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24 April 2020

Week commencing 24 April 1989

When it comes to having an illustrious chart career, timing is everything - and we'll witness that among this week's new entries.  Included among them is an act whose best charting years were well behind them, one who had come back after a lull but was now struggling again, one who might have had more success if their music was out a few years later, and one whose time was yet to come.  Plus we'll also see an already two years-old single and another by an artist whose two hits were four years apart (and this obviously wasn't one of them) in the bubbling WAY down under section.

Vanessa could only dream of landing a hit down under in 1989.


Number 106 "Promised Land" by The Style Council
Peak: number 106
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks

The Style Council charted ten singles on the Australian singles chart between 1983 and 1988, with the biggest of those being "Shout to the Top", peaking at number 4 in early 1985.  They hadn't placed a single in the top 40 though since 1985, when "Boy Who Cried Wolf" peaked at number 38 in September of that year.  A mere three and a half years since then, music styles had changed quite a bit, and The Style Council had updated their sound with this more dance-orientated single - a cover version of a pioneering house track from 1987, by Joe Smooth.  The sound didn't quite connect as well with audiences as The Style's earlier releases, peaking at number 27 in their native UK, and just outside the top 100 down under.  If comments on the video on YouTube are to be believed, the record company were not happy about the band's stylistic change in direction, and did not want them to diversify their sound.  It's a shame, as I think this is quite a good track.

Number 122 "Never Had a Lot to Lose" by Cheap Trick
Peak: number 118
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks 
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks

After a nearly six-year absence from the Australian singles chart, Cheap Trick were back in a big way in 1988, with back-to-back number 1 and number 4 hits.  However, the third and fourth singles from the album languished in the 60s, and this fifth and final single from the album performed even worse.  "Never Had a Lot to Lose" had a rockier vibe to it than earlier singles from the album.

Number 147 "Hit the Ground" by The Darling Buds
Peak: number 147
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks

To my ears, this track is just the kind of jangly indie pop with female vocals that might have dented our top 50 anywhere between 1991 and 1993; but alas, "Hit the Ground" was perhaps a bit too 'alternative' for Australian tastes in 1989.  It was also, oddly, the Welsh band's only charting single in Australia, and also their biggest hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 27 in January 1989.

Number 150 "Dreamin'" by Vanessa Williams
Peak: number 108
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks 
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks

Speaking of sounds that Australia wasn't quite ready for, Vanessa Williams made her understated debut on the Australian chart with "Dreamin'" this week in 1989.  At this point, she was mainly known for being crowned Miss America 1984 - a title she had to relinquish a year later after it was revealed that Penthouse magazine would be publishing nudes of her.  Oo-er.  Vanessa would, of course, go on to score a number one hit down under in 1992, but for now she would have to settle for merely bubbling under - something she would do again later in the year, and again in 1991, before scoring that breakthrough hit.  She literally did save the best for last!

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 161 "We'll Be Right Back" by Steinski & Mass Media
Peak: number 161
Weeks on chart: 1 week

This single was released at the end of 1986 in America, and in early 1987 in the UK, where it peaked at number 63 in January of that year.  Quite why it took another two plus years to get released in Australia, I don't know.  Perhaps the record label thought now was the right time, given that some rap songs were finally crossing over into the mainstream?  I caught this one once on Channel 7's Saturday morning music video program of the time, Saturday Morning Live, and recorded it onto my first VHS of music videos recorded from the TV.  I liked that the song sampled TV commercials, and that the video was made up of old commercials from (I assume) the 1950s and 1960s.

Number 176 "Somebody Like You" by Robbie Nevil
Peak: number 176
Weeks on chart: 1 week

Robbie scored a number 4 hit down under in March 1987 with "C'est La Vie".  It looked, at this point, that he was going to be a one-hit wonder, with nothing else he released peaking higher than number 38.  That, of course, would all change in 1991, when "Just Like You" matched the peak of "C'est La Vie", though he would never again score a major hit after that.  Listening to this for the first time, it's not bad, but is missing that extra something his hit singles had.

Next week (1 May): a whopping seven new entries - among them is the flop fourth single from a number one album from 1988, and the chart arrival of a native Australian group.  You can also follow my posts on facebook.

