Saturday, 16 December 2017

This Week In 1984: December 16, 1984

Landing a number 1 song can do amazing things for a music act's career. Take the two female singers who debuted on the ARIA top 50 this week in 1984, both of whom had hit the top of the singles chart earlier in the year.

Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper had back-to-back number 1s earlier in 1984, and debuted together this week

For one singer, she'd been on a roll ever since her number 1 hit, while this week marked the other's long-awaited follow-up to her chart-topper. Both were never more consistently successful than in 1984.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending December 16, 1984

Another female artist moved up to number 1 with her first chart-topper this week in 1984. Madonna ended Stevie Wonder's stranglehold on the top spot as "Like A Virgin" began a five-week stint at the summit.

Off The Chart
Number 91 "Who Wears These Shoes" by Elton John
Peak: number 76
After two straight top 10 hits, the latest single from Breaking Hearts crashed and burned for Elton John. "Who Wears These Shoes" was a top 20 hit in the US, however.

Number 87 "Stranger In Me" by Pseudo Echo
Peak: number 58
Another near-miss for Pseudo Echo, with the fourth and final single from Autumnal Park joining "Dancing Until Midnight" by peaking just outside the top 50. Oddly, "Stranger In Me" was left off later compilation Best Adventures in favour of two album tracks.

Number 59 "The Unforgettable Fire" by U2
Peak: number 59
After achieving their first smash with "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", it was back outside the top 50 for this second single and title track from The Unforgettable Fire. The song was released in Australia four months ahead of Ireland and the UK.

New Entries
Number 48 "All Through The Night" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 17
What a year it had been for Cyndi Lauper, with a chart-topping debut single and a pair of number 6 hits already to her name. In fact, she was so massive at this point that she could release a fourth single from her already successful She's So Unusual album and see it reach the US top 5 without the support of a music video. In Australia, "All Through The Night" was a more modest hit, but still made the top 20. Like "Girls Just Want To Have Fun", "All Through The Night" was a remake of a little-known song - in this case, a track from the debut album by singer/songwriter Jules Shear, Watch Dog. Cyndi transformed Jules's jangly rock tune into a synthy pop ballad and even got him to record backing vocals for her version. The two also collaborated on a couple of other songs, one of which, "I'll Kiss You", also made her album.

Number 35 "We Belong" by Pat Benatar
Peak: number 7
Like Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benatar had reached number 1 earlier in 1984, and almost a year after "Love Is A Battlefield" started its climb to the top, she finally returned with the follow-up. The lead single from fifth studio album Tropico, power ballad "We Belong" was a change from the feisty rock chick anthems we'd come to expect from Pat. Despite the shift in style, the kiddy choir-featuring tune was another big hit - the second of three top 10 hits she'd enjoy in Australia. The track was penned by songwriters Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro, who'd try their hand at performing their own songs in the early '90s.

Number 31 "Sea Of Love" by The Honeydrippers
Peak: number 5
Speaking of shifts in style, this cover of the R&B hit by Phil Phillips with The Twilights (which reached number 25 in Australia and number 2 in the US in 1959) wasn't quite what you'd expect from rock legends like Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. In their guise as supergroup The Honeydrippers, however, the members of Led Zeppelin and The Yardbirds, together with keyboardist (and David Letterman's band leader) Paul Shaffer, Nile Rodgers and assorted other musos were free to experiment. Like the original performer of "Sea Of Love", The Honeydrippers would be one-hit wonders, but in their case, it was by design, with the project wrapped up after the runaway success of this single.

Next week: the final chart for 1984, including four debuts by festive records. Plus, a look at the top 100 singles for the year.

Back to: Dec 9, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 23, 1984

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: December 13, 1992

It's the part of the year record shops used to live for: the pre-Christmas period, during which all the biggest albums would hit stores. Many superstar acts would release their latest studio albums in the final three months of the year, while plenty of others would put out greatest hits collections, covers albums, live albums or something else to cash in on the period of biggest music sales.

You couldn't half tell it was almost Christmas...

It's not quite the same in the digital age - do best ofs even exist anymore for current artists? - but this week in 1992, that seasonal release schedule was in full effect. All five of the new entries on the singles chart came from big Christmas priorities.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending December 13, 1992

It wasn't always big new releases that did well at Christmas time. For Boyz II Men, their recent surge in success meant their year-old debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, was among the season's big sellers as it moved in to the top 10 for the first time this week. It was, however, the end of the road for them as singles chart-toppers as "End Of The Road" spent its fourth and final week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 94 "(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop" by N93
Peak: number 71
First released back in 1988, this update of the Fatback Band club classic (itself remixed in 1987) was revisited locally in 1992, but failed to reignite the dance craze.

