Saturday, July 31, 2010

Music of 1990: July

United States

The middle of summer 1990 wasn't a big producer of hits, at least if you go by what peaked in the top 10 of the Hot 100. But the month actually delivered some pretty memorable singles. The month's biggest single was "She Ain't Worth It," the biggest hit from Hawaiian pop singer Glenn Medeiros. The song features a rap from Bobby Brown, who dominated the pop chart in 1989, but appeared only on this single in 1990. The single spent 2 weeks at #1, following "Step By Step," which was #1 for the first 2 weeks of the month. Medeiros would have one more minor top 40 hit later that year, "All I'm Missing Is You."

Perhaps more notable that "She Ain't Worth It," July was the month the second-biggest new act of the year saw their first single hit #2. I'm talking about En Vogue, the R&B foursome (later a trio) that became one of the decade's biggest pop groups. Their first single, "Hold On," not to be confused with Wilson Phillips' #1 hit of the same name, was a sultry, sassy that opened with an a capella breakdown proving these girls could really sing. "Hold On" was the group's only major pop hit from their first album, Born to Sing, although that single, along with "Lies" and "You Don't Have to Worry," were #1 hits on the R&B chart. Their second album, 1992's Funky Divas, was a bigger crossover success, scoring the group's biggest hit, #2 single "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" and two other top 10s: "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and "Free Your Mind." Later, in the mid '90s, they also hit the top 3 with "Whatta Man (w/Salt N Pepa)" and "Don't Let Go (Love)."

One of my favorite singles of the year was Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence," which was my introduction to the band, leading me to get their album Violator for Christmas later that year. This is such an awesome single--still easily their best, although "Never Let Me Down Again" is a close second. The single hit #8, their only top 10 single in the US. The Anton Corbijn-directed video was really great too: black and white footage of the band coupled with grainy color footage of a monarch roaming a rural landscape. I can't embed the video, but you can see it here.
Taylor Dayne had her final top 10 hit in July, "I'll Be Your Shelter," which hit #4. As written by Diane Warren, who also wrote Dayne's #1 hit "Love Will Lead You Back" from earlier in the year, "I'll Be Your Shelter" was apparently intended for Tina Turner, but Dayne recorded it instead. I remember it being described as Dayne's best Tina Turner impression. Back in the day, I wasn't really into this song, but now I actually rather enjoy it.

Finally, as a testament to just how big she was back then, Madonna hit the top 10 not with a dance pop song, not with a big pop/rock opus, not with a strings-drenched ballad, but with a silly, tongue-in-cheeky '30s-styled ode to being spanked, "Hanky Panky." Imagine someone trying to pull that today. "Hanky Panky" was the second single from Madonna's I'm Breathless album and the follow-up to #1 hit "Vogue." The single hit #2 in Britain in August. Unlike "Vogue," "Hanky Panky" sounded like something that was reasonably inspired by Madonna's participation in the hit movie Dick Tracy.

United Kingdom

Speaking of hit movies, the big-screen version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was responsible for Britain's biggest hit in July. "Turtle Power," the theme song from the film, spent 4 weeks at #1, making it much bigger hit in the UK than it was in the US, where it peaked at #13. The rap duo responsible for this, Partners in Kryme, never had another hit.

The Stone Roses released only two albums, yet tend to feature prominently in any discussion about British rock music of the last 25 years. In particular their first album, The Stone Roses, is often regarded as one of the finest British albums of all time (seriously, it's up there with releases by The Beatles, Radiohead, and Oasis). During their heyday from 1989 to 1995 they released quite a few singles. Although they never had a #1 hit, "One Love" was their second biggest single, peaking at #4.

Following in the footsteps of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, another alum of the Australian soap opera Neighbours crossed over to the pop charts in 1990. Craig McLachlan, credited rather cornily as "Craig McLachlan and Check 1-2," hit #2 with "Mona," his first British single. He'd have a handful of other top 40 singles, including a duet with Debbie Gibson (who knew?!). I think this is a remake, although I'm not sure of what.

Perhaps the most unusual single of the month, Fab Feat. MC Parker's "Thunderbirds Are Go" was a top 5 hit. It's video features footage of the puppet-based television show from the '60s. If anyone has any context why this single was put out in 1990 I'd be interested to hear about it.


John said...

I had fully purged Partners in Kryme from my memory, but leave it to a recap to bring it right back. Born to Sing really rocked my world this year, along with Sinead and Depeche Mode. I felt a little bit of vindication when "Enjoy the Silence" went Top 10. And I worked for the record store chain that was owned by Glenn Medeiros's manager, so we heard a LOT of his music.

ww_adh said...

That's fun trivia. I hope his songs other than "She Ain't Worth It" were at least listenable. I didn't have Born to Sing, but I loved the Depeche Mode and Sinead O'Connor albums.

John said...

You make the call...

Fun fact...Westlife covered this.

A1 said...

Hanky Panky would become the first Madonna single not to peak at #1 for years and peaked at #2!:)

A1 said...

for me that is!

and "nothing's gonna change my love for you" by young glenny is so sweet :)