Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Song a Year: 1990, "Black Velvet"

When I think back to 1990, to be honest I don't think of any song in particular. It was an odd year - as often is the case with a year at the start of the decade, it still wasn't ready to let go of the previous decade.

Here's the list of the Top 20 selling singles of the year:

1. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'connor
2. U Can't Touch This - M.C. Hammer
3. Vogue - Madonna
4. It Must Have Been Love -

5. All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You - Heart
6. Opposites Attract - Paula Abdul
7. How am I Supposed to Live Without You -
Michael Bolton

8. Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers
9. Girl I'm Gonna Miss You - Milli Vanilli
10. Love Shack - The B 52's
11. Hold On - Wilson Phillips
12. Don't Know Much - Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville
13. Black Velevet - Alannah Myles
14. Ride On Time - Black Box
15. Mona - Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2
16. Joey - Concerte Blonde
17. I Need Your Body - Tina Arena
18. Crying in the Chapel - Peter Blakeley
19. Janie's Got a Gun - Areosmith
20. Blaze of Glory -
Jon Bon Jovi

There's a nice smattering of fading 1980s acts, one hit wonders and 80s hair bands.

An odd year. And let's be honest, any year that has Milli Vanilli, Craig McLachlan and Michael Bolton in the charts is not a year you really want to revisit.

1991 was when the 90s really started for music - that would be the year of Nevermind and Achtung Baby. But 1990? A bit of a black hole really.

It was also my first year of university. I was living in a boarding college in North Adelaide, and the charts were not that important. When you start university, and you've come from the country, you don't want to listen to music that you could hear on your local 5MU radio station. Going to uni is about broadening your mind. And so when I think back to 1990 it is more about the music I really got introduced to that had previously passed me by - bands like The Clash, Neil Young, Violent Femmes, The Doors, Living Colour, REM. Even Simon and Garfunkel are more emotive of 1990 for me than say, Black Box.

Most of the music from that year that I can recall is that which was heard at nightclubs, but again, it was all rather ephemeral, and I was never induced to buy any CDs. I only recall them now because I downloaded the list, and had lots of "oh yeah that song" and "nup, can't remember that one... oh that song - never knew it was called that". I mean does anyone ever stand in the shower and sing "Ice Ice Baby", or "Pump Up the Jam", or (God help you if you do) "How Can We Be Lovers"?

So 1990 didn't do it for me musically. But there are still some connections. I knew a girl who every now and then used to sing for no discernible reason a couple lines from "Groove is in the Heart" in a high pitched voice, and "Unchained Melody" is hard to forget - especially because Ghost was one of the first movies that I saw with my girlfriend (and now wife) (the first movie was Pretty Woman... the things you do when you're young and in love). And a couple friends also at uni used to like reworking the words to "It must have been love" from:

"It must have been love, but it's over now"
"It must have been f*cked, that's why it's over now". (ah such joys of undergraduate humour)

I have picked Alanah Myles' "Black Velvet" as my song of the year for a couple reasons. Firstly my wife owned the tape and so it got a fair bit of play in her room or car, and also at the end of the year she and I with a group of other students from the college went on a houseboat trip on the River Murray and "Black Velvet" for some reason seems to be linked with that trip.

Alannah Myles is also a nice example of the link with the 80s. She is a great one hit wonder. In the US her first song "Love Is" got to number 36; this, her follow up, made it to Number 1. She never made the charts again.

Her style is also much more 1980s than the 1990s - she is more Melissa Etheridge than Alanis Morrisette. She has the big hair that was as favoured by the male singers as much as the women in the 80s; and it is a song that is not too bad, but hardly one that has you wishing there were more like it today - pretty much my feelings of just about all music from 1990.


LiteraryMinded said...

Really enjoying these musical trips down memory lane!

In 1990 I was in kindergarten. I remember my cousin getting the MC Hammer Barbie doll which came with a cassette single of 'U Can't Touch This'. I remember little Robbie at school always pretending he was Michael Jackson, doing the Moonwalk (this was post-Bad album, pre-Dangerous album). My favourite singer was actually Roy Orbison, at the time.

Grog said...

Thanks for making me feel very old Angela!

Gotta love Roy though.