18 December 2020

Week commencing 18 December 1989

This week's chart was the last chart survey conducted by ARIA for 1989, and the final chart of the 1980s decade.  Owing to the two-week Christmas break in compiling the chart, this week's chart was repeated on 25 December 1989 and 1 December 1990, although it only reflects sales for the week of 11-17 December 1989.
Since 30 January 1989, we have seen 242 singles peak within the number 101 to 150 region of the chart, and a further (at the time of writing) 55 singles peak outside the top 150 - and I've now written about all of them!  Hopefully you've discovered or re-discovered some songs you liked during this nostalgic journey.

This week we have six new top 150 debuts and, for the first time since 23 October 1989, no bubbling WAY down under entries to look at.

Before delving into this week's chart, there are a couple of earlier posts from 1989 that I have recently updated, after additional bubbling WAY down under entries have been uncovered.  These posts are:

- 13 March 1989, with a new bubbling WAY down under debut from Joan Jett and The Blackhearts;
- 10 April 1989, with a new bubbling WAY down under debut from Karyn White;
- 10 July 1989, with new bubbling WAY down under debuts from Pseudo Echo and Big Country.

Finally, as no new chart was produced for the following two weeks, my next chart recap will be published in three weeks' time, on 8 January 2021.  I hope to see you then!

Michelle Shocked: what Karens looked like in 1989.

Top 150 debuts:

Number 129 "The Angels" by Melissa Etheridge
Peak: number 116
Peak date: 5 February 1990
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks
Melissa's fifth single in Australia, this second release from her Brave and Crazy album (number 9, October 1989) was her first to miss the top 40.  I thought I didn't know this one, but the chorus rings a bell.  FM radio in Melbourne loved Melissa Etheridge during this period, and I no doubt heard it played on the radio several times.
Unfortunately, the ARIA database conflates this single with Melissa's similarly-titled "Angels Would Fall" from 1999, due to the way the database is set up - apparently, each title is assigned an eight-letter code, using the first four letters of the artist's name, and the first four characters of the song title.  This occasionally leads to errors.  In this instance, "The Angels" would have been listed as "Angels, The", and therefore would share the same code with Melissa's "Angels Come Down".  I am therefore unable to tell you exactly how this single performed on the state charts, but can report that it appeared to do much better on the South Australia/Northern Territory chart, where it debuted at number 54, than in other states.

Melissa will pay us another visit in 1990.

Number 136 "Head On" by The Jesus and Mary Chain
Peak: number 102
Peak date: 22 January 1990
Weeks in top 150: 11 weeks

Another one I probably heard at the time (and, I think, saw on Countdown Revolution), but had no recollection of... until I caught it on rage again in the late 2000s, is this one from The Jesus and Mary Chain.  "Head On" is quite a poppy effort from the Scottish band - still not quite 'pop', but about as catchy and anthemic as they get, and, dare I say this, not entirely unlike Transvision Vamp if they had a male singer.  I could also picture the song being used as music on Home and Away during a 'young lovers' trip to the fairground' scene.  I probably would have enjoyed the song at the time had I been a little bit older (I was 11).

The more-commercial sound connected with the record-buying public... well, relatively, giving the band their first charting single in Australia.  Lifted from the album Automatic (number 89, February 1990), "Head On" peaked at number 57 in the band's native UK in November 1989.  "Head On" performed stronger on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it peaked at number 92.

We will see The Jesus and Mary Chain again in 1990.

Number 141 Very Metal Noise Pollution E.P. by Pop Will Eat Itself
Peak: Number 121
Peak date: 15 January 1990
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks

If any Pop Will Eat Itself single charted in Australia, I would have guessed that it would be "Wise Up! Sucker".  I caught the video for that track several times on TV, and even on a TV screen in the music department at my local K-Mart!  The English band even performed it 'live' on Countdown Revolution!  But, somehow, that single did not chart at all.  Instead, this extended play - that is, E.P. for short - which I had never heard of before, did...

I assume that the first track on the E.P., "PWEI-zation", which I have embedded below, was the one promoted as the 'single', but I could be wrong.  A music video was made for track 3 from the EP, "Def Con One", which I have also embedded below.  This latter track samples The Twilight Zone theme music, and also nicks the hook from Lipps, Inc.'s "Funkytown" (number 1, August 1980).
Very Metal Noise Pollution was an in-between albums release, and peaked at number 45 in the UK in September 1989.

Pop Will Eat Itself will join us again in 1992.

