Wednesday, 31 January 2018

This Week In 1993: January 31, 1993

It seemed like the perfect recipe for TV success - pretty twentysomethings + angsty pop/rock + primetime drama = ratings gold. But for some reason, TV series The Heights didn't connect in the way Beverly Hills, 90210 had at the start of the decade or movie Reality Bites would the following year.

The Heights lived up to their name in terms of chart position if not TV ratings

The theme tune from the series, however, was a huge hit - and it made its impressive debut on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993 in the wake of its chart-topping performance in the US.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 31, 1993

The song that had knocked the TV theme from the top of the American chart was still number 1 in Australia this week in 1993. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston showed no sign of going anywhere as it spent its seventh week locked in position.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Forever" by John Stamos with The Beach Boys
Peak: number 100
Four years after "Kokomo" had a stranglehold on number 1, The Beach Boys' now-famous occasional drummer took this new version of 1970 song "Forever" to the other end of the chart.

Number 92 "Mega Mix" by Boney M
Peak: number 70
Nowhere near as successful as the ABBA revival, this new medley (there'd been a different one that charted here in 1988) comprised "Rivers Of Babylon", "Sunny", "Ma Baker", "Daddy Cool" and "Rasputin".

Number 71 "The Devil You Know" by Jesus Jones
Peak: number 54
Previous album Doubt had yielded great international success, but the British techno rockers' less commercial sound on follow-up Perverse resulted in the chart peaks you'd expect.

New Entries
Number 50 "Behind The Sun" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peak: number 37
With Red Hot Chili Peppers having achieved huge worldwide success in 1992, their former record company, EMI, was quick to cash in, releasing compilation album What Hits!? in time for the Christmas market. Oddly, the song chosen to promote the album, which consisted mostly of tracks taken from the band's first four studio albums (as well as Warner Bros hit "Under The Bridge"), didn't reach the top 50 until after Christmas. The sing-song "Behind The Sun" had originally appeared on 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan and was passed over as a single when that album was out for being too catchy.

Number 46 "Love U More" by Sunscreem
Peak: number 30
They released three awesome singles in 1992 - all of which made my end-of-year top 20 - and British dance act Sunscreem finally gained some traction in Australia with the second of those as 1993 got going. A hit in the UK in mid-1992 and soon to be their only US success, "Love U More" was the perfect combination of dance beats, trance synths and singer Lucia Holm's crystal clear vocal. Unfortunately, it would be their only appearance on the ARIA top 50, although it's worth checking out those other two singles, "Perfect Motion" and "Pressure", the latter of which we'll see off the chart in an alternate version later in the year.

Number 37 "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" by Spin Doctors
Peak: number 16
Released in August 1991, it looked for a long time like nothing would happen with Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, the debut album for New York's Spin Doctors. Eventually, thanks to exposure in one part of the States, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" started to catch on and had become a US top 20 hit over a year after the album was released. Australian followed suit, sending the song many assumed was about singer Chris Barron's ex-girlfriend into the top 20. The track was actually inspired by his stepmother, who told him he'd never amount to anything. Seems she could be wrong, after all.

Number 21 "Friday's Child / La Jour Ou Tu Est Partis" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 15
As "The Day You Went Away" fell out of the top 10 in its 21st week on the top 50, Wendy Matthews' latest single shot straight in at number 21, given a helping hand by a French version of her hugely popular ballad as a bonus track. I'm not sure just how many people rushed out to buy the single because of the foreign language version of "The Day You Went Away", but I'd suggest "Friday's Child" wouldn't have done anywhere near as well if it didn't follow the biggest hit of Wendy's career. It's a nice enough song, but kind of forgettable.

Number 3 "How Do You Talk To An Angel" by The Heights
Peak: number 3
Exactly two years earlier, a song from the soon-to-be-massive The Simpsons had made a  modest debut on the top 50 as the new TV ratings year was about to start. Before long, "Do The Bartman" had climbed to number 1. In 1993, Channel 10 had another spin-off hit from one of their shows, but while the theme song from musical drama The Heights became an instant top 3 smash, it climbed no higher. And the series itself had already been axed in the US after just 12 episodes had gone to air. 
Infinitely more successful than the Aaron Spelling-produced show it came from, "How Do You Talk To An Angel" had reached number 1 in America and wound up as the 24th biggest hit of 1993 in Australia. As for the fictional band themselves, two of The Heights wound up on another Spelling show, Beverly Hills, 90210 - lead singer Jamie Walters infamously pushed Donna down a flight of stairs as abusive muso Ray Pruitt, while Zachary Throne featured as Howard, who ran the campus radio station in season four.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: the highest-charting single by a major Australian rock band - and it's not the song you might expect. Plus, one of the year's best music videos.

Back to: Jan 24, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 7, 1993

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

This Week In 1993: January 24, 1993

Having seen what New Kids On The Block had achieved around the world as the '80s became the '90s, British record companies wanted in on the boy band action. In their threes, fours and fives, the boy bands came thick and fast - and some even had success in Australia as well.

