As much a festive tradition as endless turkey sandwiches between Boxing Day and New Year’s, the singles chart has its own version of Christmas leftovers…
Especially for You, by Kylie Minogue (her 2nd of seven #1s) & Jason Donovan (his 1st of four #1s)
3 weeks, from 1st – 22nd January 1989
There’s no way ‘Especially for You’ was supposed to be #1 in late January. It had been lodged behind Cliff’s ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ (has there ever been a more saccharine festive Top 2?) for all four weeks of that record’s chart-topping run, before ascending to its rightful place at #1 on the first day of 1989.
I say ‘rightful’, for yes, as saccharine as this ballad is, there’s something, especially in the verses, that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s not the lyrics, which are the type you knock-out on the back of a napkin: Especially for you, I wanna tell you you mean all the world to me, How I’m certain that our love was meant to be… Or the production, which is as cheap and cheerful as Stock Aitken Waterman ever got.
It’s something I’ve just noticed, after sitting down to listen to this song properly for the first time in decades… It’s a rip-off of ABBA’s 1981 hit ‘One of Us’. Just listen: the intro, the reggae-ish beat, the harmonies…! And when you base a song on one of the best pop group ever’s best hits, then you’re not going to go far wrong.
Though to call it a complete rip-off is harsh – the chorus is its own beast, and a real earworm – and of course there’s the star quality of Queen Kylie, who can carry any old tripe when she’s in the mood. And then there’s Jason Donovan, who will go on to be 1989’s biggest chart star (well, him and a cartoon rabbit…) It was released in the wake of the couple’s wedding on Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’– one of the most watched episodes of any soap – amid lots of speculation about a romance in real-life, and so it was bound to be a gigantic hit. The most impressive thing is that old Cliff Richard was able to hold off this juggernaut for so long!
No matter, it eventually made #1 and became SAW’s biggest ever hit. (And, I believe, their only release to sell a million copies.) 1989 will be the year that the production trio peak – they’ll helm a quite incredible seven chart-toppers this year – so it’s only proper that they kick the year off with their best (OK, second best, after Dead or Alive). Sadly, that means that the final year of the decade will probably pale in comparison to 1988, which unexpectedly became my best year for chart-toppers since 1980-81.