Wednesday, 29 August 2018

This Week In 1993: August 29, 1993

Some artists start their careers with massive success and then it's all downhill from there. Others begin big and just keep getting bigger... like the singer who arrived on the ARIA singles chart with the first taste of her third studio album this week in 1993.

"Dreamlover": the song that took Mariah Carey firmly into megastar territory

She'd done very well since debuting in 1990 - including racking up an inordinate amount of US number 1 hits - but things really ramped up at this point. An Australian chart-topping single was still a couple of years away, but she did achieve her best performance to date with the song. And as for the album... well, we'll get to that.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 29, 1993

At number 1 this week in 1993, Billy Joel brought an end to UB40's seven-week reign as "The River Of Dreams/No Man's Land" moved to the top of the chart. 

Off The Chart
Number 95 "Knockin' Da Boots" by H-Town
Peak: number 95
Whether it was because Silk had the sexed up R&B jam market stitched up or H-Town were one vocal harmony group too many for Australia, this US top 3 hit didn't translate locally.

Number 75 "AB Logic" by AB Logic
Peak: number 60
"The Hitman" was still inside the top 50, but this eponymous track from the Belgian Eurodance duo, while just as frenetic, just wasn't in the same league.

Single Of The Week
"Cherub Rock" by The Smashing Pumpkins
Peak: number 87
They'd eventually become standard-bearers for '90s alternative rock, but The Smashing Pumpkins were still warming up in Australia, with this lead single from breakthrough album Siamese Dream giving them a second top 100 appearance. Much bigger hits would come from the album, and in fact it was only because singer Billy Corgan insisted that "Cherub Rock" was issued as the first single that it came out at all. 

New Entries
Number 49 "Get A Haircut" by George Thorogood & The Destroyers
Peak: number 28
Five years after his first-ever incursion into the ARIA top 100, George Thorogood finally landed a hit with his version of a song he'd been playing live for more than two decades. Apparently. What would I know? I'll admit I don't actually have any recollection of this song and am not about to start getting into it now.

Number 41 "Dreamlover" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 7
Compared to her tally of six US number 1 hits at this point, Mariah Carey had enjoyed just two top 10 singles in Australia - debut release "Vision Of Love" and MTV Unplugged remake "I'll Be There", which both reached number 9. She'd also had a number of flops. But with this bouyant lead single from third album Music Box, the multi-octave singer entered a new phase of her career. 
Not only did "Dreamlover" out-perform all her previous singles by reaching number 7, it kicked off a pretty consistent string of quite big hits that stretched until the end of the decade. Based around a sample from "Blind Alley" by The Emotions, the pop/R&B track signalled a slight shift in musical direction for Mariah, and one that proved even more popular back home, where "Dreamlover" spent eight weeks at number 1 - her longest chart-topper until that point. 
Then there was the album itself, which became her first to top the ARIA chart, although not until some way into its 75-week run inside the top 50. I remember constantly selling copies of Music Box well into 1995 at my uni job working in a record store - it just wouldn't die, going 11 times platinum by the time it finally fell off the printed chart. Yes, megastar Mariah was here.

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

Next week: a relative flood of new entries, including only the fourth record to ever debut at number 1 and a new arrival from the band behind the previous single to achieve that feat. Plus, two new entries dealing with one of the seven deadly sins.

Back to: Aug 22, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 5, 1993

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

This Week In 1993: August 22, 1993

There are some songs you know will be hits eventually. All it takes is the right version by the right performer at the right time - like the remake that debuted on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993.

Big hat, big hit for Dannii Minogue this week in 1993

For the singer in question, it was her biggest single since her debut offering three years earlier, while for the song itself, it became a long overdue chart success in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 22, 1993

This week in 1993, another cover version spent its seventh and final week at number 1. "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" by UB40 surpassed "Are You Gonna Go My Way" to become the longest-running chart-topper of the year (not including 1992's hangover from Whitney Houston). But not for long...

Off The Chart
Number 100 "You've Got A Friend" by Bass Culture featuring Kate Ceberano
Peak: number 100
On paper, this had the makings of a massive hit - well-known song, big-name guest vocalist, early-'90s pop/dance production. For some reason the cover of the Carole King classic bombed.

