THE Aussie media has been abuzz recently with the success of Wally De Backer.
Under his stage name of Gotye, the Melbournite and drummer with The Basics has become the first Australian in 12 years to score a number one on the US Billboard charts.
Here are those who managed the feat before him.
THIS Brisbane duo were only the second Aussie group (ie. not a solo artist) to score two #1s in the US. In 1997, their self-titled debut yielded a handful of hit singles in Australia that also started gaining traction in Canada and then the US. I Want You was first, reaching #4 on the Billboard chart, followed by To The Moon And Back, which stalled at #24. Then in January 1998 - 10 months after its Australian release - the third single Truly, Madly, Deeply reached the top of the US chart, ending a 14-week stranglehold by Elton John's Princess Diana-update of Candle In The Wind. Truly, Madly, Deeply stayed in the Monitor/Billboard Adult Contemporary Airplay charts in the US for an astonishing 123 weeks, which means it was still getting regular radio spins by the time their second chart-topper I Knew I Loved You came along. I Knew I Loved You failed to go #1 in Australia (it made it to #4), but topped the US Billboard chart for four weeks in early 2000. It also had an amazing run on the adult contemporary airplay chart, lasting 124 weeks, which means it was still getting regular radio spins when the band announced their break-up in October 2001.
Whenever I hear this song, I'm reminded of a friend who once commented that the line "truly, madly, deeply do" sounds like a Ned Flanders-ism:
ALL but one of INXS' 10 Michael Hutchence-era albums made it into the Billboard top 200 albums, including four top 20s. It's somewhat surprising then that they only had one #1 in the US, which was Need You Tonight, and that it only spent one week at the top from January 30-February 5 in 1988. It did knock Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel off the top spot (although he was back on top two months later with Man In The Mirror). Need You Tonight has come to represent their American peak - prior to its success, INXS had built momentum by appearing on movie soundtracks for big teen movies (Pretty In Pink, The Lost Boys) and reached #5 with What You Need in 1985 (from the album Listen Like Thieves). The next record was Kick and first single Need You Tonight's #1 success was followed by a honeymoon period in the US that included Devil Inside (#2), New Sensation (#3), and Never Tear Us Apart (#7). Their next two singles (Suicide Blonde and Disappear) also went top 10 in the US, but they would never recapture the success of Need You Tonight again... no matter how many different lead singers they tried.
This still rocks:
Men At Work
CBS Records in the US twice rejected Men At Work's debut album Business As Usual, thinking it wouldn't sell (coincidentally, a US label said the same thing about INXS' Kick). Men At Work had the last laugh when the album went to #1 in the US, driven by first single Who Can It Be Now?, which topped the singles chart for a week in October, 1982. They scored a rare repeat of the feat two and a half months later when Down Under reached #1 for four weeks in January and February. The band broke in Canada first, their music then seeping down into the US more than six months after Business As Usual was released in Australia. Not only did Men At Work achieve the rare Aussie feat of two #1s in the US, but Business As Usual sat on the top of the album charts for an amazing 15 weeks and makes them the only Australian act to top both the album and single charts at the same time. They are also one of the few Aussie groups to win a Grammy (Olivia Newton-John, Rick Springfield, Wolfmother and AC/DC have also managed this feat) and they enjoyed the rare American honour of being featured on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine - an achievement not replicated again by an Aussie band until The Vines in 2002.
RIP Greg Ham:
Olivia Newton-John, Air Supply, Rick Springfield
AUSTRALIAN pop enjoyed its biggest year ever in 1981, when three songs went to #1 in the US. First out of the gate was Air Supply's The One That You Love, which managed one week at the top before being replaced by fellow Aussie Rick Springfield and his perennial hit Jessie's Girl, which also picked up a rare antipodean Grammy win in the wake of its chart success. After two weeks at #1, Jessie's Girl was knocked off its perch by the Diana Ross-Lionel Ritchie duet Endless Love, which reigned supreme (pun intended) for nine weeks. But the Aussies were back on top by the end of 1981 thanks to Olivia Newton-John's smash Physical, which spent a then-record-equalling 10 weeks at #1. It's lengthy stay has aided by a raunchy (read: controversial) film clip and the fact ONJ was already a household name in the US, having starred in Grease and Xanadu. In fact the Xanadu soundtrack scored a #1 for ONJ the previous year with the track Magic, making her one of only two Aussie solo artists to have achieved the feat at least twice in the US.
Ladies and gentlemen - Air Supply:
THE first Australian to hit #1 in the US was Helen Reddy, the Melbourne-born singer who moved to the US to "make it" in 1966, refusing to be limited by the fact she was a young single mother. Fittingly, her first success was with the triumphant anthem of female empowerment I Am Woman, which lasted one week on the top of the Billboard chart back in December 1972. But nine months later, Reddy did it again, this time with the song Delta Dawn. Then, in December 1974, Reddy set a still-unmatched precedent for Aussie acts by scoring her third #1 with Angie Baby. She remains our most successful artist on the American charts, but she is also a rare example of an Aussie who was bigger in the US than in her home country - I Am Woman never made it to #1 in Australia (it got to #2) while Angie Baby stalled at #13. Reddy continued to have top 50 hits in the US up until 1977, compared to Australia where her last top 50 song was Angie Baby. In fact, Reddy was still cracking the Billboard Hot 100 into the '80s, long after the majority of the Australan music-listening public and radio stations had lost interest.
You go girl: