Wednesday, 26 June 2019

This Week In 1994: June 26, 1994

At the start of June, we saw how it took Take That quite some time to establish themselves as a chart force in Australia. This week in 1994, another British act that had been around for a number of years finally started to take of here.

Better late than never - Roachford finally broke through in Australia in 1994

In this case, the band in question had been releasing music since 1988, and scored a top 5 single at home the following year. They didn't quite reach those dizzy heights in Australia, but their music was inescapable in the mid-'90s.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 26, 1994

A song that was inescapable this week in 1994 was "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by Crash Test Dummies, which spent its third week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Anyone Can Play Guitar" by Radiohead
Peak: number 97
In the UK, this follow-up to "Creep" became Radiohead's first top 40 hit in February 1993, since its predecessor had flopped first time round there. Almost a year-and-a-half later, "Anyone Can Play Guitar" couldn't live up to the success of "Creep" in Australia.

Number 78 "Always" by Erasure
Peak: number 78
One of my top 10 songs for 1994, this lead single from I Say I Say I Say returned the duo who kick-started the ABBA revival to the UK top 5 and, after a six-year absence, the US top 20. 

Number 74 "Crazy" by Julio Iglesias
Peak: number 67
It had been six years since crooner Julio Iglesias has been inside the ARIA top 50, and he didn't quite make it back there with this cover of the Willie Nelson-written, Patsy Cline-performed classic.

Number 70 "Take Me Away" by Twenty 4 Seven
Peak: number 52
After a number 2 hit and a number 20 hit, the law of diminishing returns set in for Eurodance act Twenty 4 Seven, with this third single from Slave To The Music peaking just outside the top 50.

New Entries
Number 48 "Only To Be With You" by Roachford
Peak: number 18
"Cuddly Toy". "Family Man". "Kathleen". Three singles from Roachford's self-titled debut album that should've been bigger in Australia. In 1994, third time was the charm as the band fronted by Andrew Roachford cracked the ARIA top 50 with this radio-friendly blend of pop, rock, soul and R&B. Indeed, I seem to remember "Only To Be With You" and Roachford's next two singles being on almost constant rotation on FM radio. It was strange, then, that parent album Permanent Shade Of Blue took a while to take off, barely denting the top 40 in the wake of this song's success and only reaching the top 10 in May 1995. We'll see how those next two tracks fared in the months to come...  

Number 44 "Hey DJ" by Lighter Shade Of Brown
Peak: number 12
Three years before Mariah Carey sampled its piano riff for "Honey"The World's Famous Supreme Team's "Hey DJ" was covered by Lighter Shade Of Brown for the soundtrack to Mi Vida Loca. The hip-hop duo's remake came a decade after the original version, which had been TWFST's first release after guesting on Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals" a couple of years earlier. As for LSOB, which was comprised of Robert Gutierrez and Bobby Ramirez, this was their only top 50 appearance in Australia, but in the US, "Hey DJ" was only their second biggest hit - 1991's "On A Sunday Afternoon" did marginally better.

Number 40 "100% Pure Love" by Crystal Waters
Peak: number 2
Here's another act with a 1991 song that did marginally better... in most countries except Australia. Crystal Waters' debut single, "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)", had almost reached the ARIA top 10, but this lead single from second album Storyteller did even better - almost reaching the number 1 spot here. The dance singer had to settle for eight weeks in the top 3, including one week at number 2. Not as topical as "Gypsy Woman...", "100% Pure Love" was just as irritating to me. Clearly, I was in the minority, with the song winding up as the 11th highest-selling single of the year. It would be almost a decade before we'd see Crystal on the chart again - this time, with a song I really liked.

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

Next week: two songs that had previously been hits for other artists returned to the top 50 thanks to new cover versions. Plus, another of 1994's biggest dance hits.

Back to: Jun 19, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 3, 1994

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

This Week In 1994: June 19, 1994

In 1979, sports-related singles "Up There Cazaly" and "C'mon Aussie C'mon" had both topped the Australian singles chart. While in 1983, a rush of tracks linked to Australia's victory in the America's Cup entered the top 50.

