Saturday, 28 April 2018

Every ABBA song to make the Australian top 50

It's the music reunion we were told would never happen - in this case, by ABBA themselves, with the Swedish four-piece resisting very lucrative offers to get back together for decades. And yet here we are, 35 and a bit years after they disbanded, waking up to the news that the chart-topping '70s (and early '80s) pop group will release their first new music together in December 2018.

As part of a TV special and avatar tour, Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid have recorded two brand new songs together, one of which will be called "I Still Have Faith In You". Until the end of the year, we have the band's eight studio albums and various other releases to delve back into. Always immensely popular in Australia - except for that period in the late '80s when it was considered daggy to like ABBA - the quartet racked up 23 top hits (24, if you include the 1992 re-release of "Dancing Queen").

Kicking off with the Eurovision-winning "Waterloo", ABBA barely paused for breath between 1974 and 1982 as they delivered some of the best pop tunes to ever grace the Australian top 50...

Year: 1974
Album: Waterloo
Peak: number 4
This wasn't ABBA's first attempt at representing Sweden at Eurovision. They'd entered Melodifestivalen (the Swedish selection process) the previous year with "Ring Ring" and finished third.

"Honey Honey"
Year: 1974
Album: Waterloo
Peak: number 30
This was not released as a single in the UK - a situation taken advantage of by studio act Sweet Dreams, whose opportune cover version reached the British top 10.

"Ring Ring"
Year: 1975
Album: Ring Ring
Peak: number 7
An earlier release of "Ring Ring" credited to Björn & Benny Anna & Frida reached number 92 in Australia in 1973.

"I've Been Waiting For You"
Year: 1975
Album: ABBA
Peak: number 49
For some reason, Australia opted to go with this song as the first single from ABBA, while elsewhere in the world it was the B-side to "So Long".

"I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do"
Year: 1975
Album: ABBA
Peak: number 1 (3 weeks)
The group's first Australian chart-topper kicked off ABBA-mania in Australia, and was the first of three consecutive number 1 singles as ABBA kept all other artists from the top for 14 straight weeks (a tally they'd reach with just one single the following year).

"Mamma Mia"
Year: 1975
Album: ABBA
Peak: number 1 (10 weeks)
The second of ABBA's three-in-a-row was not intended to be a single, but a pesky Australian TV host by the name of Molly Meldrum had other ideas. The title of the song was altered slightly to "Mama Mia" for its local release.

Year: 1975
Album: ABBA
Peak: number 1 (1 week)
Elsewhere in the world, "SOS" was released ahead of "Mamma Mia" and returned ABBA to the UK top 10 for the first time since "Waterloo".

Year: 1976
Album: Greatest Hits
Peak: number 1 (14 weeks)
The song that still holds the Australian record for the longest continuous run at number 1 saw its overall tally of weeks on top surpassed by Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You" in 2017.

"Rock Me"
Year: 1976
Album: ABBA
Peak: number 4
So massive were ABBA at this time that even a former B-side (to "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do") with lead vocals by Björn went sailing into the top 10.

"Hasta Mañana"
Year: 1976
Album: Waterloo
Peak: number 16
Dating back to 1974's Waterloo album, this song belatedly became a hit after featuring in TV special The Best Of ABBA.

"Dancing Queen"
Year: 1976
Album: Arrival
Peak: number 1 (8 weeks)
The song for which the band are arguably best known for, "Dancing Queen" also became their only single to reach number 1 in the US. In 1992, it returned to the ARIA top 40 as part of the promotional push for Gold: Greatest Hits

"Money, Money, Money"
Year: 1976
Album: Arrival
Peak: number 1 (6 weeks)
ABBA's final number 1 in Australia didn't make the top spot in the UK, their only single between "Mamma Mia" and "Take A Chance On Me" not to do so.

"Knowing Me, Knowing You"
Year: 1977
Album: Arrival
Peak: number 9
In Australia, this was billed as a double A-side with "Happy Hawaii", an earlier version of Arrival album track "Why Did It Have To Be?".

