The Top 10 Dance Hits Of 1990

The Top 10 Dance Hits Of 1990

90s hits dee lite
Dee0Lite, 1990 (Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Australia had proved stubbornly resistant to club music in the late 80s. For every big hit like “Pump Up The Volume” or “The Only Way Is Up”, there were countless other dance tracks from around the world that failed to connect here. That started to change in 1990 as more and more dancefloor-friendly tunes became chart hits as well.

Here are the 10 biggest dance singles from the year-end ARIA chart for 1990.
10. "Groove Is In The Heart” by Deee-Lite
Peak: number 1

International trio Deee-Lite, whose members came from America, Japan and Ukraine, might have been a flash in the pan in terms of chart success, but what a dazzling burst “Groove In The Heart” was. Packed with samples, and featuring assistance from Q-Tip and Bootsy Collins, the retro-flavoured song spent a single week at number 1 between Skyhooks’ comeback single, “Jukebox In Siberia” and the re-release of “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers.

9. "Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice 
Peak: number 1

Vanilla Ice wouldn’t reach number 1 until early 1991 when he finally knocked “Unchained Melody” off the top spot, but his “Under Pressure”-sampling breakthrough hit performed well enough in 1990 to be among the year’s 40 biggest singles. Credit for using the 1981 track wasn’t originally given – and Vanilla Ice (real name: Robert Van Winkle) even attempted to claim the riff in “Ice Ice Baby” was slightly different – but a settlement was reached and songwriting credits given to Queen and David Bowie.

8. "Spin That Wheel” by Hi Tek 3 featuring Ya Kid K
Peak: number 5

Sometimes referred to as “Spin That Wheel (Turtles Get Real)”, this Eurodance track featured in 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and was a collaboration between Belgian trio Hi Tek 3, Technotronic mastermind Jo Bogaert and rapper Ya Kid K, for once given a credit for her work.

7. "Pump Up The Jam” by Technotronic featuring Felly
Peak: number 4

Speaking of… here’s Technotronic’s debut single, which, despite featuring a rap by Ya Kid K, credited model Felly Kilingi with the vocal performance. Felly also appeared, memorably sporting blue lips, in the song’s music video, with those sorts of lip-syncing arrangements common practice at the time. “Pump Up The Jam” was one of the first big hits for the emerging genre hip-house, which blended rap and dance music. 

6. "Infinity (1990s: Time For The Guru)” by Guru Josh
Peak: number 4

Despite its ambitious title, the decade didn’t quite belong to the late Paul Walden (aka Guru Josh), who only ever had this one hit. But the mostly instrumental saxophone-featuring rave track was one of the 90s best dance tracks, so that’s something.

5. "Lambada” by Kaoma
Peak: number 5

Formed in France in the late 80s, world music group Kaoma were also one-hit wonders on the Australian chart, with “Lambada” becoming a smash here after it had sold millions in Europe during the summer of 1989. The single, which spawned a (forbidden) dance craze and two unrelated films, ran into legal problems too complicated to summarise here – in a nutshell: credit wasn’t given for use of earlier versions of the song.

4. "Ride On Time” by Black Box
Peak: number 2

Everyone was at it in the late 80s and early 90s, making use of previously released songs without permission, like the sampling of Loleatta Holloway’s vocals from 1980s “Love Sensation” in this Italo house track. While samples had been cleared with the original record label, Loleatta herself was not credited or paid (and once again a model mimed in the music video), and while court proceedings raged, Black Box knocked up a fresh version with re-recorded vocals by Heather Small, who’d go on to be the singer for M-People.

3. "Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 1

As hip-hop became ever more mainstream, pop artists began to incorporate raps into their tracks, with Paula Abdul among the first to do so on this sixth and final single from her debut album, Forever Your Girl. The album had been released back in mid-1988, so freshening up the song for single release paid off as “Opposites Attract”, which had originally just been a duet between Paula and duo The Wild Pair, became the album’s biggest hit. The new version added a couple of raps performed by MC Skat Kat, a cartoon cat who dances with Paula in the live action-meets-animated music video.

2. "Vogue/Keep It Together” by Madonna
Peak: number 1

She had dominated music in the 1980s, and started the new decade in the same fashion with a brand new chart-topper that brought the underground voguing scene to mainstream attention. Co-written and co-produced by Shep Pettibone, who had remixed some of her singles in the past, “Vogue” was originally intended as a new B-side for Like A Prayer track “Keep It Together”. Instead, it was held back for release in its own right and, in Australia, “Keep It Together” wound up as its double A-side.

1. "U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer 
Peak: number 1

Turned out he was speaking the truth. MC Hammer’s beat was indeed untouchable as the “Superfreak”-sampling hit was the biggest dance single of 1990 in Australia. It was also the first rap song to reach the number 1 spot on the ARIA chart, opening the door for other rappers like Young MC and Vanilla Ice, who also hit the summit shortly after. The lead single from his multi-million-selling third album, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em, “U Can’t Touch This” quickly became more than just a song – a pop culture phenomenon that also spawned a catchphrase (“Stop! Hammer time!”) and a brief fashion craze (Hammer pants).

If the 90s club scene was you living your best life, then no doubt you'll love our 90s playlists.

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