Wednesday, 30 May 2018

This Week In 1993: May 30, 1993

There are some singers whose voices are instantly recognisable. Artists like Cher, Freddie Mercury and Rihanna, who you can pick the second they start singing.

Little did we know in 1993 what Shaggy had in store for us...

This week in 1993, a reggae performer debuted on the ARIA chart with the first of several massive hits he'd enjoy over the next decade - and on each of them, his voice was unmistakable.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 30, 1993

A female singer whose voice is pretty recognisable moved up to the top of the singles chart this week in 1993. "That's The Way Love Goes" gave Janet Jackson her first - and only - number 1 in Australia.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "That's The Way Love Is" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 95
There was a song on Bobby that was a guaranteed attention-grabber, but before releasing that, Bobby Brown chose another piece of generic-sounding, run-of-the-mill new jack swing... and paid the price.

Number 86 "Is It Like Today?" by World Party
Peak: number 62
One-man band Karl Wallinger had managed one top 100 entry from previous album Goodbye Jumbo, and did the same again with Bang!, although this time World Party had expanded to three regular members.

Number 80 "Cold" by Annie Lennox
Peak: number 80
Australia backtracked to pick up this nice but dull single which had preceded "Little Bird" elsewhere, and gave local fans the option of one CD single or a box set of the three that'd been released in the UK.

Number 63 "Fever" by Madonna
Peak: number 51
Only her third single to miss the ARIA top 50 (and second to peak at number 51), Madonna's version of the Little Willie John song probably suffered from some versions of the track having been included as bonus tracks on previous release "Bad Girl".

New Entries
Number 47 Encores by Dire Straits
Peak: number 47
Almost a decade earlier, they'd reached number 46 with the live version of "Love Over Gold", and in 1993, Dire Straits fell one place short of matching that with this EP to promote their latest concert album, On The Night. The lead track of Encores was "Your Latest Trick", which had been the final single lifted from Brothers In Arms in 1986, but missed the top 100 locally. This would be the band's last appearance on the singles chart - hardly surprising since they split in 1995 following the release of yet another live album. 

Number 45 "Civil War" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 45
Who did they think they were: Michael Jackson? The series of singles taken from Guns n' Roses' Use Your Illusion albums continued with a seventh track lifted from the double album. "Civil War" actually dated back to 1990, when it first appeared on charity album Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal, and didn't follow the other six singles from Use Your Illusion I and II into the top 20.

Number 41 "The Hitman" by AB Logic
Peak: number 6
2 Unlimited had helped set the standard for the he raps/she sings style of Eurodance that would proliferate during the 1990s, and the imitators came thick and fast, including this one-hit wonder duo from Belgium. Released in August 1992, "The Hitman" took its time to cross over in Australia, but ended up as one of the biggest dance hits of 1993. It wasn't quite the last we'd hear from singer Marianne Festraets and rapper K-Swing (aka Cedric Murril), who'd return to the top 100 in the coming months.

Number 37 "Oh Carolina" by Shaggy
Peak: number 5
With Snow vaulting up the chart (and soon to take up residency at number 1), it was clear reggae was making a comeback, and this debut single by the performer born Orville Burrell was part of the wave of reggae hits that would roll out over the next few months. A remake of an old ska song by Folkes Brothers from 1960, "Oh Carolina" introduced the world to the gravelly voiced Shaggy, who took his name from the scaredy cat Scooby-Doo character. Managing to sound both like a relic from the past and, at the same time, quite fresh, Shaggy's update kept the basic feel of the original and lent it some '90s oomph. I can't say I have ever enjoyed "Oh Carolina", or any of Shaggy's subsequent hits (that he thankfully spread out at regular intervals over the next 10 years with big gaps in between), but clearly a lot of people did, with the song making the Australian top 5 and topping the UK chart.

Number 25 "Tribal Dance" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 5
And here are the Eurodance trendsetters themselves with the follow-up to "No Limit". The jungle-themed "Tribal Dance" gave Anita and Ray their second consecutive top 10 hit, although what we didn't know at the time was that it would be the last 2 Unlimited song to perform so well, despite a string of excellent singles (and a few duds) still to come. For now, though, the duo were at the top of their game, earning gold records for this and "No Limit", and a top 3 peak for their second album, No Limits, in June. 

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

Next week: the metal song that would become an unlikely UK Christmas number 1 more than a decade-and-a-half later, plus the latest US male vocal harmony group lick their way up and down the ARIA chart.

Back to: May 23, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 6, 1993

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

This Week In 1993: May 23, 1993

Everyone loves a comeback, and this week in 1993, three acts that had all been quite successful in the '80s returned to the ARIA top 50 for the first time in years.

