June 1990 delivered the year’s two biggest hits. Wilson Phillips, a trio of young women descended from famous singers from the ‘60s and ‘70s, had their first of several hits in the early ‘90s with “Hold On,” a breezy slice of pop that showcased the group’s signature vocal harmonics. It was the #1 song on the Billboard year-end 1990 chart. The video, which showed the girls on vacation by the beach and in the mountains, was a nice accompaniment.
June also gave us the year’s second biggest hit, “It Must Have Been Love,” the most successful single by Swedish duo Roxette. The pair made their mark the previous year with #1 hits “The Look” and “Listen to Your Heart,” but this stopgap single from the Pretty Woman soundtrack was their most memorable tune, spending 2 weeks at #1. The group would have one more #1 hit, “Joyride,” from their second US album, before their popularity began to fade.
MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" wasn’t a Billboard #1 hit, but it really should have been (something about the limited availability of a physical single made it peak at a rather lousy #8), as it was probably the song most people would say was the hit of summer 1990. The video was all over MTV (interestingly the video had an error in it that causes it to speed up for a split second. Odd that despite the hundreds of airings it received, neither MTV nor MC Hammer’s record company could be bothered to get MTV a corrected tape). The was the first of several big hits for the rapper, one of the first major crossover stars of hip-hop.
Continuing her streak of hits (and only halfway through them at this point), Janet Jackson landed a fourth top 10 from the Rhythm Nation 1814 album. On the album, “Alright” wasn’t a standout track, but the song got a wonderful remix for the single, adding a better beat, a jazzy horns section and, in some versions, a rap from Heavy D. Another great video was produced, a dazzling setup of synchronized dancing and various hijinks with a retro feel, featuring Cyd Charisse, Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers, all of whom are now deceased.
With Bobby Brown having ruled the charts in 1989, 1990 was the year the rest of New Edition got their chance. First up was Bell Biv Devoe, a trio of Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe. Their sound was New Jack Swing—a combination of pop, R&B and hip-hop that became really big in the early ‘90s. It’s a style I rather like, as it generally had beats close to dance pop and crossed over well between R&B and top 40 charts. “Poison” was the first of the group’s two major hits. While every member of New Edition had solo hits, none sustained their streaks as long as Bobby Brown. However none of these acts would be as successful as the group Bell Biv Devoe would help launch, Boyz II Men.
New Kids on the Block had their biggest and last #1 hit in June with "Step By Step," the title track and first single from their third studio album. It followed their two #1 hits from the previous year, "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" and "Hangin' Tough." This was the beginning of the end for the five-some, who saw their popularity eroded by the emergence of new jack swing-styled acts (most notably Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd). Phil Collins landed a third top 5 hit from ...But Seriously, "Do You Remember." And R&B trio After 7 had their first top 10 hit, "Ready or Not," which peaked appropriately at #7. The group included two of Babyface's brothers.
Recently voted by the British public as the #1 football anthem, "World in Motion" by New Order, or rather the patriotic title "EnglandNewOrder," got its start in June 1990, spending 2 weeks at #1 in conjunction with the 1990 World Cup. With each successive World Cup the song is revived; this year it hit #22. Although "Blue Monday" and "Regret" are likely considered bigger hits for the band, "World in Motion" was their only #1 hit.
Elton John scored a major hit with the double A-side single "Sacrifice"/"Healing Hands." It spent 5 weeks at #1 and was his second chart-topper, 14 years after his first, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Kiki Dee. The songs were released separately in the US, with "Healing Hands" hitting #13 in 1989 and "Sacrifice" hitting #18 in 1990.
Sample-laden "Hear the Drummer (Get Wicked)" was a #3 hit for Chad Jackson. Dance pop act Snap! followed their #1 hit "The Power" with top 5 single "Ooops Up," which unlike "The Power" was not a major hit in the US. It's similar, but less interesting than their previous hit.
The British singles chart is generally more eclectic than the Billboard Hot 100, which rarely features novelty singles and music that isn't broadly considered "popular music" (i.e pop, rock, R&B, rap). So it's refreshing to see that someone like Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti could have a #2 hit in the UK, which he did in June 1990 with "Nessum Dorma." At it wasn't just a fluke--it spent 3 weeks at #2 and 5 weeks total in the top 10. Of course, its success was due to him performing the aria at The World Cup.
A few singles that were hits in the US were also hits in Britain. New Kids on the Block's "Step By Step" hit #2, Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love" reached #3, Wilson Phillips took "Hold On" to #6 and Michael Bolton hit #10 with "How Can We Be Lovers."