The nine new top 150-peaking entries this week cover all bases. Everything from metal to hip-hop to radio station themes to rock ballads to... opera is there. Shall we take a look?
Top 150 debuts:
Number 108 "Nessun Dorma" by Luciano Pavarotti
Peak: number 108
Peak dates: 22 October 1990 and 29 October 1990
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
Best known - to me, anyway - as one of The Three Tenors, Italian operatic tenor Pavarotti's greatest success in Australia came on the albums chart, where he landed two number ones in 1990 and 1994, alongside José Carreras and Placido Domingo.
When it came to the singles chart, however, it was a different story, and the only single Pavarotti landed on the Australian top 100 was as a guest vocalist on U2 side project Passengers' "Miss Sarajevo" (number 7, December 1995).
"Nessun Dorma", which translates from Italian as "let no-one sleep", is an aria from the opera Turandot. Pavarotti famously performed "Nessun Dorma" at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, leading to the song becoming known to a wider audience outside of opera-appreciating circles.
Pavarotti's version of "Nessun Dorma" reached number 2 in the UK in June 1990, and number 4 in Ireland. Following Pavarotti's death from pancreatic cancer at age 71 in 2007, "Nessun Dorma" peaked at number 12 in the UK, number 7 in Ireland, and also hit the top 40 in the Netherlands and Switzerland. While the song may not have technically been a hit in Australia, its climactic ending is surely familiar to many more people than its number 108 peak would suggest.
To me, Pavarotti is the kind of music you might hear while browsing in a furniture store, or while waiting to get your hair cut at an Italian barber's (at least, that was my experience in the 1990s).
We will next see Pavarotti bubble under as part of The Three Tenors in 1994.
Number 129 "Stranded" by Heart
Peak: number 120
Peak: number 120
Peak date: 19 November 1990
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
American band Heart's career can be broadly split into two eras: the 1970s, when they were a hard rock/metal band, and the 1980s/90s, when their music was slickly produced soft rock. The band, fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, achieved success in both eras, although were bigger in their second incarnation.
Up until this point, Heart had placed 12 singles on the Australian top 100, with three of those reaching the top 10: "Magic Man" (number 6, March 1977), "Alone" (number 6, August 1987) and "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" (number 1, June 1990). Three of my favourite Heart singles that were US top 10 hits but didn't do quite as well on the Australian charts are "What About Love" (number 28, December 1985), "Never" (number 48, February 1986) and "These Dreams" (number 27, May 1986).
"Stranded" was the third single lifted from Heart's tenth studio album Brigade (number 11, June 1990). It followed "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" and "I Didn't Want To Need You" (number 64, July 1990). Ann sang lead on the majority of Heart's singles, but "Stranded" is one where Nancy sings lead vocals, as she did on "These Dreams" and their 1993 single "Will You Be There (In the Morning)" (number 24, March 1994).
Internationally, "Stranded" peaked at number 60 in the UK in November 1990, and number 13 in the US in December 1990. On the state ARIA charts, "Stranded" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 92.
I don't believe I had actually heard "Stranded" before viewing the video to write this post, though I saw the single in the shops. I remember at the time finding it odd how little promotion the singles from Brigade received in Australia following the number one success of "All I Wanna Do...". While I heard "I Didn't Want To Need You" on the radio a couple of times in 1990, I didn't see the video until... linking it in this post!
During this era, Ann's physique was deemed 'unmarketable' by the band's record label, and all of the shots of her in the videos from Brigade are from the neck up. In a video podcast interview from earlier this year, Ann details the impact body-shaming from the media had on her during the height of Heart's commercial success, leading to her developing anxiety and stage fright.
A fourth single from Brigade, "Secret", was released in Australia in March 1991, but failed to chart. Again, it received zero promotion, and I had not heard it before now.
We shall next see Heart in 1994.
Number 130 "Once in Your Life" by Sam Brown
Peak: number 125
Peak dates: 5 November 1990 and 12 November 1990
Weeks in top 150: 11 weeks
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks
Since her debut single "Walking Back to Me" was released in Australia in April 1988 (did not chart), English singer-songwriter Sam Brown placed four singles within the ARIA top 100, with her biggest hit being "Stop!" (number 4, May 1989). We also saw Sam bubble under back in September 1989.
"Once in Your Life" was the third single issued from Sam's second album April Moon (number 30, July 1990) in Australia. It followed "With a Little Love" (number 27, June 1990) and "Kissing Gate" (number 89, August 1990).