New Order, Terence Trent D'Arby and Boy George were all back on the chart in 1993

In two cases, the artists turned around their chart fortunes, scoring hits after a series of flops. In the third case, a band released their first new music in three years and their first studio album in four. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 23, 1993

Meanwhile, Faith No More spent their second and final week at number 1 with "Easy" before they'd be knocked off the top spot by another artist on the comeback trail.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Don't Walk Away" by Jade
Peak: number 72
The biggest hit (a US and UK top 10) by the new jill swing trio became their first to register on the ARIA top 100. Debut single "I Wanna Love You" would follow later in the year.

Number 93 "Joseph Mega-mix" by David Dixon and the Australian Cast
Peak: number 53
Ah, the musical megamix - so early '90s. I actually saw the production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring the former Indecent Obsession singer and had the soundtrack album... but this is pretty terrible.

Number 72 "Jackie" by Girl Overboard
Peak: number 72
One final top 100 appearance for the band whose biggest hit remained "The Love We Make". "Jackie" came out between flop singles "Chain Of Fools" (not a cover) and "If You're Going To Leave Tonight".

Number 71 "Natural" by Arrested Development
Peak: number 59
They'd had an impressive run up until this point, with three top 15 hits to their name, but this latest single from 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In The Life Of... was neither as big nor as good.

New Entries
Number 47 Train Of Thought by The Sharp
Peak: number 32
Their brand of rockabilly had given them a top 30 hit in late 1992, and it was more of the same from turtleneck-loving trio The Sharp with their latest EP falling just short of the peak achieved by Spinosity. Naturally, a band as unique and quirky as The Sharp copped the inevitable sketch comedy piss-take, in this case from The Late Show. But would the send-up, er, derail their career as it had Frente's? Time would tell. 

Number 40 "The Crying Game" by Boy George
Peak: number 39
The last time we'd seen Boy George in the top 50, it had been with his first solo single: his UK chart-topping cover of "Everything I Own", which made the ARIA top 5 in 1987. Since then, the Culture Club frontman had released four studio albums (including one as Jesus Loves You) and a string of singles, none of which had come anywhere near the top 50. Venturing away from his classic pop sound, he'd ventured into club-infleunced and modern R&B territory, with none of his output connecting locally. 
Not surprisingly, it was another remake which finally brought Boy George back to the chart. Released in late 1992 when the twist in the tail-featuring movie The Crying Game came out overseas, the singer's take on the 1964 single by Dave Berry finally took off locally once the film made it into Australian cinemas in March 1993. The Pet Shop Boys-produced theme sounded more like the type of white soul we'd come to expect from George during his mid-'80s heyday and reminded us all what a great singer he was. Even if it wasn't the biggest of hits, it was nice to see Boy George back in the top 40 for one last time.

Number 30 "Regret" by New Order
Peak: number 26
Three years earlier, their stand-alone World Cup single, "World In Motion", had narrowly missed the ARIA top 20 (and topped the UK chart), but it was even longer since New Order had released a new studio album, with "Fine Time" the only offering from Technique to make the top 50 locally (narrowly making the top 20 in 1989). Bursting back onto the scene with the effervescent (and more guitar-based than in a while) "Regret", the band were the proud owners of a new record deal with London Records after their previous label, Factory Records, disintegrated. The band's biggest ever hit in the US, "Regret" would end up being the only single from comeback album Republic to reach the ARIA top 50 and, in fact, its top 30 performance has not been bettered by anything they've released in the decades since, more's the pity.

Number 24 "She Kissed Me" by Terence Trent D'Arby
Peak: number 9
His debut album, Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D'Arby, remains one of the best career-opening collections of all time - a global smash which topped the albums chart in Australia and the UK, and spawned four major hit singles. And then... nothing. More experimental follow-up album Neither Fish Nor Flesh was a commercial disaster and kind of unlistenable. In 1993, the artist now known legally as Sananda Maitreya returned with third album Symphony Or Damn, and Australia opted to kick proceedings off with "She Kissed Me" (while the UK went with "Do You Love Me Like You Say?" as lead single). Although a world away musically from the likes of "Sign Your Name" or "Wishing Well", the energetic, guitar-heavy "She Kissed Me" moved quickly into the top 10, reminding us all what a great vocalist Terence was. Once again, the return to favour was short-lived - despite releasing other good singles from the album, this would be TTD's final top 50 hit.

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

Next week: Euro-dance triumphs over hoary old rock, plus the arrival of one of the most distinctively voiced performers of all time.

