Wednesday, 31 October 2018

This Week In 1993: October 31, 1993

What do "Take On Me" by a-ha, Bros's "I Owe You Nothing" and "Creep" by Radiohead all have in common? Very little, but they were all unsuccessful the first time they were released.

"Creep": the song Radiohead probably wished hadn't ended up as a hit

That's right, the song that launched Radiohead to world fame and was eventually disavowed by the band flopped when it came out in 1992. As we all know, it was a different story in 1993...

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

And after eight insufferable weeks, there was a different story at the top of the ARIA singles chart as "Mr Vain" by Culture Beat took over at number 1 from He Who Must Not Be Named. 

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Heal It Up" by Concrete Blonde
Peak: number 86
Not even a harder edge to suit the rock climate was enough to send this lead single from Mexican Moon into the top 50. This would be the band's final top 100 appearance.

Number 93 "Last Train" by Christine Anu / Paul Kelly
Peak: number 93
Even Paul Kelly went reggae in 1993. This, the debut single for Christine Anu, was a reworking of "Last Train To Heaven", which had appeared on Paul's 1986 album, Gossip

Number 91 "At The End Of The Day / Backbone" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 60
Releasing a song mostly sung in French as one half of the second single from Shaved And Dangerous was a bold move. Not surprisingly, it failed to make the top 50.

Number 68 "I'm The Only One" by Melissa Etheridge
Peak: number 58
Just as American finally got on board the Melissa Etheridge bandwagon, sending this Yes I Am single into the top 10, Australia's love affair with the recently out and proud singer seemed to have ended.

Also, "Dreams" by Cranberries debuted this week, spending two weeks on the top 100 and peaking at number 83, but it'd be back and do much better in 1994.

New Entries
Number 47 "Two Steps Behind" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 33
A year earlier, it had featured as a B-side on "Make Love Like A Man", but in 1993, "Two Steps Behind" graduated to A-side status when it was released as the lead single from Def Leppard's B-sides collection, Retro Active. The song, which also came in an "electric version", was also included on the soundtrack to Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero. For some reason, "Two Steps Behind" was re-released internationally in 1994 but didn't return to the top 100 as it did in some other countries.

Number 45 "Sail Down To Australia" by Genevieve Davis
Peak: number 38
Where were you on September 23, 1993? In a show of patriotism, I was at Circular Quay waiting to hear whether Sydney had won the big to host the 2000 Olympic Games. Apparently, Genevieve Davis performed this song at the festivities, although all I really remember is Kerri Anne Kennerley telling the tense crowd, who expected a Beijing win, not to go nuts and trash Chinatown if we lost - or words to that effect. That, and fronting up to a 9am uni class having stayed out all night. Anyway, enough about me. Here's Genevieve with her only chart appearance...

Number 40 Nuff Vibes by Apache Indian
Peak: number 34
Just what the ARIA chart needed in 1993 - another reggae hit, this time from British Indian artist Apache Indian (real name: Steven Kapur). The lead track on the Nuff Vibes EP was the "Oh Carolina"-esque "Boom Shack-A-Lak", which didn't mirror its UK top 5 success locally. Reggae fatigue perhaps?

Number 39 "Creep" by Radiohead
Peak: number 6
It's hard to imagine "Creep" not being successful, so ubiquitous did it become in the mid-'90s but it sank without much of a trace in the UK when it was released as Radiohead's debut single in September 1992. Slowly, the song started picking up steam in different corners of the globe, and a UK re-release a year later saw it reach the top 10 there. A month after that, Australia got on board and the song written about a girl with whom singer Thom Yorke was obssessed did the same here - the only time a Radiohead single did anywhere near that well locally. Due to the disproportionate success of the song - and because they're a little bit selfish, if you ask me - the band refused to play it live for many years because they were sick of it, although now wheel it out every so often. 

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

Next week: a triumphant return for one of hip-hop's biggest acts, while two classic Aussie rock acts struggle with their latest efforts.

Back to: Oct 24, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 7, 1993

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

This Week In 1993: October 24, 1993

From Dame Edna to Priscilla, Australia has always liked a bit of camp. And there was no camper song in 1993 than one of the new entries on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993.