Pop's new bad boys East 17 couldn't quite pull off the Marky Mark look

Like the group that debuted on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993. One of the two biggest boy bands out of the UK during the '90s, they were everything NKOTB wanted to be when they overhauled their image in 1991: streetwise, cool and just the right amount of bad.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 24, 1993

Speaking of streetwise, cool... OK, I'm joking. The number 1 single this week in 1993 was still "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, which registered its sixth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day" by The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. introducing Michelle Visage
Peak: number 90
Another song from The Bodyguard was the first of four soundtrack singles to miss the top 50 this week. This cover of the Bill Withers tune was produced by Clivillés & Cole and featured vocals from the ex-Seduction member and future RuPaul's Drag Race judge.

Number 93 "Money Can't Buy You Love" by Ralph Tresvant
Peak: number 93
Taken from Mo' Money (the same movie that'd featured "The Best Things In Life Are Free"), this track completed a trio of top 50 misses for the New Edition lead singer.

Number 91 "Forever Love" by Color Me Badd
Peak: number 91
Also from Mo' Money, this ballad brought vocal harmony group Color Me Badd back to the top 100 - something previous singles "Heartbreaker" and "Slow Motion" couldn't manage.

Number 71 "I Will Follow Him" by Sister Act
Peak: number 53
The original film was a box office sensation in 1992, but this cover of Little Peggy March's 1963 chart-topper by the singing nuns wasn't a hit this time around. The soundtrack album reached the top 10 this week, however.

Single Of The Week
"I Love You Period" by Dan Baird
Peak: number 83
As lead singer of The Georgia Satellites, he'd made two appearances on the ARIA top 50 - with "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" in 1987 and the following year's cover of "Hippy Hippy Shake" for Cocktail. In 1990, Dan Baird left the Southern rock band to strike out on his own and saw this punctuation-driven lead single from debut solo album Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired reach the US top 30. Maybe if it was called "I Love You Full Stop" in Australia, it would've done better here?

New Entries
Number 50 "House Of Love" by East 17
Peak: number 5
Their rivals for the boy band throne in the UK, Take That, had yet to make any kind of impact in Australia (although their first local hit wasn't far away), but the bad boys of British pop, East 17, struck gold (literally) with debut single "House Of Love". Named after the postcode for Walthamstow, the area of London from which they originated and the title of their debut album, East 17 were comprised of Tony Mortimer, Brian Harvey, Terry Coldwell and John Hendy. 
Like Take That's Gary Barlow, Tony was the musical brains of the group - the writer of all their hits and one of their two lead singers. He was also the one who initially attracted the interest of London Records, with A&R exec Tom Watkins (who'd guided Pet Shop Boys and Bros to fame) suggesting he go down the boy band route. And so, he teamed up with the other three members and together they were signed.
A blend of rave music and hip-hop, "House Of Love" showcased not only Tony's rapping but also Brian's singing, with the latter emerging as a joint frontman. As for the other two? Well, John and Terry became infamous for, in Tony's words, being "known as the two that don't do anything", but in true boy band-style, they made up numbers and contributed to the group's edgy, bad lad image.
The song made it clear from the start that East 17 weren't going to play by the rules when it came to what boy bands typically sang about. No drippy love song, "House Of Love" is a plea for humankind to stop battering the planet - "one more war and she might explode".

Number 48 "Faithful" by Go West
Peak: number 42
Not ones to rush things, Go West finally got around to following up their Pretty Woman smash, "King Of Wishful Thinking", two years later with this just as slickly produced - once again by Peter Wolf - pop tune. Although the length of their absence didn't hurt "Faithful" in the UK and the US, going top 20 in both countries, the duo seemed to have lost their momentum in Australia, missing the top 40 and never returning to the top 100 with any of their subsequent singles.

Number 44 "I'd Die Without You" by P.M. Dawn
Peak: number 42
The latest releases from the Mo' Money and The Bodyguard soundtracks might have bombed, but PM Dawn managed to sneak into the top 50 with this beautiful song that, like "End Of The Road", featured in Boomerang. Unlike their previous hit, the Spandau Ballet-sampling hip-hop of "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", "I'd Die Without You" was a heartfelt, wholly sung piano ballad that established the duo could do more than just rap over '80s riffs. Although, having said that, they'd be back on the chart in a matter of months doing just that again...

Number 36 "Gangsta" by Bell Biv DeVoe
Peak: number 17
While Ralph Tresvant proved unable to break into the top 50, three of his New Edition band-mates finally landed a hit in the wake of their oh-so-brief featured spot on "The Best Things In Life Are Free". A between-albums single, "Gangsta" also restored the group's chart fortunes in the US, where it became their biggest hit since their opening salvo of number 3 hits, "Poison" and "Do Me!".

