Monday, March 5, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #971
Chart Entry: 13th November, 1971
Highest Position: #2
Points: 103, 624
From the album "Teaser & the Firecat".
With two successful albums under his belt, Cat Stevens had established a sound all his own, Mona Bone Jackson and Tea For The Tillerman providing him with plenty of early hits and both accredited Gold status in America for sales over 500,000 copies. So with album #3 in the pipeline, Cat re-visited a "Greek Island sound" to produce what would become his most important song, and most successful in Australia. "Peace Train" was quite simply a peace anthem, starting Cat Stevens off on his biggest goal in life - world peace!
Hanging over from the peace movement of the late 60's, the early years of the 70's produced two of the most famous peace anthems ever. John Lennon's "Imagine" will probably never be surpassed as the most famous of these, but Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" is definitely a close second, many regarding it as a simpler and more uplifting vehicle to carry the message of peace throughout the world. John Lennon had "Imagine", but Cat Stevens had, err...Cat Stevens, and the man himself would receive several awards for the promotion of peace, including the 2004 Man For Peace award and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace.
Teaser And The Firecat was an interesting release as it contained three of Cat Stevens' biggest hits, but all appearing towards the end of the album. It became the biggest album of his career, spending 15 weeks at the top of the Australian albums chart, a shoo-in for highest selling album of 1972. There was also an accompanying children's book written by Cat and published a year after the album was released. It spent a few years in circulation before ceasing publication, making it quite a collector's item these days.
Australia gave "Peace Train" it's biggest chart success by hitting #2 in 1972, two places higher than the follow-up single, "Morning Has Broken" which rounded out Cat Stevens' most successful year of his career. The single also gave Cat his first American top ten hit when it reached #7 on the Billboard charts, but that achievement was surpassed when both "Morning Has Broken" and 1974's "Another Saturday Night" peaked at #6. Interestingly, the UK had seemingly lost interest in Cat after giving him two top ten hits in 1967, way before the rest of the world caught on to Cat's talents. "Peace Train" was rarely released outside of the US to encourage album sales, but the UK charts put both "Morning Has Broken" and "Another Saturday Night" at #9 at their peaks, quite a downturn from the #2 position he had achieved back in 1967 with "Matthew & Son".
Just like "Imagine", "Peace Train" has been covered numerously by such artists as Jann Arden and Tony Melendez. American band, 10,000 Maniacs included a version on their 1987 In My Tribe album, but singer Natalie Merchant ordered the track to be deleted from the album after comments made by Cat, then known as Yusuf after converting to Islam, were interpreted by some as a call for death to controversial author, Salman Rushdie.
In 1996, Dolly Parton recorded a version of "Peace Train" for her covers album, Treasures, with a dance version rotating in the gay clubs for awhile, a testament to how far and wide such a powerful song could reach. Dolly recorded a CBS television special to promote the album, citing "Peace Train" as a personal favourite. The special included a brief interview with Yusuf describing the composition process of the song. He later joined Dolly to accompany her on guitar for the track, "Where Do The Children Play", the b-side of the American release of "Peace Train". Dolly's version of "Peace Train" was eventually released as a single in 1997, the video directed by Christopher Ciccone, the brother of one Madonna.
Cat Stevens' conversion to Islam in 1977 saw him abandon his music career permanently, concentrating his life to the plight of a peaceful world. But no amount of devotion to his faith could turn him away from the talent that made him one of the most successful artists of the early 70's. Yusuf gradually integrated himself back into the music community during the 90's, although his releases were as far from commercial as anyone could get. He wrote and produced a children's album in 2000, A Is For Allah, but his real return came that same year through the re-release of his back catalogue as Cat Stevens. "Peace Train" was re-recorded in 2003 for a benefit album for the children of Iraq called Hope.