"The Name Of The Game"
Year: 1977
Album: ABBA: The Album
Peak: number 6
The lead single from ABBA's fifth album (released alongside ABBA: The Movie) would later be sampled by The Fugees in 1996's "Rumble In The Jungle" - apparently the first time the group gave permission for one of their songs to be used by another act.

"Take A Chance On Me"
Year: 1978
Album: ABBA: The Album
Peak: number 12
Erasure's cover of this track (as part of the ABBA-esque EP) was the song that sparked the ABBA revival in 1992.

"Summer Night City"
Year: 1978
Album: Greatest Hits Vol. 2
Peak: number 13
Originally intended as the lead release from the upcoming Voulez-vous album, "Summer Night City" ended up as a stand-alone single before later appearing on ABBA's second best of album.

Year: 1979
Album: Voulez-vous
Peak: number 4
Although it looks like a proper music video, the clip below was actually a performance on European TV special ABBA In Switzerland.  

"Does Your Mother Know"
Year: 1979
Album: Voulez-vous
Peak: number 4
One of my favourite ABBA songs was another of the rare times Agnetha and Frida were relegated to backing vocals as Björn took over the lead.

"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
Year: 1979
Album: Greatest Hits Vol. 2
Peak: number 8
Later sampled by Madonna for "Hung Up", this disco-flavoured tune was released to promote Greatest Hits Vol. 2, which has now been discontinued in favour of Gold.

"The Winner Takes It All"
Year: 1980
Album: Super Trouper
Peak: number 7
The group's first hit of the '80s is about divorce, but not that between Björn and Agnetha, who cites it as her favourite ABBA song.

"On And On And On"
Year: 1980
Album: Super Trouper
Peak: number 9
Although this was a second straight top 10 single from Super Trouper, it would turn out to be ABBA's final major hit in Australia.

"One Of Us"
Year: 1982
Album: The Visitors
Peak: number 48
Although a huge success in Europe, this lead single from The Visitors would only just make the top 50 in Australia, where the ABBA backlash was in full effect.

"The Day Before You Came"
Year: 1982
Album: The Singles: The First Ten Years
Peak: number 48
Equalling the peak of "One Of Us", this brand new song from yet another compilation album would be ABBA's final appearance on the top 50. The group's final single, "Under Attack" only managed a peak of number 96.

Listen to all of ABBA's Australian top 50 hits on my Spotify playlist:

For those wondering where some of ABBA's other well-known tracks charted locally, "Eagle" reached number 82, "Voulez-Vous" reached number 79, "I Have A Dream" reached number 64 and "Super Trouper" reached number 77.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

This Week In 1993: April 25, 1993

No matter how successful a band is, there comes a time when they reach their use by date. Sometimes it might take decades (U2, The Rolling Stones), while in other cases, it can occur much more rapidly (MGMT, The Cranberries).

A couple of underwhelming singles by two of Australia's best bands

This week in 1993, two Australian bands that had played an integral part in the local music scene for more than a decade - and enjoyed major success internationally - looked like they might have reached the end of their glory days.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 25, 1993

Still enjoying chart glory this week in 1993 was Lenny Kravitz, who spent a fourth week at number 1 with "Are You Gonna Go My Way".

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Fear Of The Dark (live)" by Iron Maiden
Peak: number 98
The title track of their previous album, this concert recording was released to promote live album A Real Live One. This was the British heavy metal band's final ARIA chart appearance.

Number 91 "Until The Day" by Lisa Edwards
Peak: number 86
Previous single "So Dangerous" had flopped, and although this third solo effort by Lisa Edwards did slightly better, thanks no doubt to guest vocals by John Farnham, it still came nowhere near matching the success of "Cry".

Number 89 I Fought The Law by The Dukes
Peak: number 88
The title track of this stand-alone EP by Sean Kelly and co. was a remake of the song made famous by The Bobby Fuller Four and The Clash, and featured in Yahoo Serious film Reckless Kelly.

