Wednesday, 24 April 2019

This Week In 1994: April 24, 1994

They once had three separate singles simultaneously in the top 40. And they managed three number 1 hits in less than two years. Yep, Roxette were massive... until they weren't.

Per and Marie enjoyed one last hit in 1994

This week in 1994, the Swedish hit-makers debuted on the ARIA top 50 with their last big single. It wasn't another chart-topper, but those days were behind them.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 24, 1994

Celine Dion, meanwhile, was just beginning her chart-topping career, with "The Power Of Love" moving up a spot to give her the first (of three to date) number 1s in Australia.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Today I Am A Daisy" by Deborah Conway
Peak: number 98
I have no recollection at all of this second single from the ARIA Award-winning (for Best Cover Art) Bitch Epic, probably on account of its poor showing on the chart. This was Deborah's last top 100 appearance until 2000.

Number 95 "Sweet Silence" by Carmella
Peak: number 95
The lead single from the Byron Bay-based singer's debut album, Song To The Earth, was based on "Sun Arise", a Rolf Harris track from 1969, but doesn't appear to be online.

New Entries
Number 49 "Gin And Juice" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
Peak: number 49
Like the Deborah Conway song, I don't think I've ever heard this follow-up to "What's My Name?" - either at the time or in the decades since. Snoop Doggy Dogg's second single equalled the number 8 peak of its predecessor in the US, but "Gin And Juice" made a much smaller impression locally. A party anthem Snoop-style, the G-funk anthem extols the virtues of alcohol, weed and sex. Watch out for future rap star Lil Bow Wow in the opening seconds of the video below - he's one of the kids jumping on the couch.

Number 48 "Easy" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 38
I also don't recall this lead single from Hunters & Collectors' eighth album, Demon Flower, which was the band's first new music since the Cut era finally drew to a close. Unlike the more musically adventurous sounds that featured on that album - and their best ever singles chart positions - "Easy" had more of a traditional rock feel. It was also the last time the band ever saw the inside of the singles top 40, with none of the three subsequent tracks lifted from Demon Flower even making the top 100. And while the album gave Hunters their best ever peak position of number 2, it spent just seven weeks in the top 50.

Number 42 "Animal" by Pearl Jam
Peak: number 30
Here's a song I am actually familiar with - one of my colleagues in the music section of department store Grace Bros, where I worked casually while at uni, was a huge Pearl Jam fan, and since she put up with my playing Pet Shop Boys' Very on high rotation, I had to listen to Ten and Vs. That said, I actually don't mind "Animal", which, like "Jeremy" and "Alive", has a great hook in amongst the grungy angst. One more single was taken from Vs, but "Dissident" doesn't seem to have been given a local release.

Number 21 "Sleeping In My Car" by Roxette
Peak: number 18
Since they made their international breakthrough in 1989, Sweden's Roxette had an impressive start to their chart career. In Australia, their first seven hits peaked inside the top 10, with three reaching number 1. And despite some unfortunate single choices from Joyride that ruined their streak, the duo continued to add to their top 20 tally with later releases from that album, and songs like "How Do You Do!" and "Almost Unreal". Returning in 1994 with the first taste of fifth album Crash! Boom! Bang!, Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle chalked up another hit with "Sleeping In My Car" - a song that was a late inclusion because Per realised the album was too serious and not fun enough. If only more songs like "Sleeping In My Car" had been included, this lead single might not have ended up as Roxette's final major hit, with the pair never returning to the upper half of the top 50 again.

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

Next week: eight new entries, including the latest from two superstars who made it a habit to release in the same week, plus a retro-inspired novelty dance track, a single by an actual comedian and a solo hit by a member of a duo that went through an acrimonious split.

Back to: Apr 17, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 1, 1994

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

This Week In 1994: April 17, 1994

As big a fan of dance music as I was in 1994, not every club classic appealed to me - not even the ones that everybody else seemed to like.

