Wednesday, 25 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 25, 1993

This week in 1993 on the ARIA singles chart, two instances of a common problem for musicians occured: the less successful follow-up to a smash hit debut single. 

Jeremy Jordan and Snow had two of the biggest hits of the year... and these forgotten follow-ups

In both cases, the earlier hits were still inside the top 10, while both new singles would end up stalling at the top 30 and go on to be all but forgotten about by the general public.

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

A song that wasn't going to be forgotten about was still at number 1 this week in 1993. UB40 spent a third week on top with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You".

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Do You Love Me Like You Say?" by Terence Trent D'Arby
Peak: number 69
Kicking off the Symphony Or Damn campaign in Australia with "She Kissed Me" had been a good move, with this UK lead single peaking 60 places lower on the ARIA chart.

Number 88 "Whatzupwitu" by Eddie Murphy
Peak: number 88
Seven years after he scored with "Party All The Time", not even the presence of Michael Jackson (in whose "Remember The Time" clip he'd appeared) on guest vocals could help Eddie Murphy land another hit with this new jack swing-lite track.

Number 87 "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" by Spin Doctors
Peak: number 86
As "Two Princes" dropped out of the top 10, the US band arrived with this follow-up, which features album title Pocket Full Of Kryptonite in its lyrics and is about the Superman photographer trying to lure Lois Lane away from the Man Of Steel.

Number 79 "Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 58
And here's Jacko again with the eighth single from Dangerous - and the first to miss the top 50, although this "Man In The Mirror"-esque ballad would reach number 42 in the wake of Mchael's death in 2009.

New Entries
Number 49 "Wannagirl" by Jeremy Jordan
Peak: number 22
While "The Right Kind Of Love" moved back up inside the top 10 in its 16th week on the top 50, teen heartthrob Jeremy Jordan unleashed his follow-up, a fairly forgettable slice of watered down new jack swing that had originally been a B-side for "I'll Be There" guest vocalist Trey Lorenz. In fact, so forgettable is "Wannagirl" that, despite almost reaching the top 20, the song has been pretty much written out of pop history, with the buff blond widely considered a one-hit wonder. (Of course, he's not.) In the music video for "Wannagirl", Jeremy once again flaunted that chiselled physique, swapping the basketball court for the boxing ring as an excuse to get his shirt off - not that his fans were complaining.

Number 47 "The Honeymoon Is Over" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 41
I'm a bit shocked to recall this title track from The Cruel Sea's breakthrough album and the follow-up to breakthrough single "Black Stick" didn't actually reach the top 40. "The Honeymoon Is Over" seemed to be everywhere at the time and felt like a much bigger hit. Of course, the fact that the album was only in its seventh week on the chart and had recently been in the top 5 might have had something to do with this single's lack of chart success. Nevertheless, the song's classic status was cemented when it won the ARIA Awards for Song and Single Of The Year the following March.

Number 44 "Girl I've Been Hurt" by Snow
Peak: number 26
Here's our second male artist following up a still-massive hit - "Informer" slid down to number 4 this week - with a song that many people have entirely forgotten reached the top 30. And fair enough, since it's likely that without the prior success of Snow's chart-topping track, "Girl I've Been Hurt" would not have done anywhere near as well. A fairly monotonous reggae-inflected ballad, it would be the last we'd see of the Canadian performer on the top 50. If you watch the video below to refresh your memory of "Girl I've Been Hurt", spare a thought for the poor female dancers forced to cavort around in bikinis and unfastened winter coats in freezing conditions.

Number 28 "Shock To The System / Heroin" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 28
He'd been registering hits on the ARIA chart for more than a decade, including six top 10 singles, but despite crashing into the top 30 this week in 1993, Billy Idol got no further with this double A-side release from Cyberpunk. Something of a concept album inspired by Billy's interest in computers, the nascent internet and electronics, Cyberpunk was a natural progression from the synthrock we'd come to expect from him, but neither original track "Shock To The System" (which came with an LA riots-inspired music video) or cover version "Heroin" (originally performed by The Velvet Underground) were up to his usual standard.

Number 21 "Big Gun" by AC/DC
Peak: number 19
In July 1991, Guns n' Roses' "You Could Be Mine" had provided the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. For Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest blockbuster, Last Action Hero, it was AC/DC's turn to bring the rock to the big screen. And that's pretty much all I have to say about this song, which even the band themselves seem to have more or less forgotten about.

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

Next week: an '80s classic is given a boy band makeover, one of the year's best dance tracks and another hit taken from the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack

Back to: Jul 18, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 1, 1993

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 18, 1993

In between all the reggae, grunge, Eurodance and rock remakes that defined 1993, moments of pure pop were few and far between. Thank goodness, then, for the return of my favourite group (although they're techically a duo) of all time.