Number 85 "The Edge Of The World" by Sonia Dada
Peak: number 64
Their first two singles were still both inside the top 20 - "You Don't Treat Me No Good" spent its 16th and final week in the top 10 - but the chart domination was over just as quickly, with this third single from Sonia Dada bombing.

New Entries
Number 49 "Wild Thing" by Divinyls
Peak: number 39
The Dukes' cover version might not have made the top 50, but this remake also taken from Reckless Kelly did, although I have to say, it's a fairly uneventful version of the song that had most recently visited the ARIA top 50 in 1989 for Sam Kinison. Tired and uninspired, it certainly wasn't Divinyls' finest hour - and given their run of singles since chart-topper "I Touch Myself", they could've done with something a bit more original than yet another version of the much-covered tune first turned into a hit by The Troggs. Still, it made sense as a track to support the movie and did add to the duo's tally of top 50 hits, bringing it to 13.

Number 47 "Beautiful Girl" by INXS
Peak: number 34
Our second homegrown band notched up their 29th top 50 hit this week in 1993. In fact, INXS hadn't missed the chart with a single since 1982's "Night Of Rebellion", but they also hadn't ventured into the top 10 since 1990's "Suicide Blonde" and "Beautiful Girl" was their third release in a row to peak in the 30s. Yes, the ballad inspired by Andrew Farriss's first child, Grace, was the fourth single from Welcome To Wherever You Are, but it seemed like no matter what type of song the band released at this point in their career - and they'd tried everything from this album - they just couldn't rise to their previous chart heights.

Listen to this week's new entries (well, one of them) on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: while his court case against Sony Music dragged on, George Michael managed a hit with a live recording. Plus, a locally based female singer remakes a UK top 3 hit from 1989.

Back to: Apr 18, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 2, 1993

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

This Week In 1993: April 18, 1993

Kicking off your music career with two top 10 hits is a pretty good start to things, but even though it looked like soap star-turned-singer Toni Pearen was destined to be Australia's big new pop star, things didn't play out that way.

And the Australian public wanted Toni Pearen, too... for the time being

This week in 1993, the former E Street and future Home And Away star debuted on the ARIA singles chart with the second of those hits, but as we'll see, this was as good as it got for Toni - something that remains one of pop's biggest missed opportunities.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 18, 1993

Lenny Kravitz was making the most of his opportunity on top of the ARIA chart, registering a third straight week at number 1 with "Are You Gonna Go My Way".

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Be My Baby" by Vanessa Paradis
Peak: number 96
She'd had a big European hit in 1987-88 with "Joe Le Taxi", but it's surprising Vanessa Paradis's English-language debut didn't make a bigger impact locally given it was co-written and produced by her then-partner (and current number 1 single holder) Lenny Kravitz.

Number 95 "Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 55
This fourth single from Waking Up The Neighbours Adrenalize became the first to miss the top 50 - just! - for Def Leppard. They'd be back with new music and in the top 50 in a matter of months.

Number 90 "What Can You Do For Me" by Utah Saints
Peak: number 90
Given the success of "Something Good", it made sense to give Utah Saints' Eurythmics- and Gwen Guthrie-sampling debut effort another shot. At least it made the top 100 this time.

New Entries
Number 48 "I Want You" by Toni Pearen
Peak: number 10
As well as being a missed opportunity, one of the greatest pop mysteries of the early '90s was just what went wrong with Toni Pearen's music career. Things had got off to a good start with her debut single, "In Your Room", reaching number 10. Follow-up "I Want You", which was a breezier, more laidback track, repeated the feat and then... nothing for a year-and-a-half, by which time any momentum had been lost. Quite why a third single and/or an album didn't come hot on the heels of a second top 10 hit is unclear, but whatever the reason for the delay, it was undoubtedly a major factor in Toni never reaching anywhere near as high on the chart again.