I wasn't right into this Jam & Spoon smash 

This week in 1994, a song that almost topped the Australian chart was the highest new entry on the top 50, but it's a track that left me a little bored. The same can be said of a couple of the other new entries you'd think would've been right up my alley.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 17, 1994

A song that did top the Australian chart (and that I liked a lot) spent its final week there this week in 1994. "It's Alright" by East 17 registered seven weeks at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Where Would We Be Without A.B." by Doug Parkinson
Peak: number 100
The veteran performer returned to the Australian chart with this OTT ode to cricketer Allan Border, who had just retired from international games. Doug Parkinson wouldn't be back in the top 100 until 2003, when he was part of another tribute.

Number 99 "If I Had A Ticket" by Ed Kuepper
Peak: number 72
The Saints co-founder had been releasing solo music for some years by this point, but this single from eighth album Character Assassination became only his second to chart.

Number 97 "Lady In The Front Row" by Redd Kross
Peak: number 97
This American indie rock band never really took off - either here or in the US - but this single from fourth album Phaseshifter did at least take them into the top 100.

Number 62 "Move On Baby" by Cappella
Peak: number 58
I wasn't familiar with any of the three songs above before now, but here's a single I was a big fan of in 1994. The middle of a string of five UK top 20 hits from the U Got 2 Know album, "Move On Baby" came closest to crossing over for the Italo dance act locally.

New Entries
Number 49 "Steppin' On Remix" by Sexing The Cherry
Peak: number 42
In the 1990s, there was no bigger dance label in Australia than Volition, home to Boxcar, Severed Heads, South End and Itch-E & Scratch-E. Also signed were this trio comprising Cherryn Lomas, Edwin Morrow and Luke Paramor. Disco-infused dance track "Steppin' On" had originally appeared on a Volition compilation in 1992 and was brushed off by the trio and co-producer Robert Racic for single release. Not a bad song, but also kind of forgettable.

Number 47 "The Way You Work It" by E.Y.C.
Peak: number 41
As "Feelin' Alright" dropped out of the top 20, boy band E.Y.C.'s next offering joined it on the top 50, but unfortunately "The Way You Work It" was nowhere near as successful as the debut effort from Damon, Dave and Trey. I say "unfortunately" because, in my opinion, it's a much better song that toned down the shoutiness of "Feelin' Alright". The trio would be back in the top 40 before long, but the next East 17 they would not be.

Number 43 "Groove Thang" by Zhané
Peak: number 17
As well as dance music and pop, I was into a fair bit of US R&B in 1994 - this is a good chart week, from that point of view. But when it came to the two hits by Zhané, they were songs I kind of liked rather than tunes I had on high rotation. The duo were proving quite popular with the rest of Australia, however, with "Hey Mr DJ" spending its 20th (and final) week in the top 40 and follow-up "Groove Thang" debuting not far below on its way to the top 20. The song features a sample of "Haven't You Heard" by Patrice Rushen (of the much-sampled "Forget Me Nots" fame).

Number 31 "Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)" by Jam & Spoon featuring Plavka
Peak: number 2
Speaking of samples, here's a dance track built around a riff from "Asturias (Leyenda)", a late 19th century instrumental work by Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz. The breakthrough hit for German trance duo Jam & Spoon, "Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)" was one of the biggest hits of 1994 in Australia and massive across Europe. For me, the track, which features vocals by singer Plavka Lonich, only ranks as my 148th favourite song for the year - I've always found it a bit monotonous. Kept from the top by Prince and Crash Test Dummies, it was the first of four hits for Rolf Ellmer and Markus Löffel - two as Jam & Spoon and two as Tokyo Ghetto Pussy.

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

Next week: the final big hit for a Swedish duo that'd dominated the chart as the '80s became the '90s, plus new singles from Pearl Jam, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Hunters & Collectors.

Back to: Apr 10, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 24, 1994

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

This Week In 1994: April 10, 1994

It was one of those weeks again on the ARIA chart this week in 1994 - yep, it's time for another round of less successful singles by acts that had bigger hits.