Number 99 "Mysterious Ways" by James Blundell
Peak: number 84
Speaking of covers, this wasn't a version of the U2 song of the same name - perhaps that would've been interesting! - but the lead single from James Blundell's Touch Of Water album.

Number 90 "Imaginary Girl" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 82
Following a career-best two consecutive top 20 singles, the sixth track lifted from Cut established Hunters & Collectors had milked the album of all potential hits.

New Entries
Number 49 "Tease Me" by Chaka Demus & Pliers
Peak: number 5
The great reggae conspiracy of 1993 continued with the arrival of a new Caribbean hit from the duo comprised of DJ/producer John Taylor (aka Chaka Demus) and singer Everton Bonner (yep, that'd be Pliers' real name). Fresh off its top 3 placing in the UK, breakthrough hit "Tease Me" reached almost as high in Australia for the pair of Jamaicans.

Number 43 "Right By Your Side" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 43
"Stone Cold" had ensured Jimmy Barnes' track record of landing one top 5 hit from each of his studio albums all the way back to For The Working Class Man was maintained with Heat, which initially looked as if it was going to buck the trend. Naturally, there had to be a follow-up, and this similarly downtempo fourth single from his first album to miss the number 1 spot made a lot of sense given Heat's rockier tracks hadn't quite connected. Not to be confused with 1988's "I'm Still On Your Side", "Right By Your Side" is a song I have absolutely no memory of - and its brief top 50 run would suggest I'm not alone in that.

Number 37 "This Is It" by Dannii Minogue
Peak: number 13
It seemed like I'd been hearing "This Is It" all decade before it became Dannii Minogue's triumphant return to the upper reaches of the ARIA chart. I'd bought an earlier cover version of the 1976 Melba Moore tune (never originally a hit in Australia) by Ruth Campbell in 1992, but that had also flopped locally. At the start of 1992, Toni Pearen had performed the song in a Channel 10 promo but never released it commercially, debuting later in the year with "In Your Room". Finally, Dannii tried her hand at the joyous pop tune and it became one of her most successful singles locally.
A move away from the American-influenced pop/R&B with which she'd launched her music career, Dannii's take on "This Is It" was her third remake in a row to make the top 50 (following "Jump To The Beat" and "Baby Love"), but it actually came in the wake of two less than successful singles - a version of The Jacksons' "Show You The Way To Go", which peaked outside the top 100, and the D-Mob-produced "Love's On Every Corner", which wasn't even released locally. "This Is It" got things right back on track for Dannii.
As well as being a great version of a fantastic pop song, "This Is It" is also memorable for its music video, which featured Dannii frolicking on the beach with then-boyfriend and future-husband Julian McMahon (and all his chest hair). Always a risky move to incorporate a real-life partner into a music video (see also: "Jenny From The Block" by Jennifer Lopez and The Veronicas' "This Love"), the clip was ripe for sending up... and so it was. Still, there was something infectious about seeing Dannii wearing her heart on her ruffled sleeve and the public clearly connected with her in a way they hadn't in quite a while.

Number 21 "Rain" by Madonna
Peak: number 5
After the disappointing performance of her previous two singles, Madonna was back where she belonged - in the ARIA top 5 - with the fifth single (and second highest charting release) from Erotica. The least sexually charged track to come from the album, "Rain" had much greater success than you'd expect a single released at this stage of an album's lifespan to have, although it's likely the very fact that it wasn't another "Justify My Love", "Erotica" or "Bad Girl" had something to do with its broader appeal. We weren't quite done with Erotica yet, with one more single to come in Australia to coincide with Madonna's first tour here (and the first concert I ever attended) later in the year.

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

Next week: the point at which a music star turned supernova, with the debut of the lead single from an album of which I personally sold a stack of copies.

Back to: Aug 15, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 29, 1993

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

This Week In 1993: August 15, 1993

Back in 1993 when the release of a new album wasn't preceded by a dripfeed of tracks in the weeks prior, getting the order of singles right was crucial in setting up a successful album campaign. And no one knew that better than Janet Jackson, whose lead single from her then-current album had given her the first Australian chart-topper of her career.