Yusuf was back to full pop music capacity in 2006 with An Other Cup, forty years after his first offering, Matthew And Son. Confirming he was back for good, Yusuf delivered Roadsinger in 2009, prompting numerous appearances on stage, talk shows and benefits. He took on a major world tour in 2010 that saw him reach Australian shores for the first time in 36 years. But we are not done with Cat Stevens just yet with a new musical written by Yusuf called Moonshadow about to open in Melbourne during 2012. Featuring music from throughout his career, Moonshadow will tell the tale of a young man and his moonshadow's battle against darkness, and the search for everlasting happiness. Expect yet another revival of Cat Stevens to once again invade our charts.
Chart Run: 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.38
(22 weeks in Top 100) (Go-Set Top 40)
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #972
(IF YOU'RE NOT IN IT FOR LOVE) I'M OUTTA HERE!
(R.J. Lange, S. Twain)
Chart Entry: 10th November, 1996
Highest Position: #5
From the album "The Woman In Me".
Shania Twain's career in the world of Country music was off to a slow start in 1993 with the release of her self-titled debut album. The cover depicting a very rugged up Shania next to a wolf and an arctic fire was quite different to the "sexy" Shania we would come to know half a decade later. Maybe the music buying public couldn't be swayed, but producer Robert "Mutt" Lange heard the songs and was instantly impressed. The producer of such great rock acts as AC/DC, Foreigner and Def Leppard during the 80's mellowed to help Bryan Adams, The Corrs and Michael Bolton to their own hits during the 90's. He offered to help Shania write songs for her second album, but not before tying the knot with her by the end of 1993.
The resulting The Woman In Me was either written or co-written entirely by Shania and Robert, impressing record executives with the fresh take on Country music they had created. It was a major hit in her native Canada, accredited 2xDiamond for sales in excess of 2 million copies. The album contained no less than six Canadian Country #1 hits, a vast improvement on the two minor hits her debut had given her. Success like that spilled over to the US Billboard charts topping the Country Albums chart and peaking at a respectable #5 in the mainstream chart, adding 12 million sales to an already impressive total.
Country music success in the Australian charts was an recurring phase that had previously exploded in 1992 with Billy Ray Cyrus, but female success in the genre was seemingly dead, the last major hit coming from Dolly Parton in the early 80's. A 13 year old LeAnn Rimes re-booted the female interest in the genre, but Shania Twain took it to heights that would eventually overshadow Dolly's efforts. "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here" was the first of five Top 5 hits for Shania here, spending a quarter of the year in the Top 10 alone despite a #5 peak. Both "I'm Outta Here" and The Woman In Me set up a chart domination that saw her follow-up album, Come On Over, become one of the biggest selling albums in Australian history.
Shania Twain's career stalled in Australia somewhat during the early 2000's with the 2002 album, Up!, which remains her last studio album to date. Robert Lange again helmed the release, but a confusing three version release was a little too imaginative for the majority of Shania's Australian audience. The modest 2xPlatinum accreditation for the short-lived #1 album was a drastic shortfall from Come On Over's 15xPlatinum haul. However, Shania scored her third successive Diamond album in the US anyway, Up! still managing to move 20 million copies worldwide.
So Shania left her career on the Up? Well, kinda, but an alleged affair between Robert and Shania's best friend put her personal life into turmoil. Shania was certainly "outta here" with the finalisation of their divorce coming through in 2010. Shania wasted no time to announced her return to music in 2011, working with producers David Foster and Nathan Chapman for the new material. So I guess it would be the sweetest revenge for Shania to come out of her musical hiatus with a hit without the aid of her now ex-husband. Fingers crossed.
Chart Run: 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.48.49.58.
22.214.171.124.--.--.100 (32 weeks) (ARIA Top 100)
Monday, February 20, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #973
I'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT YOU
(J. Chambers, J. Helms, G. Chandler, W. Henshall)
Chart Entry: 13th January, 1991
Highest Position: #1
From the album "In The Blood".
"I've Been Thinking About You" was all ready to go for Londonbeat's debut album, Speak, released in 1988. The band was advised by various record companies to hold off the singles' release in favour of establishing themselves in the industry and find their target audience, so it was a two year wait before the band could enjoy their worldwide hit when it finally surfaced on 1990's In The Blood.
