Wednesday, 20 September 2017

This Week In 1992: September 20, 1992

It was a pretty eclectic week on the ARIA top 50 this week in 1992, with a diverse range of songs making their debut - truly something for everyone. The biggest hit of all was a single which got its rather unusual title from the film in which it featured.

White Men Can't Jump spawned one of 1992's biggest R&B hits

I say "unusual" not only because it was kind of an odd thing to call a song, but because the vast majority of soundtrack hits aren't named directly after the movies from which they are taken. Can you imagine a tune called "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves" or "Titanic" or "Four Weddings And A Funeral'? And yet "White Men Can't Jump" became a song.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 20, 1992

The reign of terror was almost over as "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" spent its sixth and final week at number 1 this week in 1992. We'd get a brief respite before an even worse track lodged itself firmly on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "So What 'Cha Want" by Beastie Boys
Peak: number 64
The rap trio's first top 100 appearance since "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" established their early hit would not be indicative of the rest of their more credible output.

New Entries
Number 49 "Don't You Want Me" by Felix
Peak: number 17
Our smorgasbord of new entries begins with one of 1992's great dance tracks - the debut single by British DJ/producer Francis Wright. Taking its vocal hook from Jomanda's 1989 release "Don't You Want My Love", Felix's "Don't You Want Me" gave birth to a new more electronic sub-genre of house known as hardbag. And since it was one of those era-defining dance tunes, it's never really gone away since, with regular remixes, covers and samples (including in Snoop Dogg vs David Guetta's 2011 chart-topper, "Sweat"). For Felix, it'd be his only hit in Australia, although we'll see a couple of follow-ups make the top 100 in months to come.

Number 48 "Without You" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 18
So far, the Girlfriend explosion had left me unmoved, but with their third single, obligatory big ballad "Without You", my interest was piqued. Unlike their two hits to date, "Take It From Me" and "Girl's Life", the song wasn't a watered down version of new jack swing, but just a nice tune, sung well. And it gave the five-piece a third top 20 hit to coincide with the release of their debut album, Make It Come True, which debuted in the top 10 in early October.

Number 46 "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 44
At this point, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams really were kind of interchangeable - with this latest single from Adrenalize sounding like it could just as easily have been the next power ballad released from Waking Up The Neighbours. "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" didn't progress much further and we wouldn't see the British rock band on the top 50 until they had their next album out in late 1993.

Number 40 "Who Is It" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 34
After three straight Teddy Riley co-productions, Michael Jackson plucked another track co-produced with Bill Bottrell (who'd worked on "Black Or White") off Dangerous for the album's fifth single. The moody "Who Is It" is about wanting to know who your partner has been seeing on the side, and in the David Fincher-directed music video, Michael's lover had a double life as a high-class escort and therefore slept with quite a few different people behind his back.

Number 38 "Lead Me To Water" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 36
Uh-oh, looked like the band that'd taken over from 1927 as Australia's favourite FM-friendly pop/rock group a couple of years earlier were themselves going to stumble with their second album. This lead single from Nothing But The Truth could only have been a commercial disappointment for Southern Sons, who'd enjoyed three consecutive top 20 hits straight out of the gate. It probably didn't help that it was kind of forgettable. Things got even worse when the album itself was released in November - it spent just two weeks on the top 50, peaking at number 31 and its second single, "Can't Wait Any Longer", missed the top 100 completely. But the story for Southern Sons - and Nothing But The Truth - wasn't quite over, with a surprise turnaround in 1993.

Number 37 "Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home" by Sinéad O'Connor
Peak: number 37
Here's another artist following up one of 1990's biggest albums and making her first appearance on the singles top 50 since "The Emperor's New Clothes". But Sinéad O'Connor also came nowhere near matching the phenomenal success of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. This was pretty much down to two reasons: 1) "Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home", a reworking of the 1962 Loretta Lynn song just called "Success", and her album of jazz standard covers, Am I Not Your Girl?, weren't as well received by fans or critics and 2) in a couple of weeks' time, Sinéad's controversial decision to tear up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live got a lot of people offside.

Number 36 "White Men Can't Jump" by Riff
Peak: number 6
It might've seemed like this five-piece were riding on Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd's coattails, but the truth of the matter was New Jersey's Riff had actually beaten their vocal harmony rivals onto the Billboard Hot 100 with their ballad debut single, "My Heart Is Failing Me" (incidentally, one of my favourite songs from 1991). They'd also featured as a doo-wop group in 1989 film Lean On Me. In Australia, it was another movie, Wesley Snipes/Woody Harrelson basketball comedy White Men Can't Jump, that provided Riff with their only top 50 hit: the film's title song. The lyrics of the Dallas Austin-produced track seem to reflect the premise for the film - Woody's ex-player character would hustle black guys playing ball who'd assume he was no good because of his race.