Things might have been very different if Janet Jackson had gone with "If" as lead single

As she arrived with the album's second single this week in 1993, it was worth reflecting what might have happened if the order of the two songs coming out had been reversed, as was mooted at one point. I guess we'll never know...

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 15, 1993

Earning themselves a chart-topping double this week in 1993 were UB40 who remained at number 1 for a sixth week with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" and debuted at the top with album Promises And Lies

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Sometimes" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 99
"You Were There" had briefly put Southern Sons back on the radar, but it was back to the chart doldrums for this next single lifted from the Nothing But The Truth album.

Number 90 "A Prayer For Jane" by Jo-Beth Taylor
Peak: number 61
A couple of years after frothy pop confection "99 Reasons", the Australia's Funniest Home Video Show host tried to get her music career back on track with this song written about a friend who'd committed suicide.

Number 75 "Girl U For Me" by Silk
Peak: number 57
While "Freak Me" was lodged firmly at number 3, this nowhere near as good (or as racy) follow-up, a US top 30 single, peaked just outside the top 50.

Single Of The Week
"Something In Your Eyes" by Bell Biv DeVoe
Peak: number 73
Like Silk, fellow R&B/hip-hop group Bell Biv DeVoe had seen better days on the ARIA chart, namely with top 20 hit "Gangsta", which had spent 20 weeks inside the top 50. Australia seemingly skipped over "Above The Rim", the lead single from the trio's second album, Hootie Mack, for this LA Reid & Babyface (and Daryl Simmons and BBD themselves) production - a slinky, sexy number at the opposite end of the R&B spectrum from "Gangsta". A top 40 single in the US, it failed to connect here.

New Entries
Number 50 "Sweat" by Usura
Peak: number 48
Usura's album, Open Your Mind, featured two tracks called "Sweat" - one, a six-minute song that sampled U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" and did little else; and another called "Sweat (Soakin' Wet)" which was a much more commercial slice of Italo house. The latter was released as the follow-up to "Open Your Mind" and poked its head just inside the ARIA top 50. To confuse matters, the CD single was titled just "Sweat" with the main track subtitled "Soakin' Wet mix edit".

Number 39 "If" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 18
As "That's The Way Love Goes" spent its 14th and final week inside the top 5 (before tumbling rapidly out of the top 50 due, no doubt, to the single's deletion), the second of a mammoth eight hits from janet debuted at the other end of the top 50. Closer in style to previous tracks like "Rhythm Nation" and "State Of The World" than the laidback "That's The Way..." had been, "If" was earmarked by Janet Jackson's new label, Virgin, as the album's lead release - but she had other ideas. Keeping the club-oriented, crunching guitar-featuring song back for second single, Janet embraced her sexy side in both the song's lyrics ("If I was your girl/Oh the things I'd do to you") and accompanying music video. Nowhere near as big as "That's The Way..." - the album had already been out for a couple of months, after all - "If" was the first of four singles from janet that would make the ARIA top 20 over the coming months.

Number 33 "Bad Boys" by Inner Circle
Peak: number 25
Another week, another new reggae hit - and this week's entry came from a band who jumped into the top 10 with the other song called "Sweat" on the chart. First recorded by Inner Circle in 1987, a re-recorded version of "Bad Boys" had been used since 1989 as the theme song to long-running ride-along factual series Cops and, in the wake of the success of "Sweat (A La La La La Long)", was re-released and finally became a hit in its own right. Later to be featured in the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence movies of the same name, "Bad Boys" has become one of those songs with a much greater legacy than its chart peak would suggest, with the chorus hook becoming a pop culture reference point for people finding themselves in trouble with the law.

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

Next week: yet another of 1993's big reggae hits arrive, while an Aussie pop star returns with her third top 50 cover version in a row.

Back to: Aug 8, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 22, 1993

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

This Week In 1993: August 8, 1993

What a difference three years makes. In 1990, countless R&B songs that had been big hits in the US made little to no impact in Australia. By 1993, even the whiff of a new jack swing beat or four-part vocal harmonies was enough to send a song charging into the ARIA top 50.