For reasons I do not know, "Once in Your Life" was not released as a single in Sam's native UK, despite a music video being filmed for the song. Instead, "Mindworks" was issued as the third single from the album there, where it peaked at number 77 in July 1990. "Mindworks" was released as the fourth and final single from April Moon in Australia in February 1991, but failed to chart. One interesting thing about the "Mindworks" music video, if you have not seen it before, is how similar parts of it are to Kylie Minogue's "Put Yourself in My Place" video, recorded four years later.
"Once in Your Life" was issued as a single in continental Europe, though Australia is the only country where it charted. On the ARIA state charts, "Once in Your Life" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 83. The single also made the top 100 in Western Australia, where it peaked at number 94.
One thing I fondly remember about "Once in Your Life" is the group-singalong-in-the-rain part towards the end of the music video, with Sam bursting into laughter just before the video fades to black.
Following April Moon, Sam parted ways with her record company A&M Records. Her next album, 1993's 43 Minutes (number 132, June 1993), was released independently. We shall see Sam bubble under with a single from it in 1993, but before then, a duet with Black (who we saw bubble under in March 1989), "Fly Up to the Moon" - complete with a claymation video, was released in Australia in October 1991, but failed to chart.
Number 139 "Doowutchyalike" by Digital Underground
Peak: number 139
Peak date: 22 October 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
American hip-hop group Digital Underground are categorised as alternative hip-hop, according to their Wikipedia article. Not knowing what "alternative" hip-hop meant, I read further that it is rap music that does not conform to the conventional styles of rap such as hardcore or gangsta, and that it may also incorporate elements of pop, jazz, soul, reggae, or folk. The first examples of alternative hip-hop I could think of after reading that description were De La Soul, P.M. Dawn and Gang Starr, who were less-concerned with rap clichés such as boasting about how good you are or who you're going to kill...
"Doowutchyalike" was Digital Underground's second single, and their first Australian release. The single did not register on the US Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number 29 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in August 1990, and number 20 on the Billboard Dance chart in September 1990 - neither of which is a 'real' chart if you ask me. Elsewhere, "Doowutchyalike" reached number 79 in the UK in September 1989. It is interesting that it charted nearly a year earlier in the UK than in the group's homeland.
Digital Underground would score a much bigger hit with their following single in the US, "The Humpty Dance" (US number 11, June 1990), but this missed the ARIA top 150 when issued locally in November 1990.
Digital Underground's biggest 'hit' in Australia would come when "Kiss You Back" reached number 97 in March 1992.
Number 141 "Dr. Dan's Theme" by Dieter Kleeman
Peak: number 126
Peak date: 29 October 1990
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
This song, which is credited as "Doctor Dan's Theme" on the single sleeve and "Dr. Dan's Theme" on the record label and rear sleeve (don't ya love that?), served as the 'theme' song for the Australian radio station Triple M. That being said, although I listened to some Triple M back in the day (mainly for the Top 8 at 8 countdown in 1989-90), I had completely forgotten about this theme song, and only the whispered "triple M" parts really remained in my consciousness. I'm sure it will ring a bell to those who were regular Triple M listeners in the early 90s, though.
Another point of confusion - Dieter Kleeman's name should really be Dieter Kleemann. It has been misspelt with only one N on the single sleeve and record label.
"Dr. Dan's Theme" peaked at number 99 on the Australian Music Report singles chart.
December 2021 update: I have found the music video! Now embedded below.
Number 144 "Bonita Applebum" by A Tribe Called Quest
Peak: number 144
Peak date: 22 October 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
American hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest formed in 1985. "Bonita Applebum" was their first single issued in Australia, lifted from their debut album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
Following in the footsteps of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" (number 25, December 1978) and preceding Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" (number 8, August 1992), "Bonita Applebum" was a song about the appreciation of... women with amply-sized derrieres.
While the original version of "Bonita Applebum" is uploaded on the band's official YouTube channel, the single version of "Bonita Applebum" in Europe and Australasia, which I have embedded below, features a prominent sample of Carly Simon's "Why". Despite being written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic, and sounding like something of an early 1980s classic now, "Why" somehow did not chart at all when issued in Australia in August 1982. "Why" was a number 10 hit in the UK in October 1982, however. Coincidentally, Carly will join us next week.
"Bonita Applebum" missed the US Billboard Hot 100, but registered on the following Billboard dubious charts: number 28 on Dance Singles Sales in May 1997 (I'm not sure why this charted 7 years later), number 58 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in October 1990, and number 4 on Hot Rap Songs in October 1990. As to what some of these charts even reflect - your guess is as good as mine.