Pet Shop Boys went east to "Go West"

It was a remake of a track originally recorded by the group behind disco classics "Y.M.C.A." and "In The Navy" by a duo who, although normally less flamboyant, knew how to camp it up when the occasion called for it. And it became their biggest hit in a couple of years.

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

For the last of eight interminable weeks, the biggest hit in Australia was "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf.

Off The Chart
Number 86 "Alive And Brilliant" by Deborah Conway
Peak: number 64
Her solo career had got off to a good beginning in 1991, but the same couldn't be said of the former Do-Re-Mi singer's second album, Bitch Epic, with this lead single missing the top 50.

Number 76 "Disco Inferno" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 56
This disco classic - which surprisingly only peaked at number 32 for The Trammps in Australia in 1978 - was covered by Tina Turner for the soundtrack to What's Love Got To Do With It.

New Entries
Number 48 "Rubberband Girl" by Kate Bush
Peak: number 39
Last seen almost topping the ARIA chart with her remake of "Rocket Man" at the very start of 1992, Kate Bush returned with The Red Shoes, her first full album since 1989's The Sensual World. Beating the peak of that previous album's title track, "Rubberband Girl" took Kate into the top 40 for a final time. Well, with a new song. Her chart-topping debut single, "Wuthering Heights" popped its head back onto the chart in 2012 thanks to digital sales.

Number 47 "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots
Peak: number 47
Next up, the first top 50 appearance by grunge band Stone Temple Pilots, and if you'd asked me before today to sing "Plush", I would've said I didn't know how it went. But that would've been a lie - listening to it again now, it's incredibly familiar, although I think I always thought it was called "Tomorrow". Like "Black Hole Sun" and "Jeremy", it's one of the few grunge songs I like - and although "Plush" wasn't the biggest of hits in Australia, Scott Weiland and co. would make up for that in 1994.

Number 41 "Somebody Dance With Me" by DJ BoBo
Peak: number 13
Now this is more my speed - a palate-cleasning taste of Eurodance from the Swiss performer born Peter Baumann. The Rockwell-sampling "Somebody Dance With Me" was DJ BoBo's breakthrough single, massive across continental Europe and almost a top 10 hit in Australia. Featuring vocals from female singer Emel Aykanat, it stuck to the he raps, she sings format favoured by the genre and would be the first of three top 50 hits for him locally.

Number 31 "Peach" by Prince
Peak: number 28
Here's a man with way more than three hits in Australia, and for the first time, many of them were collected on best of collections The Hits 1, The Hits 2 and The Hits/The B-Sides, released by Warner Bros with as little input from Prince as possible thanks to the strained relationship between artist and record company. Having only ever owned Diamonds And Pearls previously, I was thrilled to get my hands on a greatest hits collection by Prince and shelled out for the three-disc set only to be annoyed by the inclusion of a) non-7" versions of songs like "Alphabet St" and b) too many new and live tracks, including previously unreleased single "Peach", which was OK, I guess. I did end up buying the "Peach" CD single that was released in Australia for the bonus tracks - three earlier hits not included on the best of release.

Number 27 "Go West" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 10
Now if anyone knows how to put together a retrospective it's Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, but in 1993, they were between 1991's singles collection, Discography (every single in order in its 7" version), and 1995's comprehensive B-sides set, Alternative. Released as the second single from Very, "Go West" was a camp-as-you-like cover of a lesser-known (especially in Australia) Village People song from 1979. Originally recorded by Pet Shop Boys in 1992 and intended as a stand-alone single, the remake ended up being held back (and remixed) for Very and followed "Can You Forgive Her?" in preceeding the album. With its male chorus and key change, "Go West" was Pet Shop Boys at their most over-the-top and it took them back into the ARIA top 10 for the first time since their last cover version, "Where The Streets Have No Name (Can't Take My Eyes Off You)" in 1991. 

Number 22 "Go" by Pearl Jam
Peak: number 22
Our second grunge debut this week was the first single lifted from Pearl Jam's second album, Vs. And once again, it's a song I didn't think I knew until it hit the chorus - but unlike "Plush", I can't say "Go" does anything for me. And I may not be alone in this since the song didn't proceed any further from this high-flying debut.

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

Next week: one of the biggest alternative anthems of the decade debuts, and just when you thought you'd seen the last reggae hit of 1993, another one arrives.

