Wednesday, 27 February 2019

This Week In 1994: February 27, 1994

It's weeks like this that make looking back at the ARIA top 50 singles chart from 1994 enjoyable - six new entries that I (mostly) like and not a gloomy grunge song among them.

Dr Alban and Melodie MC reached the top 5 with the bigger of their two hits

In fact, there was a deluge of (mostly) new dance tracks - some of which were among the biggest hits of the year.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 27, 1994

The biggest hit of the week was another dance track: "Give It Up" by Cut 'n' Move spent its fourth and final week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 90 "Seems Twice" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 90
A fourth and final single from the soon-to-be crowned ARIA Album Of The Year, which would stick around on the albums top 50 until the middle of the year.

Number 88 "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers
Peak: number 67 (original peak: number 58)
Both this remixed version of the 1973 single and the compilation it was taken from, Listen To The Music: The Very Best Of The Doobie Brothers, were released internationally in 1993. Australia took its time to get around to it, and although the single flopped (again), the album went top 10.

New Entries
Number 47 "Without You" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 3
We start off our debuts with a song that's about as far removed from a dance track as you can get - Mariah Carey's glacially paced rendition of "Without You", a song originally recorded by Badfinger and made famous by Nilsson. I've never been a huge fan of this ballad in any of its versions - something about those long-held notes ("I can't liiiiiiiiiiiive") gets on my nerves, just as they do in "All By Myself". But this was always going to be massive, and it actually became Mariah's biggest Australian hit up until this point, taking her into the top 5 for the first time.

Number 40 "One Night In Heaven" by M-People
Peak: number 23
This is more like it. Originally released before "Moving On Up", which was still comfortably in the top 10 this week, "One Night In Heaven" had made no impression in Australia whatsoever first time around. But in the wake of their breakthrough hit, the former UK top 10 single cracked the chart. Although it was the smaller hit both here and in the UK, "One Night In Heaven" is actually my favourite not only of the two but out of M-People's entire catalogue.

Number 37 "Dum Da Dum" by Melodie MC
Peak: number 5
This was kind of irritating, right? Naturally, it was huge. The biggest hit from Swedish Eurodance act Melodie MC (aka Kent Lövgren), "Dum Da Dum" is one of those dance tracks that I kind of like (see also: "The Hitman" by AB Logic and Twenty 4 Seven's "Slave To The Music"), but also find a bit basic. 

Number 26 "Cornflake Girl" by Tori Amos
Peak: number 19
Very much a cult favourite up until this point, Tori Amos enjoyed her commercial breakthrough with this lead single from second album Under The Pink. But it's likely many people had no idea "Cornflake Girl" was about female genital mutilation (I didn't!). Sort of. The song's title was a reference to women who would turn on or betray other women - in the case of genital mutilation in parts of Africa, it is women who take younger girls to have the procedure done. And Tori, who "never was a cornflake girl", sees herself more as a "raisin girl" - someone who is found less frequently, but is open to new ideas. She may not have been a cornflake girl, but Tori was at point a Just Right girl.

Number 25 "Sing Hallelujah" by Dr Alban
Peak: number 5
Back to the clubs, and, like "One Night In Heaven", "Sing Hallelujah" had featured in my personal top 10 for 1993. A top 20 hit in the UK back in April 1993, the anthemic dance tune finally took off in Australia months later, becoming one of the biggest hits of 1994 locally for the Nigerian-born, Swedish-based former dentistry student. To be fair, though, the best things about "Sing Hallelujah" aren't really Dr Alban's mostly indecipherable mutterings - it's all about the piano hook and the gospel choir-sung chorus.

Number 14 "Anything" by Culture Beat
Peak: number 12
On a hot streak, Culture Beat stormed straight into the top 15 with their third smash in a row. The follow-up to "Got To Get It" (which was slowly sliding down the chart), "Anything" kept a fairly frenetic pace and is easily the weakest of the German group's three hits, which may explain why it only progressed a couple more places up the chart, falling just short of giving them a third top 10 in a row. "Anything" was also the last time Culture Beat would be seen on the top 50 - their short burst of success par for the course for most Eurodance acts in the '90s.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:

Next week: another two dance tracks arrive, as does a collaboration between hip-hop's premier all-female act and a group of funky divas.

Back to: Feb 20, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 6, 1994

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

This Week In 1994: February 20, 1994

It's not every week a future number 1 single enters the ARIA chart.

East 17 enjoyed one of the biggest hits by a boy band ever

It's even less common for two chart-toppers to debut in the one week.

Celine Dion finally enjoyed a big solo hit with a remake of... a big hit

But that's what happened this week in 1994 when a big boy band hit and a big ballad both burst into the top 50 on their way to the very top of the chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 20, 1994

Meanwhile, "Give It Up" by Cut 'n' Move, which would end up making way at the top for one of this week's new entries, held down the number 1 spot for a third week. 