So ask yourself now what were Pet Shop Boys thinking with this look?

Back after a two-year absence, the synthpop pair released the first in a string of singles that dominated my year-end top 100. And they enjoyed some of their best chart action in years in Australia.

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

Enjoying another week at number 1 this week in 1993 was UB40, as "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" stayed on top for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 87 "Here I Go / Hard Drugs" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 63
The yo-yoing fortunes of The Screaming Jets continued with this double header from second album Tear Of Thought placing them back in the 60s.

Number 86 "Elated" by Euphoria
Peak: number 66
They started their career with three consecutive top 10 hits (including two number 1s), but local dance act Euphoria hit a brick wall with this brand new single - the first featuring vocals by Holly Garnett's replacement, Jodie (later Jodhi) Meares.

Number 79 "Persuasion" by Tim Finn
Peak: number 62
He ended his brief tenure in Crowded House to return to his solo career, but this lead single from Before & After failed to take Tim Finn back into the top 50, despite being quite a pleasant track.  

Single Of The Week
"My Country" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 52
Two years earlier, "One Country" from Blue Sky Mining had peaked just outside the top 50, and the similarly named "My Country" from Earth And Sun And Moon reached one spot lower. It was a change of fortunes for Midnight Oil, who'd made a habit of reaching the top 50 with more than one single per album previously. According to Peter Garrett, it's "a song about how the flag is often used to cover a multitude of sins and crimes - and how people hide behind the patriotism."

New Entries
Number 49 "Burnt Sienna" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 33
The previous two poppy singles from her second album, Chameleon Dreams, had missed the mark, and so Margaret Urlich changed tack for her next release, going with bluesy (or is it jazzy?) ballad "Burnt Sienna" - a song about as far removed from the likes of "Number One (Remember When We Danced All Night)" and "Escaping" as you could get without changing genre altogether. And, I'm reliably informed, it was also a very personal song for Margaret, written about her sister's suicide. The strategy of trying something new (and possibly some price discounting) worked, with "Burnt Sienna" taking her back into the top 40.

Number 46 "Can You Forgive Her?" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 17
Last seen on the ARIA top 50 with their reinvention of U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" - their three subsequent singles missed the top 100 completely - Pet Shop Boys made a welcome return after taking 1992 off. They did so with the first taste of fifth album Very, which I'd give a hammering over the next year, so much so that other staff members at the department store where I worked on weekends tried to have the music department banned from playing it. They weren't successful.
"Can You Forgive Her?" was a great return, and with its synth blasts and big beats, was a major departure from previous album Behaviour and more in line with some of their earlier releases. As lyrically articulate as ever, the song told the story of a guy whose girlfriend was getting annoyed because he seemed to be in love with a childhood friend, and the implication that the friend was also male was mirrored by an increased openness by the duo about their sexuality in the '90s - a fact no one could have been mistaken about given they had in store for us next...

Number 45 "Voice Of Freedom" by Freedom Williams
Peak: number 41
He'd been one of the voices of C+C Music Factory - and properly credited, too! - but rapper Freedom Williams didn't achieve the same level of success with his first venture into solo territory. Based around a sample of George Michael's "Freedom 90", "Voice Of Freedom" sounded like the kind of thing Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch would've released a couple of years earlier.

Number 40 "I'm So Into You" by SWV
Peak: number 40
While fellow new jill swing trio Jade had missed the top 50 earlier in the year, Sisters With Voices managed to land a minor hit with this former US top 10 smash. Comprised of Cheryl "Coko" Clemons, future Survivor contestant Tamara "Taj" George and Leanne "Lelee" Lyons, SWV would fare much better with a remix of the song that had preceded "I'm So Into You": debut single "Right Here".

Number 39 "Is It...?" by Melissa
Peak: number 39
It wasn't a great week for Australian pop acts associated with E Street. Like Euphoria, Melissa Tkautz's music career had been given a major boost by the recently defunct primetime soap in which she had also starred. Next to be seen on the shortlived series Paradise Beach, Melissa released this brand new song, presumably intended as the lead single from a second album. But when "Is It...?" stalled right here at number 39, so too did her singing career. Unlike "Elated", which I quite liked, I can see why "Is It...?" didn't do any better - as well as the downturn in pop in 1993, it just wasn't as good a song as the likes of "Read My Lips" or "Sexy (Is The Word)".

