• Take a trip down memory lane with these songs. (Melodian/Mercury/Mushroom/EastWest/Columbia/EMI/Polydor)
Big tunes at the time. Not so much now.
By
Gavin Scott

10 Nov 2017 - 1:31 PM  UPDATED 10 Nov 2017 - 1:31 PM

Grunge, girl power, Brit Pop, trip hop… the ’90s were a great time for new music. And it was no different in Australia, with some of this country’s all-time biggest hits released in that decade – from the local spin on grunge offered by Silverchair’s “Tomorrow” to Savage Garden’s world-conquering “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, The Living End’s breakthrough with “Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society” to international pop hits “Chains” by Tina Arena and “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia.

This story isn’t about any of those tracks.

Instead, it’s a trip through some of the top 30 hits you’d probably forgotten all about, and don’t constantly hear on retro-themed radio stations and music TV channels. Taking in lesser boy bands and girl groups, some crowd-pleasing Aussie rock and the first successful homegrown hip-hop act, this is your ultimate Forgotten ’90s playlist. You can thank (or blame) us later.

 

“The Love We Make” by Girl Overboard (1990) 

ARIA chart peak: number 23

It might not have been the biggest of hits, but this tune by the band formerly known as Separate Tables was inescapable on radio at the start of the decade. 

 

“Heart In Danger” by Southern Sons (1990) 

ARIA chart peak: number 5

Another radio-friendly group that'd previously been called something else – in this case, The State – Southern Sons came into being when Jack Jones was plucked out of John Farnham's backing band to be their new frontman.

 

“Where Are You Now” by Roxus (1991) 

ARIA chart peak: number 13

Every rock band needs a power ballad, and Australia's answer to Bon Jovi scored their biggest hit with theirs. 

 

“Not A Day Goes By” Rick Price (1992) 

ARIA chart peak: number 5

Like Southern Sons, singer/songwriter Rick Price had a knack for commercial pop/rock fare - and was also way less successful when he cut his hair.

 

“Be My Baby” by Teen Queens (1992) 

ARIA chart peak: number 6

Three aspiring singer/actresses (including one future Hi-5 presenter) delved into the girl group songbook for their first assault on the chart. Teen Queens' remake of "Be My Baby" also featured a snippet of another Ronettes song, "(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up".

 

“Kickin’ To The Undersound” by Sound Unlimited Posse (1992)

ARIA chart peak: number 20

Years before Hilltop Hoods, Illy and 360 made Australian hip-hop credible, Sydney's Sound Unlimited Posse achieved their biggest hit with this ultra-commercial, Men At Work-sampling track.

 

“Cry” by Lisa Edwards (1992)

ARIA chart peak: number 5

Best known as one of Farnsey's Whispering Jack-era backing vocalists, Lisa Edwards briefly stepped into the spotlight with her take on the Godley & Creme song.

 

“I Can Feel It” by Radio Freedom (1992)

ARIA chart peak: number 7

Pop doesn't get much cheesier than this, with frontman Pehl doing his best Marky Mark impersonation in the music video. Just try and get the catchy chorus out of your head, though.

 

“Talking Sly” by The Sharp (1992)

ARIA chart peak: number 28 (on the Spinosity EP)

Reviving a genre not seen on the top 50 in a decade, turtleneck-wearing trio The Sharp made rockabilly – and double basses – cool again for a brief moment.

 

“In Your Room” by Toni Pearen (1992)

ARIA chart peak: number 10

Everyone remembers E Street star (and future Real Housewife) Melissa and her detonator storming to number 1, but the music career of her co-star (and future Australia's Funniest Home Videos host) has been swept under the rug. Pop nugget "In Your Room" was the first of two number 10 singles for Pearen. 

 

“Mountain” by Chocolate Starfish (1994)

ARIA chart peak: number 12

Proud owners of one of the worst band names of all time, Chocolate Starfish stormed onto the scene with a rollicking cover of "You're So Vain". This self-penned track was just as big and, like the rest of the album, was produced by Pseudo Echo's Brian Canham.

 

“Shaka Jam” by Kulcha (1994) 

ARIA chart peak: number 7

With Australian record companies having finally given in to the notion that American-style R&B was here to stay, this local vocal group was snapped up by a major label and kicked off a string of hits with this debut single.

 

“Coma” by Max Sharam (1994) 

ARIA chart peak: number 14

She might've owed her big break to commercial TV – she was a finalist on New Faces – but as a recording artist, Max Sharam kept things left-of-centre, like on this quirky debut single.

 

“Apple Eyes” by Swoop (1995)

ARIA chart peak: number 9

In the mid-'90s, you would've been hard-pressed to find an inner-city cafe that didn't have acid jazz and funk on high rotation. Swoop was Australia's most successful addition to the scene.

 

“Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit” by Gina G (1996)

ARIA chart peak: number 5

Considered by some (i.e. me) to be the best Eurovision song of all time, this pumping dance track didn't win the song contest, but did give Queenslander Gina Gardiner an international smash.

 

“Sick With Love” by Robyn Loau (1997)

ARIA chart peak: number 21

After she parted ways with Girlfriend, who went on to sex up their image as gf4, the former girl group member impressed with this mature pop track. Unfortunately, it was a one-off, with Loau dropped by her record company the following year.

 

“Cry” by The Mavis’s (1998)

ARIA chart peak: number 13

The runaway success of this glossy pop track was a double-edged sword – it introduced the Victorian band to a whole new audience, while at the same time serving to alienate some of their loyal fanbase.

 

“Jackie” by BZ featuring Joanne (1998)

ARIA chart peak: number 3

Previously released by Elisa Fiorillo and a pre-fame Lisa Stansfield (when she was in Blue Zone), this version of "Jackie", which sampled the Blue Zone recording, triumphed over a contemporaneous remake by fellow Aussies Redzone. Confused?

 

“Get Set” by Taxiride (1999)

ARIA chart peak: number 8

With its soaring harmonies and killer chorus, "Get Set" was the perfect introduction to the band that was second only to Killing Heidi as the biggest new local group of the turn of the millennium.

 

“Sister” by S2S (1999)

ARIA chart peak: number 3

Muscat sisters Christine and Sharon are remembered as much for pleasant pop ditties like this and "What's A Girl To Do" as they are for jetting over to the US to take up a support slot on Britney Spears' 2000 tour.

 

The Nineties airs Sundays at 8:30pm on SBS. Missed the first episode about TV? Watch it at SBS On Demand:

More On The Guide
The cheesy 90s sitcom DNA of Bojack Horseman
From Step By Step to Full House, Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg reveals the sitcom inspirations for the sitcom within his animated show.
An ode to Daria: the eye-rolling, sarcasm-spouting hero of '90s teens, both then and now
Did entering the the cynical high schooler's sick, sad world feel like finding your home? You weren't alone.