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Another Sad Love Song" by Toni Braxton
Peak: number 57
Toni Braxton's Australian chart career got off to a slow start with this LA Reid & Babyface (and Daryl Simmons) production, which would return to the top 100 (but not do any better) once she'd hit the top 50 a couple of times.

Number 99 "The River" by The Tea Party
Peak: number 99
Also hitting the chart for the first time were Canadian rock band The Tea Party with their debut single, which actually came from their second album (but first major label release), Splendor Solis.

Number 96 "Everyday" by Phil Collins
Peak: number 66
In the '80s, this probably would've done much better, but by 1994, this type of adult contemporary soft rock ballad - the second single from Both Sides - just didn't work anymore.

Number 93 "Talk Of The Town" by John Farnham
Peak: number 61
Speaking of sounding dated... this dinky, country-flavoured little number by Farnsey felt just as out of place with what was happening in music in the mid-'90s.

Number 92 "Berlin Chair" by You Am I
Peak: number 73
It would go on to be one of the most popular local songs of the decade, but You Am I's top 100 debut made a rather underwhelming impression on the chart upon release.

Number 84 "You Can't Make Love Without A Soul" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 84
Anything Farnsey can do... Barnesy also found himself on the wrong side of the top 50 this week with this second single from Flesh And Wood

Number 81 "Mortal Kombat" by The Immortals
Peak: number 55
These techno computer game tie-in tracks never did that well in Australia. The Immortals was a Belgian dance duo comprised of Olivier Adams and Maurice Engelen (aka Praga Khan of "Injected With A Poison" fame).

Number 76 "The Favourite" by DIG
Peak: number 63
Their self-titled EP had given them a taste of chart success in 1993, and this is the single for which the local acid jazz band were best known.

New Entries
Number 43 "You Open My Eyes" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 43
The only new entry of the week not to reach number 1 was Hoodoo Gurus' second single in a row to peak in the 40s. "You Open My Eyes" is otherwise notable for being the first single released by the Australian rock band with guitarist Brad Shepherd on lead vocals.

Number 33 "The Power Of Love" by Celine Dion
Peak: number 1
Entering the top 50 six places lower than the dance version by Beverly re-entered the chart, Celine Dion's take on mega-ballad "The Power Of Love" would finally be the song to turn her into the global megastar record company Sony were willing her to become. And then some. Equalling the peak of the original Jennifer Rush version - no mean feat, given it hadn't even been a decade since that had topped the chart - Celine's deathly slow rendition somehow manages to make almost five minutes feel like an eternity. Despite Australia embracing the French Canadian wholeheartedly over the next few years, this was actually the point at which I jumped off the Celine train, having been a fan of her previous self-titled album. Of course, this was also the point at which I was working in music retail while at uni, and so I would sell a stack of Celine Dion albums in the years to come.

Number 25 "It's Alright" by East 17
Peak: number 1
While it would take Celine a good few weeks to get to number 1, this final, radically remixed single from East 17's debut album, Walthamstow, would top the chart within a fortnight and stay there for seven straight weeks, keeping Celine at bay for the last four of those weeks. One of the biggest boy band hits of all time in Australia, "It's Alright" played that classic game of starting off as a dramatic ballad before, a good minute and ten seconds in, bursting into a dance-pop banger. So excited was I by this new version of the song, having heard it played on UK Chart Attack in late 1993, that I snapped it up on import straight away - and would've paid close to $20 for the privilege. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:

Next week: a deluge of dance tracks, plus two hits from female singers - one a cover of a weepy ballad and the other a song about a breakfast cereal.

Back to: Feb 13, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 27, 1994

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

This Week In 1994: February 13, 1994

It's a testament to how massive a music act is when there are huge hits in their back catalogue that can become forgotten. Artists like Madonna, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue who have hit the top 10 so often that some of those singles have now been somewhat swept under the carpet.

A top 5 hit that I had completely forgotten existed

This week in 1994, a new double A-sided release by the biggest band in the world at the time crashed straight into the ARIA top 5, but it's definitely not a title I would've come up with on my own if asked to name their best chart performers.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 13, 1994

The best chart performer this week in 1994 was Cut 'n' Move's "Give It Up", which held off a charge by Denis Leary to hold down the number 1 spot for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "It's About Time" by The Lemonheads
Peak: number 98
A month after "Into Your Arms" reached the top 50, another jangly single from Come On Feel The Lemonheads made a brief visit to the lower end of the top 100.

Number 96 "Weak" by SWV
Peak: number 92
One week after the enduring "I'm So Into You" fell out of the top 100 and the same week that "Right Here (Human Nature)" left the top 50, this former US chart-topper, which had been released between those two tracks in America, had a much smaller impact locally.