Number 36 "Sweat (A La La La La Long)" by Inner Circle
Peak: number 2
It really was like waiting for buses with reggae hits - you wait for one to come along for ages (if that's your thing) and then a bunch of them arrive at once. Following Snow, UB40 and Shaggy into the ARIA singles chart was this long-awaited (for them) breakthrough hit by Jamaica's Inner Circle, who'd been making music since the late '60s. One of those songs I knew would wear out its welcome very quickly, "Sweat..." spent a la la la la long time on the top 50 - half a year exactly, by which time I was well and truly sick of it. Despite being a massive worldwide hit, no attention was given at the time to the questionable nature of these lyrics: "Girl I'm gonna make you sweat/Sweat 'til you can't sweat no more/And if you cry out/I'm gonna push it, push it some more."

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

Next week: two long-forgotten follow-ups to a couple of the year's biggest singles by male performers widely considered to be one-hit wonders. Plus, the latest comeback by one of the biggest male artists of the '80s.

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

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 11, 1993

Some songs are bigger than a chart position - going on to sum up a moment in time or become a statement about life. "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. is one of those songs.

Michael Stipe in the memorable video for "Everybody Hurts"

Although a substantial hit following its debut on the ARIA singles top 50 this week in 1993, its sentiment and message have seen its legacy go beyond sales success into something more meaningful.

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

The biggest sales success of this week in 1993 was UB40's cover "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You", which started a seven-week run at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 91 Caressing Swine by Died Pretty
Peak: number 74
1993 was going to be a pivotal year for this Sydney indie band, who'd just signed a major label deal with Columbia Records. The title track of this four-track EP was the first, er, taste of the upcoming Taste album.

Number 90 "Spill The Rhyme" by A Lighter Shade Of Brown
Peak: number 90
Sampling the same song that Freaked Out Flower Children took into the top 50 in 1992, this was the first chart appearance by the hip-hop duo who would score a much bigger hit the following year.

Number 84 "Pressure US" by Sunscreem
Peak: number 64
The original mix of this song was an underserving flop when it came out ahead of breakthrough single "Love U More". At least this remix gained some attention in Australia.

Number 80 "Distant Thunder" by Richard Clapton
Peak: number 80
The title track of the Australian music legend's first studio album in six years also provided him with his first top 100 appearance since 1987's "Glory Road".

Number 72 "It's On" by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 51
Sampling jazz record "French Spice" by Donald Byrd, this follow-up to "Hip Hop Hooray" came oh so close to giving the hip-hop group a second top 50 hit from the one album - a feat they've never achieved.

Single Of The Week
"Buddy X" by Neneh Cherry
Peak: number 102
Australia had never taken to Neneh Cherry as much as the UK or the US, with her debut single, "Buffalo Stance", reaching number 3 in both countries. That classic hadn't even made the ARIA top 20, while none of the ensuing string of excellent singles from Raw Like Sushi cracked the top 50. But Australia wasn't alone in under-appreciating the singer/rapper's second album, Homebrew, which, despite being a really good collection of songs, met with relatively disappointing sales around the world. Second single "Buddy X", which really should've been much bigger didn't even make the top 100 - either in 1993 or in remixed form in 1999.

New Entries
Number 50 "Single Perfect Raindrop" by Things Of Stone & Wood
Peak: number 50
They'd started off the year with a top 10 single, and this week in 1993, Things Of Stone & Wood crept into the top 50 with the final single from debut album The Yearning. Looking and kind of sounding like one of those medieval bands of minstrels, it was fitting that the video for "Single Perfect Raindrop" was filmed in the hipster heartland of Glebe in Sydney's inner city.

Number 43 "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 6
The three singles released thus far from Automatic For The People hadn't exactly set the ARIA chart alight, with none reaching higher than number 34. But that all changed with "Everybody Hurts", a song that became the biggest hit of R.E.M.'s career. Dealing with a topic that most people could empathise with if not identify with personally, the ballad spoke about the feeling of despair that drives some to suicide and offered a plea to those feeling like they've had enough to "hold on". 
Not exactly cheery stuff, but certainly an important message to communicate. "Everybody Hurts" is one of those songs that has transcended its original performers and, as Michael Stipe once said, "This song instantly belonged to everyone except us." Seventeen years later, an all-star ensemble (and some former UK X Factor contestants) assembled for a charity cover version to benefit those afflicted by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and numerous other performances and recordings have been made, notably a duet by Pink and Kelly Clarkson at the 2017 American Music Awards.

Number 37 "Have I Told You Lately" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 12
From a song that went on to be covered numerous times, we come now to Rod Stewart's second remake of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately". Originally released by Van in 1989, the song was recorded by Rod for his 1991 album, Vagabond Heart. Two years later, he included it in his MTV Unplugged set list and the live version was lifted as a single from the Unplugged...And Seated album. Rod's biggest hit here since "Rhythm Of My Heart", and a top 5 smash in the UK and the US, it was just another of his '90s singles I avoided as best I could.

Number 31 "Don't Tell Me What To Do" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 24
The highest two new entries this week came from Australian acts that had a lot to live up to - a chart-topping album each. In the case of Baby Animals, they finally got around to releasing the lead single from second album Shaved And Dangerous, having kept themselves in the top 50 (just) with 1992's standalone single, "Impossible To Fly". Although it had a pretty catchy chorus, "Don't Tell Me What To Do" was not as big as you might've expected from the band whose self-titled debut had spent almost a year on the albums top 50, but that could be because people just went out and bought Shaved... instead. Unlike Baby Animals, which took months to get to number 1, the follow-up went straight in at its number 2 peak. "Don't Tell...", meanwhile, would be Baby Animals' final top 50 single.

Number 18 "Never Miss Your Water" by Diesel
Peak: number 12
Like Baby Animals, Diesel was coming off a number 1 album that had been one of the top 5 biggest sellers of 1992. And he delivered yet again with The Lobbyist following Hepfidelity to the top of the albums chart and its lead single, "Never Miss Your Water", giving him a ninth top 20 hit (including his tally with The Injectors). I'd actually pretty much forgotten all about this song until now, but I have to say that it's my second favourite of Diesel's songs after "Man Alive". Of course, the fact that I could have forgotten about my second favourite song gives you an indication of what I think of much of the rest of his output...

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

Next week: the return of one of my favourite acts of all time, another reggae smash and a couple of minor hits from artists that'd burst onto the scene with hugely succesful songs.

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

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 4, 1993

By 1993, sampling was well-established as part of music - and was generally being done much more legally than at first. 

Great samples helped PM Dawn and Us3 into the top 50 

This week that year, two singles based heavily on samples made their debut on the ARIA top 50 and also worked well as new songs in their own right.

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

A track with a couple of samples in it was still at number 1 this week in 1993. "Informer" by Snow spent its fifth and final week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Space Time Disco" by Def FX
Peak: number 70
Not even their most commercial offering yet could prevent Def FX being unlucky on the chart yet again. The band would eventually benefit from continuing to plug away and land a top 50 hit... but not until 1994.

Number 92 "Break It Down Again" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 82
With Curt Smith off doing his (far superior) solo thing, Roland Orzabal was left to fly the Tears For Fears flag on his own with this lead single from the Elemental album.

Number 89 "Animal Nitrate" by Suede
Peak: number 89
In the UK, this punningly titled track gave Suede their first top 10 hit, but Australia was less keen, with the band failing to land a second hit and not returning to the top 100 for another six years.

Number 81 "Down With The King" by Run-DMC
Peak: number 81
Returning with their first studio album in three years, hip-hop trio Run-DMC were back on form musically and in terms of their US chart success, but this style of hip-hop was probably not mainstream enough for Australian palates at this point.

Single Of The Week
"Pets" by Porno For Pyros
Peak: number 68
Jane's Addiction had never crossed over in Australia, with "Been Caught Stealing" stalling at number 56 just ahead of the grunge explosion at the end of 1991. From the ashes of that band came Porno For Pyros, which included singer Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins in its line-up. The subdued, psychedelic "Pets" was the closest the band ever came to scoring a hit locally.  

New Entries
Number 50 "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" by Us3
Peak: number 32
Our first sample-ridden hit comes from jazz fusion group Us3, who spliced together hooks from Blue Note Records' back catalogue with present day hip-hop. On their breakthrough hit "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" they incorporated elements from Herbie Hancock's 1964 track "Cantaloupe Island". A flop first time around in their homeland of the UK, the song reached the US top 10 before catching on around the world. The type of tune that continues to pop up in films and ads, and on TV shows, it was the perfect blend of old and new genres.

Number 42 "Looking Through Patient Eyes" by P.M. Dawn
Peak: number 20
Not since their breakthrough hit, "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", had P.M. Dawn visited the ARIA top 20 and they did so for a second time following the same template as that top 10 smash. Taking an easily recognisable hook from an '80s classic - in this case George Michael's "Father Figure" - and using it as the foundation of a new song, the duo released what I consider to be their best song in "Looking Through Patient Eyes". It came out just ahead of their second album, on which the Cordes brothers once again indulged their love for a lengthy title: The Bliss Album...? (Vibrations Of Love And Anger And The Ponderance Of Live And Existence). Deep.

Number 27 "Gloria" by Van Morrison / John Lee Hooker
Peak: number 22
It didn't feature a sample, but the week's highest new entry did revisit the past, with Van Morrison updating a song he'd first recorded with his former band, Them, in 1964. A collaboration with blues legend John Lee Hooker, this new version of "Gloria" matched the exact peak the original version reached in Australia in 1966.

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

Next week: new chart hits by top 50 regulars R.E.M., Rod Stewart, Diesel and Baby Animals.

Back to: Jun 27, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 11, 1993