|Pet Shop Boys and Absolutely Fabulous were a perfect match in 1994|
The suicide of the Nirvana frontman was a huge loss for the grunge scene, which was still going strong - so much so that pop stars were few and far between. In the UK and Australia, faceless dance acts were the alternative to bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, who both released massive albums in 1994. While in the US, a flood of rap artists invaded the Billboard Hot 100.
Since I spent each weekend either going to nightclubs or sleeping in after a night out, it was the dance tracks that appealed most to me - and there are plenty more big club hits from the year in this next batch of my favourites from 1994...
Number 75 "It's A Loving Thing" by C.B. Milton
If the Amadin featuring Swing song in Part 1 was like a poor man's Dr Alban, then C.B. Milton was like a B-list Haddaway. This track by the Dutch singer was pretty much Eurodance by numbers, but that's not always a bad thing - and there were many bad examples of Eurodance as the genre exploded in the mid-'90s (I'm thinking Scatman John, Mr President and Doop).
Number 74 "Around The World" by East 17
Thank goodness for British boy bands - otherwise there really would have been very little pop in 1994. Bad boys East 17 were onto their second album, Steam, and this lead single was another top 5 hit for them in Australia and the UK. Tony, Brian, John and Terry would end the year with the Christmas number 1 in Britain with "Stay Another Day" (which wound up at number 128 on this list).
Number 73 "Absolutely Fabulous" by Absolutely Fabulous
Although it wasn't technically credited to them, this Eurodance-inspired spin-off single from the hit comedy starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley (and featuring dialogue snippets from the actresses) was written and performed by Pet Shop Boys. That year's Comic Relief record in the UK, it was another top 10 hit there for the duo, but in Australia it was only kept from the number 1 spot by Wet Wet Wet's unstoppable "Love Is All Around" and became PSB's highest charting single of all time locally.
Number 72 "Oh Baby I..." by Eternal
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 71 "Have Mercy" by Yazz
Yep, that Yazz. After her initial run of hits in 1988-89, the singer born Yasmin Evans had struggled to come up with the goods again - and "Have Mercy" was just the latest in a series of flops that continued until 1997 and a reggae-inspired covers album. Taken from her second album, One On One, the song fit into the pop/R&B sound of artists like Eternal and Dina Carroll, but narrowly missed the UK top 40. A link to an audio clip is in the song title above.
Number 70 "The Real Thing" by Tony di Bart
It wasn't the only song with that title in the charts at the time, but it was the bigger hit in the UK, spending one week at number 1. Not bad for a single that originally missed the chart entirely in 1993. Given a dancier remix, it did the business in 1994, just as dance mixes of follow-ups "Do It" and "Turn Your Love Around" were more popular than the more urban originals. The other song called "The Real Thing"? We'll get to that...
Number 69 "Beautiful People" by Barbara Tucker
Like Jocelyn Brown and Kym Mazelle, who we saw back in Part 1, had done in the '80s and early '90s, American singer Barbara Tucker dominated club charts in the late '90s with a series of dance floor-friendly singles. "Beautiful People" was the first and biggest of those tracks, and was the latest hit from dance label Positiva.
Number 68 "(Keep On) Shining / Hope (Never Give Up)" by Loveland
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 67 "Space Cowboy (David Morales mix)" by Jamiroquai
"Space Cowboy" was the lead single from Jamiroquai's second album, Return Of The Space Cowboy and was a modest hit in the UK - but once given a remix for its American release by David Morales, it became one of the hottest import singles back in Britain. Similar in style to David's best known remix work, it transformed the cruisy acid jazz tune into a piano house anthem.
Number 66 "Midnight At The Oasis" by Brand New Heavies
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 65 "Hold That Sucker Down" by O.T. Quartet
One of the many musical aliases under which Rollo Armstrong released music, O.T. Quartet was a collaboration with Rob Dougan, a project that was also known as Our Tribe and One Tribe depending on the release. With vocals by Colette (not the Aussie singer behind 1989's "Ring My Bell"), "Hold That Sucker Down" was a minor UK hit that's never charted higher than number 24 there despite being remixed and re-released at least three times. Greater things were just around the corner for Rollo, who formed Faithless in 1995.