Number 47 "Open Your Mind" by U.S.U.R.A.
Peak: number 29
When it came to Euro dance music of the late '80s and early '90s, as a famous T-shirt worn by Madonna once claimed, Italians really did do it better. From Black Box (and spin-off project Starlight) to 49ers, Cappella to Corona, Jinny to Livin' Joy, Italy is to commercial dance music what Sweden is to pop. And this week in 1993, another Italian outfit debuted with one of the year's best club tracks. Based on a synth riff from Simple Minds' "New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)", "Open Your Mind" also features samples from "Solid" by Ashford & Simpson and the film Total Recall

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

Next week: two iconic Australian bands that'd been releasing music since the start of the '80s appear to have run out of steam.

Back to: Apr 11, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 25, 1993

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

This Week In 1993: April 11, 1993

Bobby Brown. Marky Mark. Peter Andre. That guy from Radio Freedom. The previous few years had seen a steady stream of male pop stars with chiselled bodies flashing their abs and earning a place on teenage bedroom walls. This week in 1993, we got another.

Just try and find a photo of Jeremy Jordan with his shirt on

If his torso wasn't enough to make him an instant hit, the new heartthrob's debut single just happened to be taken from the soundtrack to the hottest teen drama on TV.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 11, 1993

The hottest single in Australia this week in 1993 was still "Are You Gonna Go My Way" by Lenny Kravitz, which spent a second week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 100 I.C.U. by Caligula
Peak: number 55
The electronic rock band edged ever closer to the top 50 with their latest EP, but their first hit would come later in the year with a song few would've predicted they'd remake.

Number 95 "Step It Up" by Stereo MCs
Peak: number 87
"Connected" peaked just inside the top 50, but there was no such joy for this even better follow-up from the band who'd take out Best British Group and Best British Album at the 1994 BRIT Awards.

Number 94 "Love's On My Mind" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 65
It was probably pushing it to expect a fifth hit from their debut album, but this ballad was actually one of the better singles Girlfriend released. They'd be back with new music before the year was out.

Number 93 "Pride And Joy" by Coverdale⦁Page
Peak: number 89
This one-album collaboration between Whitesnake and Deep Purple singer David Coverdale and Led Zeppelin co-founder Jimmy Page didn't yield much in the way of singles success, but the duo's self-titled album made the top 30.

Number 81 "I Put A Spell On You" by Bryan Ferry
Peak: number 68
This version of the much-remade song by Screamin' Jay Hawkins was taken from the (mostly) covers collection Taxi, Bryan Ferry's first album since 1987.

New Entries
Number 49 "The Right Kind Of Love" by Jeremy Jordan
Peak: number 5
Jeremy Jordan - alright! He had Donna Martin's approval and, thanks to a big push from Beverly Hills, 90210, he soon had teenagers around Australia in a frenzy. Oh yeah, and his frequently flashed gym-toned body didn't hurt his cause, either. Human Ken doll Jeremy Jordan hit the top 5 with his debut single, a track co-writer Robbie Nevil had originally envisioned for Color Me Badd. Instead, label execs thought the song was too innocent for the "I Wanna Sex You Up" quartet and gave it to the pop hopeful, who'd been homeless before he was discovered, and included it on the soundtrack to the Aaron Spelling teen soap. Question was: could Jeremy live up to the initial hype?

Number 47 "Livin' On The Edge" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 21
A decade-and-a-half after they started making music, Aerosmith were finally embraced by Australian fans in 1989 when their Pump album yielded number 1 single "Janie's Got A Gun" and itself topped the chart. And so expectations were higher than at any point in the past for their follow-up studio album, Get A Grip. While the album duly entered the top 3 in early May, lead single "Livin' On The Edge" just missed the top 20 and would end up being the only single from the album to make the top 50 despite both "Cryin'" and "Amazing" becoming big US hits. Inspired by the 1992 LA riots, "Livin' On The Edge" sees Aerosmith in social commentary mode and featured then-15-year-old actor Edward Furlong in the music video.

