima also proved particularly adept at shifting albums over the next few years. Naturally, all that success drew the attention of German choir Capella Antiqua MΓΌnchen, who sued Enigma for the unauthorised use of their vocals - and settled out of court.

Number 27 "What Do I Have To Do" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 11
Do you remember where you were when you first heard your all-time favourite song? It was late 1990 and I was in my bedroom on the phone to a friend who'd just bought Rhythm Of Love on CD and was playing me bits of tracks. Tracks 1 and 2 I'd already heard, since they were the lead singles, "Better The Devil You Know" and "Step Back In Time", but I kept asking him to go back to Track 3. "What Do I Have To Do" had me hooked in 12 seconds - that swirling intro and "ah-ah-ah-ah-ah love you, love you" vocal line became lodged in my head. As soon as I owned the album myself, I had the unrelenting high-energy track on repeat.
Naturally, I was pleased "What Do I Have To Do" was chosen as the album's third single - it had actually been earmarked as the second single before "Step Back In Time" was chosen instead. And, even if Stock Aitken Waterman insisted on issuing an inferior single remix instead of going with the unmatchable original album version, I knew it would be a hit. Although not one of Kylie's highest-charting singles, "What Do I Have To Do" has become a firm fan favourite and seems to be generally considered as one of the best things both she - and SAW - have ever released.
The single was accompanied by Kylie's most provocative music video up until that point - a clip that made "Better The Devil You Know" look like "Never Too Late" by comparison. With her sexy dancing, steamy ironing and bedroom romping, this was not the girl-next-door Kylie anymore. Somewhat of a transitional single, "What Do I Have To Do" probably alienated some of her younger fans while simultaneously making older listeners who'd dismissed her earlier releases as too bubblegum sit up and take notice. It was an exciting time!

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: nine new entries - including two future chart-toppers, as well as the solo debut of a singer who'd go on to co-write Kylie's highest-selling single worldwide. Oh, and thanks to 2016 being a leap year, my 1991 posts will now come out on a Thursday.

Back to: Feb 17, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 3, 1991


  1. I remember my mum vacuuming in our loungeroom when I was watching the What Do I Have To Do clip on tv and she kicks the vacuum stop button and stares in horror and goes "She looks like a SLUT!", I was very offended by my mother's name calling but it definitely kicked "girl next door Kylie" over the fence and into the trash can.

  2. I didn't realise I knew the Lee Aaron track.

    Interesting that the Seven Stories video was produced 8 months before it debuted on the chart, going by the 'clapper' intro.

    I like 'Sad(e)ness', but the song/video creep me out a bit (not necessarily in a bad way); so I don't find it 'relaxing' at all. Pity it's the only real success Sandra had in Oz.

    I think I first heard 'What Do I Have To Do' in late 1990, when it was played as an album track on some 'new release albums' type of radio show. It seemed like an obvious single, though I have to say I don't like the single version quite as much. It seems strange that it didn't crack the top 10 here; I guess the Kylie backlash was in full swing.

    'Blue Monday's probably my favourite song of all-time, but I don't think I heard the (superior IMO) 1983 version until '93.

  3. Actually I don't think the Kylie backlash really kicked in until the following album, Let's Get To It, and its four singles which were, collectively, her least-successful to that time, with the album missing the top 10, three of the four singles missing the top 20 (and one of them - Finer Feelings - stalling outside the top 60.

    I've been a massive Kylie fan since Locomotion and a massive SAW fan for even longer. So it seems odd that I seem so out of step with so many other Kylie/SAW fans in preferring the Pump & Polly remixes of What Do I Have To Do over the original album version(s). The original version had that very SAW sound-alike quality to it, which the remix kind of filtered out, at least to an extent, with all its extra sounds and the relentless percussion line throughout. I doubt it would've been as massively successful across a very broad audiences in the clubs had it been released with that original mix.