Londonbeat were deceptively named as only multi-instrumentalist, William Henshall, can lay claim to the British tag. Americans Jimmy Helms and George Chandler joined the line-up while Jimmy Chambers, from Trinidad, added a third layer to the multi-culteral band. And just to further confuse everyone, Londonbeat actually started their career in The Netherlands where their first hit, "There's A Beat Going On", hit the Top Ten.
"I've Been Thinking About You" returned some much needed pop to the top of the Australian charts early 1991, after a run of rap, 60's nostalgia and Aussie rock tied up the #1 position for three months. And it was a welcome return, Londonbeat enjoying a four week run at the top which also spread throughout Europe in The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. But the crowning glory of Londonbeat's success was a solitary week on top of the US Billboard charts during April 1991, also converting to a top spot berth on their Dance Club Play charts.
With all their success, Londonbeat became more and more established in England, eventually vying to represent the country in the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest. They didn't quite make it through the heats, but the guys enjoyed a nice consolation with a comeback to the Australian charts with the aptly named, "Come Back", hitting our Top 20 and accredited Gold by the end of 1995.
"I've Been Thinking About You" came out of the 90's as one the best pop delights from a decade that saw almost every genre of music top the charts. After almost a decade out of the limelight, Londonbeat re-grouped in 2003 to release Back In The Hi-Life featuring re-recordings of their #1 hit and the follow-up, "A Better Love". Another album came the following year in the form of Gravity which rounded off Londonbeat's release schedule, however, members of the band have popped up here and there on various releases since.
Chart Run: 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 (20 weeks)
(ARIA Top 100)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #974
(H. Nakamura, J. Johnson)
Chart Entry: 5th March, 1995
Highest Position: #3
From the album "Now's The Time".
After forming in 1991, it took four years for 4PM's Larry McFarland, Martiz Ware, and brothers Reney Pena and Roberto Pena, Jr. to score a major hit with "Sukiyaki", and then just as quickly they faded away to hiatus after just two albums. The vocal group renamed themselves from IV Real, to 4PM, an acronym of "Four Positive Music", which promised the guys would deliver music without explicit lyric, violent themes, or degradation of women.
"Sukiyaki" was certainly a choice song to uphold those values. It was originally released by Kyu Sakamoto in 1961 as "Ue o Muite Arukō", topping the Popular Music Selling Record chart in Japan's Music Life magazine for three months. Music executive, Louis Benjamin, heard the song while traveling in Japan and quickly recorded an instrumental version with his group, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, renaming it "Sukiyaki" for commercial purposes. The fact that sukiyaki is a one-pot dish of beef, tofu, vegetables and noodles, and had absolutely nothing to do with the lyrical content of the song, didn't seem to phase the music buying public at all. "Sukiyaki" went on to top the US Billboard charts for three weeks, almost repeating that feat in Australia when it topped the Kent Top 20 for two weeks.
There was still quite a bit of translation to go before "Sukiyaki" became the hit that it was for 4PM. In 1963, a Brazilian group called Trio Esperanca released a Portuguese version; Dutch band, The Diamonds released their own version; while a French version was delivered via Canada's Claude Valade. An English version finally hit the shelves when Jewel Akens' "My First Lonely Night" was included as part of his 1965 double A-side release with "Mama, Take Your Daughter Back". "My First Lonely Night" is probably the closest lyric translation from the original Japanese hit which told of a lonely man whistling to keep his tears from falling. Jewels' version tells a similar story of a man walking alone after losing his love.
In 1981, A Taste Of Honey released their own English version of "Sukiyaki", the translation provided by Janice Johnson, one of the female members of the group. When translating the original Japanese lyric, Janice found that she could go in three thematic directions while being true to the language. "Ue o Muite Arukō" could potentially tell of a man on his way to his execution, or an optimist in the face of life's challenges, or the story of a love affair that has ended. Being the hopeless romantic she was, Janice opted for love gone wrong, but really, who would be interested in purchasing a song relating to the other two themes? A Taste Of Honey reached #3 on the US Billboard charts and a credible #24 on the Australian Music Report.
