Wednesday, 10 December 2014

25 Years Ago This Week: December 10, 1989

What would the Australian pop music scene have been without Neighbours? For one thing, it would have consisted of several less stars - and this week 25 years ago, a fourth actor from the Channel Ten soap joined Ally Fowler, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan as a top 50 artist. Nope, not Stefan Dennis - Australia remained immune to his musical charms.

Craig McLachlan and... the other two rocked the ARIA chart in 1989

Coincidentally, Kylie also charted with a new song this week in 1989 - but it wasn't all good news. After seven consecutive top 20 debuts, her latest Stock Aitken Waterman-produced pop tune was a relative disappointment. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending December 10, 1989

Meanwhile, in a completely static top 4, Cher continued to reign supreme with "If I Could Turn Back Time" - her sixth week at number 1. Could she finish off the year as chart champ? Find out next week (or look it up online, it's up to you).


Single Of The Week
"With Every Beat Of My Heart" by Taylor Dayne
Peak: number 67
Before we get to the top 50, a couple of big US hits that didn't translate locally for whatever reason. Co-written by Tommy Faragher and Lotti Golden - who'd go on to be responsible for '90s releases by Eternal and Jeremy Jordan, as well as the best song recorded by Bardot ("These Days") - "With Every Beat Of My Heart" was the lead single from Taylor Dayne's second album, Can't Fight Fate. In the US, the single was her fifth straight top 10 hit, reaching number 5, but it became another one of her singles to miss the ARIA top 50. However, better times for Taylor in Australia were just around the corner.




Breaker
"Rhythm Nation" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 56
Here's another US smash - Janet Jackson's second single and the (sort of) title track from her Rhythm Nation 1814 album. "Rhythm Nation" reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 but didn't follow "Miss You Much" into the ARIA top 50. My suspicion is that the song was too stark and edgy for Australian audiences, who were just wrapping their heads around R&B and clearly favoured the more pop end of that spectrum rather than this socially conscious musical manifesto.
Matters weren't helped by the moody black and white video, with its industrial and militaristic overtones, but it was Australia's loss since "Rhythm Nation" is a powerful piece of music and the slickly choreographed dance routine in the clip continues to be influential today. Like Taylor Dayne, Janet Jackson had better things waiting for her in 1990 and 1991 as she churned out an endless supply of singles from RN1814.




New Entries
Number 49 "It's Alright" by Gyan
Peak: number 49
Her first single, "Wait", had been a number 14 hit back in October and was still in the top 30 this week in 1989, but promising new Australian singer/songwriter Gyan Evans faltered with this follow-up. Unlike "Wait", "It's Alright" was written solely by Gyan, and although not as obvious a hit as its predecessor, it was a pleasant enough pop song that likely just got overlooked in the holiday period. The fact that "Wait" was still doing so well probably didn't do it any favours.




Number 48 "Steamy Windows" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 34
Gyan wasn't the only one having trouble following up a prior hit - and again, the relative failure of "Steamy Windows" might have had something to do with the fact that "The Best" was still such a massive hit, sitting at number 11 this week in 1989. Chosen as the second single from Foreign Affair over "I Don't Wanna Lose You" (which was released in Europe and would be the third single locally), "Steamy Windows" should have appealed more to Australian fans and radio programmers with its gritty rock feel (courtesy of producer Dan "I Can Dream About You" Hartman). I wasn't overly disappointed that it didn't.




Number 46 "Don't Ask Me Why" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 35

Yet another act bombing out with their latest single was British duo Eurythmics, with this second cut from their We Too Are One album failing to perform as well as number 14 hit "Revival". For me, "Don't Ask Me Why", with its lush synth-based sound, was much more what I wanted to hear from Annie and Dave than the garishness of "Revival" - but it seems Australia didn't agree with me. And so, Eurythmics top 50 career came to a disappointing end in Australia - after 15 top 20 hits (including 1985's chart-topper "Would I Lie To You?"), "Don't Ask Me Why" concluded things on a rather low-key note.




Number 36 "Rock The Rock" by Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2
Peak: number 36

Here he is, the man known to millions of Australians as Henry Ramsay with his debut release as a recording artist. And Craig was a real muso, not like Neighbours cast-mate (and onscreen brother-in-law) Jason Donovan, who pretended to play electric guitar while walking along a mountaintop in the "Too Many Broken Hearts" video. 
Craig strummed his guitar in an appropriate setting - onstage in front of his very own band: Check 1-2 (formerly The Y Fronts), which, as far as I can work out, consisted of Mark Bain and Dave Williams at this point. How rock'n'roll is that? To ensure the harsh Australian media really got the message, he included the word "rock" in the title of his debut single. Twice. And to keep his teenage girl fanbase onside, he worse a pair of ripped jeans that left little to the imagination. 
The only thing not going for Craig was that "Rock The Rock" was a lousy song (with a riff that pretty much ripped off INXS's "Need You Tonight"), and as a result it didn't rise higher than this debut position. But like Taylor and Janet, Craig and his mates would see better days in 1990.




Number 25 "Never Too Late" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 14

Craig's onscreen sister was an old hand at this pop star thing by now and registered her eighth appearance on the top 50 with "Never Too Late", the third single from the Enjoy Yourself album. As I mentioned, the debut and peak of the song were Kylie's worst chart performances to date - something no amount of music video costume changes could disguise. And while plenty of other artists would be thrilled at a number 14 placing, it was a sign of the times for Kylie, who'd actually wanted to release the album's title track as a single. Instead, she was forced convinced to go with "Never Too Late", which at one point had been earmarked as the follow-up to "Hand On Your Heart".