Dance act Southend were on to a winner with their Olympics-related hit

This week in 1994, another sports-related moment inspired a top 10 hit. The dance track fell short of the number 1 spot, but not for want of trying to appeal to the entire nation.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 19, 1994

The number 1 single this week in 1994 was "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by Crash Test Dummies, which remained on top for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "In The Neighbourhood" by Sisters Underground
Peak: number 62
As 3 The Hard Way jumped into the top 20, another slice of New Zealand hip-hop entered the top 100 by the duo comprised of Hassanah Iroegbu and Brenda Makamoeafi. A top 10 hit at home, it didn't reach the same audience locally.

Number 86 "The Eyes Of Truth" by Enigma
Peak: number 71
"Return To Innocence" spent its 15th week in the top 50 this week, but this follow-up, which sampled an eclectic array of music, was the first of a string of singles from The Cross Of Changes to miss the printed chart.

Number 78 "Always In My Heart" by Tevin Campbell
Peak: number 60
After two top 30 hits, Tevin Campbell missed the mark with his third Babyface and Daryl Simmons creation in a row. Next up, Australia went with "The Halls Of Desire" instead of US single "Don't Say Goodbye Girl", which was co-written by Narada Michael Walden and Burt Bacharach.

Number 64 "Miss World" by Hole
Peak: number 57
Two months after the death of Kurt Cobain, his widow's band entered the chart for the first time with this lead single from second album Live Through This - a track which the Nirvana singer had played on an early version of.

New Entries
Number 48 "Anytime You Need A Friend" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 12
She'd scored the biggest hit of her career to date with "Without You", which took a dive down the top 50 this week, and Mariah Carey followed it up with one more ballad release from Music Box. Unlike "Without You", which I found kind of plodding, the rousing "Anytime You Need A Friend" was my favourite Mariah single since her other remake, "I'll Be There". It was also the last song of hers I really liked until 1998, with her next few years of overblown ballads and R&B ditties not really doing anything for me. "Anytime You Need A Friend" also came with a dance remix courtesy of Clivill├ęs & Cole, something that was increasingly de rigueur for ballads in the 1990s.

Number 45 "4-Letter Word" by Chocolate Starfish
Peak: number 41
I have to admit that, since I wasn't really a fan of this Australian band's three previous singles, I didn't give "4-Letter Word" the time of day back in 1994, but it's probably my favourite of their singles. The chart position of the song no doubt suffered due to the fact that their self-titled debut album had recently been released and had spent the first eight weeks of its life inside the top 20, peaking at number 2. A fifth single, "Sign Of Victory", would be lifted from Chocolate Starfish, but it didn't reach the top 100.

Number 42 "The Winner Is..." by Southend with Nik Fish
Peak: number 9
Like their label-mates Boxcar, Southend were an Australian dance act signed to Volition Records that sailed under the radar chart-wise but whose music I really liked. In 1993, they'd released the EP Fanatical that's worth a listen, and in 1994, they (together with DJ Nik Fish) came up with a way to attract some mainstream attention - sampling the September 1993 announcement by International Olympics Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch and commentary by radio station 2UE that Sydney had been selected as the host city for the 2000 Olympic Games. 
The snatches of dialogue and atmospheric crowd cheers were weaved into a frenetic techno track that took me right back to Circular Quay in the early hours of the morning when the announcement was made in Monte Carlo. Yep, I was there. Was the song gimmicky? Sure, but I actually enjoyed "The Winner Is..." on its own merits, being quite into dance music and clubbing at this stage. In an effort to extend the appeal of the song beyond Sydneysiders, a remix known as the Six Cities And An Island Remix was also released, which from memory added chants of "Melbourne", "Brisbane", etc. after "Sydney". An additional remix was also released in 2000 just in time for the Olympics themselves.

Number 39 "You Gotta Be" by Des'ree
Peak: number 9
Having warmed the world up with debut album Mind Adventures, in particular single "Feel So High", UK soul singer Des'ree unleashed an even bigger hit to kick off second album I Ain't Movin'. Only problem was, it took a while to reach its true potential. In Australia, "You Gotta Be" was a relatively rapid hit, entering the top 50 in its seventh week on the chart and reaching the top 10 by its 13th week. In the US, it started its climb towards to the top 5 in September 1994, finally reaching its peak in March 1995. In the UK, it took three releases for it to finally land at number 9 - having to settle for number 20 in 1994 and number 14 in 1995, when it was re-released following its US success. It is the third and final UK remix of the song from 1999 that is featured in the official music video below, although it's not massively different from the original mix.