Everyone had their own way of bringing "Sukiyaki" to life, but 4PM opted to simply release a cover of A Taste Of Honey's version, which had previously been the most successful re-imagining of the hit. In Australia, despite not reaching #1, 4PM's "Sukiyaki" would become the most successful version of all time, enjoying a ten week run in the ARIA Top Ten that saw it become the 21st biggest hit of 1995. The group's #3 peak in Australia was one of the strongest in the world, 4PM also hitting #5 in New Zealand and #8 in the US, but it would be in Japan where the group really found substantial long term success.
4PM's first two albums, Now's The Time and Light In The Dark went Gold in Japan, but not enough to hold the group together, forcing them into hiatus for a few years at the end of the 90's. They reformed in 2000 minus Martiz, and continue to release albums under the Japanese Pony Canyon label. The trio still tours regularly throughout Japan, their most lucrative market place.
Chart Run: 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168
(24 weeks) (ARIA Top 100)
Friday, February 10, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #975
TAKE A BOW
(T.E. Hermansen, M. Eriksen, S. Smith)
Chart Entry: 12th May, 2008
Highest Position: #3
From the album "Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded".
The "Reloaded" Good Girl Gone Bad album turned out to be quite a little money spinner for Rihanna as "Take A Bow" bulleted into the Australian Top Ten just as three other tracks from the original release had done. The follow up single, "Disturbia", followed suite, and by the time the whole campaign had finished, Rihanna had clocked up five Top Ten singles, including two #1's, and a worldwide sales total of 7 million copies. It was the album that saw Rihanna cement herself in the A-list of music royalty, giving that "Queen of Pop" tag a little tug.
Rihanna's career has been built around selecting the hottest writing teams around to provide her with enough hits to rival even Madonna. "Take A Bow" was yet another hit for the Stargate team of Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, who collaborated with Ne-Yo on the track. Stargate came into prominence during the late 90's after producing a couple of big hits for S Club 7, continuing their success for some of the biggest British acts such as Billie Piper, Blue and Hear'Say. A lull in their success saw the team concentrate on American acts such as Beyonce, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo, and soon the team was once again the hottest production team in the business.
The guys hit a goldmine when Rihanna joined in on the action, her first hit with them, "Unfaithful", hitting #2 on the Australian charts in 2006. Since then, Rihanna and Stargate could almost release a Greatest Hits compilation of their own as the two forces have collaborated on four #1 hits during her ever increasing successful career.
Of course, with so many hits coming out of the Stargate factory, it was only a matter of time that the critical knockers would have their say, exposing "Take A Bow" as a carbon copy of an earlier hit they produced with Beyonce, "Irreplaceable". It was also criticised that such a "standard" track would be the first release from the rejuvenated Good Girl Gone Bad album, many feeling "Disturbia" would have been a better choice, and more deserved of a higher level of success after stalling in the charts and paling in comparison to "Take A Bow".
But, with all the nitpicking surrounding Rihanna's success, there would have been little time for the Barbadian singer to notice what was going on around her anyway. In just three years since the success of "Take A Bow", she has released another three albums that have spawned an amazing amount of hits. Each single becomes just another needle in the haystack of Rihanna hits, making her quite simply, the biggest star in the world today.
Chart Run: 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.76.83.77.
22.214.171.124.--.--.96.100 (33 weeks) ARIA Top 100
Monday, January 9, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #976
(J. Barry, A. Kim, R. Martinez, F. Ross) Universal 075021039162
Chart Entry: 24th January, 2005
Highest Position: #1
From the album "Player's Paradise".
There was something missing on the cover of pop-rapper Nitty's one and only album, Player's Paradise. No "Parental Advisory" sticker meant that true rap and hip hop fans were going to steer clear of this album. To further deter those hardcore hip hop lovers, Nitty stated that he set out to model himself on Will Smith, his sole mission "to make hip hop fun again". It was clear that Nitty's music was aimed for an age group way below the hip hop norm, leaving his window of success very limited as the teenies quickly grew up in search of something harder.
Growing up in The Bronx as Frank Ross, Nitty "rebelled" against that backdrop which has seen many hardened entertainers be influenced by the less than luxurious surroundings. He turned that negative energy into positive, honouring the usual themes of hip hop music, but adding a sense of respect in his delivery. If he's getting sexy with the ladies, then he's doing it without degradation.
As usual with hip hop music, Nitty was aided by well known samples to kick his music along. That squeaky clean mentality is most evident here, with The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" helping "Nasty Girl" to become the massive hit that it was. He further cemented his lighthearted musical style with the follow-up, "Hey Bitty" which used a sample from Toni Basil's 1982 hit, "Mickey". The generation gaps combined with the nostalgic retro samples catering to the 30+ crowd, and trendy hip hop sounds giving the teenagers something to spend their pocket money on.
In what used to be an unheard of occurrence, the early to mid 2000's saw a barrage of unknown artists debut at #1 with their very first release. Extensive marketing campaigns and heightened exposure on radio and television helped these artists to literally become overnight sensations. Nitty reinforced its worth when "Nasty Girl" hit #1 in January 2005 in its first week of release. He defied the norm that saw many similar chart feats drop considably from the top and out of the Top 100 rapidly, but after a second week at #1, Nitty still held in the Top 5 for a total of seven weeks. Not so lucky was "Hey Bitty" which just missed the top ten by peaking at #11. Strangely, it has become quite a common occurrence to see a #1 smash followed up by a #11 hit.
Nitty took a back seat to his own career after his 2005 success subsided. He is yet to provide a follow up album to Player's Paradise, but with seven years passing since its release, it looks like it may never happen. Nitty still has his finger on all the buttons, though, turning his attention to producing. It may only be a matter of time before his own recording itch returns to provide us with some more of his "playboy rap".
Chart Run: 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.10.13.16.17.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 (20 weeks)
(ARIA Top 100)
Sunday, January 8, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #977
Nat "King" Cole
(N. Sherman, J. Sherman) Capitol CP 1487
Chart Entry: 1st September, 1962
Highest Position: #1
From the album "Ramblin' Rose".
Ray Charles shocked the music industry in 1962 with the release of his Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, but the daring move was inspired, prompting a string a copy cat crossovers. Nat "King" Cole had ruled the charts during the 50's as one of the premier crooners, but even he couldn't compete with the changing musical platform. The hits were few and fare between for Nat, with the dawn of the new decade, so it was time to shake up his own career, taking a leaf out of Ray's book.
A who's who of Country music provided the material needed for Nat's genre crossing release, Ramblin' Rose. Featuring Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain", Jim Reeves' "He'll Have To Go" and Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart", Nat's interpretations didn't exactly re-write the Country music textbooks. There was barely a trace of what is considered true Country music, nevertheless, it struck a chord with devoted Nat "King" Cole devotees, proven by the success of the title track, "Ramblin' Rose".
"Ramblin' Rose", the single, reached #2 on the US Billboard charts, helping it to over one million sales in the country. However, in terms of chart success, it was Australia that put Nat's career back on track by sending the single to #1 on the Kent Top 20. It would be the last #1 in this country, capping off one of the most successful singles careers ever seen.
The success of "Ramblin' Rose" prompted Nat to continue his Country music experiment with a second album during the same year, Dear Lonely Hearts. The less successful album didn't do much to reinforce Nat's new direction, but it didnt stop Nat from including litterings of Country inspired music in his music, right up until his untimely death in 1965.