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17 April 2020

Week commencing 17 April 1989

A mixed bag of new entries this week, with a common thread - of your single performing better overseas than in your home country - shared by three of them.  The other new entry contains an artist who would eventually go on to greater success in Australia than in her homeland.

Before escaping, Margaret Urlich was part of this Kiwi female covers band.


Number 103 "Melting Pot" by When the Cat's Away
Peak: number 103
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks

When the Cat's Away were a female vocal 'supergroup' of sorts, although Margaret Urlich - who went on to have a successful solo career - is the only star I can identify.  The group formed in 1985 to perform cover versions of songs they liked, all just for a bit of fun.  This song, however, went all the way to number one on the New Zealand singles chart in December 1988.  I first became aware of it when seeing it at number one on the New Zealand top 10 singles chart published in the Australian edition of Smash Hits magazine.  A cover version of the 1969 Blue Mink song calling for racial harmony, this track peaked 102 places lower on the ARIA singles chart.  I caught the video once or twice in early 1989 on rage, aired before the top 50 chart rundown commenced.

Number 127 "Something So Strong" by Jim Capaldi
Peak: number 126
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks

Until now, Jim's only real singles chart success in Australia had been his number 6-peaking "Love Hurts" - one of two versions of the same song that became big hits here in 1976.  Making the chart 'success' of this track even more strange is that it didn't chart in his native UK, the US, or anywhere else for that matter.  It does sound like the kind of thing Australian FM radio might have lapped up in the late 80s, though.  Jim passed away in 2005.

Number 140 "Shooting from My Heart" by Big Bam Boo
Peak: number 122
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks

I would not have known this song, if not for rage re-airing a 1989 episode of The Factory that it was played on during retro month 2019.  Big Bam Boo were a British duo, and this track peaked at number 61 in the UK, and number 36 in Canada.  The song has a big sing-a-long chorus, and I think it deserved to do better.

Number 147 "Driven Out" by The Fixx
Peak: number 123
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks

Hailing from the UK, this single did not chart in The Fixx's homeland, but peaked at number 55 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in March 1989.  The group had two top 40-peaking singles in Australia: 1982's "Stand Or Fall", and 1983's "One Thing Leads to Another".

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 166 "One Love" by Pat Benatar 
Peak: number 166
Weeks on chart: 1 week

Pat scored a big hit in 1988 with her version of "All Fired Up".  Few probably would have predicted at the time that it would be her last major hit.  This third single from Pat's 1988 Wide Awake in Dreamland album barely registered a blip, peaking at number 59 in the UK and doing nothing everywhere else. 

Next week (24 April): another four new entries - two artists who scored big hits during the 80s among them, plus the understated chart arrival of an artist who would go on to score a number one in Australia. Two bubbling WAY down under singles also debut.  You can also follow my posts on facebook.

< Previous Post: 10 April 1989                                       Next Post: 24 April 1989 >

10 April 2020

Week commencing 10 April 1989

There's a fine line between success and failure sometimes.  Does it matter if your latest single stalls outside the top 100 if your album is selling by the truckload?  Does it matter if your first foray into music barely charts if you go on to be a successful producer and remixer?  Does it matter if your recording career isn't that big if you go on to become a Member of Parliament?  Probably not.  This week, we see each of these kinds of acts among the four new top 150 entries.

Before Tiger King was a thing, Enya was the Lion Queen.


Number 123 "Evening Falls..." by Enya
Peak: number 104
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks 
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks

Enya's breakthrough hit, "Orinoco Flow", was so unlike anything else on the chart, which no doubt helped it to get noticed and climb to number 6 in Australia.  The follow-up release, "Evening Falls..." is a rather haunting tune, but a hit single it doth not sound like.  Despite that, this single managed to reach number 3 in Enya's native Ireland, and number 20 in the UK.  I doubt the record company were too bothered that it didn't do quite as well as "Orinoco Flow", given that parent album Watermark went on to spend several years on the chart, and earned a 6x platinum certification in Australia.  The third release from Watermark, "Storms in Africa (Part II)", seems like a much better-known song than "Evening Falls...", thanks to its use in both the movie Green Card and in Ansett TV commercials; but, somehow, it did not even chart in Australia!  Enya will pay the 101-150 region of the chart another visit when 1992 rolls around.