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

Next week: a British band whose 1988 debut bombed locally finally hit the top 50 and one of the biggest dance tracks of the year arrives.

Back to: Jun 12, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 26, 1994

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

This Week In 1994: June 12, 1994

Australia sure did love an overblown ballad in the 1990s. The best-selling singles of 1990, 1991 and 1993 had all been big ballads, while 1992's "I Will Always Love You" arrived too late that year to take out the year-end title but had outsold everything else in the decade up until this point.

Wet Wet Wet stuck to the annual number 1 formula

1994 remained true to the pattern, with the arrival this week of the song that would end up as the annual chart champ - and it was another big ballad. It was also a soundtrack hit that spent six weeks at number 1 in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 12, 1994

There was a new number 1 in Australia this week in 1994. Crash Test Dummies jumped up to the top with "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" for the first of three weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Lost In America" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 65
1989's Trash had turned Alice Cooper into a chart regular and 1991's Hey Stoopid had offered up one top 50 hit, but this lead single from The Last Temptation suggested those days were over.

Number 93 "Jammie's Got A Girl" by You Am I
Peak: number 93
The follow-up to You Am I's first top 100 single, "Berlin Chair", "Jammie's Got A Girl" got its name from singer Tim Rogers' brother, Jammie, who had previously been a member of the band.

Number 87 "Round Here" by Counting Crows
Peak: number 58
"Mr Jones" was still inside the top 30, but this more emotional second single from August And Everything After would miss the top 50. "Round Here" had its origins during singer Adam Duritz's time as a member of The Himalayans.

Number 85 "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" by Dawn Penn
Peak: number 74
Missing the reggae frenzy of 1993 (at least in Australia), this reworking of a song from the initial late 1960s phase of Jamaican singer Dawn Penn's career would later be covered by Rihanna.

Number 77 "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" by Meat Loaf
Peak: number 52
By now, it seemed, most people who wanted this song had it on Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, although the single version almost halved the album version's 10-minute running time.

Number 59 "Prayer For The Dying" by Seal
Peak: number 56
His self-titled debut had been one of my favourite albums of 1991 and yielded top 10 hit "Crazy", but this lead single from his self-titled second album (known as Seal II to avoid confusion), despite being one of my favourites for 1994, didn't enjoy the same reception.

New Entries
Number 44 "Light My Fire" by Club House featuring Carl
Peak: number 26
We're going to get to the song that would be Australia's number 1 song for 1994, but here's my top single for the year. Kind of. Italo dance track "Light My Fire" had been bouncing around the top 100 since March thanks to its original release in January - a maxi CD single through local independent label MDS (Mushroom Distribution Services) that retailed for about $10. It's the version I bought and contains the Noisy Clouds Mix which is far and away the best version of the song. 
In the UK, where the original release of "Light My Fire" had missed the top 40, a remix by Cappella known as the R.A.F. Zone Mix turned the song into a hit. Having a music video featuring singer Carl Fanini probably helped. I actually don't like this version of the song much at all, and although it was included on a second CD single (that sold for $5) released here in May, it was relegated to Track 3, with the Noisy Clouds Mix as Track 1. Whichever single and whichever version of "Light My Fire" people liked, the song bounded back onto the chart and finally broke into the top 50 this week.
Club House was one of many Italo dance projects masterminded by producer Gianfranco Bortolotti (see also: 49ers, Cappella), and the name dated back to 1983 when a mash-up of "Do It Again" and "Billie Jean" was released as the group's first single. In Australia, a soundalike cover of the medley by Slingshot made the top 100.

