It’s only May, but here we are with the 3rd Stock Aitken Waterman #1 of the year (and there are still four more to come…)
Hand on Your Heart, by Kylie Minogue (her 3rd of seven #1s)
1 week, from 7th – 14th May 1989
And yes it’s SAW by numbers – it feels like they were getting lazier, or at least more complacent, by the hit – and for sure there are much better Kylie songs from the time that never made number one (‘Step Back in Time’ and ‘Better the Devil You Know’ spring instantly to mind) but, like Jason Donovan’s recent ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’, it’s hard to get very exercised by this, one way or the other.
It’s a pop song: relatively catchy and completely of its time. Not since the Merseybeat days of 1964, glam in ’73, or the height of disco in 1979, has one sound so dominated the British charts. I still think Kylie sounds a little strained: something about the pitch she’s singing in, and the speed of her delivery. By the time of her ‘comeback’ her voice had matured a lot, either through age or singing lessons.
There are flashes, though. The song takes the form of a stern lecture to her lover, demanding him to swear that they are through, and Kylie is at her best when she’s channelling her inner disco diva with the sultry Look me in the eye and tell me we are really through… and the snappy Why did we ever start? For the rest of the song, though, you can’t escape the feeling that both she and the production team are going through the motions. (Though it’s worth noting that at the same time as this was making #1, SAW were also releasing some of their best work with Donna Summer, and we can quietly imagine a parallel universe where ‘This Time I Know It’s for Real’ was the big chart-topping smash ahead of ‘Hand on Your Heart’.)
And… I’m not sure I can think of much more to say here. Apparently this was one of the first singles to sell well as a cassette, and would have had two weeks at #1 if there hadn’t been a problem with its pricing… But even I’m struggling to find that particularly interesting. Both the Kylie and the SAW bubbles will burst as the 1980s become the 1990s, but not quite yet. They’ll both be featuring again in this blog before long… In fact, Stock Aitken and Waterman will also helm the next #1, in very tragic circumstances.