Songs peaking at #5, UK edition: 1989-1992

“3 A.M. Eternal” may have impressed me as one of the more robust Eurodance tracks in the “The Power” vein (the “Simon Says” solo, admittedly, had never occurred to anyone), but “What Time is Love?” put The KLF over: from the MC5 sample and the seamless marriage of the era’s synth strings to the thud of arena thud to the sampled ooh-oohs, “What Time is Love” wants to pummel listeners; its leaness is its strength.

Glancing at the rest of these singles, I see hits I love that stalled before breaching the top ten or got scabs in America: Kon Kan’s “I Beg Your Pardon,” the era’s sharpest Bernard Sumner impersonation and with a “I Never Promised You a Rose Gardene” sample to boot; Madonna’s “Dear Jessie” instead of “Oh Father”; Neneh Cherry’s “Manchild” instead of “Kisses on the Wind.”

The era of house music’s organ preset, the kind heard on Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman” and, here, Undercover’s “Never Let Her Slip Away.” Madchester and its fellow travelers made inroads but no more, as the positions of Happy Monday’s “Step On” (my college station played the shit out of it) and the Soup Dragons’ cover of a sound, solid Stone song.

Notes: Annie Lennox’s gorgeously prolix “Why”: a friend and I used to intone the last section’s rhymed verses, often slipping in our own, like “This is the butter you’ll use on bread/This is the poison you call lead.”

The Hague

Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith
Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings
Tina Turner – The Best
New Kids on the Block – I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)
Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman – Kinky Boot


Color Me Badd – All 4 Love
Living in a Box – Room in Your Heart
Guns N’ Roses – Live and Let Die
Brian May – Too Much Love Will Kill You
The Shamen – Phorever People
The Wonder Stuff – Is There Anybody Out There
Rod Stewart and Tina Turner – It Takes Two

Sound, Solid

Bob Marley and the Wailers – Iron Lion Zion
Madonna – Dear Jessie
Happy Mondays – Step On
Metallic – Enter Sandman
Bee Gees – Secret Love
Jimmy Somerville – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
The Soup Dragons featuring Junior Reid – I’m Free
Whitney Houston – I’m Your Baby Tonight
Snap! – Ooops Up
Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro
Undercover – Never Let Her Slip Away

Good to Great

The KLF – What Time is Love?
Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright
Madonna – Holiday
The Cure – Lullaby
Opus III- It’s a Fine Day
Bassheads – Is There Anybody Out There?
Kon Kan – I Beg Your Pardon
Annie Lennox – Why
Neneh Cherry – Manchild
The Prodigy – Out of Space/Ruff in the Jungle Bizness
Kym Sims – Too Blind to See It
Salt-N-Pepa – Do You Want Me
Soul II Soul – Keep On Movin’
Edelweiss – Bring Me Edelweiss
Soft Cell featuring Marc Almond – Tainted Love ’91
Black Box – Fantasy

2 thoughts on “Songs peaking at #5, UK edition: 1989-1992

  1. Must say I’m glad you sent the Avengers song (a novelty reissue following breakfast radio play) to the Hague: that series played such a role in cementing an archaic conception of Britain in the US that you pretty much have to diss it as a symbolic gesture if you’re going to anoint a lot of the stuff that you (rightly) praise here, much of which is too fundamental for me to describe, yet also touched with a tinge of sadness.

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