Number 43 "Laid" by James
Peak: number 40
Next up, the first of two entries by British indie bands, and in the case of James it was a return to the top 50 with the title track of their fifth album. Their second and final hit in Australia (following "Sound" in early 1992), "Laid" didn't reach as high as you would expect given the longevity the track has enjoyed in the decades since. It was the same story for the track in the UK, where James had four top 20 hits to their name by this point - "Laid" peaked at number 25 there, although if you'd asked me before today, I would've assumed it'd done much better. "Laid" is also one of those songs people probably associate with a lyric that's not the title - in this case the song's opening line: "This bed is on fire..." - although "laid" is sung (or is that yodelled?) at the very end of the 2:37 track.

Number 40 "Girls And Boys" by Blur
Peak: number 19
Making their first appearance on not only the top 50 but the top 100 was one of the biggest British bands of the decade, who would transcend their indie roots to become one of the frontrunners of the Britpop movement. Blur had shown promise back in 1991 with UK top 10 hit "There's No Other Way" - a song that even made my year-end top 100 - but they'd followed that with a string of songs that peaked in the 20s and 30s back home. Then came the Parklife album, which was kicked off by this Brits abroad, fun in the sun classic, returning them to the UK top 10 and crossing over in Australia, thanks to its chant-along "girls who are boys who like boys to be girls..." chorus. The song's cause was also helped, especially in my book, by a fantastic Pet Shop Boys remix, which was the perfect blend of synths and indie rock. The seal broken, we'd be hearing a lot more from Blur locally in the years to come.

Number 23 "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet
Peak: number 1
Here it is, the song that would end 1994 as Australia's highest-selling single for the year. Recorded for the soundtrack to Four Weddings And A Funeral, Wet Wet Wet's version of The Troggs' 1967 hit (which had peaked at the dizzying heights of number 44 in Australia) was inescapable in 1994. 
One of three songs the band were given to choose from to remake - the others: "I Will Survive" and "Can't Smile Without You" - "Love Is All Around" was even more massive in the UK, where it racked up 15 weeks on top and was deleted at the request of the band, since the public's goodwill was starting to fade due to the track's ubiquity. Whether or not it could have remained on top for a record-equalling 16th week will never be known (although probably not, given the high-flying debut of Whigfield's "Saturday Night" that week). Anyway, I digress. 
Wet Wet Wet's first hit in Australia since "Goodnight Girl" in 1992, it would also be their last substantial hit in this country. A stand-alone single, it was tacked on to the band's 1993 best of, End Of Part One: Their Greatest Hits, and, as a result, that compilation charted for the first time here, peaking at number 2 in October.

Number 7 "Around The World" by East 17
Peak: number 4
Last week, we saw the song that finally gave the UK's top pop act, Take That, their first major hit on the ARIA chart. But as far as Australians were concerned, there was no bigger British boy band than East 17, whose seven-week number 1, "It's Alright", dropped out of the top 40 this week. Following up that massive chart-topper wasn't going to be easy, but the Walthamstow lads charged straight into the top 10 with a brand new song. The first taste of second album Steam, "Around The World" was more in the vein of "Deep" than the frenetic blast that was "It's Alright", and it duly became East 17's fourth top 5 hit locally.

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

Next week: a dance single that celebrated a huge moment for Australia, plus a song that was an instant top 10 hit locally but took three releases to get there in the UK.

Back to: Jun 5, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 19, 1994

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

This Week In 1994: June 5, 1994

They had been landing top 10 singles at home in the UK for the previous couple of years, but Britain's premier boy band had yet to really connect in Australia. That all changed this week in 1994, with a song that was almost a year old.

Take That's prayers were answered as they finally scored a big Australian hit

A timely re-release gave the five-piece their first ARIA chart top 10. Things weren't quite at the level of the four UK number 1s they'd racked up in 1993-94, but it was a start, with a local chart-topper to come in 1995.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 5, 1994

Enjoying a second week at the top with his second number 1 single was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, who stayed firm with "The Most Beautiful GIrl In The World".

Off The Chart
Number 80 "When Will You Fall For Me" by Vika & Linda
Peak: number 51
Their voices had been heard for years as part of The Black Sorrows, but sisters Vika and Linda Bull went it alone with this debut single written by Mark Seymour which fell just short of giving them a top 50 hit.