Number 91 "Happy Nation" by Ace Of Base
Peak: number 80
Also proving less popular was this follow-up to "All That She Wants", which remained in the top 15 in its 23rd week on the top 50. The Swedish four-some weren't quite done yet, though.

Number 80 "Welcome To The Pleasuredome" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Peak: number 74 (original peak: number 46)
The FGTH re-release project continued with their fourth top 50 from 1985 hit dusted off for another go at the chart, but it fell some way short of its original peak and the position climbed by the remixed "Relax".

Number 78 "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" by Joey Lawrence
Peak: number 68
Using the Peter Andre/Jeremy Jordan approach to launching his music career - a new jack swing/pop track, shots of his body - the teen heartthrob star of TV's Blossom didn't repeat his US and UK top 20 success in Australia. 

Number 66 "Positive Bleeding" by Urge Overkill
Peak: number 61
They'd strike gold with a soundtrack single later in 1994, but for now American band Urge Overkill could content themselves with a first chart foray with this single from fourth album Saturation

Number 58 Little Eediot! by Ren & Stimpy
Peak: number 58
This four-track EP consisted of songs taken from the Nickelodeon animated characters' debut album You Eediot!, and never bettered this debut position.

New Entries
Number 50 "I'm Looking For The One (To Be With Me)" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Peak: number 48
With which normal programming was restored. Number 1 hit "Boom! Shake The Room", which was still inside the top 10 this week, would prove to be the only charting single from the hip-hop duo not to peak in the 40s or 50s, with this S.O.S. Band-sampling follow-up becoming their fifth track to peak in that region. This would be the final time we'd see the pair on the chart... although rapper Will Smith would soon make himself quite at home higher up the top 50.

Number 40 "In Your Room" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 40
After two singles peaking in the 70s, I was a little surprised to see one of my favourite bands of all time back in the top 50 with this fourth track lifted from Songs Of Faith And Devotion. But two things worked in its favour - 1) "In Your Room" was radically changed from the album version thanks to new production from Nirvana's Butch Vig and 2) Depeche Mode were about to embark on their first ever national tour of Australia in March, having only ever played one show in Sydney in 1990. I actually lined up overnight for tickets to their 1994 Sydney show, such was my devotion (sorry!) to the band.

Number 30 "Spoonman" by Soundgarden
Peak: number 23
As it did in other parts of the world, this lead single from fourth album Superunknown took the grunge band into the mainstream. "Spoonman" had been included in an early acoustic version in the film Singles back in 1992, but was remodelled by the band for this later release. The song was inspired by street performer Artis the Spoonman, who, as the name suggests, plays music using spoons.

Number 5 "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" by U2 / "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra / Bono
Peak: number 5
Here's the U2 top 5 I'd completely forgotten about until now - a double A-side release containing the final single lifted from Zooropa and the remake of "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra and Bono taken from the former's 1993 Duets album. A second version of the single, with different bonus tracks and without the duet, was also available.
After tracks like "Numb" and "Lemon", "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" was more classic U2 - a rock ballad that actually started out with the working title "Sinatra" and was inspired by the Chairman Of The Board. An alternate version of the song also appeared in the film Faraway So Close, thus its subtitle. 
The Cole Porter-penned "I've Got You Under My Skin", meanwhile, was a song Frank has recorded a number of times, but not one he nor any other artist, including The Four Seasons and Neneh Cherry, had ever taken into the top 50 before. This would be Frank's final singles chart apprearance in Australia.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:

Next week: 1994's other verson of "The Power Of Love" arrived on the chart, as did one of the biggest boy band hits of all time.

Back to: Feb 6, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 20, 1994

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

This Week In 1994: February 6, 1994

It's funny how some pop acts can be absolutely massive in one country and barely cause a ripple in another. That was the situaition with the boy band finally making it onto the ARIA top 50 with their latest single this week in 1994.

Not even the addition of Lulu could excite Australians too much about Take That

In the UK, they were starting to rack up number 1 hits like nobody's business, but in Australia, they couldn't even crack the top 30 - a problem that also faced a number of more established acts this week.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 6, 1994

Three well-established male performers vacated the number 1 spot this week, allowing Cut 'n' Move to move up to the top with their cover of "Give It Up"

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Born In The Ghetto" by Funky Poets
Peak: number 90
This single by the American four-piece comprised of brothers Paul and Ray Frazier and their cousins Gene Johnson and Christian Jordon passed me - and most others, it would seem - by at the time, but I like it.

Number 97 "Play Dead" by Björk & David Arnold
Peak: number 65
Another top 100 entry from the Icelandic singer, this single from the soundtrack to film The Young Americans became Björk's biggest international hit up until this point and was later added to the Debut album.