Dance acts Urban Cookie Collective and Twenty 4 Seven had seen better days

The week's four new entries on the top 50 were by artists with higher-charting singles to their name, while many of the song that peaked between 51 and 100 were disappointments for acts that had or would achieve better.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 10, 1994

Things couldn't - and wouldn't - get any better for East 17, who remained at number 1 with "It's Alright", which had now racked up its sixth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Do You Love Me?" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Peak: number 62
This lead single from Let Love In was the best performing release by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to date, while the album became their first top 10. Things would get even better in 1995 for them.

Number 97 The Raw Funk Power EP by Swoop
Peak: number 96
Another (very different) Australian band that'd break through in a major way in 1995 got the ball rolling with this EP led by "Everything I Do From Now On Is Going To Be Funky".

Number 86 "Gangsta Lean" by D.R.S.
Peak: number 86
This American R&B group, who received help landing their record deal from MC Hammer, hit the US top 5 with this debut single (and title track of their album) but had no such luck locally.

Number 85 "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" by Morrissey
Peak: number 85
The first taste of Morrissey's fourth album, Vauxhall And I, returned him to the UK top 10 for the first time since 1989, but it was the latest in a long line of songs not to breach the Australian top 50.

Number 73 "Memphis" by The Badloves
Peak: number 73
"Green Limousine" had provided the Australian band with their biggest hit under their own steam, but this fourth and final single from Get On Board became the album's least successful.

Number 63 "Roundabout" by Caligula
Peak: number 63
Now this song really should have done better. An original track that was just as good as the band's cover of "Tears Of A Clown", "Roundabout" just couldn't get past number 63, reaching that peak three separate times during its chart run.

New Entries
Number 49 "Sail Away" by Urban Cookie Collective
Peak: number 49
"The Key: The Secret" and "Feels Like Heaven" had been two of the best pop/dance tracks of 1993, but I pretty much agree with the lacklustre performance of this third single from the UK group. "Sail Away" is not a bad song, but it just doesn't measure up to either their earlier two releases or upcoming single "High On A Happy Vibe" and album track "Yours Is The Love". I relatively recently rediscovered the High On A Happy Vibe album, which is a pretty solid set of songs - pity Urban Cookie Collective ran out of steam by releasing the wrong song at this juncture.

Number 46 "I'm Ready" by Tevin Campbell
Peak: number 21
"Can We Talk" was still inside the top 20, and wouldn't actually reach its peak of number 12 until the following week, but that earlier single was joined on the top 50 by the title track of teen singer Tevin Campbell's second album. Another smooth R&B mid-tempo tune written and produced by Babyface and Daryl Simmons, "I'm Ready" would end up falling just shy of the top 20. In the US, it matched the number 9 peak of "Can We Talk".

Number 45 "Hush Sweet Lover" by k.d. lang
Peak: number 28
Australia was going k.d. lang crazy at this point, with the Canadian singer's tour of Australia prompting Ingénue to soar into the top 5 last week and her next album, the soundtrack to Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, to be on its way to a top 10 spot. "Hush Sweet Lover" was taken from the latter and ended up charting higher than her only other top 50 single to date, "Constant Craving", which had also re-entered the top 100 a year after it finally became a hit in Australia and is the song for which k.d. is much better known. An even bigger single would come in 1995, while perhaps her most iconic song would finally chart (and become her most successful hit) in 2010.

Number 40 "Is It Love" by Twenty 4 Seven featuring Stay-C & Nance
Peak: number 20
Still at number 13 after 17 weeks on the top 50, "Slave To The Music" was shaping up to be one of 1994's biggest singles and would end the year as the 12th biggest hit. Even so, I still found it a bit basic. And as for this follow-up, it really was a low rent version of Eurodance as far as I was concerned, with none of the edge of the Dutch group's contemporaries. Still, enough Australians liked - and bought - it to give Twenty 4 Seven a second top 20 hit. This would be their final top 50 appearance, however, and we'll see their chart career in Australia peter out over the coming months.