Number 81 "It Will Make Me Crazy" by Felix
Peak: number 55
"Don't You Want Me" had been a crossover success in Australia (and was still just inside the top 40 this week), but DJ/producer Francis Wright wasn't as lucky second time around.

Single Of The Week
"Tell Me Why" by Genesis
Peak: number 110
Even though Genesis's latest live collection, The Way We Walk, Vol I: The Shorts, made its debut on the albums chart this week, the band weren't quite done milking previous studio album We Can Dance of singles. One of two tracks chosen for release as the fifth single in different parts of the world, "Tell Me Why" was another issue-driven song from the band, who addressed hunger and homelessness in the lyrics and accompanying music video. The surprisingly upbeat tune (given its subject matter) was released in Europe - in the UK it came out following a live version of "Invisible Touch" from The Way We Walk. In the US, "Never A Time" was released instead. Whatever the choice, it marked the final Genesis single to be performed by Phil Collins.

New Entries
Number 50 "To Love Somebody" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 39
For his Christmas contribution, Mr Mullet unleashed covers album Timeless: The Classics, which shot up to number 11 on the albums chart this week. Alongside remakes of tracks like "Yesterday", "Knock On Wood" and token festive favourite "White Christmas" was Michael Bolton's version of Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody", a number 6 hit here in 1967. The much-covered track (a UK top 10 hit for Jimmy Somerville as recently as 1990) broke Michael's ARIA top 50 drought stretching back to "Love Is A Wonderful Thing", but it was even longer since he'd had a major hit in Australia. Fear not, 1993 would deliver one of those... and that's no lie.

Number 49 "Celebration" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 21
On the one hand, it felt way to soon for Kylie Minogue to be up to releasing an album called Greatest Hits, but on the other, she'd amassed 17 top 30 singles taken from four studio albums in a little over five years. And with her contract with PWL Records in the UK coming to an end, it was the perfect time to take stock (no pun intended). Her remake of the Kool & The Gang party anthem was the second single released from the best of and had actually been intended for previous album Let's Get To It, but ended up being left off. 
The song and its suitably celebratory Rio de Janeiro-shot music video - in which Kylie looked pretty stunning - came out at the perfect time of year, but surprisingly stalled just shot of the top 20. Interestingly, as her final single for PWL, "Celebration" was produced not by Stock Aitken Waterman (or Stock Waterman, since Aitken had now left the Hit Factory) but by B Team Harding & Curnow, although SW were credited with additional production. As we all know, Kylie took a well-earned rest in 1993 and returned the following year with a whole new sound.

Number 25 "7" by Prince & The New Power Generation
Peak: number 25
In 1991-92, Prince had enjoyed his most consistent hit streak ever in Australia, with six consecutive top 20 hits (four of them top 10). That came to a halt with this third single from the Love Symbol Album, which progressed no further than this debut position. The Middle Eastern-tinged "7" showcased the belly dancing of NPG member and the future Mrs Prince, Mayte, in the music video - and one thing I didn't know until now was that she would go on to choreograph the clip for Britney Spears's "I'm A Slave 4 U".

Number 13 "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" by U2
Peak: number 9
While Prince's top 20 run came to an end, there was no stopping U2's, with the fifth single from Achtung Baby giving them yet another top 10. It's not a bad song, but perhaps the real reason fans rushed out to buy "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" was that they all wanted to complete the picture formed by the covers of the album's singles (except "One"). The chart feat would've been even more impressive if the five Achtung Baby tracks had all reached the top 10, but previous single "Even Better Than The Real Thing" had let the side down by peaking at an unlucky number 11.

Number 11 "Deeper And Deeper" by Madonna
Peak: number 11
This second single from Erotica was also pretty unlucky not to become another top 10 hit for Madonna, stranded at number 11 for five straight weeks (thanks partly to the ARIA chart shutting down for three weeks). The disco-flavoured and "Vogue"-referencing "Deeper And Deeper" was, however, the first single of hers I'd really loved since that 1990 chart-topper. After a series of sexual or snoozy singles over the past couple of years, she was back in dancefloor form. In the decade-hopping, homage-laden music video, she also traded in her Mistress Dita persona to channel Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick instead.

Next week: a double dose of Australian pop, including the top 50 debut of a man who'd go on to become a glossy mag favourite in the UK.