Back to: May 16, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 30, 1993

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

This Week In 1993: May 16, 1993

Sometimes it's only a matter of time until an artist lands a number 1 hit. And for Janet Jackson, the inevitable came in May 1993, when she finally did locally what she'd been doing in America regularly for years.

Like a moth to a flame... Janet Jackson was attracted to the number 1 spot

Unless she still has something up her sleeve, it's the only time she's reached the top of the ARIA singles chart and it may have only been for one week, but a number 1 is a number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 16, 1993

The song Janet would go on to dethrone in the coming weeks ascended to the number 1 spot this week in 1993. "Easy" by Faith No More spent its first of two weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Jamaican In New York" by Shinehead
Peak: number 97
Managing what neither release of Sting's "Englishman In New York" had done, this reggae remake by the British-born, US-based singer/rapper reached the top 100. 

Number 85 "Lost" by The Badloves
Peak: number 51
I would've sworn this debut single by Melbourne's The Badloves had been a much bigger hit, but it fell just short of taking the pop/rock band into the top 50 - although they'd get there later in the year.

Number 82 "Can't Do A Thing (To Stop Me)" by Chris Isaak
Peak: number 73
Having finished re-releasing and repackaging his early releases, Chris Isaak got on with putting out new music, but this lead single from San Francisco Days didn't have the same impact as his previous hits.

Number 68 "It's A Shame About Ray" by The Lemonheads
Peak: number 68
As "Mrs Robinson" fell out of the top 20, the title track of The Lemonheads' breakthrough album joined it on the top 100. The title was inspired by a Sydney newspaper headline, while Johnny Depp appears in the music video.

New Entries
Number 50 "No Ordinary Love" by Sade
Peak: number 21
It'd first reached the top 100 in November 1992 (stalling at number 95), and this week in 1993, the lead single from Sade's fourth album, Love Deluxe, jumped back onto the chart at number 50 thanks, I'm assuming, to its use in the recently released film Indecent Proposal. Only the sophisti-pop band's second (and, to date, final) hit in Australia, "No Ordinary Love" would climb all the way up to number 21, one place short of the position achieved by breakthrough single "Smooth Operator" in 1984.

Number 47 "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 28
After the brief detour into dance-pop that was "I'm Every Woman", Whitney Houston was firmly back in power ballad terrain with the David Foster co-written and produced third single from the Bodyguard soundtrack. Every bit as epic as "I Will Always Love You", the dramatic "I Have Nothing" might not have been anywhere near as big as its predecessors - after all, the album was in its 19th week in the top 10 (including five weeks at number 1) - but it has stood the test of time. In the past decade, the key change-featuring torch song has been a staple of TV singing competition shows, although no one has come close to matching Whitney's flawless rendition.

Number 46 "Could It Be Magic" by Take That
Peak: number 30
As with Janet Jackson, it seemed like it'd only be a matter of time until boy band Take That eventually landed a number 1 hit, at least in Britain. Up until this point, their singles had peaked at numbers 82, 38, 47, 7, 15, 7 and 3 on the UK chart - a mostly upwards trajectory that seemed to be heading towards the inevitable. The song that put them into top 5 territory there and gave them their first ARIA chart hit was a remake of a song co-written and originally released by Barry Manilow... three times. In 1971, session musician collective Featherbed (which included Barry) recorded the single, and then Barry recorded a solo version which was released first in 1973 and in remixed form in 1975. 
Two decades later, a dramatically remixed (and improved) version of the Take That And Party track was issued as the album's seventh single in time for Christmas 1992 in the UK. Several months later, it put Take That on the radar in Australia, but for the time being, they were much less popular than their chart rivals from back home, East 17. Whereas the Walthamstow four-piece were edgier and incorporated rap into their sound, Take That were pure pop, although they did have a bad boy member in their ranks: Robbie Williams, who took the lead on "Could It Be Magic". As it would turn out, Take That would end up topping the Australian chart, but that would take a lot longer than it did in the UK.

Number 40 "More Than A Woman" by Boys In Black
Peak: number 39
While Take That tackled Barry Manilow, Australian five-piece boy band Boys In Black tried their hand at a Bee Gees tune for their debut single. The Saturday Night Fever song had reached number 31 in 1978 for the brothers Gibb, while an alternate recording by Tavares has also been included on the soundtrack. But while "More Than A Woman" was a good choice for a cover, this remake felt somewhat undercooked. From the tinny production to the out-of-place rapped bits, it wasn't quite up to scratch - and the record-buying public responded accordingly.

