Wednesday, 11 May 2016

This Week In 1986: May 11, 1986

In 1985, we'd heard her first musical change of pace, but this week in 1986, pop's mistress of reinvention debuted her first major image change. And it was quite a makeover.

Who's that girl? Madonna surprised everyone with a major makeover

Also this week in 1986, two of my favourite Australian bands hit the top 50 - a synthpop group coming off their first top 10 single and a rock band climbing the chart with their debut release. I only like one of the songs, however - and it may not be the one you'd expect.

This is one of two weeks in 1986 for which I'm yet to find a scan of the large format chart, so in its place you'll find below the Kent Music Report, which ARIA used for its printout. The info is all the same - it's just not in a pretty colour. If you do have the ARIA top 50 from this week, please contact me using the form on this blog or via the Chart Beats Facebook page.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 11, 1986

For the third week in a row, Diana Ross held down the number 1 spot, but she was under pressure from three singles storming into the top 10 and last week's big new debut from Cliff Richard & The Young Ones. "Chain Reaction" also appeared on classic compilation 1986 Way To Go, which debuted on the albums chart on its way to number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Goodbye Is Forever" by Arcadia
Peak: number 77
Australia had gone with "The Promise", but this had been chosen as the follow-up to "Election Day" in the US. Finally released in Australia, it reconfirmed the Duran Duran side-project had run out of steam.

Number 97 "Come Hell Or Waters High" by Dee C Lee
Peak: number 69
"See The Day" had promised great things from Paul Weller's other half, but this cover of the Judie Tzuke song from 1981 didn't really live up to that potential.

Number 90 "No Reason" by Perfect Strangers
Peak: number 90
Their last single, "No Fear Of Flying", had sneaked into the top 100 at the end of 1985, and the same fate awaited the Perth band's latest, which unfortunately is not on YouTube.

Number 89 "Now And Forever (You And Me)" by Anne Murray
Peak: number 76
The Canadian country star brought in the big guns - producer David Foster - for her return to more of a pop sound on Something To Talk About. This lead single sounded like a hit even if it wasn't.

New Entries
Number 50 "Inspiration" by Venetians
Peak: number 39
After a few years spent trying, Australian synthpop exponents Venetians finally landed a big hit single with "So Much For Love", reaching the Australian top 10 and even making inroads into the US top 100. Then they went and ruined it all with this follow-up. It's not that "Inspiration" is a horrible single, it's just decidedly average, with the "la, la, la, la, la, la" bit in the chorus sounding like they ran out of, er, inspiration and made do. Lucky to get to number 39, the song didn't augur well for Venetians' second album, Calling In The Lions, which also just slipped into the top 40 when it was released the following month.

Number 35 "Great Wall" by Boom Crash Opera
Peak: number 5
From a local group that took its time to make a splash, here's a band that shot into the top 5 with their very first release. Formed in Melbourne, Boom Crash Opera made an instant impact with debut single "Great Wall". With its driving beat, chanted "hey hey"s and immense chorus, the song with lyrics inspired by a dam was destined to be big - and it established Boom Crash Opera as one of the most exciting new acts in the country. They might never have seen such chart heights again, but this was only the beginning of a string of great singles from one of my top 5 favourite Australian bands. The original Australian video for "Great Wall" is below and you can check out the American clip here.

Number 29 "Live To Tell" by Madonna
Peak: number 7
After charting with six different singles during 1985 (one a hangover from 1984) which had kept her in the top 50 from January all the way through to the start of December, it'd been five months since Madonna had been on the chart. And so, she was well overdue for her first hit of 1986. Few would have predicted, though, that when she returned with something new, it would look and sound like "Live To Tell". 
The song was taken from the soundtrack to At Close Range (which just happened to star Madonna's new husband, Sean Penn) and was only her second ballad single - but the sombre "Live To Tell" was much more of a career risk than sing-along love song "Crazy For You". Madonna wrote the lyrics - her most serious to date - to music already composed by Patrick Leonard, who would go on to write the film's entire score. 
The single's release was accompanied by a music video in which Madonna was virtually unrecognisable from the midriff-bearing boy toy we'd come to know. From her demure dress to her soft and subtle hair and makeup, the singer matched her image to the song and once again made the public reconsider whatever preconceptions they had about her.
"Live To Tell" would be included on Madonna's upcoming third album, True Blue, which was still a couple of months away from charting in Australia and would come with yet another image overhaul.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: two rather off-the-wall groups make their debut appearances on the top 50 - one with a reworking of the theme from an old TV cop show and the other formed by an old band-mate of Billy Idol's. 

Back to: May 4, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 18, 1986


  1. Boom Crash Opera was a band I'd heard of, but didn't know any of their music until 'Onion Skin', so their first album's singles passed me by completely. Big first hit followed by a struggle to match its success seems common to a lot of Australian artists from this era.

    Looking back, 'Live To Tell' does seem like it was a big risk for Madonna. The middle 8 is the highlight of the song for me, and lent itself well (or so I thought; few others probably did) to a mid 90's happy hardcore re-make by Back 2 Bass.

  2. Live To Tell was a major risk for Madonna - so much so that her record company was extremely concerned when she submitted it and told them that she wanted it to be the first single from her new album. Billboard Magazine commented at the time that most pundits predicted that it would be her first misstep, as it was unlike anything else around at the time and "stopped in the middle". It went to #1 in the US, so they were proven very wrong. As Gavin noted, Madonna wrote the lyrics to a track that Pat Leonard had already written, although Pat has also mentioned that Madonna reshaped the melody and created most of the middle 8 that Nathan mentioned (Pat has always been extremely complimentary about Madonna's contribution to their compositions, calling them "true collaborations" (i.e. it's not a case of her claiming credit where it wasn't due, as many claim is all she does).

    1. How does one go from writing 'Live To Tell' to 'Bitch I'm Madonna', if both sets of lyrics were written by the same artist? There has definitely been a sharp decline in the quality of Madonna's lyrics since she stopped 'collaborating' with Patrick... or so I think. I don't take what any hired songwriters etc. say as gospel when it comes to determining who contributed what - there are, after all, business deals behind it. All this being said, 'Live To Tell' is a moving song, regardless of who wrote it, and Madonna emotes it effectively.