Back to: Dec 6, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 20, 1992

Saturday, 9 December 2017

This Week In 1984: December 9, 1984

After the deluge of debuts over the previous few weeks, things quietened down on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1984 as those new songs settled in. And so while there's only one new entry this week, it's the biggest hit from a group fronted by a man who's now been making music for over 40 years.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending December 9, 1984

Interestingly, six other songs missed the top 50 this week - and they're all by acts who'd landed hits before. Meanwhile, at number 1 this week in 1984, Stevie Wonder registered his eighth and final week on top with "I Just Called To Say I Love You".

Off The Chart
Number 97 "East Of Eden" by Big Country
Peak: number 93
It was second album time for Scotland's Big Country, but this lead single from Steeltown didn't give them another hit locally. They'd have to wait until 1986 for one.

Number 96 "Master And Servant" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 89
Another UK band failing to live up to earlier successes was one of my favourite groups with the controversial, BDSM-themed second single from Some Great Reward

Number 95 "Highly Strung" by Spandau Ballet
Peak: number 69
Now this was a surprise - although not really, since this is what you get when you don't release the best singles from your album. Spandau Ballet would put things right in 1985.

Number 94 "Promise Me You'll Call" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 86
You know things are rough when even Jimmy Barnes misses the top 50 - and by some margin. Of course, this was the second single from Bodyswerve, which had already been to number 1 by this point.

Number 92 "Let's Gamble" by Electric Pandas
Peak: number 81
I wonder how different things would've been if Electric Pandas had released this follow-up to "Big Girls" as a 7" single instead of a 12" EP. The two-minute "Let's Gamble" certainly had a catchy enough chorus to have been a bigger hit.

Number 55 "If It Happens Again" by UB40
Peak: number 55
More than a year after they reached number 2 with their cover of "Red Red Wine", UB40 returned to the top 100 with this original track - an anti-Thatcher protest song from the Geffery Morgan album.

New Entry
Number 48 "Shout To The Top!" by The Style Council
Peak: number 8
While six previously successful acts faltered with their latest singles, The Style Council went from strength to strength, debuting on the top 50 with the song that'd give them their highest chart placement locally. The band led by Paul Weller had been building up to this moment over the previous year-and-a-half - going from landing top 30 hits with "Speak Like A Child" and "Long Hot Summer" to moving in to the top 20 with "You're The Best Thing / The Big Boss Groove" a couple of months earlier. 
Unlike those more languid singles, "Shout To The Top!" was a jolt of energy. From its opening piano stab, the song positively cracks along - a little reminiscent of the biggest single by Paul's previous group, The Jam, "Town Called Malice" (number 15 in 1982). By out-performing that track, "Shout To The Top!" became the biggest hit of Paul's career in Australia - and remains so to this day, with nothing released subsequently by The Style Council or Paul during his solo career able to match it.

Next week: a few more new entries, including the latest from two women who both topped the chart earlier in 1984, and a top 10 single by a one-hit wonder supergroup.

Back to: Dec 2, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 16, 1984

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: December 6, 1992

If you're going to release a cover version, it's always a good idea to choose a song not many people are familiar with. That way, it feels like a brand new song, and doesn't have to compete with the original in people's minds and hearts.

And I-ee-I-ee-I will never give up the number 1 spot

This week in 1992, a singer who'd already remade a couple of obscure songs to great effect released the definitive version of a tune that was already quite good to begin with (not that many Australians were familiar with it at that stage, myself included). It was a much bigger hit than the two other covers debuting on the ARIA chart that week - in fact, it was much more successful than most songs the entire decade.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending December 6, 1992

Before long, it would replace the song that held down the number 1 spot this week in 1992. Until that happened, "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men spent its third week (of four) on top.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "I Had A Dream, Joe" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Peak: number 75
An improvement of 21 places for this second single from Henry's Dream, but for the time being Nick Cave was still very much a niche concern - and with songs like this, it's not hard to see why.

Number 90 "Queen Of Rain" by Roxette
Peak: number 66
The last time they'd been relegated to outside the top 50 had been with the fifth single from Joyride. The Swedish duo found themselves there again with only the second release from Tourism - a kind of boring ballad that was no "Listen To Your Heart". 

New Entries
Number 42 "Good Enough" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 39
I couldn't have put it better myself - this follow-up to chart-topper "Humpin' Around" was exactly as its title described: good enough. Not a great song, but a decent LaFace production all the same, which returned Bobby to the top 50 for what would be the last time as a solo artist (although a featuring slot in 2002 would give him a final gasp of chart glory). I actually preferred "Good Enough" to Bobby's number 1 hit, but even so, it was no "Don't Be Cruel" or "Every Little Step" - and that was the problem for me with the entirety of the Bobby album.