Nat "King" Cole's dallyence with Country music wasn't totally in vain as a couple of true Country music stars included "Ramblin' Rose" in their repertoire, Johnny Lee reaching #37 in the US during 1977 with his version, and Hank Snow popping his head in at #93 a year later. Since then, Nat "King" Cole's Country music career has been highlighted and separated with various compilation albums devoted to his new found genre experience.
Chart Run: 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.15.17 (25 weeks in Top 100)
(Kent Top 20)
Saturday, January 7, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #978
(B. Gibb, R. Gibb) Private Stock PVT 11610
Chart Entry: 19th December, 1977
Highest Position: #2
From the album "Emotion".
There were plenty enough hits coming out of the 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever that Samantha Sang had to miss out featuring on one of the biggest soundtrack albums of all time. The Bee Gees could do no wrong with hit after hit grooving their way into the charts. Samantha Sang's "Emotion", also written by the Bee Gees' Barry and Robin Gibb, was picked up off the SNF cutting room floor and rescued for the less inspired Joan Collins vehicle, The Stud. Nevertheless, "Emotion" found success to rival any Saturday Night Fever release as it smooched its way towards the top of the charts worldwide.
What was seemingly a breakthrough hit for Samantha, "Emotion" was really the highlight of a career reborn after she had moved to England from Australia in 1969. It was at this time that Barry Gibb heard her sing and championed a signing by his manager, Robert Stigwood. She worked closely with Barry and the other members of the Bee Gees, recording a few European minor hits including "Love Of A Woman" and "Nothing In The World Like Love". Visa restrictions forced Samantha out of the UK and back to Australia but the tie with the Bee Gees was never severed, the guys keeping her in mind when "Emotion" needed a softer and sexier delivery.
Samantha Sang's 70's career was actually an extension of her former career as Cheryl Gray. During her initial chart success in Australia during the late 60's, she enjoyed moderately successful career highlighted by the #8 hit, "You Made Me What I Am". A 1967 Go-Set poll placed her third among the "Top Girl Singers" and further exposure on television kept her career afloat, but Cheryl felt there was more to achieved internationally prompting her trip to the UK. Unfortunately for Cheryl, it was her former success in Australia that was her most rewarding up to this point.
Samantha had returned to Australia for about two years before an invitation to visit the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever recording sessions in France came her way. They had a song for her called "Emotion" that would finally give her significant success, the promise fulfilled with a #2 hit in Australia. Worldwide attention was received with the single making its way to #3 on the US Billboard charts and a credible #11 peak in the UK. It seemed that Samantha had finally broken her dry spell, but as these things usually go, further success was limited forcing her back into relative obscurity once again.
The Bee Gees enjoyed a few hits as a songwriting team for other artists during their career, celebrating a handful of these tracks by recording them themselves later in the 90's. The extensive collection, Their Greatest Hits: The Record, released in 2001, brought both facets of their career together in one impressive collection. "Emotion" was one of the tracks given the Bee Gees treatment, but the original recording by Samantha has stood the test of time to become the true classic that it is.
Chart Run: 188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.68.76.91
(31 weeks) (Australian Music Report)
Friday, January 6, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #979
I TOUCH MYSELF
(C. Amphlett, M. McEntee, T. Kelly, B. Steinberg) Virgin VOZ 094
Chart Entry: 2nd December, 1990
Highest Position: #1
From the album "Divinyls".
Not afraid of pushing the sexual boundaries in music, Chrissie Amphlett and co. delivered a unique "self love" song that didn't cover up the content of the lyrics with innuendo and double entendre. "I Touch Myself" was quite simply about doing just that, down there.
The combined forces of the Divinyls' Chrissie Amphlett and Mark McEntee, with the hit songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, eventually brought "I Touch Myself" to the record stores late 1990. The two pairs were used to working in their own small teams, Chrissie and Mark writing all the Divinyls preceding hits, and Tom and Billy providing an array of artists with some of their biggest hits, including Madonna's "Like A Virgin" and Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors". It was quite a crowd, a situation Billy never felt comfortable with, stating he could stretch a songwriting team to three people, but four was a crowd. The exception to Billy's rule proved to be a gamble well taken as "I Touch Myself" gave the Divinyls their one and only #1 hit, and added another to the Kelly/Steinberg tally board.