Johnny Gill finally rubbed Australian audiences up the right way in 1993

This week in 1993, one artist who'd been unfortunate not to see his US top 10 singles translate locally made up for lost time with his first (and only) Australia hit arriving on the singles chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 8, 1993

There was no change at the top this week in 1993, with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" by UB40 spending its fifth week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Ditty" by Paperboy
Peak: number 97
I have no recollection of this Grammy-nominated US top 10 single, which may be down to the fact that this was as far as Paperboy (real name: Mitchell Johnson) got in Australia.

Number 93 "Mr Moon" by Headless Chickens
Peak: number 93
Big in New Zealand, with three top 10 hits under their belt already, Headless Chickens' blend of rock and electronic influences started to find an audience locally.

Number 92 "Believe In Me" by Utah Saints
Peak: number 92
Like its two predecessors, this latest UK top 10 was packed with samples (The Human League, Crown Heights Affair, Sylvester) but couldn't live up to the success of "Something Good".

Number 90 "Back To My Roots" by RuPaul
Peak: number 90
Iconic debut single "Supermodel (You Better Work)" hadn't reached the top 100 but this follow-up by the future Drag Race host, originally titled "Black To My Roots", peeked inside.

Number 85 "In The Heart Of A Woman" by Billy Ray Cyrus
Peak: number 77
Firmly establishing that "Achy Breaky Heart" had been a one-off, this lead single from Billy Ray Cyrus's second album bombed out here and in the US, where it only got one place higher.

Number 66 "Bullet In The Head" by Rage Against The Machine
Peak: number 53
Here's another act failing to live up to past glories. As "Killing In The Name" continued to rise inside the top 10, Rage Against The Machine stalled just outside the top 50 with their second single.

New Entries
Number 49 "The Floor" by Johnny Gill
Peak: number 6
"Rub You The Right Way". "My, My, My". "Fairweather Friend". They were all excellent singles - two of them US top 10 hits - from Johnny Gill's self-titled previous album that had failed to make an impact in Australia. But the New Edition member made up for it with this lead release from fourth album Provocative. Like "Rub You...", "The Floor" was a slice of Jam & Lewis-produced R&B that had smash written all over it. Interestingly, although "The Floor" made the ARIA top 10, it missed the mark in America, only reaching number 56. Johnny wouldn't return to the top 50 under his own steam, but we would see him on the chart again in 1996 as part of a six-piece New Edition.

Number 44 "Come Undone" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 19
"Ordinary World" had been their best performing single in years, and the Duran Duran comeback continued with this second release from "The Wedding Album", which gave the British band consecutive top 20 hits for the first time since 1985's "A View To A Kill" and "Notorious" the following year. Continuing the more mature sound of their previous single, "Come Undone" evolved from a track Nick Rhodes and Duran Duran's then-guitarist Warren Cuccurullo thought might end up for a side-project they were considering, but instead became a last-minute inclusion on the album - and the band's last major worldwide hit.

Number 35 "Three Little Pigs" by Green Jelly
Peak: number 6
Combining two of my least favourite things - comedy records and heavy metal - this bastardised nursery rhyme was exactly the type of thing that would become a massive hit. American band Green Jelly had been going since 1981 (and still exist today), but with the success of this single had to change their name from their previous moniker, Green Jello, after a lawsuit from Kraft Foods, the makers of Jell-o. And that is all I have to say about this one-hit wonder, of whom my more rock-oriented readers will no doubt have fonder memories.

Number 31 "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes
Peak: number 2
Here's another big single I was none too enamoured with, although in the case of the only big hit for 4 Non Blondes, I can actually sit through the whole thing without needing to turn it off. Titled "What's Up?" despite not featuring those lyrics to avoid confusion with Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?", the track was written by frontwoman Linda Perry, who after the relatively rapid demise of this band, went on to become one of the most in-demand songwriters of the 2000s thanks to tracks like "Get The Party Started" for Pink and Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful".

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

Next week: two acts still inside the top 10 register another hit on the top 50, including a song that'd be used as the theme to a long-running observational TV series.

Back to: Aug 1, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 15, 1993

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

This Week In 1993: August 1, 1993

Music acts remake songs for all sorts of reasons. This week in 1993, Australia's favourite British boy band debuted on the ARIA chart with a track they seemingly covered purely because the lyrics and their name went hand-in-hand.