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

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

This Week In 1993: October 17, 1993

When it comes to chart success, some artists have the misfortune of being ahead of their time. Although great for their legacy, it doesn't help when they're trying to sell music at that time.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince finally exploded in Australia in 1993

This week in 1993, a hip-hop duo that'd been ahead of the curve when it came to Australia's taste for rap with their earlier releases debuted on the ARIA chart with the single that'd finally give them a local hit, going all the way to number 1. 

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

Still at number 1 this week in 1993 was "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf, which spent a seventh week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "My Sister" by Juliana Hatfield Three
Peak: number 99
Rather than being ahead of its time, this jangly single from Juliana Hatfield's first album fronting a trio sounded about two years late - I can't help but think it would've fared better back when The Clouds and The Hummingbirds were popular.

Number 96 "I Wanna Love You" by Jade
Peak: number 96
A year after it was released in the US, R&B trio Jade's debut single reached the ARIA top 100, but couldn't improve on the performance of prior minor hit "Don't Walk Away".

Number 87 "Check Yo Self" by Ice Cube featuring Das EFX
Peak: number 80
The first top 100 solo appearance by the former N.W.A. member featured hip-hop duo Das EFX and, in remixed form, featured a sample from "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five.

Number 81 "Breakadawn" by De La Soul
Peak: number 73
Another hip-hop act that had mostly been ahead of its time as far as Australian success was concerned (apart from one almost novelty smash) sampled Michael Jackson on this lead single from third album Buhloone Mindstate.

Single Of The Week
"Big Scary Animal" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 56
Up until now, Belinda Carlisle had always been able to rely on landing at least one big hit per album, but that all changed with her fifth long-player, Real. Possibly suffering due to its terrible title, "Big Scary Animal", which was co-written by fellow Go-Go Charlotte Caffey, became Belinda's first lead single to miss the ARIA top 50 despite having a big, catchy chorus to rival many of her other hits.

New Entries
Number 49 "What Is Love" by Haddaway
Peak: number 12
I'm actually quite surprised to recall that the debut single by Eurodance artist Nestor Haddaway didn't reach the ARIA top 10. A massive hit across Europe - and one of those songs that has lived on in the decades since - "What Is Love" even did better in the US (peaking one place higher) than in Australia. But sometimes chart peaks don't tell the full story, with the much-covered and -sampled track spending exactly half a year inside the top 50 and taking up residency in the top 15 throughout most of summer '93-'94.

Number 48 "I Remember / Lost" by The Badloves
Peak: number 48
When we saw "Lost" just miss the top 50 back in May, I commented that I was sure it had also been a bigger hit - and it was. Kind of. When follow-up "I Remember" also looked like it was going to peak outside the top 50, it was repackaged with "Lost" as a bonus track and together the two songs edged just onto the printed chart for a single week. I have no recollection of "I Remember" whatsoever and I suspect the single's presence here had everything to do with the slow burn success of "Lost".

Number 37 "Boom! Shake The Room" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Peak: number 1
In the late '80s, when rap hits were few and far between in Australia, Will Smith and Jeff Townes were unlucky not to have done better with singles like "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" and "Parents Just Don't Understand" despite both being the kind of songs that would've been huge a couple of years later when the likes of MC Hammer, Young MC and Tone Lōc enjoyed major chart action. Then, when they shifted to a less gimmicky sound in the the early 90s with tracks like "Summertime" and "Ring My Bell", the Grammy-winning duo continued to miss the top 50. 
Finally in 1993, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (the latter of whom was by now a well-established sitcom star as well as a rapper) made up for previous disappointments by going all the way to number 1 in Australia with "Boom! Shake The Room" from what would end up being their fifth and final album, Code Red. Featuring a harder sound than any of the songs already mentioned, it was the right song at the right time as far as Australia was concerned. Although the duo went their separate ways when the album had been milked of follow-up singles, Will would be back at the top of the chart in a few years' time.

Number 34 "Distant Sun" by Crowded House
Peak: number 23
As on their last album, Woodface, Crowded House were once again a four-piece, but this time it was Mark Hart joining the permanent line-up for Together Alone, the band's fourth release. Lead single "Distant Sun" had everything you could hope for in a Crowded House song, including a big, sing-alongable chorus, and while it failed to crack the top 20, the album was another number 2 success.