Number 38 "I Don't Know How To Love Him" by Kate Ceberano
Peak: number 38
Just over two decades earlier, Jesus Christ Superstar cast member Yvonne Elliman had been beaten to the punch with her recording of Mary Magdalene's big ballad when Helen Reddy released a rival version in early 1971 and took it all the way to number 2 in Australia. Yvonne's eventually released single peaked 70 places lower. Kate Ceberano had no such spoiler to contend with, but the cast album's massive sales did stand in the way of her having a major hit with her take on "I Don't Know How To Love Him". 

Number 37 "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" by Norman Gunston / Effie
Peak: number 27
Until a few months ago, when I recapped the debut of Sarah Brightman and José Carreras's original version of "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)", I hadn't spared a thought for this parody rendition since 1992. And I can't say I was happy to be reminded of its existence. The musical equivalent of alley cats fighting, the send-up by Norman Gunston (aka Garry McDonald) and Effie (Mary Coustas) from the recently ended Acropolis Now took advantage of the Olympics anthem being eminently send-up-able. Still, listening to it was pure torture. The song's short run on the ARIA chart broke a 12-year absence for Norman, who'd last charted in 1980 with "Kiss Army / Normdrum", which reached number 12, and had his biggest hit four years before that when 1976's "Salute To ABBA" peaked at number 9.

Number 16 "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 1
There are big singles and then there's "I Will Always Love You". Chart-wise, the track taken from Whitney Houston's film debut, Bodyguard, spent 10 weeks at number 1 (the longest stretch since Bryan Adams's soundtrack behemoth the year earlier), and ended both 1992 and 1993 among the year's top 20 biggest hits. Music-wise, songs don't get much bigger than this. 
From its risky a cappella intro to its booming climax, "I Will Always Love You" blew every power ballad before it out of the water. It was a vocal triumph for Whitney, who'd never sounded better, and nothing at all like the understated 1974 original by songwriter Dolly Parton, whose version only charted in Australia following its use in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas and re-release in late 1982.
Whitney has intended to record a remake of "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" for The Bodyguard, but that plan was nixed when Paul Young recorded it for the Fried Green Tomatoes soundtrack in 1991. Her co-star Kevin Costner came up with the idea of covering the Dolly song and steamrolled resistance from Whitney's record label to the idea. Turns out he knew best.
What made "I Will Always Love You" so essential, in Kevin's mind, were its lyrics. Written by Dolly about her former musical partner Porter Wagoner, the song tells the tale of someone moving on from a person they've loved, amicably and respectfully. Kind of casts its regular use at weddings in a new light, doesn't it?
As well as its achievements in Australia, "I Will Always Love You" spent a then-record-breaking 14 weeks on top in the US, won two Grammy Awards, set up The Bodyguard soundtrack to be a phenomenal success and was the first of a string of singles for Whitney from the movie. Also, in 2012, following her death, it returned to both the ARIA and Billboard top 10, and is arguably her defining moment as a performer.

Next week: five new entries - everyone of them by a music megastar. Among them, the end of an era for a pop princess, and Madonna and Prince's release schedules sync up once more.

Back to: Nov 29, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 13, 1992

Saturday, 2 December 2017

This Week In 1984: December 2, 1984

It's not something you see very often - especially in the '80s - so when all the new entries on the ARIA singles chart come from female (or female-fronted) performers, it's worth celebrating it. 

Sade Adu: the lead singer of smooth operators Sade

Interestingly, two of the new songs arriving on the top 50 this week in 1984 were cover versions of songs written by and originally performed by men. Their versions had been unsuccessful, but both turned out to be just what the female singers needed to bring them back to the top 50 following lengthy absences.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending December 2, 1984

A male singer who featured on one of the new entries was also enjoying his biggest ever hit, which remained at number 1 again this week in 1984. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder stayed on top for a seventh week.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "All You Pretty Girls" by XTC
Peak: number 76
Their last chart appearances - including "Senses Working Overtime" - had come from 1982's English Settlement. After striking out with 1983's Mummer, XTC at least made the top 100 with this lead single from The Big Express.

Number 92 "Gimme All Your Lovin'" by ZZ Top
Peak: number 82
Australia was working its way backwards through the singles from ZZ Top's Eliminator album. This lead single belatedly followed "Legs" and "Sharp Dressed Man" onto the chart.