Number 35 "Digging In The Dirt" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 23
It'd been six years since Peter Gabriel's last studio album, So, and five-and-a-bit since he last visited the ARIA top 50 with "Big Time". For the lead single from his sixth studio album, Us, Peter chose a much darker song (inspired by a project of his delving into the minds of serial killers, as well as him dealing with his own personal issues) than people might've been expecting. I'd go as far as to suggest that it probably only did as well as it did on the chart because it'd been so long since he'd released anything. Also, for a touch of familiarity, he teamed "Digging In The Dirt" with another cutting edge animated music video, which went on to win a Grammy Award and probably helped the single's cause.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: the debut of a UK number 1 hit by an artist who'd end up a one-hit wonder in Australia, plus a singer with quite a few number 1s under her belt released her first greatest hits collection.

Back to: Sep 13, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 27, 1992


  1. Some great debuts this week – Peter Gabriel's "Digging In The Dirt" is still a great song and video. That video is still quite amazing visually. My favourite bit is the strawberry growing in time-lapse.

    "Don't You Want Me" by Felix is still a great dance track – I believe he was only a teenager when it was released? Sometimes Take 40 Australia would play a remix instead. One time they put a toilet flush sound effect in...perhaps Barry Bissell was bored having to sit through 5-minute remixes.

    I remember trying to tape the Sinead O'Connor song off Take 40, and missing it. I don't think it was in the Top 40 the following week – gone.

    Apart from "White Men Can't Jump" the only soundtrack song named after the movie I can think of right now is "A Life Less Ordinary" by Ash from 1997 – I guess they just named the song after the film since the title isn't in the lyrics. Perhaps someone can suggest another one though.

    1. I just thought of the Irene Cara double: Fame and Flashdance... What A Feeling, although the latter clearly had the title shoe-horned in. Plus, Footloose and Ghostbusters. But most of them make sense as song titles independently.

    2. 'Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now)' is another... kind of.

      Pete, I too remember Take 40 Australia airing a different mix of 'Don't You Want Me' - at least during the week it debuted. Barry Bissell also announced it as a cover of the Human League track. Obviously he/the writers hadn't bothered to listen to it first.

    3. Oh yeah, I forgot those Irene Cara ones. There's "Goldfinger" too, though not sure if it was a charting single in its day. "Ghostbusters" as well, "9 To 5", "Footloose"...I'm sure there are more...

      Nathan, that remix of "Don't You Want Me" actually did grow on me a bit -- but not as much as the original! That mix is called, astoundingly, the..."Original Mix". That's a rare slip-up for Barry! I mustn't have caught that, or I just might have believed him.

  2. Man, that Felix choon brings back good ol' memories of the rave-up. Those two lunkheads Snoop Dogg and David Guetta even going anywhere near it is sacrilege!!!

    1. Agreed. Those two drongoes had no business touching this amazing song for the generic crud they churn out.

  3. Personal anniversary for me is September 20th. Life event.

  4. 'Don't You Want Me' is a classic. I love the key changes. I've been spared the Snoop Dogg track that samples it until now.

    I'm not a fan of 'Without You', though I suppose it was 'nice'. That's a bad quality upload.

    I was going to say 'Have You Ever...' could easily have been Bryan Adams if you close your eyes. It's no 'Love Bites'.

    'Who Is It?' was easily my favourite 'Dangerous' single.

    'Lead Me To Water' would be my favourite Southern Sons single; not that I was a big fan of too many, but I did like this one. I thought the subject matter, (I assume) running into an 'old flame' unexpectedly after some time, was something different.

    It's not the sort of thing I'd normally like, but I loved 'Success...', even though it sounds much, as I remember a review I think I read in the Brashs magazine put it, "like the Salvation Army band backing her." The increasingly frantic "am I NOT your girl?"s climax at the end, combined with the sign language 'public address' video, I thought was quite striking. The re-worked song title (a fact I didn't know until now) is somewhat Shania-esque. I remember the Pope picture being torn up being discussed at my (secular) school, but sadly didn't see footage of it at the time.

    I much prefer the 'White Men Can't Jump' style of r&b to the dreary Babyface-penned/produced ballads.

    'Digging In the Dirt' was a brave comeback lead single choice, given its length and general lack of a 'hook', and considering ‘Steam’ was an option, but I like it a lot, and it had a great video. I thought I read he wrote it after attending therapy ("open up the places I got hurt") following the break-up of his (second?) marriage. I also read that he had to lie in that same spot each day for months, as the grass grew around/over him. Now that's dedication! A bizarre parallel, but in some ways the song is similar to Metallica's 'The Unforgiven' in structure, with heavier verses followed by a more gentle-sounding chorus.