Number 29 "Right Here (Human Nature Remix)" by SWV
Peak: number 20
Our second song this week to make use of an old Michael Jackson track, "Right Here" in its original form had been Sisters With Voices' debut release in 1992. A US top 30 single, it was given a new lease of life following even bigger American hits "I'm So Into You" and "Weak" when remixer Teddy Riley fused it with Thriller single "Human Nature". The combination was perfect and saw "Right Here" become a number 2 hit in the US (backed by "Downtown") and the trio's only significant success in Australia.

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

Next week: one of the biggest artists in the world releases a career retrospective, while a pop duo also look back in time and revisit a song first recorded by Village People.

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

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

This Week In 1993: October 10, 1993

One number 1. Three number 2s. Three number 3s. Nine other top 20 singles. INXS had enjoyed an illustrious career on the ARIA top 50 in the '80s and early '90s. And this week in 1993, they added one more top 20 hit to that tally.

It was the end of an era for INXS in 1993

But it would be very much a last hurrah for the world-conquering Australian rock band, who never returned to the top 20 during singer Michael Hutchence's lifetime. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 10, 1993

There was no change at number 1 this week in 1993 as Meat Loaf stayed put with "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" for a sixth week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Delicate" by Terence Trent D'Arby featuring Des'ree
Peak: number 99
Although a top 20 hit in the UK, this third "Sign Your Name"-ish single from Symphony Or Damn failed to connect locally, barely making the top 100.

Number 93 "Bi" by Living Colour
Peak: number 79
Two weeks after "Nothingness" made the top 100, this more memorable - thanks to its playful lyric - single from Living Colour's Stain album took its place on the chart.

Number 92 "Satellite" by Icehouse
Peak: number 83
While INXS still had one more big hit in them, this other Australian band that'd been successful since the early '80s faltered with the lead single from Big Wheel and never managed to make the top 50 again.

Number 82 "Heaven Help" by Lenny Kravitz
Peak: number 76
After back-to-back top 10 singles, this beautiful ballad written by Gerry DeVeaux and Terry Britten was an unexpected flop for Lenny Kravitz, but he wasn't quite done with the Are You Gonna Go My Way album.

Number 70 Sideshow by The Cure
Peak: number 63
This was an EP of live tracks (including an instrumental intro to their show) to coincide with the release of concert album Show - one of two live albums released by The Cure in late 1993.

New Entries
Number 48 "Masterplan" by Diesel
Peak: number 42
He'd managed four top 20 hits from debut solo album Hepfidelity but it looked like Diesel was only going to manage the one from follow-up The Lobbyist when this second single tanked in the 40s - and, as we'll see in coming months, that would end up being the case. I can see why "Masterplan" wasn't one of Johnny/Mark's better performing singles - it felt languid and meandering compared to the urgency of his most successful tracks.

Number 43 "Send Me A Lover" by Taylor Dayne
Peak: number 42
Here's another song that stalled at number 42 from a singer who was sometimes used to doing much better, especially recently with her version of "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love", which celebrated its 18th week in the top 50 this week. As she often did, Taylor switched from dancefloor-friendly party track to big ballad with this second single from Soul Dancing - a song that had previously been recorded by Celine Dion during the sessions for her 1992 self-titled album (and would end up being released in 1994). I can't say I've ever been a massive fan of "Send Me A Lover" - too slow, too melodramatic - but it did much better than the two subsequent singles from the album, which missed the top 100 completely.

Number 39 "Somewhere" by Efua
Peak: number 16
In a week of former hitmakers failing to live up to former glories, it's fitting that the new entry that would end up being most successful was from a newcomer. Somewhat of an oddity with its bathroom gossip monologue verse and nursery rhyme-ish chorus, "Somewhere" was the only hit for Efua Baker, who, as well as being a dancer, model and fitness expert, is married to Soul II Soul frontman Jazzie B.

Number 35 "The Best (Grand Final Edition)" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 35 (original peak: number 4)
Technically a re-entry, but it's worth covering this just to ask how many times we had to put up with this song on the chart? Not content with having subjected us to a new version of "The Best" with Jimmy Barnes in 1992, Tina Turner's 1989 smash returned to the top 50 for a three-week run in the wake of her performance at 1993's NRL grand final - the singer having had a lucrative relationship with the football code for some years.