Number 11 "Sweat It Out" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 11
Having got his soul covers album out of his system, Jimmy Barnes was back in a rock frame of mind for his sixth studio album, Heat. Appropriately, the album's lead single was called "Sweat It Out" and its rawer, less commercial sound may be the reason that, after making a splashy debut just outside the top 10, it immediately dropped down the chart, spending just five weeks on the top 50. There was bad news for Jimmy on the albums chart, too - Heat became his first post-Cold Chisel album (which included his five previous studio efforts and live album Barnestorming) not to reach number 1. He had to settle for number 2 instead.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: a TV band whose hit single was way bigger than the show it came from, plus the first hit by a two-hit wonder band who were never seen on the chart again after 1993.

Back to: Jan 17, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 31, 1993

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

This Week In 1993: January 17, 1993

By this point in 1993, American R&B hits were more readily snapped up by Australian music fans than they had been just a few years earlier. But just because a song had done well in the US, it didn't automatically mean it would be big locally.

You don't think it could have anything to do with the way you're dressed, do you?

This week in 1993, two US top 10 hits entered the ARIA singles chart - and neither charted anywhere near as high here. One was the latest by a female vocal harmony quartet who were still waiting for their big Australian hit, while the other was from a male vocal harmony quintet who'd never take off here. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 17, 1993

An American singer whose record-breaking Billboard chart hit had translated down under was still at number 1 this week in 1993. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston spent its fifth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Cowboy Lover" by Rhapsody
Peak: number 95
Some abysmal locally produced pop to start us off, with this single from Australian duo Rhapsody. The barely in tune "Cowboy Lover" was co-produced by Ashley Cadell, who did much better work for Kate Ceberano.

Number 99 "Hello (Turn Your Radio On)" by Shakespears Sister
Peak: number 97
Not even a return to the ballad style of "Stay" could provide Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit with another hit. This would be the duo's final top 100 appearance in Australia. Marcella's days in the act were also numbered, dismissed via a letter from Siobhan that was read out at the Ivor Novello Awards in May.

Number 96 "Temptation (Brothers In Rhythm remix)" by Heaven 17
Peak: number 64
One of the best songs from 1983 transformed into the best thing released in 1992 - but unfortunately this remix didn't match the original's top 50 performance in Australia.

Number 90 "Form One Planet (Power To The People)" by Rockmelons featuring Eric Sebastian
Peak: number 73
Rockmelons' hit streak came to an end as this title track from their second album, which contained a resung hook from John Lennon's "Power To The People", failed to match the chart highs climbed by the three Deni Hines-featuring singles that preceded it.

Number 73 "Run To You" by Rage
Peak: number 56
Another '80s song given a new lease of life - this time, Bryan Adams's number 24 hit from early 1985 had a pumping Eurodance makeover by the British group renamed En-Rage in Germany to avoid confusion with another act.

New Entries
Number 48 "She's Playing Hard To Get" by Hi-Five
Peak: number 46
Seems Australia was playing hard to get for this five-piece boy band from Texas, who registered three top 10 hits in the US, including this lead single from second album Keep It Goin' On. Here, "She's Playing Hard To Get" peaked just one place higher than previous hit "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)". Later in 1993, tragedy struck the group when one member, Roderick "Pooh" Clark, was involved in a car accident that left him paralysed. By 1994, Hi-Five, who are not to be confused with the later Australian children's act of the same name, had disbanded.

Number 44 "Free Your Mind" by En Vogue
Peak: number 39
Also making the US top 10 (number 8) but only becoming a minor hit in Australia was the latest from the consistently good and continually underappreciated (locally) En Vogue. The kind of fiery funk/R&B track that made you sit up and take notice, especially after the snoozesome "Giving Him Something He Can Feel", "Free Your Mind" saw the four-piece tackling racism and prejudice - especially timely given the LA riots that had occured in mid-1992. Basing its hook on "Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow", a 1970 track by Funkadelic, the slightly reworded "Free Your Mind" ("and the rest will follow") also featured lead vocals from all four members, whose fierce performance in the music video helped it go on to win three MTV Video Music Awards.

Number 38 "Do You Believe In Us" by Jon Secada
Peak: number 38
Our final new entry for the week was yet another single that under-performed here compared to its American success (number 13). I actually prefer this follow-up to Jon Secada's first hit, "Just Another Day", but seems Australia didn't agree, with "Do You Believe In Us" progressing no further on the chart. A Spanish version of the song, titled "Cree En Nuestro Amor", appeared on Jon's album Otro Día Más Sin Verte, which he'd released shortly after his self-titled English-language debut.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: another brilliant American R&B act finally breaks into the top 50. Plus, the arrival of Britain's baddest boy band and the latest return of a duo who burst onto the scene in the mid-'80s.

Back to: Jan 10, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 24, 1993

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

This Week In 1993: January 10, 1993

A new year, and with the dawn of 1993 came a new musical trend: world music goes electronic. The biggest of the five new entries on the first ARIA chart for the year did for pan pipes and foreign language lyrics what Enigma did for Gregorian chant a couple of years earlier.

