Sunday, October 24, 2010

Music of 1990: October

Yay! I got this one done on time this month.

United States

October 1990 had a new #1 hit every week. First up was British reggae artist Maxi Priest with "Close to You," his second top 40 hit. This was his biggest US hit. He hit the top 10 again next year, appearing on Robert Flack's #6 hit "Set the Night to Music." He made his final appearance in the top 40 in 1996 with Shaggy on "That Girl."

George Michael scored his 7th solo #1 with "Praying for Time," the first single from Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Foresaking his carefully crafted image from the Faith years, the video for "Praying for Time" did not feature the singer, but instead just featured the song's lyrics over a dark background.

R&B singer James Ingram scored his last major hit with the #1 single "I Don't Have the Heart." Ingram is also known for his 1982 #1 with Patti Austin, "Baby, Come to Me," and his duet with Linda Armstrong that was the theme from the 1986 cartoon film An American Tail, "Somewhere Out There," which peaked at #2.

Showing no signs of cooling off, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 album saw its sixth single hit #1 the last week of October. Like her brother Michael's songs "Beat It" and "Dirty Diana," "Black Cat" saw Jackson exploring a harder-hitting rock sound. Although a risk, it paid off, becoming her fourth #1 hit and her fifth top 5 single of the year. The album would generate one more hit single, "Love Will Never Do (Without You)," which hit #1 in early 1991. Additionally, "State of the World" was an airplay-only promotional release, getting enough play to make it a top 10 hit at top 40 radio.

Oldies were strangely popular in 1990, starting early in the year with the Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers hit. But the biggest oldie hit of 1990 was The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody," which became popular after its inclusion in the hit film Ghost. The original version hit #4 in 1965, but in 1990 it actually charted twice, due to some unusual circumstances. The version used in the film was the 1965 version, which became popular at radio, but wasn't widely available at retail, in fact, there was no cassette or CD single. To capitalize on the song's success, the duo recorded a new version of "Unchained Melody" that was available at retail as a cassette. Consequently, the older version with the more airplay peaked at #13, while the new version peaked at #19. Both singles were in the top 20 simultaneously the first week of November. At top 40 radio, the song peaked at #3, which is likely where it would have been had the airplay and sales of these two versions been combined into one.

Pebbles scored her third and last top 10 hit with "Giving You the Benefit," the first single from her second album Always. The song was written and produced by Babyface and L.A. Reid, who was her husband at the time. Her next single, "Love Makes Things Happen," peaked at #17 and was her last top 40 hit. She went on to manage popular R&B/pop group TLC. Another Babyface/L.A. Reid produced song was a top 10 hit in October, "Can't Stop" by After 7, which hit #6, becoming their second top 10 of the year, following "Ready or Not."

Australian band INXS became massively successful with their sixth album Kick, from 1987. Three years later they followed it with X. The album's first single, "Suicide Blonde," hit #9, becoming the group's 6th top 10 hit. The song was reportedly inspired by INXS frontman Michael Hutchence's then-girlfriend Kylie Minogue, who had dyed her hair for a role in the movie The Delinquents. The group would have one more top 10 hit, "Disappear," in the following year, and a few more top 40 hits after that. Hutchence killed himself in 1997.

The other songs that reached the top 10 in October 1990 were "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" (#4), Phil Collins' fourth single from ...But Seriously; "Romeo" (#6), the second and last top 10 hit for Dino; "Oh Girl" (#8) by Paul Young; and "Everybody, Everybody" by Black Box.

United Kingdom

The liner notes of Now That's What I Call Music Vol 41 (1998) state that one in seven British residents owns an album by The Beautiful South. "A Little Time" was the first single from their second album, Choke, and their only one to ever hit #1. This was the band's third top 10 hit and they would have three others in the next few years. They released their last album in 2006 and broke up the following year.

With Maria McKee's "Show Me Heaven" lodged at #1 for the first three weeks of October, several songs were able to peak no higher than #2. The first of which was Londonbeat's "I've Been Thinking About You." The dance pop group, made up of Brits and Americans, peaked with this single, their second of four top 40 hits. It would go on to be a #1 hit in the US in early 1991.

"Unchained Melody" wasn't the only oldie being trotted out in the charts in the fall of 1990. In Britain, Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet," a #1 hit in the US in 1963, reached #2 after being featured in a Nivea commercial. The following week, "boogie" rockers Status Quo hit #2 with "The Anniversary Waltz Part 1," an upbeat medley of hit songs from the '50s, '60s and '70s, including "Let's Dance" by Chris Montez, "No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry, "The Wanderer" by Dion, "I Heard You Knocking" by Gale Storm, "Lucille" by Little Richard and "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis. Part was released 2 months later and reached #16. If this formula sounds a lot like what Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers did, it was no coincidence--the covers of the singles referenced this fact with a little sketch of a rabbit, above which it was written "It's live sonny," to distinguish this live medley from the Mastermixers' remix work. Status Quo has had a remarkably long career. Although their heyday was in the '70s and '80s, they continue to endure, having scored a top 40 hit as recently as last month. In the US, their sole top 40 hit was their first single, "Pictures of Matchstick Men," way back in 1968.

Pet Shop Boys reached #4 with "So Hard," the first single from their fourth album Behaviour. It was their 11th top 10 hit and their 10th in a row to make the top 10, a run that their next single, "Being Boring" would break by peaking at #20 (surprisingly low given how this is considered such a classic song). Although Behaviour marked the end of mainstream popularity for Pet Shop Boys in the States, they continued to have top 10 hits in Britain, even into the last decade.

Technotronic hit #6 with "Megamix," which, as you would expect, is a medley mix of their previous hits "Rockin' Over the Beat," "Pump Up the Jam," "Get Up (Before the Night Is Over)," "This Beat Is Technotronic,"

Twenty4Seven feat. Captain Hollywood Project hit #7 with "I Can't Stand It," a typical slice of British dance music of the time. Captain Hollywood Project had a couple more top 40 hits later in the '90s, including "More and More," which was also a hit in the US.

New Kids on the Block hit #8 with double A-side release "Let's Try It Again" and "Didn't I Blow Ya Mind." "Let's Try It Again" is a slow love song from their album Step By Step, the third top 10 hit from the disc and the group's 7th UK top 10 overall. "Didn't I Blow Ya Mind" is actually an older song from their first album released in 1986 (it was a top 10 hit in the US in 1989). In this US, "Let's Try It Again" was the straw that broke the camel's back: after nine consecutive top 10 hits, including three #1s, this single peaked at a remarkably low #53.


A1 said...

wow!!HUGE tracks there like:
Praying for know it's ground breaking even today!
Janet's Black Cat...just epic the way she went hard rock so brilliantly on this track!
Pebbles, loved it
and i think the biggest UK side is SO HARD, the song the video, PSB became heroes by now for me, up there with GEORGE MICHAEL, MADONNA and even JANET at the time!!!

ww_adh said...

I'm glad you remember Pebbles! "Mercedes Boy" was bigger, but I think I liked "Giving You the Benefit" better. It had more sass.