Number 17 "The Gift" by INXS
Peak: number 16
A brand new INXS song usually meant a high-flying chart debut. "What You Need" had debuted at number 5, "Need You Tonight" and "Heaven Sent" both entered at 13, while "Suicide Blonde" arrived at number 6. Slightly down from those positions but still an instant top 20 hit, "The Gift" kicked off the Full Moon, Dirty Hearts era. An angry blast of rock, the song wasn't the most commercial thing the band had ever released, which may explain why it only climbed one place higher before departing the top 50 relatively swiftly. The song did, however, prove that INXS were moving their sound forward in an era when angsty grunge was dominating. But did anyone want INXS to go grunge? Charts and sales figures would suggest not as many people as had previously bought their music, and this would end up being the band's final top 20 single while Michael Hutchence was alive.

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

Next week: another massive local band returns with a new album, plus three 1993 classics - one Eurodance anthem, one hip-hop chart-topper and one R&B mash-up.

Back to: Oct 3, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 17, 1993

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

This Week In 1993: October 3, 1993

Things change quickly in pop music. One minute you're landing hits and selling a stack of singles, the next you're barely making the top 40 while new acts are taking your spot at the top of the chart.

Urban Cookie Collective had the key and the secret to one of 1993's biggest dance hits

This week in 1993, the latter situation faced two previously quite successful local acts. Meanwhile, the week's biggest new entry was from a brand new UK dance group.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 3, 1993

The week's biggest song of all was still "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf - proof that music is also cyclical. You can be up and then down, but chances are if you wait long enough you'll be back up again.

Off The Chart
Number 92 "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 71
The success of "Everybody Hurts" had sent Automatic For The People hurtling back towards the top 5, which probably hurt the chances of this exquisite fifth single from the album.

Number 87 "World (The Price Of Love)" by New Order
Peak: number 87
There was no reason why this song - one of my favourites from 1993 - didn't do better. Even if fans had the album, the Perfecto remix was worth shelling out for the single.

Number 83 "Condemnation" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 78
Another disappointing performance by one of my all-time favourite bands, this latest from Songs Of Faith And Devotion was probably too sombre to do much better locally.

Number 66 "What's Up Doc (Can We Rock?)" by Fu-Schnickens with Shaquille O'Neal
Peak: number 59
The musical debut of NBA player Shaquille O'Neal, this catchy track from the hip-hop trio's second album seemed like the sort of song Australia was finally getting into in 1993, but fell short of the top 50.

New Entries
Number 48 "Heartbeat" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 36
Just a year-and-a-half after they took their debut single, "Take It From Me" all the way to the top of the ARIA chart, Australia's premier girl group hit a major speedbump with this lead single from second album It's Up To You!, which spent a solitary week inside the top 40. Another lightweight pop tune - with key change - that wouldn't have sounded out of place on their debut album, "Heartbeat" was probably not enough of a step forward to keep pace with their maturing fan base, which was something they'd remedy in 1994. I'm not sure if I've ever watched the music video for "Heartbeat" before but it's one-take feel (although I'm sure there were some edits in there) reminds me a lot of the clip for "Wannabe" - yet again, Girlfriend proving to be ahead of their time.

Number 44 "Going Down" by Jon Stevens
Peak: number 39
Australians could've been mistaken for thinking this was Jon Stevens' debut as a solo artist, but even if we discount his contributions to the 1992 revivial of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Noiseworks frontman had actually released a couple of albums in the early '80s and enjoyed notable chart success in his homeland of New Zealand. "Going Down" was, however, his first Australian top 50 hit as a recording artist in his own right. Reminiscent of the type of rock-meets-blues-meets-funk that Diesel peddled, the song probably about as successful as it deserved.

Number 36 "The Key: The Secret" by Urban Cookie Collective
Peak: number 4
With a riff that borrowed from "Hell's Party" by Glam, "The Key: The Secret" became one of the biggest club tracks of the year and briefly made Britain's Urban Cookie Collective one of the hottest dance acts. Masterminded by Rohan Heath and with vocals by the late Diane Charlemagne, the song has been revisited and remixed over the years, but the joyous simplicity of the original has never been bettered. Fun fact: apparently it's about taking magic mushrooms.

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

Next week: one of Australia's most successful musical exports make a triumphant return to the top 20, while a bunch of previously successful acts struggle.

Back to: Sep 26, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 10, 1993