New Entries
Number 50 "Left In The Dark" by Barbra Streisand
Peak: number 27
The last time Barbra Streisand had been seen on the top 50 had been back in 1980, with the two hits from her Guilty album: chart-topper "Woman In Love" and the title track. Both of those - as well as the entire album - had been written or co-written by at least one Gibb brother. Four years and a few assorted projects later, Babs returned with her next studio album, Emotion, and kicked it off with this song written and first performed by Jim Steinman. As you'd expect from the man who also wrote "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" and many a Meatloaf song, "Left In The Dark" was fairly dramatic, telling the story of someone discovering their partner has been cheating on them. It'd be another four years before we'd see Barbra back on the top 50, duetting with Don Johnson.

Number 49 "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan
Peak: number 4
It had been slightly longer since Chaka Khan had visited the top 50 - with or without Rufus. In fact, her only previous hit had been with debut solo single "I'm Every Woman" in 1979. That song had reached a disappointingly low number 37, a peak she blew out of the water with the lead single and title track of fifth album I Feel For You. The song was written and produced by Prince, who'd originally recorded it himself on his self-titled album, released, coincidentally, in 1979. Since then, both The Pointer Sisters and Rebbie Jackson had recorded the song, but it was Chaka who turned it into a hit. And she did so by incorporating elements no one else had thought to, including a rap (by Melle Mel) and harmonica (performed by Stevie Wonder). Well, producer Arif Mardin did, since it was his idea to include the rap - rare for a pop song at the time - and recorded it without telling Chaka, who was resistant to the idea at first. She came around and the song became a much-needed hit after a series of less than successful solo efforts. 

Number 48 "Smooth Operator" by Sade
Peak: number 20
When is a female artist not a female artist? When she's the singer in a band named after her. Ever since Sade made themselves at home in the CD collection of every self-respecting mid-'80s yuppie, they've confounded listeners who assumed Sade referred simply to vocalist Sade Adu rather than the group she fronts. The act for whom the term sophisti-pop could not have been more appropriate, Sade's music combined elements of soul, jazz and pop into a silky smooth package, so it was somewhat appropriate that the band's breakthrough single was "Smooth Operator". 
Succeeding when earlier UK hit "Your Love Is King" (which was saw last week) hadn't, the song about a fashion-conscious, jet-setting ladykiller was actually Sade's only top 50 hit for almost a decade in Australia, with their upwardly mobile fans opting for the band's albums instead. Diamond Life, which contained (and gets its title from the lyrics of) "Smooth Operator", reached number 6 and stayed on the top 100 for 40 weeks.

Number 42 "All Cried Out" by Alison Moyet
Peak: number 21
A female singer with a voice that's just as recognisable as Sade's returned with her second solo single this week in 1984. Not quite as big a hit as "Love Resurrection", "All Cried Out" was another emotive performance from the former Yazoo singer. In the UK, it gave Alison her second (of six) top 10 hit, but in Australia, she had to be satisfied with hovering around the top 20, with later singles "Invisible" and "Is This Love?" also failing to match the earlier success of her two top 10 hits with Yazoo.

Next week: just the one new entry, but what a belter it is! Plus, some very popular acts do very poorly with their latest singles.

Back to: Nov 25, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 9, 1984

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: November 29, 1992

By 1992, it was nothing new for a soap star to try their hand at a music career. We'd had Kylie, Jason, Craig, Melissa... and this week that year, another cast member from E Street joined the gang.

Toni Pearen became the latest soapie actress to visit the top 10

She didn't reach the chart highs of her fellow double threats, but she did manage a couple of top 10 singles, starting with her debut release - a song you never really hear much of anymore. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 29, 1992

Meanwhile, at number 1 this week in 1992 were Boyz II Men, whose mega-ballad "End Of The Road" spent a second week on top. 

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Baby I Need Your Loving" by Movida
Peak: number 99
This Eurodance-style remake of the Four Tops classic (a US number 11 in 1964) actually originated out of Australia, but is yet to find its way online.

Number 99 "This Is It" by Ruth Campbell
Peak: number 99
Another commercial dance cover now - and this remake of the Melba Moore disco tune was a favourite of mine in 1992, despite dating back to 1990. Why the renewed interest? Keep reading...

Number 97 "Tears" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 92
Another reworking, although Jenny Morris had been the singer of the previous version of "Tears" the debut single of her former band The Crocodiles. This update appeared on her best of album.