1993's first musical trend: world music goes mainstream

The song was a worldwide sensation, but I always associate it with another '90s phenomenon: chart rigging. I'll explain why when we get to it...

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - three weeks ending January 10, 1993

Speaking of phenomena, there was no change at number 1 this week in 1993, with "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston just where we left it. This was the fourth week on top for the Bodyguard smash. 

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Time After Time" by Mark Williams / Tara Morice
Peak: number 82
Unlike the remix of "Love Is In The Air", this remake of the Cyndi Lauper ballad recorded as a duet for Strictly Ballroom (with its female lead as one of the performers) was not a hit.

Number 91 "Love In Motion" by Icehouse featuring Christina Amphlett
Peak: number 74
This revamp of Icehouse's 1981 top 10 hit with guest vocals by the formally credited Divinyls frontwoman was taken from Masterfile, the second compilation of the band's material to stop short of covering the Man Of Colours years.

Number 73 "In Bloom" by Nirvana
Peak: number 73
This fourth and final single from Nevermind might've sounded as, well, grungy as the rest, but it came with a lighthearted music video that saw the band send up 1960s variety shows.

Number 65 "Achy Breaky Heart" by Alvin & The Chipmunks
Peak: number 61
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the helium-voiced rodents gave Billy Ray Cyrus's chart-topper a makeover that resulted in a whole new type of hell.

New Entries
Number 50 "I Will Never Leave You" by Euphoria
Peak: number 41
The dream run was over for two-time chart-topping dance act Euphoria as their fourth single - and first released after their debut album, Total Euphoria - fell a long way short of the top 10. The 2 Unlimited-ish "I Will Never Leave You" also saw the group come full circle with Holly Garnett, who sang the verses, not appearing in the music video, but Keren Minshull, who performed the rest and for whom Holly had lip synced in the "Love You Right" clip, present and accounted for. A post-Holly Euphoria would release one more new single, which we'll see later in the year.

Number 48 "Oíche Chiúin (Silent Night)" by Enya
Peak: number 48
Exactly a year earlier, Enya's Gaelic rendition of the festive favourite had charted as part of a double A-side with "How Can I Keep From Singing?". In 1993, a separate release of "Oíche Chiúin" wound back up in the low 40s thanks to Christmas sales. Enya's persistent record company tried to turn it into a big hit again in 1994-95 and 1995-96 (and maybe on other occasions for all I know), but this was its last appearance in the top 50.

Number 44 "Man On The Moon" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 39
R.E.M. really weren't doing so well with the singles from Automatic For The People at this point, we're they? (Although they could console themselves with the fact the album reached number 2.) Matching "Drive" by peaking in the 30s was this second single, which was inspired by comedian Andy Kaufman. "Man On The Moon" would go on to be used in and provide the title for a film about the former Saturday Night Live cast member in 1999, and despite its surprisingly lowly chart peak here, it's surely become one of the band's most recognisable songs.

Number 43 "Sweet Lullaby" by Deep Forest
Peak: number 7
Indigenous music and dance music had been combined to great effect previously, with the club mixes of Yothu Yindi's songs achieving great success on the ARIA chart. But Yothu Yindi was a contemporary act, while Deep Forrest took recordings of traditional indigenous populations, and blended them with ambient music and electronic beats. On "Sweet Lullaby", a melody that originated from the Solomon Islands was turned into a chillout tune - one that connected with people all around the world, albeit gradually. Released in 1992, it took its time to become a global hit, with countries still coming on board in 1994.
So what's the connection to chart-rigging, I hear you ask? Well, when I worked at a now defunct music store later in the '90s while I was at uni, I witnessed first-hand how sales data was tabulated and was told by the person working out how many copies of each song had been sold that week how easy it was to diddle the figures. In fact, they'd added quite a few sales to the tally for "Sweet Lullaby" when it'd been released, they told me, because they thought it would be funny if it turned into a hit. Of course, I'm not suggesting the song was only successful because one worker in one record shop inflated its sales - it doesn't work like that. And besides, the track was so novel and such an effective production that it was always going to be big. But nevertheless, I always think of that story when I hear the song. 

Number 35 Happy Birthday Helen by Things Of Stone & Wood
Peak: number 9
A song I'm reminded of a couple of times each year when either of my friends named Helen has a birthday, the title track of Things Of Stone & Wood's second EP would provide the Melbourne band with their commercial breakthrough. Naturally, thanks to its jangly, feelgood vibe, it was easy to take the piss out of - and so The Late Show did. "Happy Birthday Helen" was actually written for someone called Helen - singer Greg Arnold's then-girlfriend and future wife, on the occasion of her 22nd birthday.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: a couple of fantastic R&B hits make the chart, a couple of songs from the '80s updated for the '90s don't. 