Number 28 "Stone Cold" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 4
His previous two singles, "Sweat It Out" and "Stand Up", had been met with a muted reaction, and so it was back to more typical Jimmy Barnes fare for the third single from Heat. A bluesy rock ballad, "Stone Cold" was written by Cold Chisel's Don Walker and featured another of Jimmy's former band-mates with Ian Moss playing guitar on the track. Unsurprisingly, it was the biggest hit from Heat and Jimmy's best performing single since his duet with John Farnham in 1991. It also helped the album return to the top 10 adding another six weeks to its initial tally of four. 

Number 4 "That's The Way Love Goes" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 1
By 1993, Janet Jackson already had five US number 1 singles to her name, but the closest she'd come in Australia on her own had been when she reached number 6 with 1986's "What Have You Done For Me Lately" and "Black Cat" in 1990. Then, in 1992, she and Luther Vandross almost topped the ARIA chart with "The Best Things In Life Are Free", so when she returned the following year with the lead single from fifth album janet., the time felt right for her to finally hit number 1 locally. 
Janet's popularity here had been building steadily since her mid-'80s breakthrough, she'd just signed a record-breaking $32 million record deal with Virgin Records (who would therefore put everything behind the new album) and the cruisy, carefree vibe of "That's The Way Love Goes" gave it a broader appeal than anything she'd released up until this point. The song, which replaced original frontrunner "If" as the track that would kick off the janet. campaign, perfectly encapsulated the tone of the album, which covered romantic and sexual terrain (unlike her previous two more statement-driven albums). 
The tune's music video, which featured a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez, was also a change of direction for Janet, eschewing her trademark complex choreography for something more casual and laidback. All of those factors combined resulted in "That's The Way Love Goes" bursting into the ARIA top 5, with Janet's long-awaited number 1 coming two weeks later.

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

Next week: three acts that were massive in the '80s return to the top 50 after lengthy absences.

Back to: May 9, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 23, 1993

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

This Week In 1993: May 9, 1993

The problem in being a solo male rapper and having a massive number 1 hit in Australia in the early '90s was that it quickly became all you were known for, even if you had other hits. 

Snow: subtitles required

This week in 1993, a Canadian rapper who'd follow in the footsteps of MC Hammer, Young MC and Vanilla Ice by topping the ARIA singles chart debuted with his future number 1. Yes, it wasn't his only visit to the top 50, but it's the only song anyone ever remembers.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 9, 1993

Another male performer with a long-running number 1 in 1993 spent his sixth and final week on top. But Lenny Kravitz is remembered for more than just "Are You Gonna Go My Way".

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Born 2 B.R.E.E.D." by Monie Love
Peak: number 98
Two years after her collaboration with Adeva put her inside the top 50, this Prince co-written single from second album In A Word Or 2 saw rapper Monie Love back towards the bottom of the top 100. "B.R.E.E.D." stands for "Build Relationships where Education and Enlightenment Dominate", in case you were wondering.

Number 94 "Walking In My Shoes" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 74
Depeche Mode's top 50 return was short-lived, with this follow-up to "I Feel You" missing the mark despite a) being a great song and b) having a great B-side in "My Joy".

New Entries
Number 49 "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 33
If the "yeah you know me" hook from "O.P.P." had been an instant classic, then hip-hop trio Naughty By Nature topped that with the "hey... ho..." chant from this lead single from third album 19 Naughty III. As well as introducing the world to that simple but effective hook, "Hip Hop Hooray" sampled about a gazillion different songs and managed to combine street cred with mainstream appeal. If it had been released a decade later, it would've been an easy top 10 hit, but in 1993, Naughty By Nature had to settle for another top 40 placement.

Number 48 "Metal Mickey / The Drowners" by Suede
Peak: number 39
Here's another key release from a musical genre that was relegated to a minor top 40 entry in Australia. In this case, it's a double A-side comprising the first two singles by hot new British band Suede, who were a major part of the dawning of the Britpop era and hugely hyped at home. Suede's self-titled debut album (and two others in their career) would top the UK chart, but Australia had a more muted reaction to the glam rock-influenced band, holding out instead for the arrival of Oasis to embrace the genre.

Number 40 "Informer" by Snow
Peak: number 1
It wasn't always comprehensible, but there was no denying this debut single by Canadian rapper Snow was one of the year's biggest hits. Written by the artist born Darrin O'Brien about his experience behind bars in 1989 and his attitude towards snitches, it was released just before Snow found himself back in prison. This interview from 2016 covers the background of the song much more thoroughly than I could, but suffice it to say that its runaway success had its drawbacks. There was the obvious problem of having a hit so huge it would be impossible to live up to, but there was the inevitable backlash against a white guy performing a reggae-influenced song, with everyone from Shaggy (who we'll see next week) and Jim Carrey lining up to take shots. Snow did return to the chart again - the top 30, in fact - and we'll see his other hit in the coming months. 