Number 93 "You Gotta Believe" by Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch
Peak: number 55
Hands up if you'd forgotten Mark Wahlberg (and friends) released a second album? I had, although I don't think I've ever listened to this poorly received lead single and title track before. 

Single Of The Week
"Can't Wait Any Longer" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 111
If lead single "Lead Me To Water" had been a disappointment then this follow-up was a disaster as it became the first Southern Sons single to miss the top 100 completely. I actually think "Can't Wait Any Longer" is a better song than its predecessor - at least, the chorus is, but it's kind of boring until it gets there. Sitting on their Nothing But The Truth album, however, was a ballad that would save the band (for the time being) when it was released as single number three in 1993.

New Entries
Number 46 "Scars" by 1927
Peak: number 46
While Southern Sons were doing a 1927 (i.e. going from major success on their first album to struggling second time around), the latter returned with their self-titled third album in 1992 and didn't find the Australian public any more receptive than when they'd last visited the ARIA chart in 1990. Yes, 1927's lead single, "Scars", did return them to the top 50, but only just and they too would see their next single, "It Ain't Love", miss the top 100 altogether.

Number 42 "The Last Song" by Elton John
Peak: number 32
Also returning to the top 50 was a man who'd visited it many times before, but not with previous single "Runaway Train". Written in the wake of the death of Freddie Mercury from an AIDS-related illness, "The Last Song" is a poignant ballad about a father getting to grips with the fact that his estranged son is dying from the deadly disease.

Number 40 "December 1963 (Oh What A Night) (remix)" by The Four Seasons featuring Frankie Valli
Peak: number 3
If there was one song that provided the soundtrack to school formals and summer parties across 1992-93, it was this track, which had originally reached number 2 in Australia in 1976. One of many songs to have received the Ben Liebrand remix treatment in 1988 (when it was released in Europe), the dance version of "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" finally became a hit locally four years later. Although The Four Seasons member Frankie Valli receives a featuring credit on this single, much of the lead vocal is performed by drummer Gerri Polci and it was co-written by keyboard player Bob Gaudio, who originally set it in 1933 when Prohibition ended. The date was changed before it was recorded. It's not stated explicitly, but the song is about a guy having sex for the first time.

Number 38 "You Don't Treat Me No Good" by Sonia Dada
Peak: number 1
Another song that was massive the summer of '92-'93, finally reaching number 1 in the season's final week, was this debut single by American soul and R&B band Sonia Dada. Not successful at home, they were embraced wholeheartedly in Australia, with two top 3 singles and a number 2 self-titled album. "You Don't Treat Me No Good" was another song that benefitted from a dance remix, which opened it up to a much wider audience and helped it become the third highest-selling single of 1993.

Number 37 "Sweet Love" by Company Of Strangers
Peak: number 21
A change of pace now for Australian supergroup Company Of Strangers, who followed up the rousing sing-along "Motor City (I Get Lost)" with rock ballad "Sweet Love", which brought them even closer to the top 20. The song featured a solo lead vocal by James Reyne, with Daryl Braithwaite relegated to the background. In between scenes of the band performing, the music video also features different depictions of love, including, surprisingly for 1992, what seems to be a same-sex couple.

Number 36 "In Your Room" by Toni Pearen
Peak: number 10
Anyone who'd been watching Network Ten about a year earlier would've discovered E Street cast member Toni Pearen could sing - and a whole lot better than Melissa, if we're being honest. I always thought it was a wasted opportunity for Toni not to release the version of "This Is It" she performed on a Network Ten promo, but instead she waited until the end of 1992 as she was leaving the soap that had made her famous to launch her music career with top 10 hit "In Your Room". A cheery pop ditty co-written by Oliver Lieber (some of Paula Abdul's early singles) and Ellen Shipley (Belinda Carlisle's big hits), it steered clear of the sexy leanings of her chart-topping cast-mate and suited the 20-year-old's girl-next-door image perfectly. I was never sure about those coloured spanx, though.

Number 35 "People Everyday" by Arrested Development
Peak: number 6
They'd put themselves on the map with "Tennessee" and Arrested Development went one better by making the top 10 with second single "People Everyday". Based on the similarly named "Everyday People" by Sly & The Family Stone, the track featured verses written by Speech about his discovery of more diverse African-American culture than he'd grown up with in middle America. "People Everyday" remains the hip-hop band's biggest hit in Australia.