Back to: Dec 20, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 17, 1993

Monday, 8 January 2018

Number 2 Hits On The Australian Chart - The 90s part 2

JUMP TO: 1980-1984 II 1985-1989 II 1990-1994 II 1995-1999 II 2000-2004 II 2005-2009

In theory, if a number 1 song is the very best music has to offer, then a number 2 is almost perfection. But as we all know, not every chart-topper is great (cough "Achy Breaky Heart" cough) and so it goes to follow that not every runner-up approaches greatness - a fact borne out by this list of songs that reached number 2 on the ARIA chart.

They came close - twice! - but Backstreet Boys just couldn't get to number 1 in the '90s

Indeed, in many cases we should think ourselves lucky these singles didn't make it to the top and, on a good number of occasions, take a second to ponder what we were collectively thinking. And if you insist on being a glass half full type of person, there are some great tracks coming up as well.

"Pure Massacre" by Silverchair
Date reached number 2: January 29, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Zombie" by The Cranberries
Funny thing karma. We saw Bon Jovi pay for their singer's number 1-hogging run with "Blaze Of Glory" at the end of Part 1. And now Silverchair, who'd prevented "Always" reaching the summit for six weeks, had to make do with the number 2 spot for their second single.

"Here Comes The Hotstepper" by Ini Kamoze
Date reached number 2: February 19, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Another Night" by MC Sar & The Real McCoy
Packed with naggingly catchy hooks and vaguely familiar samples, this breakthrough hit from reggae performer Ini Kamoze featured in the Robert Altman film Prêt-à-Porter.
Read more about "Here Comes The Hotstepper" here

"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Nicki French
Date reached number 2: April 2, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Four (non-consecutive)
Kept off number 1 by: "Here's Johnny" by Hocus Pocus
The Bonnie Tyler original had ruled the roost for six weeks in 1983, and this hi-NRG revamp produced by Stock & Aitken came agonisingly close to doing the same for future Eurovision entrant Nicki French.
Read more about "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" here

"Think Twice" by Celine Dion
Date reached number 2: April 23, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)
Kept off number 1 by: "Here's Johnny" by Hocus Pocus for one week and "Back For Good" by Take That for one week
No stranger to the number 1 slot (including with this ballad in the UK), Celine Dion took exactly half a year to reach number 2 with "Think Twice" in Australia.

"Scream" by Michael Jackson / Janet Jackson
Date reached number 2: June 11, 1995
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Mouth" by Merril Bainbridge
One of the biggest musical events of the decade, this collaboration between the famous siblings promoted Michael Jackson's HIStory collection. "Scream" was also notable for its ridiculous expensive music video and having the then-highest debut in US chart history.

"Excalibur" by F.C.B.
Date reached number 2: August 20, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "Insensitive" by Jann Arden for one week and "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal for two weeks
Australia went nuts for techno in 1995, with this single, which laid Orff's "O Fortuna" over a club-friendly track, nearly matching the chart-topping performance of "Here's Johnny" by Hocus Pocus.
Read more about "Excalibur" here

"Alice, Who The F*** Is Alice?" by The Steppers
Date reached number 2: September 10, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal
What the f*** even was this? Testing the assumption that just about anything could be turned into a hideous dance track, The Steppers took their profanity-ridden lead from Gompie with yet another remake of the song made famous by Smokie in 1976.
Read more about "Alice, Who The F*** Is Alice?" here

"Where The Wild Roses Grow" by Nick Cave / Kylie Minogue
Date reached number 2: October 15, 1995
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Stayin' Alive" by N-Trance featuring Ricardo Da Force
As well as giving Nick Cave easily the biggest hit of his career, this duet from his Murder Ballads album continued the transformation of Kylie Minogue from derided pop princess into national treasure.

"Let's Groove" by CDB
Date reached number 2: November 26, 1995
Weeks at number 2: Six (non-consecutive)
Kept off number 1 by: "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring LV
Australia finally caught on to the boy band craze in the mid-'90s with this remake of the Earth Wind & Fire tune unfortunate to have been released at the same time as Coolio's chart-topping behemoth. 

Merkin Ball by Pearl Jam
Date reached number 2: December 17, 1995
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring LV
Coolio also saw off a challenge by grunge favourites Pearl Jam and this two-track EP, which was recorded with Neil Young for his album Mirror Ball, but, for contractual reasons, was not able to be included on his release.

"Boom Boom Boom" by The Outhere Brothers
Date reached number 2: January 14, 1996
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring LV
It might have been a new year, but the story at the top of the chart was the same as "Gangsta's Paradise" had enough momentum to stop this crowd participation hip-house tune in its tracks.

"One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey / Boyz II Men
Date reached number 2: January 21, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Jesus To A Child" by George Michael
In the US, this musical shouting match between the world's top over-singers became the longest-running number 1 single of all time - a record it retains (but now shares with "Despacito"). Thank goodness for George Michael's long-awaited comeback, hey?

