Thursday, 9 August 2012

25 Years Ago This Week: August 9, 1987

In the past week, I attended my high school's 20 year reunion - it being (almost) two decades since I completed Year 12 in November 1992. On the night, schoolmates I haven't seen in years commented that they recall me always having an ARIA chart or issue of Smash Hits on hand - I guess it's nice to be remembered for something other than being crap at rugby.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending August 9, 1987

Twenty-five years ago this week, all the breakers had already appeared before (and have been discussed in previous posts) or were on their way toward becoming top 50 hits (and will be discussed in coming weeks), so let's skip straight to this week's three new entries, the highest of which was by the biggest music star in the world at the time.

Who's That Girl: great song, terrible movie

New Entries
Number 41 "Rhymes" by Rockmelons
Peak: number 26
I always feel like Rockmelons are one of Australia's most under-appreciated groups, probably because, like fellow funk/dance acts I'm Talking and Wa Wa Nee, they did not come from the pub rock scene which ruled Australian music at the time. A cover of an Al Green album track from 1975, "Rhymes" was the band's third single and first success. One of their previous attempts, "Sweat It Out", featured lead vocalist Peter Blakeley, who'd go on to have a major hit with "Crying In The Chapel" in 1990, but this track featured John Kenny. John would also sing their next two singles - one of which, "New Groove", is my personal favourite (and, coincidentally, has just come up on my iPod as I write).

Number 29 "It's A Sin" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 10
Speaking of personal favourites, Pet Shop Boys are currently my top group of all time - and this is my favourite single by the British duo. The video features depictions of the seven deadly sins - sloth, avarice, pride etc - and I remember that info coming in handy in a Religion class at school when I could correctly name all seven. But that's Pet Shop Boys for you: educational as well as entertaining.

Number 17 "Who's That Girl" by Madonna
Peak: number 7
After three massive studio albums in a row - not to mention the odd soundtrack single as well - Madonna could easily have rested on her laurels in the second half of 1987, but she had a new film to promote and released this title single from the accompanying soundtrack. I'm pretty sure I've seen Who's That Girl, but all I can remember is that it features a cougar and Madonna wears a tutu at one point - although, to be honest, I could probably have got that from the song's music video. Long story short: it's not a great film, but this single, which followed "La Isla Bonita" by having a smattering of Spanish lyrics, was another pop classic.

Albums Chart
As promised, let's take a look at what was going on over on the albums chart in August 1987 and compare it to what's happening on the same chart in 2012.

ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart - week ending August 9, 1987

1. This week in 1987, there were eight albums by Australian (or close enough) artists in the top 50, including LPs by Jenny Morris, Noiseworks, Crowded House and John Farnham (whose Whispering Jack would be the year's biggest seller). In 2012, there are 14, which includes one each from the four finalists from The Voice.

2. There were also eight albums by female solo artists - two of which were by Whitney Houston and one which was by the combined forces of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris (which I'm counting anyway). Today, there are 11, three of which are by the aforementioned contestants from The Voice.

3. Six compilations or soundtracks were on 1987's top 50, including the greatest compilation of the 1980s: '87 Right On Track. Today, multi-artist compilations like the So Fresh and Now series have their own chart, however the soundtrack to The Sapphires and an Olympics compilation qualify, through ARIA's technical chart rules, for the main top 50.

4. Groups made up the vast majority of albums entries in 1987, with 27 bands featuring in the top 50, including the biggest groups of the day - Bon Jovi (who had the week's number one album) and U2 - and the biggest group of all time: The Beatles. In 2012, only 16 top 50 albums are by groups, including Coldplay, Maroon 5 and, once again, The Beatles.

5. Mega successful albums hung around the top 50 for a long time in 1987, with eight different titles clocking up more than 40 weeks on the chart - the longest running being Whitney Houston's self-titled debut album, which was in its 88th week. Today, it's a similar story, with seven albums registering over 40 weeks.

If you're wondering what the squiggles on the albums chart are, there's an explanation. From memory, the ticks are albums I owned at the time and the circled titles were ones I was thinking about buying - although it looks like I decided against getting Swing Out Sister's It's Better To Travel (even though I now have it on CD).

Next week, there still won't be any breakers to talk about - but there will be more than enough new entries to keep us busy, with seven songs cracking the top 50. Before then, I'll take a trip back to 1983 for my own favourites from that year.

Back to: Aug 2, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 16, 1987


  1. The cartoons in the 'Rhymes' video are from the hand of Matthew Martin who illustrated in the Sydney Morning Herald for many years (I have a book of his cartoons).


    1. I remember those cartoons so clearly! OK, I just watched the clip again this week doing this, but you know what I mean.