Next week: the final chart for 1989 featuring debuts from two songs that'd go on to be among 1990's highest selling singles. Plus, we'll also take a look at the overall top 50 for 1989.




Back to: Dec 3, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 17, 1989


8 comments:

  1. 'With Every Beat of My Heart' is probably my second-favourite Taylor Dayne single (after 'Heart of Stone'). I seem to remember it getting a bit of airplay here too, so I was surprised when it failed to break the top 50.

    In contrast, I wasn't that surprised when 'Rhythm Nation' (the single) flopped, as I found it a bit... tuneless, and the video (to my eyes, anyway) was almost identical to the previous one, with the same black and white/dark setting. Although yes, the choreography was good.

    I was also surprised when Gyan's 'It's Alright' didn't fare better than its top 50 debut position. It was getting heaps of airplay on Fox FM in Melbourne.

    I hadn't heard 'Steamy Windows' until it entered the top 50.

    I think 'Don't Ask Me Why' was Eurythmics' best later-era (before the first hiatus) single, and one of their most striking videos. Again, I hadn't heard it until it entered the top 50. It's one of those songs that instantly reminds me of the 80s ending, too. I love the lyrics too, even if (or perhaps because) they're somewhat depressing.

    Although 'Rock the Rock' is hardly a musical masterpiece, I liked that it was different for a Neighbours star to do a 'rock' song, and one in which they even played an instrument on. I loved the intro/verse riff, but now that you mention it (I hadn't noticed before, even though it's blatantly obvious) it *does* sound rather similar to INXS. The chorus, however, is a tad bland. That reminds me, someone should ask ARIA about where Stefan Dennis's 'Don't It Make You Feel Good' peaked...

    The middle 8 section of 'Never Too Late' was a highlight, and something different for Kylie; but other than that (and the video), the song was really just more of the same, which probably didn't help its chart fortunes. It was her first single to miss the top 2 (!) in the UK as well.

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  2. PS it's interesting to see Alannah Myles' 'Love Is' appear as a breaker, many weeks before it entered the top 50.

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  3. I'm glad Rhythm Nation at least made the breakers. It's not one of my favourites from the album but I do like it a lot, especially the video.

    I'm guessing co-"single of the week" is the best With Every Beat Of My Heart is going to get now. Interesting/disapponting to see that it peaked considerably lower than its AMR peak.

    As ohnoitisnathan said, also interesting to see Love Is creep in ahead of it growing into a big hit, something that happened much more back then.

    There's one more non-top 50 single I have my fingers crossed for seeing as a breaker in the last chart of the year.

    As for what did make the top 50 this week - I can take or leave Steamy Windows but I quite like It's Alright, and LOVE Never Too Late (the only Kylie song to be namechecked in Doctor Who) and Don't Ask Me Why (agreed that it's much better than Revival).

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  4. I'm hoping Paula Abdul's 'Cold Hearted' appears as a breaker on the last chart of 1989, but I'm not holding my breath.

    One other thing I forgot to mention: I remember seeing Eurythmics' 'Don't Ask Me Why' being sold as a special 7" + cassingle pack, for the same price as a regular single, in my local Target. It would have also been around this time (in the Target music section again, ha ha) that I first saw CD singles (as 3" CDs) for sale. Eurythmics' 'Don't Ask Me Why' was one of them, as was Alice Cooper's 'Bed of Nails'. It was a pretty small section, though, and I didn't get a CD player until nearly another 2 years.

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  5. This was a funny period in the charts. Artists who had big hit singles around September/October tanked with their follow ups. They all should have been bigger hits.

    I'm surprised that 'Don't Ask Me Why' didn't do better, considering Eurythmics started their 'We Too Are One' Australian Tour this month. I must admit, I'm not too fond of this track, I think it just flat lines all through the song and the last minute is the best part, great lyrics though.

    I found Rhythm Nation to be a weird track. Like Gavin said, probably too stark and edgy for the majority...and I hate the music to it.

    Never Too Late was a good pop song, but the video was pretty bad and looked cheap.

    I remember seeing 'With Every Beat Of My Heart' get a bit of exposure on the music shows back then and it was a great pop song. I remember it even being on a compilation from early 1990. Some italo, house, dance compilation or something like that. Sometimes the US just gets things right and our loss.

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    1. The compilation you're thinking of sounds like Hitz Blitz - http://www.discogs.com/Various-Hitz-Blitz/release/5902075 . I didn't buy it, but I remember seeing it in the shop and thinking it was an odd mix of stuff.

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  6. Do you know what still drives me crazy? Kylie's "Never Too Late" moved from 21 to 14 and then the chart froze over Xmas and when it resumed the song was 16! It might have gone into the top ten and then fallen back down to 16 but we'll never ever know. After Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi stalled at 11 I found the Never Too Late situation drove me nuts. They don't freeze the charts anymore thank god so this situation has never happened in modern day. Does anyone think Never Too Late did head into the top ten over the Xmas/NY's frozen charts and then fell back down to 16 by the time the chart resumed?

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  7. Craig McLachlan's video! I'd forgotten how many ridiculous torn jeans/butt shots that video had. More butt shots than a George Michael video lol

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