Suicide Blonde – INXS

  • First Appearance: September 22, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: X
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Yes, of course I have.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard this song without having any idea what the lyrics were. Apparently a lot of times, because this song is instantly recognizable, but I had no idea what it was before I hit play.

I was really hoping to put a nail in the 80s, but INXS still being on the list and with The Cure being the next up, it looks like I have some time to go.

All that said, there’s something timeless about INXS, their little yelps of joy, and timelessly 80s aesthetic that you can’t be mad at. They are absolutely and 100% only ever themselves.

Every Beat Of The Heart – The Railway Children

  • First Appearance: September 8, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Native Place
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This song leads off the album on which it appears. It is also probably the most aggressively 80s song we’ve heard so far. Which I guess kind of caps off my observation that 1990s was still the 80s musically.

It features heavy use of simple synth lines, and just feels very 80s. Music Stop, the album’s second song feels like it’s trying to be a dance hit, but is just far too slow.

Wikipedia classifies this band as New Wave, which is fair. And if I’m seeming laconic, it’s because this falls into that area where I’m not wildly excited about this album, nor do I viciously hate it. It just happens to feel like a lot of other British Pop from the 80s.

Stop! – Jane’s Addiction

  • First Appearance: September 1, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 2 (non-consecutive)
  • Album: Ritual de lo Habitual
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

While “Stop!” spent just two non-consecutive weeks at the top of the chart, “Been Caught Stealing” (yes, and yes) spent an addition four weeks (also non-consecutive) at the top of the chart starting in late October through mid-December.

For an album as iconic as this one, I’m shocked that I didn’t recognize “Stop!” The flip side of that being, after hearing it, I’m not surprised that “Been Caught Stealing” was the enduring single off of this album.

These are some of the hardest albums to say anything about. It’s Jane’s Addiction. What am I going to say about it. It’s raucous scream singing with driving beats and occasionally weird funk bass influences.

I’ll Be Your Chauffeur – David J

  • First Appearance: August 18, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Songs From Another Season
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No

I’d never heard this song before, but it was a really delightful ditty with clear echoes in current Belle and Sebastian in everything from the sparse instrumentation, to the bright bright guitars.

David J, the artist, was a member of Bauhaus, making him the second artist to pop up on this list with ties to the influential band, after Peter Murphy. All of which is a long way around of saying that I need to go back and listen to Bauhaus.

The album continues on with more quiet and contemplative songs with similarly sparse orchestration. Occasionally using acoustic guitars, along with background harmonicas that feel like they’re miles away to add texture to the songs, rather than to drive them.

I could go on and on. This is a really delightful and sweet album. It feels like you’re in David J’s living room and he’s just playing some songs for you. It’s really beautiful and well with the hour it will take to listen to it.

Jealous – Gene Loves Jezebel

  • First Appearance: August 11, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 2 (non-consecutive)
  • Album: Kiss of Life
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No

This is yet another band formed by British brothers. This time, identical twins Jay and Michael Aston.

Jealous is some serious hair rock that starts with dubiously rhyming “a lot” and “a fact” within the first minute. That’s tough to come back from. This song is popcorn. It’s cotton candy. Fun to have, but without much substance. This song, with only minor editing, feels like it could have been a Weird Al genre parody, like Dare to be Stupid, or Bob.

This album bounces between genuinely good songs and songs that are so over the top that they’re hard to take seriously. It’s really strange.

The only real thing I can say about this album is that it is REALLY extra.

Joey – Concrete Blonde

  • First Appearance: July 14, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 5
  • Album: Bloodletting
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This album comes on strong with heavy guitars and gothic themes in a way I didn’t really expect. The third track, Caroline, takes a turn more toward traditional 90s alternative, leaning on more Stevie Nicks vibes, and a little ‘Til Tuesday. The album even detours into a little country twang with Lullabye [sic].

Concrete Blonde has the honor of being the band from the US to be featured on the blog.

The relevant track, Joey is firmly in the final third of the album. It’s almost an 80s power ballad. My overall impression of this album is “Okay, sure.” It doesn’t feel that cohesive, it doesn’t really evoke much emotion in me past the first couple of tracks.

Way Down Now – World Party

  • First Appearance: June 9, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 5
  • Album: Goodbye Jumbo
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? I think so.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No. Not at all.

Essentially a solo project of Karl Wallinger, this makes World Party the first band from Wales on the list.

Way Down Now has the unique privilege of being the first song that I though I’d heard before but hadn’t. It’s a weird little upbeat pop anthem with almost too much rhyming and repetition. It’s catchy, and basic, but almost lacks anything to make it interesting enough to justify a five-week stint on the chart.

One maddening thing about this album is how much every other song on it sounds like some other song you know. The first track “Is it too late?” is reminiscent of “Baby Please Don’t Go” by THEM (covering Muddy Waters). “When the Rainbow Comes” sounds maddeningly like “Take On Me,” slowed down a bit, mixed with some 60s folk songs. It’s like listening to a twisted version of Girl Talk.

All that said, this album is really interesting. I jumps genres like Joss Whedon show, and does all of them competently. It makes for a really diverse, but cohesive listening experience.

Here’s Where the Story Ends – The Sundays

  • First Appearance: May 26, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Reading, Writing & Arithmetic
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Oh yes.

In my mind, The Sundays are better known for the cover of the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses. Spotify says that this track is more popular.

I didn’t recognize the band name or the song title, but once it started it immediately triggered something. It has that jangly guitar and smooth accented vocals that would later become trademarks of bands like Camera Obscura, and lyrical flourishes reminiscent of the Decemberists.

The rest of the album shares many of the those distinct characteristics as Here’s Where the Story Ends. But unsurprisingly, none are quite as catchy as the most popular song on the album.

Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode

  • First Appearance: April 21, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 3
  • Album: Violator
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Yes.

Policy of Truth, another song on this album sat at #1 for one week starting June 2nd, but Personal Jesus is by far the most well-known track. And this still the most enjoyable.

Enjoy the Silence, much like Here’s Where The Story Ends is a song I’ve heard many times, but never associated the song with that title. The popular tracks are certainly more fun than the less popular ones, but those have a darker, more goth quality to them that has matched the dreariness of the the last few weeks in Boston.

I don’t have much else to say about Depeche Mode. What can I say that hasn’t already been said by other people? They’re good but kinda a downer.

Metropolis – The Church

  • First Appearance: April 14, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Gold Afternoon Fix
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This is another band on the list that I was totally unfamiliar with. For The Church, a psychedelic/goth rock band out of Sydney, it was less surprising than The Psychedelic Furs or Jesus and Mary Chain. This isn’t exactly my wheel-house.

Metropolis is a lot more mainstream than the rest of the album. Significantly more upbeat, brighter guitars, and less brooding than the bulk of their songs on Gold Afternoon Fix. It’s enjoyable, but a bit subdued.

I actually had to take a break mid-album. It was very gloomy and dark, and listening to it in the middle of a cold, nasty, and windy storm in New England with sheets of rain coming down was too much. I needed music that would contrast the deluge, rather than compliment it.