Wet Wet Wet give a tentative start to the new year [January 5, 1992]
Plus: Right Said Fred, Hammer, Senseless Things, Kiss and Lush
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Happy new year! Let’s get cracking on 1992!
This week’s Number 9: ‘Goodnight Girl’ — Wet Wet Wet
Scottish soul stars Wet Wet Wet were on the crest of a wave in the late 80s, after their debut album Popped In, Souled Out went multi-platinum and spawned mega-hits like ‘Angel Eyes’ and ‘Sweet Little Mystery’.
Their secret weapon was frontman Marti Pellow, with his pleasant voice and dazzling smile, the subject of a million housewives’ fantasies.
The omens were good for The Wets in 1991. Simply Red, who did a similar kind of radio-friendly soul, had come roaring into the new decade with their smash-hit album, Stars.
But the Wet Wet Wet 90s relaunch had landed with a soggy plop. The band’s big comeback single, ‘Make It Tonight’, had scraped into the lower reaches of the Top 30, while follow-up ‘Put The Light On’ had missed the charts entirely.
‘Goodnight Girl’, the third single from their new album, was released almost apologetically. It hit the shops on December 23rd and it was the only new entry in the post-Xmas Top 40, because nobody releases singles on December 23rd, because nobody buys new singles on December 23rd, because December 23rd is exclusively for listening to Slade and Wham.
It’s as if the label expected it to fail.
Instead, it went on to become the first new Number One of 1992.
Wet Wet Wet have the kind of energy we’ll be bringing into the new year. 1992 is all about surprise underdog victories. Apartheid starts to fall apart in South Africa. Bill Clinton wins the White House against the incumbent George Bush. Denmark wins the European Championship, despite not having qualified. The Soviet Union wins the Olympics despite that country not existing anymore.
This is also a year of consolidation. 1990 was a banner year for rave, and 1991 saw Nirvana turn the world of music on its head. 1992 sees lots of great new rave, grunge, indie and hip-hop, without containing anything truly revolutionary. Probably the most revolutionary album is Dre’s The Chronic, but that doesn’t make an impact until later in 1993.
So, here is a pretty good place to start, with a pleasant enough mid-tempo Wet Wet Wet ballad. It’s a nice song to listen to when you’re feeling fat and hungover after the holidays. Perhaps that’s why it was such a hit.
Elsewhere in the charts
Still at Number One: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody/These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ — Queen
The official mourning period for Freddie Mercury continues on into the New Year, and the Xmas Number One holds firm for another week.
1992 was actually one of the least volatile years in chart history. Thanks to low sales and a new tracking system, there are only a dozen Number One singles this year.
At least none of them were by Bryan Adams.
Number 3 (↑ from 5): ‘Don’t Talk Just Kiss’ — Right Said Fred
Right Said Fred prove that they are more than ‘I’m Too Sexy’ by…. doing a song that sounds quite similar, with a video that looks very similar.
Credit where it’s due, the Freds were more than one-hit-wonders. Later in 1992, they’ll score the Number One they should have had last year, thanks to the equally daft ‘Deeply Dippy’.
But most people will always remember them as the ‘I’m Too Sexy’ guys. Even their recent attempts to rebrand as Brexit/anti-vaxxers can’t change that.
This track features backing vocals by Jocelyn Brown, previously heard in the charts singing ‘Always There’ with Incognito. Before that, she was sampled on ‘The Power’ by Snap! in 1989.
Number 4 (↑ from 8): ‘Addams Groove’ — Hammer
Why did M.C. Hammer become Hammer? Perhaps it was a rebrand to fit with his Saturday morning cartoon series, Hammerman, in which he solved crime with his magic shoes?
(It’s all explained in the 90-second opening credits)
Anyway, Hammer was already largely a cultural punchline by 1992, an icon of the naffest brand of pop-rap. ‘Addams Groove’, which is absolutely terrible, was his last major chart hit in the UK.
He’s fine though. The warmth of nostalgia has turned him into a kind of elder statesman of hip-hop, and he’s still a familiar face on American TV, although his main focus now seems to be on religion.
Number 18 (New Entry): ‘Easy To Smile’ — Senseless Things
Senseless Things were (for me) one of those bands that always showed up as track 11 on a Shine compilation or side 2 of a cassette that came free on the cover of NME. And they were always welcome when they showed up, with songs that were fast and catchy.
‘Easy To Smile’ peaked at Number 18, making this their biggest chart hit.
Frontman Mark Keds sadly passed away almost exactly one year ago at the age of 50. Rest in peace to a guy who was clearly beloved on the scene, judging by the outpouring prompted by his death.
Number 21 (New Entry): ‘God Gave Rock and Roll to You II’ — Kiss
Like ‘Addams Groove’, this is a tie-in with a comedy movie sequel: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Unlike ‘Addams Groove’, this track is most excellent.
Number 35 (New Entry): ‘For Love EP’ — Lush
1992 is the absolute peak of the shoegaze era. If you’re not 100% sure what shoegaze is… it’s this. It’s Lush.
We’ll look at their album Spooky in a few weeks. In the meantime, listen to ‘For Love’ on headphones while lying on your bed and feeling a bit sad.