East-end boys took on "West End Girls"

As remakes go, it was a wholly unneccessary update, but it did keep the group in the singles chart and allow them to whack out a re-release of their debut album (something they'd have to do all over again with their next single).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 1, 1993

Another cover version was still at number 1 this week in 1993. UB40's "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" spent its fourth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" by Boyz II Men
Peak: number 100
Originally released after "Motownphilly", this former Billboard number 2 remake of the 1975 single by GC Cameron (from film Cooley High) finally cracked the chart locally. Seems most BIIM fans already owned the a cappella track on album Cooleyhighharmony, which had spent several weeks in the top 5 at the start of the year.

Number 80 "Too Young To Die" by Jamiroquai
Peak: number 53
Debut single "When You Gonna Learn" had just missed the top 100 but this follow-up almost took the acid jazz group into the top 50, somewhere they'd finally reach in 1996 with "Cosmic Girl".

Number 72 "Run To You" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 72
Expecting a fourth hit off Bodyguard was amibitious, and this latest ballad, which had originally been written as a break-up song before the lyrics were changed, performed accordingly.

New Entries
Number 50 "Love Is" by Vanessa Williams / Brian McKnight
Peak: number 49
Creeping in to the bottom of the top 50, this sophisticated ballad duet made it three simultaneous hits from the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack (with singles by Jeremy Jordan and Shanice still on the chart). For Vanessa, it was her first single to chart since number 1 "Save The Best For Last", while for Brian, it was his breakthrough release, both here and in the US, with nothing from his 1992 self-titled debut album having taken off up until this point.

Number 46 "I Don't Wanna Fight" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 39
Keeping things on a sophisticated tip (well, compared to the raucous top 50 hits she'd scored in recent years) was Tina Turner with the lead single from What's Love Got To Do With It, her soundtrack album from the biopic of the same name, in which Angela Bassett played her. A pleasant enough tune, it was co-written by Lulu, who had something of a pop renaissance in 1993 thanks to this and her guest vocal on upcoming Take That remake "Relight My Fire".

Number 33 "The River Of Dreams / No Man's Land" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 1
The last time Billy Joel had scored a big hit on the ARIA chart, it was with 1989's angry history lesso,n "We Didn't Start The Fire", which peaked at number 2. The Piano Man went one better with the (almost) title track of 12th album River Of Dreams, which became his first chart-topper here in a decade. Theoretically part of a double A-side release (although I never did hear "No Man's Land" at the time), "The River Of Dreams" came to Billy in his sleep - he woke up singing it - but he initially resisted recording a gospel-influenced song. Bet he's glad he changed his mind.

Number 27 "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)" by Sub Sub featuring Melanie Williams
Peak: number 11
Not only was this debut single by UK act Sub Sub (with Melanie Williams on vocals) one of the best dance tracks of the year, but it was one of the best songs of any genre of 1993. Based around a sample from disco tune "Good Morning Sunshine" by Revelation, "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)" was under three minutes of pop perfection. Unfortunately, the band's follow-up singles, "Respect" and the exquisite "Angel" received next to no attention, and Sub Sub traded in dance for indie rock when they transformed into Doves later in the decade.

Number 13 "West End Girls" by East 17
Peak: number 4
It was kind of inevitable that boy band East 17, who hailed from East London, would tackle Pet Shop Boys' breakthrough single, "West End Girls", if for no other reason than to have a situation where East End boys were singing/rapping about West End girls. There wasn't really any other cause to revisit the 1985 hit (1986 in Australia) and the East 17 version certainly didn't add much to the original. 
Once again, Australia skipped over a single by the quartet that had been released in the UK - in this case, "Slow It Down" - to leap straight from "Deep" to "West End Girls", and the strategy worked, with the cover giving the boys a third straight top 10 hit locally. Not included on the original version of debut album Walthamstow, "West End Girls" was added to the tracklisting for a re-release when it seemed like all potential singles had been exhausted. Towards the end of 1993, however, another original Walthamstow track would be given a radical makeover to emerge as the album's final single (requiring another re-release). Before then, "Gold" would finally be issued in Australia and peak at number 101.

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

Next week: two of my least favourite songs from 1993, plus the biggest Australian hit from the man who replaced Bobby Brown in New Edition.

Back to: Jul 25, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 8, 1993