Number 138 "Ready for Love" by Gary Moore
Peak: number 113
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks

Although Gary had been releasing music since 1978 and had a few (outside the top 40) charting albums Down Under, he had so far only managed to score one moderate hit single here, with a cover of the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" in 1987.  While his signature tune would come a year later, in the meantime, the best Gary could do was number 113 with this, the second release from his After the War album.  Gary will join us again in 1991 and 1992 with additional peaking-outside-the-top-100 singles.

Number 142 "Smile Me Down" by Andrew Cash
Peak: number 109
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks

Hailing from Canada, Andrew Cash these days is primarily known as being a Canadian politician, who was a Member of Parliament there between 2011 and 2015.  There is scant information about his recording career on his wikipedia page, though it does mention he recorded three albums, one of which was a top 100-charting success in his homeland.

Number 150 "Jibaro" by Electra
Peak: number 150
Weeks in top 150: 1 week

Eight months before (barely) gracing our charts, this one peaked at number 54 in the UK in August 1988.  Who was behind Electra?  Why, none other than Paul Oakenfold, who went on to become a successful record producer and remixer, remixing songs for the likes of Madonna, U2, Britney Spears and... The Rolling Stones, and forming Perfecto Records with partner Steve Osborne.

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 154 "Ana Ng" by They Might Be Giants
Peak: number 154
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks

I'm not sure where, but I once read a comment that They Might Be Giants make kindergarten music for adults, and I think that's an apt description.
Hailing from Brooklyn in the US, "Ana Ng" was the first single lifted from the band's second album Lincoln (number 116, May 1989).  It was They Might Be Giants' first release to chart nationally in Australia.  I say 'nationally', because a single from their 1986 debut They Might Be Giants album (number 159, December 1990), "Don't Let's Start", registered on four of the five state charts in the second half of 1988, but missed the national chart (when it ended at number 100).  Such is life.
Interestingly, "Ang Ng" did not chart anywhere else, other than the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart (not a 'real' chart, in my opinion), where it peaked at number 11 in December 1988.  The single was not released commercially in the US, which at that time rendered it ineligible to make the Billboard Hot 100.

You may be wondering... who is the 'Ana Ng' in question?  Well, the song came to be when John Linnell, who sings lead on this track, was looking at a Manhattan phonebook for inspiration when writing songs, and noticed the large number of Ng listings - a common Cantonese surname.  Linnell also drew inspiration from a Pogo comic strip, depicting characters who were digging a hole to China.

They Might Be Giants would not score a breakthrough hit single in Australia until "Boss of Me" (number 29, September 2001) was used as the theme for the TV series Malcolm in the Middle.  Despite their lack of hits down under, the band placed six singles outside the national ARIA top 100 between now and 1997.  We will next see They Might Be Giants in 1990.

Number 169 "Superwoman" by Karyn White
Peak: number 162
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks

Unmistakably a L.A. Reid/Babyface production, "Superwoman" was the second single lifted from American Karyn White's debut album Karyn White (number 130, May 1989).  It followed the more-upbeat "The Way You Love Me", which was not released in Australia until January 1990 as Karyn's third single, with "Secret Rendezvous" being released in-between in June 1989.  In contrast to "Superwoman", both of these singles failed to chart locally.  Karyn's biggest chart success in Australia came in 1991, when "Romantic" peaked at number 68 on the ARIA singles chart in October of that year.
I've never been a fan of this style of... schmaltz that L.A. Reid/Babyface seemed to specialise in, and which usually sold by the truckload in the US during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.  Indeed, "Superwoman" peaked at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in April 1989.

We will see Karyn again in 1992.

Next week (17 April): another 4 debuts, including an all-girl Kiwi chart-topper from 1988, plus another bubbling WAY down under entry.  You can also follow my posts on facebook.

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03 April 2020

Week commencing 3 April 1989

Once again, I struggle to find a connection between this week's new entries, so let's just get on with the recap.

k.d. lang: Before she was cravin' she was cryin'.

