19 August 2022

Week commencing 19 August 1991

Of the ten debuting artists this week in 1991, only two of them have graced our presence before.  Let's take a look.
Susanna Hoffs: Australia was the only country that gave this single some 'love', but not much.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 111 "Principles of Lust" by Enigma
Peak: number 111
Peak date: 19 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks

Enigma was the brainchild of Romanian-German singer, musician and producer Michael Cretu (born Mihal Cretu).  Their debut single "Sadeness Part 1" (number 2, March 1991) went to number one across Europe, and featured the uncredited vocal contributions of Michael's then-wife Sandra, whom we shall see in her own right in 1995, and... Gregorian chants.

Enigma's second single "Mea Culpa Part II" (number 55, May 1991) did not exactly set the charts alight, but it mattered little, as the album MCMXC a.D. (number 2, March 1991) performed quite well.

The third single, "Principles of Lust", fared even worse on the chart.  Internationally, the single peaked at number 90 in Germany in July 1991, number 43 in the Flanders region of Belgium in July 1991, number 59 in the UK in August 1991, and number 29 in France in August 1991.

Within Australia, "Principles of Lust" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 89.

As with the previous two singles, "Principles of Lust" featured Sandra's breathy spoken vocals.

We will next see Enigma in December 1991.
Number 124 "Pray" by Third Eye
Peak: number 117
Peak date: 26 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Australian Ollie Olsen, who is behind Third Eye, was the other half of the Michael Hutchence side-project Max Q, whom we saw in March 1990.  Coincidentally, the Max Q (number 13, October 1989) album has recently - finally - been added to streaming platforms, in a 2022 remaster.

"Pray" was the second Third Eye single, following "The Real Thing" (number 76, October 1990), which was a radical remake of the Russell Morris song from 1969.  In another coincidence, Russell appears among this week's debuts.  Both "Pray" and "The Real Thing" appear on the debut Third Eye album Third Eye, which missed the ARIA top 150.

I vaguely recall hearing "Pray" at the time.  Its sound is quite avant garde for Australia in 1991, proving that we could produce cutting-edge electronic music as good as that coming out of Europe - only, it wasn't often commercially successful.
Number 134 "We Want the Funk" by Gerardo
Peak: number 128
Peak date: 26 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Ecuadorian-American rapper Gerardo, born Gerardo Mejía, landed a US Billboard Hot 100 number 7 hit with "Rico Suave" in April 1991.  That single limped to number 87 in Australia in May 1991.
"We Want the Funk" was the second single form Gerardo's debut album Mo' Ritmo, which was released in Australia in April 1991, but missed the top 150.  The track was produced by Michael Sembello, who scored a number 2 hit in Australia with "Maniac" in August 1983.
"We Want the Funk" became Gerardo's second, and final, US Billboard Hot 100 hit, peaking at number 16 in June 1991.
Number 139 "Only Love" by Susanna Hoffs
Peak: number 135
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
Susanna Hoffs was one quarter of the group Bangles, who usually did not have a 'The' in front of the band's name on their releases (at least, not during their most commercially-successful period), but everyone seems to refer to them as 'The Bangles', regardless.
Bangles scored four top 10 singles in Australia, one for each of the years 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989.  Two of their singles went all the way to number one - "Walk Like an Egyptian" (number one for two non-consecutive weeks in February 1987) and "Eternal Flame" (number one for three non-consecutive weeks in May and June 1989).  Oddly, neither number one Bangles single spent more than one week at the summit at a time.

While Bangles had no official 'lead singer', with all four members contributing lead vocals to different tracks, the songs that Susanna sang lead on were often chosen as singles, which led to tensions within the group.  Bangles disbanded in 1989, although they would eventually reform in 1998.
Following the demise of the band, Susanna launched a solo career, to a surprisingly (for me, anyway) lukewarm response.  Her debut solo single "My Side of the Bed" (number 54, March 1991) peaked outside the top 50 in Australia, and only reached number 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1991.  "My Side of the Bed" did not peak higher than number 20 (in Austria) anywhere in the world.

Susanna's second single "Unconditional Love" (number 100, May 1991) fared even worse, with its highest peak being number 65 in the UK in May 1991.  Not even a promotional trip to Australia helped matters, and Susanna's first solo album When You're a Boy peaked at number 67 here in April 1991.
"Only Love" was issued as the third, and final, single from When You're a Boy.  Susanna co-wrote the track with beige songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren - not that this collaboration helped the song become a hit.

"Only Love" did not chart anywhere else in the world.  On the ARIA state charts, the single was most popular in Queensland, where it reached number 117.

I did not hear "Only Love" at the time, and was not aware of its release as a single.  I can only guess that Susanna's solo career was not a success because she was too strongly-associated with the 1980s, as many 80s acts seemed to struggle on the charts once 1990 clocked over.  If Bangles had stayed together, it would have been interesting to see how they fared on the chart during the 1990s.

Susanna will next join us in 1996.

Number 145 "She Needs to Get Some" by Ray Parker Jr.
Peak: number 145
Peak date: 19 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
American singer, songwriter and producer Ray Parker Jr. started out his chart career as a member of the band Raydio, who landed top 10 hits in Australia with "Jack and Jill" (number 4, July 1978) and "You Can't Change That" (number 6, September 1979).

