Thursday, 19 January 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: January 19, 1992

In recent years, when famous musicians have passed away, many of their songs have re-entered the ARIA top 50, sometimes bettering their original peaks. But back in 1991, it took an official re-release for an old single to chart again.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" returned to the chart in the wake of Freddie Mercury's death

That's what happened 25 years ago this week, when a former number 1 hit returned to the singles chart. It didn't quite make it back to to the top, but it came close.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 19, 1992

At number 1 this week in 1992 was a singer whose death 17 years later prompted tracks from throughout his career to flood back into the top 50. Michael Jackson spent his eighth and final week on top with "Black Or White", a song which re-entered the chart at number 6 in July 2009.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Used To Be" by Violent Femmes
Peak: number 90
Nearly six years after their cover of "Children Of The Revolution" gave them their first chart appearance, Violent Femmes returned to the top 100 with this track from Why Do Birds Sing? Perhaps their version of "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" might've done better...  


Breakers
"Can't Let Go" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 63
Not for the first time, I like the Breakers we'll look at this week better than any of the new entries, starting with this big ballad from Mariah Carey's Emotions. The album's title track had put her back in the upper reaches of the chart after a couple of flops ("Someday" and "I Don't Wanna Cry"), but Mariah found herself not only with another under-performing single on her hands, but one which became her first to miss the top 50 in Australia. In the US, "Can't Let Go" became her first single not to reach number 1, although a peak of number 2 is not so shabby. 
Co-written and co-produced with Walter Afanasieff, who'd produced "Love Takes Time", "Can't Let Go" sounds very similar to "Make It Last Forever" by Keith Sweat, although I'm not sure if there was any dispute over that fact or not. Mariah's track did face a lawsuit from another source - a pair of songwriters claimed "Can't Let Go" plagiarised their unreleased song, but the matter was resolved.




"Crucified" by Army Of Lovers
Peak: number 56
All these years later, the music video for this Scandipop classic still astounds me. From its gratuitous close-ups of La Camilla's breasts to the camp cavorting of Alexander Bard and Jean-Pierre Barda, it could only have come from Europe - and that's where Army Of Lovers had their success, never quite crossing over to Australia, the US or the UK. "Crucified" was, er, resurrected in 2013 by a new line-up of the trio, with Dominika Peczynski replacing La Camilla.




"Pandora's Box" by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Peak: number 53
The first 40 seconds of the video for this follow-up to "Sailing On The Seven Seas" explain the story behind the song, which gets its inspiration - and name - from the 1929 silent film starring Louise Brooks. A glossy synthpop tune reminiscent of late '80s OMD, "Pandora's Box" was the seventh and final UK top 10 hit for the band, which was essentially just singer Andy McCluskey during this period.




New Entries
Number 50 "O.P.P." by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 31
This is certainly one way to make a first impression. Hip-hop trio Naughty By Nature landed a US top 10 hit straight out of the gate with this Jackson 5-sampling ode to cheating. "O.P.P." stands for other people's property, although the third word can also be "another way to call a cat a kitten" or "a five-letter word rhyming with cleanest", depending on the gender referred to in each verse. With its call and response chorus - "You down with O.P.P.?"/"Yeah, you know me" - and cheeky subject matter, "O.P.P." was clearly always going to be a hit. I'm a little surprised it wasn't a bigger one in Australia, but Naughty By Nature's time would eventually come.




Number 47 "I've Had You" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 39
Number 2 hit "Break In The Weather" had given Jenny Morris the biggest hit of her career in 1991, but this follow-up was a dramatic change - both in terms of song style and chart success. A bit of a strange choice for a single, understated ballad "I've Had You" didn't connect with the record-buying public and also didn't have the alternate effect of provoking sales of parent album Honeychild, which slid out of the top 50 in two weeks' time. This would turn out to be Jenny's final top 50 appearance and I can't help but wonder what would've happened if a more commercial track, like upcoming single "Zero", had been released at this point instead.




Number 46 "Spill The Wine" by Freaked Out Flower Children
Peak: number 31
What a tedious single this was - not least because, like the original version, it takes more than two minutes to get to the actual chorus. A cover version of Eric Burdon And War's debut release (a number 2 hit in 1970), "Spill The Wine" was also the first offering by Freaked Out Flower Children. Featuring TV personality Sophie Lee - the sex object host of The Bugs Bunny Show and, more appropriately, Sex - the retro-styled band felt like a poor man's Deee-Lite, with FOFC channelling that same psychedelic vibe. But in more of a try-hard and less of a kitsch way.




