100% Hits Summer 1990-91

100% Hits Summer 1990-91

kylie minogue, iggy pop, vanila ice
L: Kylie Minogue. Photo by Pete Still/Redferns/Getty Images. C: Iggy Pop. Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty Images. C: Vanilla Ice. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images. 

As 1990 turned into 1991, Australia’s taste in music was eclectic to say the least. Songs from all different genres rubbed shoulders in the top 10 of the ARIA singles chart that summer, with newcomers, established artists and the odd one-hit wonder providing the soundtrack to our holiday season.


The first number 1 hit of the summer was a song that had been there once before. First taken to the top by Les Baxter and Al Hibbler (jointly) in 1955, “Unchained Melody” was a hit all over again when the 1965 recording by The Righteous Brothers featured in box office hit Ghost in that pivotal pottery wheel scene. Keeping it company in the upper reaches of the chart was another soundtrack ballad: “Show My Heaven” by former Lone Justice singer Maria McKee was taken from Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman movie Days Of Thunder.


Australia’s very first rap number 1 had occurred earlier in 1990, and Vanilla Ice made it a hat-trick when his “Under Pressure” sampling hit ruled the roost for three weeks, following in the footsteps of earlier chart-toppers, “U Can’t Touch This” and “Bust A Move”. The man behind the former, MC Hammer, scored himself another big single in the summer of '90-'91 with “Pray”, which took its hook from Prince’s “When Doves Cry”.


With the rise of grunge another year away, hair metal band Warrant enjoyed one of the last big hits of the genre with their innuendo-laden “Cherry Pie”. Meanwhile, one of rock’s elder statesmen, Iggy Pop, finally breached the Australian top 10 with “Candy”, which featured go-to guest vocalist Kate Pierson from The B-52’s. Closer to home, indie rock was thriving thanks to Ratcat, whose Tingles EP (featuring "That Ain't Bad") broke the record for the slowest climb to number 1, not reaching the top until May after breaking through at the very start of 1991.



Madonna had pushed the envelope before, but she outdid herself with the sexually charged “Justify My Love” – one of two new songs on that summer’s must-have greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection. The video might have been restricted, but that didn’t stop it becoming her 19th top 10 hit. Meanwhile, Australia’s Divinyls earned themselves a number 1 smash – and an international hit – with their own racy track, the ode to self-love “I Touch Myself”.


It wouldn’t have been a party season without some dance floor fillers, and newcomers C&C Music Factory and 2 In A Room provided the jams with “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and “Wiggle It” respectively. It was the first of a string of successful club cuts from the brains behind C&C, Robert Clivillés and the late David Cole, while “Wiggle It” was the only top 50 appearance by hip-house duo 2 In A Room.


The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan might not have been anywhere near the Australian top 10 singles chart 30 years ago, but we were enjoying new versions of songs originally performed by each legendary act. British band The Soup Dragons gave The Stones’ “I’m Free” a '90s makeover while Robert Palmer and UB40’s reggae remake of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” breathed new life into the 1967 tune. Dance act Black Box also got in on the cover version action with their update of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy”.


Kylie Minogue took her own step back in time with… “Step Back In Time”, the second single from third album Rhythm Of Love, which remembered the old days of disco tunes like “Bus Stop” and “Love Train”. And Britain’s Londonbeat took Australia by storm with “I’ve Been Thinking About You”, which was the final number 1 single of summer, spending four weeks on top.

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