Elsewhere, "Bonita Applebum" charted at number 47 in the UK in August 1990; a real, sales-based chart.
For some reason, I always mentally associate "Bonita Applebum" with Christina Applegate, as though the song's title was a cute nickname for her or something - even though her figure (I didn't know this at the time, because I pay little attention to US sitcoms) hardly resembles the women this song is an ode to.
To my surprise, A Tribe Called Quest never landed a top 100 entry - single or album - in Australia, until 2016 when the We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service album peaked at number 13 in November 2016. During the same year, Phife Dawg (real name Malik Taylor) died in March, aged 45, following complications arising from diabetes.
Number 145 "Real Real Gone" by Van Morrison
Peak: number 117
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 12 weeks
Van Morrison, in my mind, is the kind of artist who has been around forever, who your uncle (back in the day) might have appreciated, and who could just drop an album out there, with no hit single accompanying it, and land in the top 10. Yet, if pressed, you couldn't actually name one of his songs, right? Well, OK, he did that "Gloria" (G-L-O-R-I-A!) song with his band Them in the 1960s, but you didn't know who actually sung that, or that he was involved.
"Real Real Gone" was the lead single from Van's (real name George Ivan Morrison) twentieth studio album Enlightenment (number 39, November 1990). It was his first single since "Have I Told You Lately" (number 93, August 1989) to chart in Australia. Although the song was written by Van for his 1980 album Common One, it was first recorded by Tom Fogerty as an album track for his 1981 album Deal It Out.
Internationally, "Real Real Gone" peaked at number 79 in Van's native UK (well, he's Northern Irish) in October 1990, and number 28 in Canada in February 1991. On the more-dubious US Billboard charts, "Real Real Gone" peaked at number 18 on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart in December 1990, and number 34 on the Adult Contemporary chart in January 1991.
Although it's not the sort of thing I'd normally listen to, I don't actually mind this track, hearing it now for the first time - perhaps it's because I'm now at that 'uncle who listens to music from the olden days' stage of my life...
Van will next bubble under in 1995.
Number 147 "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" by Double Trouble
Peak: number 147
Peak date: 22 October 1990
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
You might have guessed from the title that this track is a cover version of Rose Royce's "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" (number 10, July 1979), which is one of those songs that seems to be a standard to cover. A few other covers of the song that immediately spring to mind are those by I'm Talking (number 21, October 1985), Jimmy Nail (UK number 3, May 1985), Madonna (number 27, June 1996), and Yazz (recorded for her 1997 covers album The Natural Life).
Despite the name, Double Trouble were actually a trio of dance music producers and remixers. They scored a minor hit in Australia with "Street Tuff" (number 85, February 1990), featuring Rebel MC, whom we saw again last week, on vocals. Pairing up again with Rebel MC, we saw Double Trouble bubble under previously in March 1990.
"Love Don't Live Here Anymore" featured the vocals of Janette Sewell, who sang back-up vocals on "Street Tuff". Janette's backing vocal credits also include Simply Red's Men and Women album and The Beloved's Happiness album, among others.
In the UK, "Love Don't Live Anymore" peaked at number 21 in July 1990. The single also reached number 29 in Ireland in July 1990, number 35 in Germany in September 1990, and number 11 in New Zealand in October 1990 (yet another example of the Kiwis being more evolved than us).
Tragically, one third of Double Trouble, Michael Menson, died in 1997, aged 30, succumbing to injuries two weeks after being set alight in a racially-motivated street attack. Family and friends felt that the police did not adequately investigate the attack, treating Michael's death as though it was a suicide instsead. Following campaigning and a public outcry, a fresh investigation team was assigned and one man was charged with murder in December 1999, and another with manslaughter.
This would be Double Trouble's final release to chart in Australia.
Number 150 "Empire" by Queensrÿche
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 22 October 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Queensrÿche (pronounced kweenz-rike) are an American heavy metal/hard rock band, formed in 1980. "Empire" was the title track and lead single from their fourth studio album Empire (number 127, November 1990). It was also the band's first release to chart in Australia.
Internationally, "Empire" peaked at number 61 in the UK in November 1990, and at number 22 on the questionable US Billboard Mainstream Rock Airplay chart in November 1990.
The song deals with the subject matter of illicit drug trafficking in the United States, and the detrimental effect this has on society. As of 2016, the band have played the song over 1,000 times at live concerts.
We will see Queensrÿche again in July 1991.
Next week (29 October): Another busy week, with eight top 150 debuts and two bubbling WAY down under entries.