Number 79 "Locked Out" by Crowded House
Peak: number 79
A surprisingly low peak for this energetic third single from Together Alone, which was also used on the soundtrack to one of 1994's biggest films, Reality Bites. It became the band's first single to miss the top 50 since "I Feel Possessed" in 1990.

Number 72 "Take It Back" by Pink Floyd
Peak: number 61
Their first album in seven years, The Division Bell, had topped the chart for three weeks in April, taking them back to number 1 for the first time since 1979's The Wall, but this lead single had significantly less impact.

New Entries
Number 48 "Disarm" by The Smashing Pumpkins
Peak: number 16
The song that always comes to mind when I think of The Smashing Pumpkins - and with good reason: it was their breakthrough hit in Australia, finally pushing them into the mainstream after the previous two singles from Siamese Dream had missed the top 50. One of those songs known by many (including me) for a lyric - in this case, "the killer in me is the killer in you" - rather than its title, "Disarm" is about parricide, with singer Billy Corgan admitting he wrote the song about the terrible relationship he had with his mother and father growing up.

Number 37 "I Wanna Dance" by Melodie MC
Peak: number 21
"Dum Da Dum", which was still in the top 20 after 15 weeks, was on the borderline of my taste in Eurodance. I kind of liked it, but I also found it kind of infuriating. There was no such equivocating when it came to this follow-up by the Swedish rapper - I was not a fan of it at all. But enough Australians were for it to almost make the top 20. Vocals on "I Wanna Dance" were handled by Lotta Sundgren.

Number 28 "Pray" by Take That
Peak: number 10
When it was released in mid-1993, "Pray" stormed straight into the UK chart at number 1 and stayed there for four weeks, giving Take That their first chart-topper in Britain. In Australia, the first brand new song from second album Everything Changes puttered out at number 62. I say "first brand new song" because previous single "Why Can't I Wake Up With You" had been a remix of a track that originally appeared on debut Take That And Party The new version was included on Everything Changes and was therefore its lead single.
Earlier in 1994, Take That's cover of "Relight My Fire", the follow-up to "Pray", had finally reached the ARIA top 50 but it was going to take more than a disco remake to break the boy band down under. Cue: promotional tour. With Gary, Robbie, Mark, Jason and Howard flying in for a week's visit, their record company opted to go back and try again with "Pray" rather than push ballad "Babe" or upcoming single "Everything Changes" (which would be released in July). Live versions of their three remakes to date were added as bonus tracks and "Pray" finally became a top 10 hit in Australia. They would never be as big here as back at home, but the time and effort spent coming here paid off.

Number 18 "Lonely / Bizarre Love Triangle" by Frente!
Peak: number 7
Here's another single that didn't work first time around. At the start of the year, brand new song "Lonely" only got as far as number 88, which was a clear a sign as any that Frente! still had not recovered from the polarising "Accidently Kelly Street". But all was not lost. The band repackaged "Lonely" as an EP with an acoustic remake of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" as a bonus track, and found themselves back in the ARIA top 10 for a third (and, ultimately, final) time. I'd suggest the chart peak was entirely down to "Bizarre Love Triangle" rather than some new-found appreciation of "Lonely". The delicate remake of the New Order track, that had been a big hit in Australia in early 1987 (and is one of my favourite songs of all time), was inspired - a precursor to all those YouTube and reality TV show stripped down versions of familiar songs. 

Number 16 Beautiful Experience by Prince
Peak: number 14
As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince held down the number 1 spot for a second week, a separate EP of mixes of "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" flew into the top 20, similar to the situation that had occured just over two years earlier when a separate remix single joined "Black Or White" on the chart for Michael Jackson. As well as including the hit version of Prince's chart-topper, Beautiful Experience also featured the Mustang Mix of the song, on which Prince sang in his normal register instead of using falsetto. All seven mixes can be heard in the YouTube video below - something that never would have been allowed to occur during Prince's lifetime.

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

Next week: Australia's favourite UK boy band returns with a brand new song, plus another British quartet once marketed to teens debuts with the song that'd sell more copies than any other in 1994. Plus, my favourite single for the year arrives.

Back to: May 29, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 12, 1994