Number 45 "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)" by Peabo Bryson / Regina Belle
Peak: number 10
What "Beauty And The Beast" began, the theme tune to Disney's 1992 animated feature, Aladdin, took to new heights, with the duet "A Whole New World" reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 - dethroning "I Will Always Love You" in the process - and winning both the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year. The soaring ballad once again featured Peabo Bryson on the commercial single release - the film's voice actors performed "A Whole New World" in the movie - and teamed him with another soul star, Regina Belle. In Australia, the track reached the top 10, setting a new benchmark for a modern-era Disney theme tune, although one that would be topped the following year.

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

Next week: a soap star-turned-pop star debuts with another future top 10 single, while one of the best dance tracks of the year arrives.

Back to: Apr 4, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 18, 1993

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

This Week In 1993: April 4, 1993

It must be disheartening to release song after song and see them all fizzle out on the chart, so it must come as a huge relief when a single connects with the public and becomes a hit after a string of chart disappointments.

Southern Sons and Boom Crash Opera kept trying for a hit - and in one case it worked

This week in 1993, two Australian pop/rock bands debuted on the ARIA top 50 with their latest songs - in one case, the single became the band's first big hit since 1991; in the other, it was another lacklustre chart performance.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 4, 1993

Moving up to number 1 this week in 1993, Lenny Kravitz pushed Ugly Kid Joe aside to spend his first of six weeks on top with "Are You Gonna Go My Way".

Off The Chart
Number 100 "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 99
Despite being the jauntiest thing R.E.M. had released in a while - and being backed by their cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", which this song references - this third single from Automatic For The People sank without much of a trace. And no, Michael Stipe isn't singing "calling Jamaica", it's "call me when you try to wake her".

Number 96 "Nearly Lost You" by Screaming Trees
Peak: number 96
Another grunge track (following Alice In Chains' "Would?") lifted from the soundtrack to Singles, "Nearly Lost You" became the only top 100 appearance by Washington state's Screaming Trees.

Number 87 "Off The Ground" by Paul McCartney
Peak: number 66
The title track of his ninth solo studio album, "Off The Ground" didn't follow "Hope Of Deliverance" into the top 50. We wouldn't see Paul McCartney in the top 100 for another four years, when he released his 10th album.

Number 76 "Jump They Say" by David Bowie
Peak: number 53
As the lead single from David Bowie's first new solo studio album since 1987, "Jump They Say" received a lot of attention. The Nile Rodgers-produced track, however, became his first album opener to miss the top 50 since the 1970s.

New Entries
Number 49 "In The Morning" by Boom Crash Opera
Peak: number 36
What exactly was it going to take for Boom Crash Opera to land another decent-sized hit? That must be what the band were asking themselves as yet another of their singles landed in the lower half of the top 50, although at least "In The Morning" managed to return them to the top 40 for the first time since mid-1990. Released to coincide with their third album, Fabulous Beast, the uplifting, sing-along tune was every bit as good as classic BCO songs like "Hands Up In The Air" and "Onion Skin", but perhaps in a world swept up by grunge, such feelgood songs no longer had a place?

Number 48 "You Were There" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 6
There was clearly still demand for a big, weepy rock ballad, with this latest hit by Southern Sons proving that sometimes it's best to stick with what people want from you rather than trying to change your sound too much. With its minimalist production and soaring vocal from Jack Jones, "You Were There" became the band's first top 10 hit since the similarly styled "Hold Me In Your Arms" two years earlier, and constituted a massive return to favour since their previous single, "Can't Wait Any Longer", missed the top 100 completely. What impact the inclusion of the song in the Sydney Dance Company production of Beauty And The Beast had on sales, I'm not sure, but it was a nice additional selling point for the song.

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

Next week: two of the biggest soundtrack hits of the year - one from Disney's latest animated film and the other from TV's coolest teen drama.

Back to: Mar 28, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 11, 1993