(Pictured: Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson of Roxette, 1991.)
After listening to the American Top 40 show from the weekend of March 9, 1991, here’s the usual look at what else was on that week’s Hot 100.
41. “Joyride”/Roxette. I was working at an adult-contemporary station as 1990 turned to 1991, and we played “Listen to Your Heart” and “It Must Have Been Love” past the point of all human endurance. We didn’t play “Joyride” at all, but now I think it’s the best thing Roxette ever did, by a lot.
46. “Play That Funky Music”/Vanilla Ice
69. “I’m Not in Love”/Will to Power
76. “Unchained Melody 1990″/Righteous Brothers
91. “The Shoop-Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)”/Cher
Lots of remakes are in the Hot 100 this week in addition to Tesla’s “Signs” at #16 and Robert Palmer’s “Mercy Mercy Me”/”I Want You” medley at #30. The original 1965 “Unchained Melody” became a hit again thanks to its inclusion in the movie Ghost, but the Righteous Brothers and their current label had no legal rights to that recording, so they recut it. The original 1965 “Melody” peaked at #13 in October 1990; the recut version peaked at #19 a month later.
(“It Never Rains in Southern California” by Tony! Toni! Tone! is at #66 in this week but it’s a different song, and not a remake of the 1972 Albert Hammond hit, although that might have been better.)
48. “Ride the Wind”/Poison
51. “Easy Come, Easy Go”/Winger
74. “Spend My Life”/Slaughter
79. “Call It Rock and Roll”/Great White
86. “Don’t Treat Me Bad”/Firehouse
96. “Miles Away”/Winger
The early 90s were the golden age of hair metal and bands that were hair-metal-adjacent. Besides these, Tesla and Warrant (“I Saw Red” at #27) are in the Top 40 this week.
54. “Give Peace a Chance”/Peace Choir. “Give Peace a Chance” is another artifact of the Gulf War era, a reboot of the the Plastic Ono Band chant from 1969, spearheaded by Lenny Kravitz and Sean Lennon, then 15 years old. Members of the Peace Choir included Tom Petty, Al Jarreau, Bruce Hornsby, Bonnie Raitt, MC Hammer, Cyndi Lauper, LL Cool J, Little Richard, Michael McDonald, Randy Newman, Peter Gabriel, and Yoko Ono, among others. It got more mileage on MTV than it did on the radio; #54 was its debut position on the Hot 100, and its peak. It spent the next three weeks slipping down and out.
94. “Highwire”/Rolling Stones
99. “Give It Up”/ZZ Top
All of these records make history of a sort. “Moneytalks” is AC/DC’s most successful Hot 100 hit, having peaked earlier in 1991 at #23. They would make the Hot 100 only one more time to date. “Highwire” would get to #57. Although the Stones put many other singles onto Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart in the 90s, they have not gotten any higher on the Hot 100 since “Highwire.” “Give It Up” is the last Hot 100 single to date for ZZ Top.
71. “From a Distance”/Bette Midler
82. “Night and Day”/Bette Midler
In addition to the Peace Choir and Top 40 hits “The Star-Spangled Banner” (#32 in this week) and “Show Me the Way” (#5), “From a Distance” was also very much a Gulf War hit, about the hope for peace in a world at war. It spent nine weeks in the Top 10 from November 1990 into January 1991 and peaked at #2. Its extended popularity probably tamped down “Night and Day” (which is not the Cole Porter song). It had made #62 in February.
79. “I Touch Myself”/Divinyls. Your mileage may vary and I could be totally wrong, but it seems to me there are only a couple of records on this Hot 100 for which the word “iconic” fits, in the sense that everybody knew them then and they are still fondly remembered now. “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C + C Music Factory (#7) is one of them, and “I Touch Myself” is the other. This is its debut week; it would eventually get to #4.
80. “Don’t Hold Back Your Love”/Hall and Oates. H&O’s historic hot streak largely ended after 1986, apart from “Everything Your Heart Desires” (1988) and “So Close” (1990). “Don’t Hold Back Your Love” peaked at #41 despite being insanely great.
The musical 90s is not my decade; I didn’t experience it the way I did the 70s and 80s, and I can’t talk about it in the same way. All I can say for sure is that 1991 sounds a hell of a lot better to me than 1990 did.
Note to Patrons: I wrote a thing about the first anniversary of the pandemic for the Sidepiece and then decided not to send it because we’ve all had enough of the pandemic. May we always remember those who got sick and died, and those who got sick and didn’t. And never forget those working to make things better, or forgive those who made things worse.