Number 24 "Detachable Penis" by King Missile
Peak: number 17
It's pretty predictable really. Call a song "Detachable Penis" and it's more or less a given it'll be a hit. And so the otherwise niche American rock band King Missile found themselves with a big single on their hands - and yet another inevitable backlash, this time from their cult following who, also predictably, didn't like it when the otherwise unknown band suddenly became popular. As a song, "Detachable Penis" comprised a rambled monologue over a distorted guitar hook as the title was intoned repetitively. Called anything else and I doubt it would've been anywhere near as big. 

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

Next week: a music superstar scores her biggest ever hit first week on release, plus another charts with a song that would go on to be crucified by countless reality show contestants in a decade's time. Also, one Australian and one British boy band debut with a cover version apiece.

Back to: May 2, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 16, 1993

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

This Week In 1993: May 2, 1993

Even though he was in the midst of legal wrangling with his record label in the early '90s, George Michael still managed to find ways to have hits.

George Michael didn't have to look very far to find somebody to love his music

This week in 1993, he debuted with his third consecutive non-album single, keeping himself in the ARIA top 50 for another year. And in a sign of things to come, it was released by a different record company.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 2, 1993

Lenny Kravitz was keeping himself at the top of the singles chart this week in 1993, with "Are You Gonna Go My Way" spending its fifth week at number 1. And at the other end of the printed chart, Guns n' Roses' "November Rain" finally bid farewell to the top 50 in its 41st week among the country's most popular singles.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "Baby It's You" by Teen Queens
Peak: number 91
This is what happens when you let someone else sing lead... and when you release a dreary, forgettable song as the first single from your second album.

New Entries
Number 47 "Deep" by East 17
Peak: number 7
With debut single "House Of Love" still firmly ensconced in the top 10 this week, it was joined by the follow-up. No, not "Gold", which would end up coming out in Australia later in the year. Instead, Australia skipped ahead to East 17's third release, "Deep" - and what a good move it turned out to be, with the British boy band registering back-to-back top 10 hits. With its pop-meets-rap sound and suggestive lyrics (including the dodgy "I butter the toast/If you lick the knife" line), the foursome solidified their cred as music's coolest boy band.

Number 44 "If Only I Could" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 41
Wendy Matthews certainly thought outside the box when it came to the cover versions on her second album, Lily. Instead of remaking familiar songs or previous hits, she opted for tunes most Australians wouldn't recognise. "The Day You Went Away" had been a cover of an under-the-radar release by Soul Family Sensation. And the album's third single, "If Only I Could", was a reworking of Sydney Youngblood's 1989 breakthrough hit - a top 10 single across Europe but a song that hadn't even entered the ARIA top 100. I'm not a fan of Wendy's version of the song, which traded in the dance club vibe of Sydney's original for something a bit more RSL club.

Number 40 "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors
Peak: number 3
"Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" had put Spin Doctors on the radar, and this massive follow-up from the Pocketful Of Kryptonite album made them inescapable. Written when singer Chris Barron was still a teenager, and influenced by his interest in all things Lord Of The Rings, "Two Princes" was the kind of jaunty pop/rock that provided some respite from the angst-ridden grunge pouring out of the US. So massive was the song, however, that it proved to be the band's own kryptonite, overshadowing everything else they ever released. As a result, they never returned to the top 50 again.

Number 37 "Somebody To Love (live)" by George Michael with Queen
Peak: number 19
In late 1991, he'd released a live duet of "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" with Elton John; in 1992, he'd contributed "Too Funky" to the Red Hot + Dance charity project and in 1993, George Michael's sole musical offering was the Five Live EP, which contained a couple of tracks from the previous year's Freddie Mercury tribute concert and more live recordings from his Cover To Cover tour. In the UK, the EP had debuted at number 1 on the singles chart, while in Australia Five Live was allocated to the albums chart (and reached number 17) and lead track "Somebody To Love" was lifted as a single. Originally a number 15 hit in Australia for Queen in early 1977, the live version was a rousing rendition and certainly a highlight of the tribute event. This would be the last time we'd see George on the top 50 until his return to music with "Jesus To A Child" in early 1996.

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

Next week: One of the year's biggest hits blends rap with reggae, while one of the year's most hyped UK indie bands make their only ARIA top 50 appearance.

Back to: Apr 25, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 9, 1993