"Be My Lover" by La Bouche
Date reached number 2: February 4, 1996
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Boombastic" by Shaggy
A song I always incorrectly remember as a chart-topper, "Be My Lover" kicked off a handful of rapid-fire hits from German-based duo La Bouche before they disappeared from the top 50 just as quickly - the Eurodance norm.

"Missing" by Everything But The Girl
Date reached number 2: March 17, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Six
Kept off number 1 by: "One Of Us" by Joan Osborne for four weeks and "How Bizarre" by OMC for two weeks
Not only did this persistent runner-up give the British duo a long-awaited smash, but thanks to the popularity of Todd Terry's remix, it provoked a musical change of direction for Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt.

"Father And Son" by Boyzone
Date reached number 2: April 28, 1996
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: How Bizarre by OMC
One of countless (OK, 17) top 5 hits the Irish boy band had in the UK, this was also one of their many successful cover versions. Main singer Ronan Keating would later re-record "Father And Son" with its original performer, Cat Stevens, who at that point was known professionally as Yusuf Islam.

"X-Files Theme" by Triple X
Date reached number 2: June 9, 1996
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Fastlove" by George Michael
More gratuitous dance music now with one of two beat-driven revisions of the sci-fi series theme released in 1996. Once again, George Michael proved he was that year's MVP by keeping this from the top.
Read more about "X-FIles Theme" here

"Nobody Knows" by The Tony Rich Project
Date reached number 2: June 16, 1996
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Fastlove" by George Michael
Songwriters that try to make it as artists in their own right have mixed fortunes - for every Julia Michaels, there's an Ester Dean. Tony Rich briefly fell in to the former category with this R&B ballad. 
Read more about "Nobody Knows" here

"Theme From Mission: Impossible" by Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen
Date reached number 2: July 14, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "Killing Me Softly" by Fugees
It's kind of unfair to call either of these guys one-hit wonders, but this reworking of the TV series theme tune for the first big screen adaptation is the only chart single by either U2 member under their own names.
Read more about "Theme From Mission: Impossiblehere

"Return Of The Mack" by Mark Morrison
Date reached number 2: August 25, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion for one week and "Macarena" by Los Del Rio for one week
Not so much a return as a debut ARIA chart appearance for the German-born, British-based singer. A worldwide smash, "Return Of The Mack" sampled a number of songs, most noticeably "Games" by Chuckii Booker.

"Macarena" by Los Del Mar
Date reached number 2: September 8, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio
For three weeks, the top two positions on the ARIA chart were taken up by versions of dance craze single "Macarena" thanks to this cover by Spanish duo Los Del Mar charting concurrently with the Los Del Rio original.
Read more about "Macarena" here

"Hero Of The Day" by Metallica
Date reached number 2: September 29, 1996
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio
The third of five singles held off the top of the chart by the unstoppable "Macarena" was this second single from Metallica's Load, which followed the band's first ever number 1 hit in Australia, "Until It Sleeps".

"You're Making Me High" by Toni Braxton
Date reached number 2: October 6, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio
We saw her in Part 1 with "Breathe Again", and two years later, Toni Braxton got her groove on with this much-sampled and remade jam. "You're Making Me High" was also her first of two consecutive US chart-toppers.

"I Love You Always Foever" by Donna Lewis
Date reached number 2: October 20, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio for two weeks and "Wannabe" by Spice Girls for one week
Think it's unlucky to spend three weeks at number 2? How about nine? That's how many weeks this sole hit by Welsh songbird Donna Lewis was stuck in second spot behind - what else? - "Macarena" in the US.
Read more about "I Love You Always Forever" here

"What's Love Got To Do With It" by Warren G featuring Adina Howard
Date reached number 2: November 10, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Five (non-consecutive)
Kept off number 1 by: "Wannabe" by Spice Girls
Tina Turner's comeback went into overdrive when her original version climbed to number 1 in 1984, but Warren G couldn't budge the might of girl power to do the same with his revision from the Jackie Chan movie Supercop.

"Where Do You Go" by No Mercy
Date reached number 2: December 8, 1996
Weeks at number 2: Two (non-consecutive)
Kept off number 1 by: "Wannabe" by Spice Girls
The first of two number 2s for No Mercy, who also fell foul of Sporty, Scary, Posh, Baby and Ginger. The German trio's debut single had been a remake of Everything But The Girl's "Missing", while "Where Do You Go" had been originally recorded by La Bouche but not released by them as a single.

"Break My Stride" by Unique II
Date reached number 2: January 19, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "To The Moon And Back" by Savage Garden for one week and "Freak" by Silverchair for two weeks
Another cover version, this time of the 1983 hit that peaked four places lower for Matthew Wilder, who in 1997 was basking in his success as the producer of No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom.
Read more about "Break My Stride" here

"I Finally Found Someone" by Barbra Streisand / Bryan Adams
Date reached number 2: February 9, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Five
Kept off number 1 by: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt
Speaking of No Doubt, they held off this assault by former chart-toppers Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams. The ballad was taken from The Mirror Has Two Faces, which Babs starred in and directed. 