As obvious as the lyrical content of "I Touch Myself" was, the song was rarely banned from radio. The subject was as plain as you could get, but its lighthearted treatment saw the success of the single continue unimpaired. In addition to its #1 placement on the Australian charts in February 1991, the single popped its head into the UK top ten at #10, and an gained impressive peak of #4 on the US Billboard charts. The Divinyls became one of relatively few Australian acts to make waves in the US as "I Touch Myself" continued its charting might with a #2 peak on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.
Subject matter aside, "I Touch Myself" proved to be a bit of a challenge for all involved. The songwriting process became a little tricky piecing the verse, chorus and bridge of the song together in an order that worked. In the end, an interesting structure accidentally came together. Without the use of today's digital recording process, "I Touch Myself" was recorded on 2 inch tape, making the song quite hard to edit. The resulting experimental process forced the songs' bridge to enter before the first chorus, something rarely seen in a hit single.
As an Australian single, "I Touch Myself" wasn't exactly breaking new ground for local artists on the global stage, but the long-lasting success of the single has seen it featured in films such as 1992's Prelude To A Kiss and 1997's Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. Its simple and obvious composition has also ensured the single joins the A-list of concert sing-a-longs, performed live by Ben Folds, Rolf Harris and P!nk, just to name a few.
Life returned to normal for the Divinyls after their massive success during 1990/91. "I Touch Myself" joined the 1981 #8 hit, "Boys In Town" as the bands only top ten successes in the Australian singles chart. Two further Top 20 hits, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" (1992, #19) and "I'm Jealous" (1995, #14) brought the career of one of Australia's most interesting bands to a close.
Chart Run: 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.55.77.77
(27 weeks) (ARIA Top 100)
Monday, January 2, 2012
ALL TIME GREATEST SINGLES - #980
BRAND NEW KEY
(M. Safka) Buddah 2011 105
Chart Entry: 8th January, 1972
Highest Position: #1
From the album "Gather Me".
It was meant to be a quirky break from her more serious work, an innocent tune inspired by the music of the 30's, but Melanie's "Brand New Key" took on a life of its own once it hit the airwaves in 1971.
Apparently, Melanie's search for spiritual enlightenment caused her to go on a 27 day fast, drinking nothing but distilled water. The fast seemed to have failed as the urge for a McDonald's burger prompted her to write "Brand New Key" on the return trip from the restaurant. It took just 15 minutes for the hit to be written, the lyrics suggesting nothing more than a day with a young girl who has just bought herself a brand new pair of rollerskates. No cause for controversy? Think again.
In an interview, Melanie acknowledged that once a song was written, the listeners may interpret it in any way they choose, and in the case of "Brand New Key" it was taken in the Freudian way, the famous lock and key analogy of a sexual encounter replacing the innocent travels of the rollerskating girl. Melanie insists that the song is about the former and not the latter. Nevertheless, "Brand New Key" was banned by radio stations, possibly adding to its worth to purchase the single, propelling it to #1 in Australia, Canada and the US.
The supposed sexuality of the song was further reinforced during the 1997 film, Boogie Nights when Heather Graham's character, the aptly named Roller Girl, has sex for the first time with Mark Wahlberg. I guess with all that attention devoted to the perverse side of "Brand New Key", Melanie would have to cave into the "new" meaning of the song and reap the rewards.
There wasn't too much more for Melanie in the way of commercial success after her biggest hit. In Australia, she enjoyed another four minor hits, 1973's "Bitter Bad" the only one to make any impression on the Top 50 when it peaked at #49. In 1989, Melanie received an Emmy for writing the lyrics for the theme to TV's Beauty And The Beast, "The First Time I Loved Forever". Since then, ten albums have been added to Melanie's extensive discography, the last, 2010's Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me.
Chart Run: 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.22.39 (26 weeks in Top 100)