Number 33 "Faith" by The Dukes
Peak: number 29
While Wendy Matthews had embarked on a quite successful solo career - "The Day You Went Away" moved up to number 3 this week - some of the other Absent Friends, including her other half, Sean Kelly, formed The Dukes. After striking out with debut single "Gonna Get High", they found themselves in the right section of the chart with follow-up "Faith". A much more commercial offering, the brass-tinged "Faith" would be as good as it got in terms of chart success for the fledgling band, who had parted ways by 1994.

Next week: one of the greatest power ballads of all time debuts on its way to monopolise the number 1 spot, while a parody version of another long-running chart-topper also arrives.

Back to: Nov 22, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 6, 1992

Saturday, 25 November 2017

This Week In 1984: November 25, 1984

There are big chart weeks and then there was the ARIA singles top 50 from this week in 1984. Among the 10 new entries - the most for the year - were a chart-topper, a number 2, a number 3 and a number 5, plus a bunch of other songs that really should've been that big.

She made it through the wilderness but could Madonna navigate Venice's maze-like canals?

Easily the song that had the most impact was the lead single from a female artist's second album. As well as getting to number 1, the track would turn her from successful pop singer into a superstar.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 25, 1984

As a bonus, her future number 1 single would be the one to knock "I Just Called To Say I Love You" off the top spot. Although not for a few weeks, with Stevie Wonder spending his sixth (of eight) week atop the chart this week in 1984.

Off The Chart
Number 84 "Your Love Is King" by Sade
Peak: number 64
One of two singles debuting on the top 100 this week from the sophisti-pop band named after singer Sade Adu. We'll see the other one do significantly better next week.

Number 73 "It's Magic" by John Justin
Peak: number 63
It'd take three years and a remake for John Justin to breach the top 50, something he couldn't do with this debut single, which featured the musical talents of Kate Ceberano (backing vocals), James Freud (bass) and Phil Calvert (drums).

New Entries
Number 50 "Shooting From The Heart" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 47
The only one of the 10 new entries not to make the top 30 was the latest from Cliff Richard. "Shooting From The Heart" was taken from The Rock Collection, an album cobbled together from previously released (but not widely available) material and some new tracks, including this tune written by prolific songwriter Roger Greenaway. The song maintained a string of under-achieving singles dating back two years for Cliff, who, if nothing else, still had enough of a fanbase to register minor hits in Australia.

Number 47 "Together In Electric Dreams" by Giorgio Moroder with Philip Oakey
Peak: number 5
The Human League's singles had also been under-performing lately, with the second and third tracks lifted from Hysteria not making a showing in the ARIA top 100. While it would be a couple of years before the British synthpop band returned to the chart, frontman Philip Oakey enjoyed a top 5 hit with this soundtrack single. Taken from computer rom-com (so modern!) Electric Dreams, which I've still never seen all the way through, "Together In Electric Dreams" saw Phil team up with synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder, who was recruited to do for Electric Dreams what he'd done for Flashdance a year earlier by the film's director, Steve Barron. Since Steve had previously directed the music video for The Human League's "Don't You Want Me", he suggested Phil for the track. These days, the song (which was my number 1 for 1984) is included in The Human League's repertoire, being performed by the band live and appearing on their greatest hits albums.

Number 43 "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" by Paul Young
Peak: number 25
One thing you might not have known about Paul Young's three top 20 hits from debut album No Parlez - unless you've read my recaps about them - is that they were all cover versions of little known songs. Paul continued that practice by remaking this tune, originally recorded in 1972 by Ann Peebles, which would appear on his upcoming second album, The Secret Of Association. For me, it was an odd choice of single, which moved away from the smooth soul of tracks like "Love Of The Common People" and "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" into harsher, funkier territory - and perhaps that's why it didn't perform better.

Number 42 "If This Is It" by Huey Lewis And The News
Peak: number 20
Up until a week earlier, Huey Lewis And The News's third album, Sports, had yet to show its face on the ARIA top 100 despite its first two singles, "Heart And Soul" and "I Want A New Drug", both making the top 30. Things hit a snag when third single "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" missed the singles top 100, but the band got things back on track with "If This Is It", which, quite frankly, should've been a single much sooner. The doo-wop-style tune not only became the most successful single from Sports in Australia, but finally prompted the album to start selling. Fun (demonic) fact: "If This Is It" became Huey Lewis And The News's third consecutive single to peak at number 6 in the US.