Number 45 "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" by Queen
Peak: number 5 (original peak: number 1)
Another song from the '70s now, but in this case, it was the original recording of chart-topper "Bohemian Rhapsody" (a number 1 in March 1976 in Australia). Re-released following Queen frontman Freddie Mercury's death, the six-minute epic returned to the top 5 accompanied by Innuendo track "These Are The Days Of Our Lives". In the UK, the double A-side had been the 1991 Christmas number 1, just as "Bohemian Rhapsody" had been in 1975 - the first time a song had returned to number 1 in the UK and still the only time the same song has been Christmas number 1 twice. 
1992 would be quite the year for "Bohemian Rhapsody" - the song also provided the soundtrack for a memorable scene in comedy film Wayne's World, which was released in July in Australia. Meanwhile, it wasn't just on the singles chart that Queen enjoyed a resurgence, with both of the band's two Greatest Hits volumes remaining in the upper reaches of the albums chart for the next few months.




Number 44 "One Word" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 15
Everything finally started to fall into place for Baby Animals this week as their debut, self-titled album catapulted back into the top 5 for the first time since September - and stayed there. In February, it would start a six-week run at number 1. At the same time, their fourth single, "One Word", became their biggest hit as the band ventured into the top 20 for the first - and, as it would turn out, last - time. I'm not sure why "One Word" outperformed the superior "Early Warning" and "Rush You", but the band clearly benefitted from the accumulated effect of four singles that'd been hammered by FM radio - and no doubt a healthy amount of TV advertising.




Number 30 "Addams Groove" by Hammer
Peak: number 12
It was the song that effectively killed his career, but the theme tune to the big-screen version of The Addams Family at least allowed (MC) Hammer to venture back towards the top of the chart after bombs "Here Comes The Hammer" and "2 Legit 2 Quit". The latter would be listed as a double A-side to "Addams Groove" from its fourth week on the chart - I suspect as a result of a two-for-one offer that allowed his record company to get rid of all the excess copies of "2 Legit 2 Quit" they had sitting in the warehouse. A deserving winner of the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song, "Addams Groove" was out of the top 50 after just nine weeks. At least it looks like he had fun making the music video alongside the cast of the film, which was successful enough to spawn a sequel two years later.




Next week: another song from the '70s returns to the top 50 - this time, thanks to a cover version. Plus, a new hit with a Spanglish title.


Back to: Jan 12, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 26, 1992


2 comments:

  1. The dark-haired guy in Army of Lovers reminds me of Pete Burns, and the other guy looks like he's loosely based on one of the ABBA guys.

    I always thought 'Pandora's Box' sounded like a Christmas song with those synths. It was released here in late August '91, so definitely took its time to chart.

    I hadn't paid that close attention to 'O.P.P.'s lyrics before, and didn't realise it spelt out what the third P means. I thought it just meant 'property' as in sleeping with someone else's partner. Whoops.

    'I've Had You' was another song I didn't quite get at the time, thinking Jenny meant she’d "had" enough of someone; exemplified by her stern/glaring looks in the video. I prefer that interpretation. I like the song, but I’m surprised it even went as high as #39.

    Yes, 'Spill the Wine' takes far too long to reach the chorus. Sophie Lee being included in the band for playing the recorder and pouting is rather questionable.

    I don't remember 'These Are the Days of Our Lives' being promoted as AA-side with 'Bohemian Rhapsody' here.

    'One Word' got a stack of airplay, at least in Melbourne, which may explain its higher chart placing. It was being plugged for at least a month before its release.

    There probably was a 2-for-1 deal with '2 Legit 2 Quit', as it seemed to be a mini-trend around this time. I remember seeing one for Rozalla with 'Faith..'/'Everybody's Free'.

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    1. I guess "property" is the clean version of the third P.

      "for playing the recorder and pouting" - wish I'd said that!

      These Are The Days had double A-side credit (i.e it was listed on the single cover from what I could tell), but yes, didn't seem to receive any promotion.

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