Wednesday, 25 January 2017

This Week In 1987: January 25, 1987

A lot can change in 30 years - but it's funny how some things never do. In 1987, the Cold War hung like a dark cloud over the world. Today, that war may have ended but apprehension about global conflict is increasing by the tweet. 

And donkey makes 3

Typically, musicians have a unique way of approaching political developments. Last week, we saw Genesis's "Land Of Confusion" enter the ARIA top 50. This week in 1987, another song dealing with the spectre of nuclear war made its debut. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 25, 1987

Things were a little lighter at the top of the singles chart. Pseudo Echo's "Funky Town" held on to the number 1 spot for a fifth week, but The Bangles were closing in.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Stay The Night" by Benjamin Orr
Peak: number 66
Ric Ocasek's "Emotion In Motion" had been a top 10 hit in November, but The Cars' other lead vocalist wasn't as lucky with his rock ballad. "Stay The Night" was, at least, a US top 30 hit.

Number 95 "Goldmine" by The Pointer Sisters
Peak: number 79
The lead single from previous album Contact had been "Dare Me", but this first release from Hot Together ended The Pointer Sisters' ARIA chart career with a whimper rather than a top 10 bang.

Number 94 "So Cold The Night" by Communards
Peak: number 90
In a pattern that would repeat itself throughout Communards' brief career, this original tune was nowhere near as successful as their Hi-NRG cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way".

New Entries
Number 50 "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order
Peak: number 5
There were many instances in the '80s and '90s where Australia didn't get it right and ignored a brilliant song from an international act. This wasn't one of those occasions. In fact, this single from New Order's Brotherhood album not only became the band's biggest hit locally but did so despite having been a resounding flop in the UK. "Bizarre Love Triangle" was easily New Order's most commercial offering to date, with everything from the catchy chorus melody to Peter Hook's bassline to that bit in the video (at the 2:40 mark) where the woman bangs on about reincarnation working together to form synthpop perfection. Why the UK didn't take to the song has always baffled me, but well done, Australia.

Number 40 "Welcome To The Boomtown" by David & David
Peak: number 27
From a song I never get tired of we move now to a song I can never remember, even when I've just listened to it. The debut single by the duo of David Baerwald and David Ricketts, "Welcome To The Boomtown" is about life in Los Angeles - drugs, money, crime... it's quite the cheery little number. Wrapped up in radio-ready rock production, the song briefly made David & David a hotly tipped new act, but after two more singles, the project was dissolved. The Davids continued to make music behind the scenes, both contributing to Sheryl Crow's debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club. David Ricketts also worked on albums by Toni Childs and Meredith Brooks, while David Baerwald has written songs for everyone from Susanna Hoffs to Ashlee Simpson.

Number 29 "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk3
Peak: number 18
The week's highest debut came from another duo that was in the spotlight for a very short period of time, even being nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist shortly after the release of this debut single. In early 1987, the future did look extremely bright for husband-and-wife team Pat and Barbara MacDonald, but they would end up as one-hit wonders thanks to "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades". The indie rock/new wave track isn't as optimistic as its title would suggest, however. Instead, it's about the prospect of nuclear war, with the song's protagonist destined for a job as a nuclear physicist after getting good grades in college. His bright future would be to help bring about the end of the world. Thankfully, we all dodged a bullet as the Cold War defrosted in the late '80s. Wonder what songs people will write about the current political climate...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:

Next week: the male singer of one of Australia's biggest bands goes solo... briefly. Plus, a band that was basically just a male solo artist.

Back to: Jan 18, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 1, 1987


  1. I didn't know the Benjamin Orr song, but like it.

    When I first had the means and know-how to look up UK chart peaks from years gone by, I was most-surprised to see that 'Bizarre Love Triangle' flopped in the UK... and pretty much everywhere other than Australia. I wonder why the UK in particular took to 'True Faith' a few months later, but not this one (which is even better, in my opinion).

    Never heard the David & David song before.

    I associate the Timbuk 3 song with a rental VHS I saw at a family friend's place about 2 years later; not sure what it was, but I remember thinking "oh, *that* song."

  2. I remember hearing Boomtown on Take 40 Australia when it was in the charts. It just seemed so different to anything else in the charts back then. Never saw the video until a year or so ago on YouTube. Loved the song then and still now. I bought the album on CD a few years ago and the album doesn't disappoint.

  3. Bizarre Love triangle was a flop in the US too and by default, Canada. It was big in the clubs though. It is a great song.

  4. Yeah I'm somewhat confused to why Bizarre Love Triangle bombed out everywhere around the world except locally. It's a smash song & sounds like an international top10 but not to be. It was one of the songs I really grew to like the more I heard it. Blue Monday (original 83 version) would be my fav by New Order but this'll come exceptionally close.