"Breathe" by The Prodigy
Date reached number 2: March 16, 1997
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt
"Firestarter" had got Australia excited about big beat act The Prodigy, but we really went ballistic over follow-up "Breathe", which spent its first 24 weeks on the chart inside the top 10.

"Last Night" by Az Yet
Date reached number 2: March 23, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Four
Kept off number 1 by: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt for one week and "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden for three weeks
I much preferred their Chicago cover, but it was this Babyface co-written and co-produced quiet storm number that was the bigger hit in Australia. "Last Night" also featured in The Nutty Professor.

"2 Become 1" by Spice Girls
Date reached number 2: May 4, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden
"Say You'll Be There" had reached a relatively disappointing number 12, but it was back near the top of the chart for Spice Girls' first ballad single (and first UK Christmas number 1). As big as the girl group was, Savage Garden were bigger. 

"Your Woman" by White Town
Date reached number 2: May 18, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden
Featuring that distinctive 1930s trumpet hook (taken from "My Woman" by Al Bowlly) and echoey vocal, this one and only hit by the band otherwise known as Jyoti Mishra sounded like nothing else all decade. 
Read more about "Your Woman" here

"When I Die" by No Mercy
Date reached number 2: June 15, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Five
Kept off number 1 by: "MMMBop" by Hanson
Yet another remake now for No Mercy, "When I Die" had first been recorded by The Real Milli Vanilli (i.e. the attempt to salvage the band after Rob and Fab were exposed). The cover isn't that surprising when you consider No Mercy were formed by Frank Farian, the mastermind behind the lip syncing duo and Boney M.

"Burn" by Tina Arena
Date reached number 2: July 20, 1997
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "MMMBop" by Hanson
Expectations were high for Tina Arena's follow-up to the juggernaut that was Don't Ask, and she delivered with this lead single from In Deep, which remains her biggest hit to date.

"Bitch" by Meredith Brooks
Date reached number 2: July 27, 1997
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "MMMBop" by Hanson
One of the slew of post-Jagged Little Pill hits by feisty female artists with guitars, "Bitch" might not have reached number 1, but parody response song "Bloke" by Chris Franklin did.
Read more about "Bitch" here

"Where's The Love" by Hanson
Date reached number 2: August 17, 1997
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112
No doubt, lazy programmers and compilers refer to them now as one-hit wonders, but teen (and pre-teen) trio Hanson nearly topped the chart with two singles other than "MMMBop". Here's the first.

"I Will Come To You" by Hanson
Date reached number 2: December 14, 1997
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba
And here's the other near miss, which reduced the tempo after the peppy "Where's The Love". Three top 2 hits in six months? Not a bad way to make a first impression.

"As Long As You Love Me" by Backstreet Boys
Date reached number 2: January 18, 1998
Weeks at number 2: Five
Kept off number 1 by: "Doctor Jones" by Aqua for three weeks and "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion for two weeks
Proof "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" had been no one-off, Backstreet Boy solidified their status as Australia's favourite boy band (for the time being) with this sentimental mid-tempo tune.

"Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia
Date reached number 2: March 1, 1998
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
It'd been a while since a Neighbours star had launched a spin-off music career, and Natalie Imbruglia did it in style, with her cover of a tune that'd already been recorded three times since 1993 becoming a worldwide mega-hit for her.

"Fuel" by Metallica
Date reached number 2: June 28, 1998
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "The Cup Of Life / Maria" by Ricky Martin
Metallica make another appearance, this time with a single from Reload. Bigger than the two tracks already lifted from the album, "Fuel" was the last time the heavy metal band saw the inside of the ARIA top 10.

"Ghetto Superstar" by Pras featuring ODB and introducing Mya
Date reached number 2: August 9, 1998
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls
Like Warren G's "What's Love Got To Do With It", Fugees member Pras Michél bastardised an '80s chart-topper - Kenny and Dolly's "Islands In The Stream" - and had to settle for the number 2 spot.

"When The Lights Go Out" by Five
Date reached number 2: August 30, 1998
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls
The boy band unimaginatively (and eventually inaccurately) named Five gave Backstreet Boys a run for their teenage fanbase's pocket money. With this second single, they also commenced a run of nine straight top 20 hits (all but one of which made the top 10).

"Viva Forever" by Spice Girls
Date reached number 2: September 20, 1998
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith
The departure of Geri Halliwell from the group in May 1998 no doubt provided the publicity this fourth single from Spice World needed to become the album's biggest hit.

"Redundant / Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day
Date reached number 2: October 4, 1998
Weeks at number 2: Five
Kept off number 1 by: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith
Independently, these two singles from Nimrod had both peaked much further down the chart. Re-released as a double A-side, they became the biggest single of Green Day's career up until that point.