Number 144 "On the Greener Side" by Michelle Shocked
Peak: number 118
Peak date: 8 January 1990
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks

We first saw Michelle Shocked, real name Karen Michelle Johnston, bubble down under back in April 1989, and here she was again - this time with the lead single from her second album, Captain Swing (number 58, January 1990).  "On the Greener Side" does not appear to have charted on any other 'real' (sales-based) chart, though it did peak at number 19 on the US Billboard 'Alternative Airplay' chart... whatever that means, in January 1990.  While Karen, sorry, Michelle will just scrape into the top 100 singles chart in 1992 with "Come a Long Way" (number 100, July 1992), this will be the last time we see her bubble down under.
Due to the apparent absence of this song on YouTube, I can only assume that Karen Michelle wants to speak to the manager whenever her videos or songs are uploaded.  But, thankfully, she doesn't seem to mind having them on Vimeo - assuming the 'Michelle Shocked' account responsible for uploading the video I have embedded below is actually her.  The music video, if I am not mistaken, loosely attempts to subvert the Robert Palmer 'pouting models' music video formula, showcasing a bunch of men in suits cavorting behind her nonchalantly while strumming guitars, before being revealed in Speedos, swimming goggles and not much else flexing their muscles.  Enjoy.

Number 145 "You've Got It" by Simply Red
Peak: number 127
Peak date: 8 January 1990
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks

Just a few months ago, Simply Red topped the ARIA singles chart with their rendition of "If You Don't Know Me by Now" (number 1, August 1989).  Two single releases later, they were just scraping into the top 130, with the fourth and final single release from their A New Flame album (number 2, August 1989).  If not for my dad owning the album on cassette (and being subjected to it on the car tape deck), I would not have heard this song before; so a lack of promotion was probably a factor in its poor chart showing.  The single performed better in the band's native UK, though still flopped, peaking at number 46 in November 1989.  "You've Got It" peaked at number 14 in Ireland in October 1989, but was not a hit anywhere else.  Simply Red front man Mick Hucknall co-wrote the song with Lamont Dozier, one third of Motown's songwriting and production powerhouse Holland-Dozier-Holland - not that it helped save "You've Got It" from being rather dull and unexciting.

"You've Got It" performed strongest on the South Australia/Northern Territory state chart, where it peaked at number 92.  The single also peaked higher, at number 80, on the Australian Music Report singles chart.

We shall next see Simply Red in 1992.

Number 146 "Heading West" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 117
Peak date: 15 January 1990
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks

Poor Cyndi had not had much chart success with the post-"I Drove All Night" singles from her A Night to Remember album.  On a rosier note, at least "Heading West" - the fourth and final single released from the album - peaked 28 places higher than the last one.  Like Simply Red, I never heard this one at the time - though remember seeing it in the shops, so lack of promotion probably hindered its success.
"Heading West" missed the top 100 on all of the state charts, though performed strongest on the Victoria/Tasmania chart, where it peaked at number 103.  Internationally, "Heading West" didn't do much better on any major chart, though peaked at number 68 in the UK in December 1989.  It seemed that, from this point onwards, Cyndi would struggle to achieve significant chart success, and would unfairly be relegated to being a relic of the 1980s.

Cyndi will join us next in 1992.

Next chart (8 January): After the Christmas/New Year's break, the ARIA chart resumes on 8 January, kicking off the 1990s with four new top 150 debuts and one bubbling WAY down under entry.  In 1990, we will see 272 singles peaking in the 101 to number 150 region of the chart, and (at the time of writing this) a further 29 singles debuting and peaking outside the top 150.  That's at least 301 songs I have to listen to and write about next year...
Thank you for reading my posts throughout the year, and I hope you have a safe and pleasant holiday season!  You can also follow my posts on instagram and facebook.
< Previous week: 11 December 1989                               Next chart: 8 January 1990 >


  1. Rage used to play Can U Dig It by Pop Will Eat Itself quite a bit back in the day. Surprised by the lack of chart action

    1. I haven't asked about 'Can U Dig It?' It's possible that it charted outside the top 150.

  2. Maybe you can do a full list of such entries with according data, like date of entry, peak and weeks on chart? :)

    1. While I could post a list of all entries with that data, it would kind of defeat the purpose of reading my weekly posts, so I am reluctant to do so.

    2. That's OK, it was just a suggestion :)

  3. No surprise that Melissa Etheridge had her chart peak in Adelaide. SA always embraced her releases, the first place in the world to have a number 1 single of hers.


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