Number 64 "Sooner Or Later" by GF4
With Robyn Loau out of the group, Girlfriend became GF4 and sexed up their image for this relaunch single. The rebranding worked, and the song peaked at number 11 in Australia, but GF4 soon became no more when another member, Jacqui Cowell, quit and the follow-up single, the appallingly-titled "Need Love (To Make The Sex Right)", bombed.
Number 63 "Time" by INXS
Things weren't going so well for INXS by 1994, with their album from the previous year, Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, underperforming and singles failing to make much of a mark on charts around the world. Funnily enough, I thought this third single from the album was their best song in years, as was another 1994 single, "The Strangest Party (These Are The Times)" (number 77 on this list), which was included on their first best of album, The Greatest Hits. We wouldn't hear from INXS again until 1997, which would turn out to be the worst year in the band's history both musically and due to the death of Michael Hutchence.
Number 62 "Roundabout" by Caligula
Number 61 "Put Yourself In My Place" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 3
Number 60 "Secret" by Madonna
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 59 "Walkaway Lover" by Toni Pearen
After a top 10 hit in both 1992 and 1993, the actress-turned-singer's third single finally emerged in 1994 but failed to give her a hat trick, landing instead at a lowly number 35. "Walkaway Lover" had originally been recorded by British singer Sonia for her 1991 self-titled album, but Toni's version was the first time the song had been released as a single. Toni would issue one more single, "Joy", in 1995, but it wouldn't even make the top 50 and she's never returned to music making.
Number 58 "Tears Of A Clown" by Caligula
They'd been releasing music since 1990, but it wasn't until they released this cover of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles hit from 1970 that Australian indie rock band Caligula came to my attention. I wasn't the only one - "Tears Of A Clown" gave the group a top 30 hit, and they followed it up with the almost as good original track "Roundabout" (at number 62 above), with both tracks proving to be very much the exceptions to my musical taste in 1994.
Number 57 "Higher Ground" by Sasha
In the mid-'90s, the concept of the superstar DJ really came into prominence, with mix CDs, Ibiza residencies and radio shows the order of the day. One of the biggest names in record spinning at the time was Sasha, so, naturally, he had a recording career as well. This track, with vocals by Sam Mollison, was one of two UK top 20 hits he scored for the Deconstruction label.
Number 56 "Anytime You Need A Friend" by Mariah Carey
After enjoying her first two albums, I only liked a couple of songs on Mariah's third album, Music Box, which just so happened to be the release that pushed her career right over the edge. But, as her record sales soared even higher than ever, I found her music harder and harder to stomach. Like 1993's "Hero", this track, which was the fourth and final single from Music Box, had more in common with the songs on her first two albums, but her music was shifting to a less melodic, even more oversung style and I wouldn't find much to interest me from her catalogue again for over a decade.
Number 55 "Renaissance" by M-People
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 54 "I Love Saturday" by Erasure
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 53 "Son Of A Gun" by JX
As K-klass reached the end of their four-year run of releasing one good single a year (1994's "What You're Missing" is at number 134 on this list), British dance act JX (an alias for DJ/remixer Jake Williams) were just getting started on theirs. Debut single "Son Of A Gun" was a decent-sized hit in the UK on first release, reaching number 13, but would chart even higher in remixed form the following year, getting to number 6, which was also the position the original reached in Australia.
Number 52 "Fall" by Single Gun Theory
Taken from their third and final album, Flow, River Of My Soul, "Fall" was the antithesis of most of the electronic music I liked in 1994. Where something like the JX song was frenetic and had a driving beat, SGT's music was much more contemplative and serene - the very definition of the emerging chillout music scene.
Number 51 "Searching" by China Black
After enjoying a massive resurgence in 1993, reggae continued to be popular in 1994 and this British act, who'd failed to chart with "Searching" on its original release two years earlier, suddenly found themselves with a massive UK hit. Two versions of the song did the rounds at the time - and naturally I preferred the pop mix over the more obviously reggae one. At the time, I bought the China Black album, Born, which also yielded another minor hit, "Stars", and still give it a spin every now and then.
On Wednesday, we check in on the ARIA chart from 25 years ago and then I'll conclude my 1994 chart with the top 50.
MY YEAR-END CHARTS