Number 40 "Out Of Touch" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
Peak: number 11
You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of big hits Hall & Oates had registered in Australia (i.e. five) before this lead single from 12th album Big Bam Boom. And the fifth of those top 20 singles had been two years earlier when "Maneater" reached number 4 - their highest ever placing locally. It was quite a different story in the US, where Daryl and John had previously racked up the same number of chart-topping singles (i.e. five), not to mention another eight top 10 hits, making them the most successful musical duo of all time. That status was helped by "Out Of Touch" becoming yet another American number 1 hit. The song, which gave them their final ARIA top 50 appearance, had a more synth-based sound and a dancier feel than anything the pair had done before - and it's my favourite of theirs, although the version used in the music video isn't the proper single edit.

Number 38 "Too Late For Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon
Peak: number 13
For second generation hitmakers, being the child of a music star must be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, people will automatically be interested in hearing what your songs sound like; on the other, they're always going to compare you to your parent. That would have been especially the case for Julian Lennon, the elder son of one of the most successful and influential musicians of all time, and one whose death just under four years earlier had shaken the world. Julian proved up to the challenge with his debut album, Valotte, which was kicked off (everywhere except America) by the awesomely poppy "Too Late For Goodbyes". Enough people were interested in hearing - and purchasing - the song, and any comparisons to his late father mostly revolved around how eerily similar his voice sounded.

Number 35 "Big On Love" by Models
Peak: number 24
Models had been having difficulty following breakthrough single "I Hear Motion" with another hit as none of the other tracks lifted from The Pleasure Of Your Company did anywhere near as well. Things fell into place with "Big On Love", which would end up on Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight when it was released nine months later. Their most commercial offering to date, it was produced by Reggie Lucas, who'd been responsible for the initial stages of Madonna's debut album. 

Number 34 "Like A Virgin" by Madonna
Peak: number 1
Speaking of... Madonna was just about done with that debut album (although "Lucky Star" was still in the top 40 this week) and ready to unleash the follow-up on an unsuspecting public. I say "unsuspecting" because who could have predicted just how massive she'd become over the next year? Of course, as soon as the title track and lead single from Like A Virgin - together with its glamorous Venice-set music video - made its debut, it was instantly apparent this was a career-making moment. 
The song had actually had its premiere during the very first MTV Video Music Awards in mid-September - an iconic performance in which Madonna, dressed in a wedding gown, writhed around on the floor. By the time the single was released a month-and-a-half later, it sped up the chart, giving Madonna her first (of many) number 1 hits in both Australia and the US.
Written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (see also: "True Colors", "Alone", "Eternal Flame"), a demo version of "Like A Virgin" found its way to Madonna, who recognised the potential of the song. Producer Nile Rodgers, who was hired for Like A Virgin, wasn't so sure, but eventually came around to the track. Side note: the songwriters didn't actually meet Madonna for many years, and when they did, they were snubbed by the Queen Of Pop.
Thanks to its title alone, "Like A Virgin" was always going to get a lot of attention - positive and negative. But it was also a great pop song - and I say that as someone who actually doesn't like it very much. Not only was it well-produced, catchy and everything else a big hit should be, it established Madonna's stance as an artist who would push the boundaries, embrace her sexuality and be a strong female voice for the ever-growing legion of fans who aspired to be just like her.   

Number 19 "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 2
Billy Ocean's first number 1 single was 16 months away but he came close with this song, which brought him back to the top 50 for the first time since his 1976 breakthrough hit, "Love Really Hurts Without You", peaked one place lower at number 3. The lead single from the Suddenly album, "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" kicked off a huge few years for Billy, who notched up six top 15 singles in the next three-and-a-half years. The Grammy-winning tune was even switched up for its release in different parts of the world, with alternate versions "European Queen..." and "African Queen..." issued in relevant territories.

Number 13 "The Wild Boys" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 3
Nile Rodgers was as busy in the mid-'80s as he has been the last few years, responsible not only for producing "Like A Virgin" but also this brand new song by Duran Duran. The only studio track included on the band's concert album, Arena, "The Wild Boys" was inspired by the novel of the same name by William S Burroughs, which the music video's director, Russell Mulcahy, wanted to turn into a film. Russell got to spend a stack of cash on the Mad Max-looking, water-dunking windmill-featuring music video for the song in the hope that a film studio would green-light the project. They didn't. Still, "The Wild Boys" did give Duran Duran another massive hit. In fact, its number 3 peak makes it their highest-charting single in Australia. In the US, the single spent four weeks at number 2, stuck behind "Out Of Touch" and "Like A Virgin".

Next week: Prince helps another female singer out with a hit single, plus Sade's other single does manage to break into the top 50.

Back to: Nov 18, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 2, 1984