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

Next week: some more less successful follow-ups to big hits, plus the arrival of a dance smash by a group that would chart under a couple of different names.

Back to: Apr 3, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 17, 1994

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

This Week In 1994: April 3, 1994

Success in America has always been seen as the jackpot for music acts around the world, and sometimes all the stops have to be pulled out to ensure that happens. In the 1990s, a couple of pop acts that were big in Europe had their debut album rejigged for US release, since the original versions weren't deemed suitable enough.

Some reworking of Ace Of Base's debut album gave them a second chart-topper

This week in 1994, a quartet from Sweden fast-tracked a song that had been intended for their second album and whacked it onto a revised tracklisting of their debut. The result: a worldwide number 1, including in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 3, 1994

The number 1 single in Australia this week in 1994 was still "It's Alright" by East 17, a song that was remixed from its original album version and included on a revised release of the boy band's debut, Walthamstow.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Completely" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 60
As "Said I Loved You... But I Lied" made its way down the top 10, the crooner's follow-up - a pained Diane Warren-penned mega-ballad - missed the top 50, wait for it, completely.

Number 86 "Something In Common" by Bobby Brown / Whitney Houston
Peak: number 82
A duet by a married couple of music superstars should have been a huge event, but this mediocre pop/R&B tune limped into the lower reaches of the top 100.

Number 74 "Hooligan's Holiday" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 60
The metal band's first single without Vince Neil, this lead release from their self-titled sixth album was sung and co-written by his replacement, John Corabi.

New Entries
Number 49 "Since I Don't Have You" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 47
Ah, The Spaghetti Incident - the bane of record stores all around the world. After the massive and long-running success of the Use Your Illusion albums, retailers ordered huge amounts of the next album by Guns n' Roses, expecting demand to be just as high... but it wasn't. Yes, it debuted at number 1 in December 1993, but it had exited the top 50 by this stage. And pretty much any CD shop (including the Grace Bros and Brashs stores I worked at while at uni) you walked into for the rest of the decade would have excess amounts of the covers album they were desperate to sell. Just when The Spaghetti Incident had run its top 50 course, a single was finally lifted from the album, delayed until the final Use Your Illusion release had been exhausted earlier in 1994. A remake of a song originally performed by doo-wop group The Skyliners, "Since I Don't Have You" might have been too little, too late.

Number 41 "The Sign" by Ace Of Base
Peak: number 1
Like a pop rose wedged in between two rock thorns this week, Ace Of Base returned to the top 50, but not with any of the other singles from original debut album Happy Nation - which included songs like "Wheel Of Fortune" and the title track. Instead it was a new tune, originally planned for the follow-up to Happy Nation. US record company executives felt that album was lacking a certain something - i.e. another monster hit like "All That She Wants" - and so they grabbed this fresh cut from the Swedish quartet, and named their American album The Sign as well. They clearly knew what they were talking about, with "The Sign" returning Ace Of Base to the top of the singles chart in Australia and the US, where it ended 1994 as the year's number 1 song. Another slice of Scandipop brilliance, the song wasn't the only new track included on what we knew in Australia as Happy Nation (US Version) - and we'll see more from Ace Of Base in the months to come.

Number 39 "Dry County" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 31
This was the stage I went from being able to hum along to every Bon Jovi single - even the ones I didn't like - to often not having any idea what they sounded like. The sixth and final single from Keep The Faith, this nine-and-a-half-minute epic (an edited version trimmed off three minutes) was, I guess, the band's "November Rain" in terms of its scale. Lyrically, it dealt with the downturn of America's oil production and the subsequent struggles faced by that industry's workers. Yep, upbeat stuff.

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

Next week: a batch of lesser-remembered follow-ups to big hits across dance, R&B and adult contemporary.

Back to: Mar 27, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 10, 1994