Number 96 "Show Me Love" by Robin S
Peak: number 78
Knocking around since the start of the decade, it took a while - and a remix from StoneBridge - for this dance classic to take off... everywhere except Australia. Endlessly sampled, remixed and covered ever since.

Number 88 "Lonely" by Frente!
Peak: number 88
A brief visit to the chart for this latest single from the Australian band, "Lonely" would be back in a couple of months thanks to a re-release and a remake on the B-side.

Number 87 "Songs From The Sixteenth Floor" by Paul Kelly
Peak: number 87
This was the lead single from Wanted Man, Paul Kelly's first album without former band The Messengers and first solo album in almost a decade. It was the only track to chart from the album.

Number 80 "That's How I'm Livin'" by Ice-T
Peak: number 56
Last week, we saw his band Body Count's cover of "Hey Joe" debut on the top 100 and this week, rapper Ice-T charted with the second single from his Home Invasion album.

Number 68 Tour Sampler by Teenage Fanclub
Peak: number 68
This Australian taster EP was led by the indie band's "Hang On" (the lead track from then-current album Thirteen) and would be their only release to chart locally.  

New Entries
Number 48 "The Power Of Love" by Beverly
Peak: number 16
The only one of this week's seven new entries to get beyond number 32 was an Italo dance remake of Jennifer Rush's 1985 chart-topper, "The Power Of Love", which hit the top 50 two weeks ahead of another, more traditional cover version of the song that would once and for all make a star of its performer. Media Records vocalist Beverley Skeete was drafted in for this cash-in effort, masterminded by Gianfranco Bortolotti, the man behind Eurodance acts like Cappella, 49ers and Club House - and although it was fairly cheesy and cheap-sounding, it did the job, transforming the monster ballad into a fun, dancefloor filler.

Number 47 "Open Up" by Leftfield & John Lydon
Peak: number 39
In the 1980s and early '90s, if you drew a Venn diagram with one circle showing fans of dance music and the other showing fans of rock music there would not have been much overlap. But as the '90s progressed, acts like this British electronic duo (and Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy) bridged the divide between the two genres. It obviously helped that guest vocals on this breakthrough hit from Neil Barnes and Paul Daley came from Sex Pistols and PiL member John Lydon. Not a massive single locally, "Open Up" is one of those songs whose stature has grown in the decades since and is regularly cited as one of the most influential tracks of the decade.

Number 45 "Nails In My Feet" by Crowded House
Peak: number 34
While Leftfield were breaking down musical barriers, it was business as usual for Crowded House with this second single from the Together Alone album - a pleasant, melodic pop/rock tune. Possibly a little too dull to have performed any better, "Nails In My Feet" wouldn't have been my choice to follow up "Distant Sun" and it may just have killed off the album campaign with Together Alone dropping out of the top 50 by the end of March, never to return despite three more singles to come (all but one of which missed the top 50).

Number 44 "Is There Any Love In Your Heart" by Lenny Kravitz
Peak: number 32
On the one hand, a peak outside the top 30 for Lenny Kravitz at this stage of his career could be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment; on the other, "Is There Any Love In Your Heart" took him back into the top 50 after the failure of "Heaven Help" and was the fourth single from Are You Gonna Go My Way. I actually quite like this track, which was a return to funk-tinged rock after a couple of ballad releases.

Number 39 "Relight My Fire" by Take That featuring Lulu
Peak: number 33
Their only other top 50 hit to date, their remake of "Could It Be Magic", couldn't climb any higher than number 30 back in mid-1993, and not even the addition of '60s hitmaker Lulu on another cover version, of Dan Hartman's "Relight My Fire", could transform Take That into the type of hit boy band they were back in Britain. At least UK number 1 "Relight My Fire" made the top 50, having slowly climbed the rankings since mid-December. Previous single "Pray", which had been their first UK chart-topper, had stalled here at number 62, although persistence would pay off for the group's Australian record company in the coming months.

Number 36 "Time" by INXS
Peak: number 36
Once as huge in Australia as Take That currently were in Britain, INXS must have been wondering just what they had to do to land another substantial hit. Not to be confused with "This Time" or "Not Enough Time", this third single from Full Moon, Dirty Hearts was classic INXS and easily my favourite single by the band from the entire decade. But like five of their previous releases, it sputtered out in the 30s. Still, that was better than the album's next single. "Freedom Deep", which became their first track to miss the top 100 since 1982.

Number 34 "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 34
Another song that deserved way better was the third single from Pet Shop Boys' Very album, with not even a remix from the album version enough incentive for people to rush out and buy it. Possibly the most joyous the duo had ever sounded - could that have been the reason it didn't do so well? - "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing" was later covered by Robbie Williams as part of an ongoing mutual admiration society between him and Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:

Next week: another instant top 5 for one of the world's most consistent bands, plus one of my favourite band returns to the top 40 in the lead-up to their national tour.

Back to: Jan 30, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 13, 1994