Ray embarked on a solo career following Raydio's demise in 1981.  His debut solo single, "The Other Woman", topped the Australian singles chart for one week in August 1982.  Ray landed another major hit in Australia with "Ghostbusters" (number 2, September 1984), which spent 17 weeks in the top 10, and has retained its cultural currency (my nephews born in the 2010s know it).
Aside from those two big hits, the only other solo Ray Parker Jr. single that troubled the Australian top 50 was "Bad Boy" (number 37, March 1983).

"She Needs to Get Some" was Ray's first single to chart in Australia since "Ghostbusters", although he produced Glenn Medeiros' "All I'm Missing Is You", which we saw in October 1990.
"She Needs to Get Some" did not register a place on any other sales-based singles chart that I can ascertain, but reached number 34 on the meaningless US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in July 1991.

Number 146 "A Thousand Suns" by Russell Morris
Peak: number 118
Peak date: 9 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 12 weeks
We last saw Australian Russell Morris in December 1990.  "A Thousand Suns" was the third single and title track from Russell's first solo studio album since 1976, A Thousand Suns (number 98, November 1991).

"A Thousand Suns" had an interesting chart run, spending 11 of its 12 weeks in the top 150 hovering between numbers 118 and 128.  The single fared better on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it reached number 84.

Number 147 "Jealousy" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 147
Peak dates: 19 August 1991 and 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks
At this point in 1991, English electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys had placed 14 singles on the Australian top 100, with only "Suburbia" (which bubbled under in November 1986) falling short.  Four of their singles had peaked within the top 10 in Australia, so far, with "West End Girls" (number 5, June 1986) being the biggest of those.  Always stanning for the flops, "It's Alright" (number 70, August 1989) and "Left to My Own Devices" (number 48, February 1989) are probably my favourite Pet Shop Boys singles.

"Jealousy" was the third single lifted from Pet Shop Boys' fourth studio album Behaviour (number 27, November 1990).  It followed "So Hard" (number 27, December 1990) and "Being Boring" (number 82, February 1991).
In the interim, the duo released the non-album single "Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes off You)" (number 9, May 1991), which was a cover of the U2 song merged with Frankie Valli.  That single was technically a double A-side release, paired with the Behaviour track "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?"   The latter track, which was possibly written about Transvision Vamp's Wendy James, received no promotion in Australia, despite there being a music video available for the song.

"Jealousy" also received next to no promotion in Australia.  As a casual fan, I didn't hear the song until buying Pet Shop Boys' Discography: The Complete Singles Collection (number 6, December 1991) compilation towards the end of 1991.  "Jealousy" was a song I always skipped on the album, and didn't give it a proper listen until possibly the early 2000s, when I discovered that I liked it.  "Jealousy" is definitely not an immediate song, like most of the duo's singles.

Internationally, "Jealousy" peaked at number 12 in the UK in June 1991, number 8 in Ireland in June 1991, number 20 in Germany in July 1991, and number 14 in Switzerland in July 1991.

Domestically, "Jealousy" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 123.

Pet Shop Boys will next join us - twice! - in November 1991.

Number 148 "Love Thang" by Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I.
Peak: number 148
Peak date: 19 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 1 week

We last saw American hip-hop/new jack swing group Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I. in June 1991.  "Love Thang", titled "It's a Love Thang (Word)" in North America, was issued as the second single from The Album with No Name (number 141, June 1991).
While a music video exists for the track, it uses a different mix than the single version we received in Europe/Australasia, which I have embedded below.

I cannot find evidence of "Love Thang" charting on any other sales-based chart.

Number 150 "Get Up" by Mike & The Mechanics
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 19 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
English supergroup Mike & The Mechanics had placed six singles on the Australian chart at this point in 1991, with "The Living Years" being the highest peaking of those, spending one week at number one in May 1989.  That track, and this one, feature Paul Carrack - whom we've seen bubble under a couple of times as a solo artist, most-recently in April 1990 - on lead vocals.
"Get Up" was the second single released in Australia from Mike & The Mechanics' third studio album Word of Mouth (number 55, June 1991).  It followed the title track, "Word of Mouth" (number 33, June 1991), which was sung by Paul Young - not to be confused with the English solo artist sharing the same name.

In the band's homeland, "A Time and Place" was issued as the second single from Word of Mouth.  That single was not released in Australia.

I cannot find evidence of "Get Up" charting elsewhere.  Within Australia, the single was most-popular in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 147.

We'll next see Mike & The Mechanics in 1995.

Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 151 "She's Dope!" by Bell Biv DeVoe
Peak: number 151
Peak date: 19 August 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
The American trio of Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe - better known as Bell Biv DeVoe - started out as part of teen pop group New Edition, who landed a number 10 hit in Australia in August 1983 with "Candy Girl".

Striking out on their own in 1990, the trio placed three singles in the lower half of the ARIA top 100, with "Poison" (number 64, August 1990), "Do Me!" (number 60, October 1990), and "B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)" (number 100, March 1991).
"She's Dope!" was the fourth single lifted from the trio's debut album Poison (number 83, October 1990) in Australia.
"She's Dope!" did not register on any other sales-based chart, but peaked at number 9 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in May 1991.

Domestically, "She's Dope!" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 141.

The group did not achieve their major commercial breakthrough in Australia until 1993, when "Gangsta" peaked at number 17 in February of that year.

Bell Biv DeVoe will next join us in 1992.

Next week (26 August): Eight new top 150 entries, and three bubbling WAY down under entries.

< Previous week: 12 August 1991                                   Next week: 26 August 1991 >

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