"From This Moment On" by Shania Twain
Date reached number 2: November 8, 1998
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith
Shania Twain has never been bigger than she was in 1998-99. The follow-up to chart-topper "You're Still The One", "From This Moment On" had started life as a duet with fellow country singer Bryan White, but it was a re-recorded solo version that became a hit.

"That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain
Date reached number 2: March 7, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Seven
Kept off number 1 by: "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
And here she is again, with the third of four consecutive top 5 hits. With her leopard print outfit in the video and namechecking of Brad Pitt in the lyrics, Shania ironically went from popular singer to pop culture phenomenon with "That Don't Impress Me Much". 

"Why Don't You Get A Job?" by The Offspring
Date reached number 2: April 25, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears for one week and "No Scrubs" by TLC for one week
Racking up back-to-back top 10 hits for the first time since 1994-95, The Offspring followed "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" with another comment on suburban American life.

"We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)" by Vengaboys
Date reached number 2: May 9, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Four
Kept off number 1 by: "No Scrubs" by TLC
I have a like-hate relationship with Vengaboys. Songs like this grate on my nerves (see also: "Shalala Lala", "We're Going To Ibiza"), while we'll come across an example of one of their songs I enjoy shortly...

"I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys
Date reached number 2: June 6, 1999
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "No Scrubs" by TLC
Criminally, BSB's finest moment didn't give them their first number 1 in Australia - they'd have to wait until 2005 for that - but it did provide ample scope for parody.

"Sometimes" by Britney Spears
Date reached number 2: July 25, 1999
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "If You Had My Love" by Jennifer Lopez
"...Baby One More Time" would end up as the second-biggest single of the year in Australia, while Britney Spears' second single played second fiddle to another new female superstar-in-the-making.

"Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!" by Vengaboys
Date reached number 2: August 22, 1999
Weeks at number 2: One
Kept off number 1 by: "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam
I'm amazed this Dutch quartet actually managed two number 2 singles locally, but at least one of them was this serving of Eurodance cheese.

"If Ya Getin' Down" by Five
Date reached number 2: August 29, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Three
Kept off number 1 by: "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam
Their second album was called Invincible, but this "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life"-sampling track didn't live up to that title, unable to overcome the might of a brand new Pearl Jam single.

"Genie In A Bottle" by Christina Aguilera
Date reached number 2: October 3, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Four
Kept off number 1 by: "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega
With Britney a bona fide pop sensation, the floodgates were opened for every other teen blonde singer to invade the chart - and Christina Aguilera emerged as her biggest rival thanks to pop ditties like this, which, if anything, downplayed her talent.

"Don't Call Me Baby" by Madison Avenue
Date reached number 2: November 21, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Six
Kept off number 1 by: "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65
Before that ARIA Awards performance, Madison Avenue were one of the most exciting acts in local dance music and "Don't Call Me Baby" would go on to become a UK chart-conquering hit.

"The Millennium Prayer" by Cliff Richard
Date reached number 2: December 26, 1999
Weeks at number 2: Two
Kept off number 1 by: "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65
Wow, what an anti-climactic way to end a fantastic year for pop. While Cliff Richard's religious dirge was a pre-Christmas number 1 in the UK, Australia preferred a little blue man as our decade-end chart champ.

Longest runs at number 2 in the '90s (* = non-consecutive weeks)
Seven weeks: "Always" by Bon Jovi, "That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain
Six weeks: "Let's Groove" by CDB*, "Missing" by Everything But The Girl, "Don't Call Me Baby" by Madison Avenue
Five weeks: "The Best Things In Life Are Free" by Luther Vandross / Janet Jackson, "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes, "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Warren G featuring Adina Howard, "I Finally Found Someone" by Barbra Streisand / Bryan Adams, "When I Die" by No Mercy, "As Long As You Love Me" by Backstreet Boys, "Redundant / Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day
Four weeks: "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton, "Cream" by Prince & The New Power Generation, "Please Don't Go" by KWS*, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Nicki French*, "Last Night" by Az Yet, "We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)" by Vengaboys, "Genie In A Bottle" by Christina Aguilera

Biggest number 2 hit of each year in the '90s
1990: "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton (number 7 for the year)
1991: "More Than Words" by Extreme (number 7)
1992: "The Best Things In Life Are Free" by Luther Vandross / Janet Jackson (number 6)
1993: "Sweat (A La La La La Long)" by Inner Circle (number 4)
1994: "Always" by Bon Jovi (number 3)
1995: "Let's Groove" by CDB (number 8)
1996: "Missing" by Everything But The Girl (number 7)
1997: "Breathe" by The Prodigy (number 9)
1998: "Redundant / Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day (number 8)
1999: "Don't Call Me Baby" by Madison Avenue (number 7)

Listen to all the number 2 hits of the 2000s (that are on Spotify) on my playlist:

I won't make any promises about when I'll get around to the number 2s for the 2000s, but it is on my to do list! This Wednesday, my 25 Years Ago... posts take a look at the first chart for 1993.