Number 108 "When I Grow Up" by Michelle Shocked
Peak: number 108
Peak date: 3 April 1989
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
Weeks on chart: 6 weeks

Michelle scored a number 51 'hit' in Australia in February 1989 with "Anchorage", and this was the follow-up release.  Both singles were lifted from her Short Sharp Shocked album, which peaked at number 61 on the ARIA albums chart.  I remember seeing the music video when I first stayed up a little bit late to channel flick between MTV, rage, and Night Shift around 2-3 a.m. as a 10 year-old.  A lyric that stuck with me from the song was "we're gonna have a hundred and twenty babies".  These days, Michelle is probably more known for her homophobic statements than her music.  Michelle will pay us another visit before the year is out.

Number 127 "I Believe in You" by Stryper
Peak: number 109
Peak date: 17 April 1989
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks

The only thing I reallly know about Stryper is that they're a Christian (hair?) metal band.  I remember seeing a TV commercial with them in it circa 1987 and laughing at it with my sister.  This is just another typical overblown rock ballad 'metal' bands were churning out in the late 80s.

Number 136 "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" by Judson Spence
Peak: number 133
Peak dates: 10 April 1989 and 1 May 1989
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks

Probably the only charting release to mention lima beans, I don't have much to say about this release, except that his wikipedia page says it was a top 40 hit - presumably in the US - in 1988 (the Billboard website is a bit crap these days for verifying such claims, and no source has been cited).  I can reliably tell you, however, that this single peaked at number 31 in New Zealand in February 1989.

Number 146 "Cryin'" by Roy Orbison/k.d. lang
Peak: number 143 (1989 release); number 71 (1992 release)
Peak dates: 1 May 1989 (1989 release); 23 November 1992 (1992 release)
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks (in 1989); 17 weeks (1989 and 1992 chart runs combined)

This single originally bubbled under on the Australian Music Report chart in April 1988, when it was ranked 13th, for one week, on the list of 'singles receiving significant sales reports beyond the top 100'.  With the Big O passing away in December 1988, and being the flavour of the month for much of 1989, the time was obviously ripe for a re-issue of this duet with k.d. lang.  The single would have greater success in late 1992, however, when it was again re-issued and peaked at number 71.

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 153 "Cry" by Waterfront
Peak: number 153
Peak date: 3 April 1989
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks

Waterfront hailed from Wales, and despite its low local peak, "Cry" debuted on the Australian chart almost two months before it entered their native UK singles chart, where it peaked at number 17.  Another interesting fact about this one is that it performed better on the US chart (number 10), and also did better across the ditch, where it peaked at number 30 in New Zealand.  On the Australian Music Report chart, "Cry" peaked at number 100 in July 1989.

Number 161 "Born This Way (Let's Dance)" by Cookie Crew
Peak: number 161
Peak date: 3 April 1989
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks

Twenty-two years before Lady Gaga proclaimed that she was "born this way", Cookie Crew declared the same thing, with a 'Let's Dance' subtitle.  Cookie Crew scored a top 40 hit in Australia, teaming up with The Beatmasters, with "Rok Da House" (number 37, June 1988) - a song that the Cookie Crew don't actually like, and refused to perform on Top of the Pops when it became a UK top 10 hit, as they felt it was not representative of their sound.
While "Born This Way..." may have been more indicative of the Crew's typical sound, it didn't perform as well on the charts, either here or in their native UK, where it peaked at number 23.

In between "Rok Da House" and "Born This Way (Let's Dance)", Cookie crew released the single "Females (Get on Up)" in Australia.  While it missed the national chart (before ARIA extended the chart beyond number 100), it registered on two of the state charts in August 1988, peaking at number 94 in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, and at number 66 in Western Australia.

Cookie Crew released two further singles from their Born This Way (number 118, July 1989) album: "Got to Keep On" (released in Australia in July 1989) and "Come on & Get Some" (October 1989), but neither charted locally.

Next week (10 April): another four new top 150 entries, including the flop second single from an album that would go on to be certified 6 times platinum in Australia and spend several years on the chart.  Plus, there are two bubbling WAY down under entries.  Don't forget you can also follow my posts on facebook.

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