Thirty years ago, the musical tastes of the Australian record buying public went through some major changes. Rap and dance music broke through in a big way, while traditional pub rock and the recent explosion of glam-metal faced competition from genre-blurring bands like Faith No More (who enjoyed their first ARIA chart number 1 with “Epic”) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (who took tentative steps inside the top 50 with Stevie Wonder cover “Higher Ground”).
And while that year’s big hits like “Nothing Compares 2 U”, “Vogue”, “It Must Have Been Love” and “U Can’t Touch This” still get played regularly, plenty of other hits have been overlooked in the decades since.
We’ve put together 10 top 20 hits from 1990 that have fallen by the wayside – some bona fide classics, some forgotten gems and one track by a cartoon chook.
“(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection” by Nelson
Peak: number 20
Wilson Phillips and their power walking power ballad, “Hold On”, weren’t the only second-generation hit-makers putting their surnames to good use in 1990. Blonde brothers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson were the twin sons of former teen pin-up Ricky Nelson, and were actually third-generation stars – their grandparents were American TV royalty Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Appropriately enough, their debut single reached number 1 in the US, but only scraped into the top 20 here.
“Token Angels” by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 18
When you think of Wendy Matthews hits, chances are you recollect piano ballad “The Day You Went Away” or her star-making turn as vocalist on Absent Friends’ remake of “I Don’t Want To Be With Nobody But You”. Her debut single, “Token Angels”, would probably come some way down the list of songs for which the Canadian-born, Australian-adopted singer is remembered, but the understated tune written by former Models keyboardist Roger Mason was a great solo springboard.
“Tell Me A Story” by 1927
Peak: number 17
Their debut, …ish, had dominated the final year of the 1980s – ending up as 1989’s number 2 album, and spawning hits like “If I Could” and “That’s When I Think Of You”. But 1927 fell victim to the curse of the difficult second album, with the chart performance of this rousing lead single from the Garry Frost-less The Other Side a portent of things to come. The album sold a fifth of what …ish had and the band never set foot in the top 40 singles chart again.
“Miss Divine” by Icehouse
Peak: number 16
Another Australian band having a hard time living up to former glories in 1990 was Icehouse, whose monster 1987 album, Man Of Colours, would prove a tough act to follow. While “Miss Divine”, which was released ahead of the band’s seventh studio album, Code Blue, was a marked improvement on their previous two singles (both of which peaked at number 47), it would serve as a last hurrah, with Icehouse also not returning to the top 40 again.
“Shake” by Andrew Ridgeley
Peak: number 16
While George Michael had wasted little time launching his solo career following Wham!’s split, his former band-mate, Andrew Ridgeley, had dabbled in other pursuits (car racing, acting) before recording his solo album, Son Of Albert. Australia was possibly the only place on the planet that rewarded Andrew with a solo hit for “Shake” and his music career didn’t last much longer.
“Lily Was Here” by David A. Stewart featuring Candy Dulfer
Peak: number 10
Entirely instrumental hits have been few and far between in recent decades, but this soundtrack release by one-half of Eurythmics and saxophonist Candy Dulfer was exactly that – a vocal-less track taken from the Dutch movie of the same name. For Dave, “Lily Was Here” was his only top 50 appearance away from his more successful partnership with Annie Lennox, but he made the most of it, with the song remaining on the chart for half a year.
“The Right Combination” by Seiko & Donnie Wahlberg
Peak: number 11
One of the more unlikely pairings in 1990 was that of Seiko Matsuda and New Kids On The Block bad boy Donnie Wahlberg, who teamed up on this syrupy ballad intended to break the Japanese singer into the English-speaking market. The stunt worked in Australia, which was in the midst of New Kids mania at the point, but not in either the US or the UK, where “The Right Combination” proved anything but.
“Hanky Panky” by Madonna
Peak: number 6
Nothing like a good spanky, the Queen of Pop claimed on this cheeky ditty taken from the soundtrack to Dick Tracy. Riding high after the release of career highlight “Vogue”, not to mention the previous six years of hits, Madonna effortlessly logged another top 10 single – her 18th – with what must now be one of her least remembered hits. And if anyone thought this was as risqué as she was going to get, they were sorely mistaken.
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor
Peak: number 20
How do you follow up an emotional ballad that would end up as 1990’s highest-selling single? Sinéad O’Connor moved on from “Nothing Compares 2 U” by releasing this rocky track about being an on-the-rise musician and a young, unwed mother facing judgement from her Irish Catholic community and the world at large.
“Check Out The Chicken” by Grandmaster Chicken & DJ Duck
Peak: number 16
What even was this? Combining hip-hop and the accordion riff from “The Birdie Song” (aka “The Chicken Dance”), this Dutch concoction was the brainchild of Eddy Ouwens, whose claim to fame (besides this novelty hit) was being the songwriter of the winning entry for the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest, “Ding-a-dong” by Teach-In.