July 4, 2022

In The Quantity Ones, I’m reviewing each single #1 single within the historical past of the Billboard Scorching 100, beginning with the chart’s starting, in 1958, and dealing my approach up into the current.

Pop stardom is, amongst many different issues, a cult of persona. To rack up any type of sustained success, pop stars should be larger-than-life figures. The world has to challenge lust and fantasy and nervousness and parasocial friend-feelings and all types of different issues on these folks, and these folks have to have the ability to help all of these projections. Most individuals can’t try this. Pop stars are available many alternative configurations and dimensions, however in nearly each type, pop stardom entails some type of majestic, mystical charisma. Even a pop-star everyman like Phil Collins has to have the ability to talk an entire lot with, as an illustration, a waggling eyebrow. He has to carry out the absurdity of his personal stardom.

Each occasionally, although, somebody comparatively regular sneaks by the system and conquers the charts. It doesn’t occur usually, but it surely can occur. Within the music enterprise, skilled hooksmiths who aren’t apparent pop stars often play behind-the-scenes roles, writing or producing hits for individuals who do have these qualities. However underneath uncommon circumstances, a no one can change into a someone with out even having to invent some type of narrative or persona. That’s what the Australian duo Savage Backyard did within the late ’90s.

No person knew a lot of something about Savage Backyard. They have been two faintly anonymous-looking white guys who would sometimes pop up on VH1, and there was nothing particularly outwardly fascinating about them. For some time, although, Savage Backyard had radio programmers underneath their spell. The duo made lighter-than-air earworms that might merely change into part of your surroundings. You’d hear these songs out on the earth, and also you may get pleasure from them with out changing into the slightest bit curious concerning the individuals who made them. Savage Backyard weren’t a part of a cultural wave, they usually didn’t belong to any specific style or scene. They by no means had buzz, or no less than they didn’t have the kind of buzz that was legible to my teenage self. However that they had songs, and people songs crept into your mind and stayed there. On the prime of 1998, a type of songs went all the way in which to #1, ending the lengthy reign of Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind 1997.”

The 2 members of Savage Backyard discovered one another by happenstance. Multi-instrumentalist Daniel Jones was born in England, and his household moved to Brisbane when he was nonetheless a child. As an adolescent, Jones began a band together with his brother and a few mates. They have been known as Purple Edge, they usually principally performed covers. Purple Edge wanted a singer, so that they put an advert in Time Off, an area music newspaper. Just one individual responded to the advert, and that individual was Darren Hayes.

Darren Hayes, a Brisbane native, had been a nervous and fragile child, obsessive about pop music and Star Wars. (When Hayes was born, the #1 track in America was Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Noticed Your Face.”) Hayes was in faculty when he auditioned for Purple Edge, however all he needed to do was make pop music. Throughout his audition, Hayes’ voice broke, however he nonetheless bought the spot in Purple Edge; musicians, it appears, will forgive sure flaws if actually no one else exhibits as much as audition.

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For a couple of 12 months, Purple Edge performed the pub circuit round Australia’s Gold Coast. In 1994, Hayes and Jones each realized that they needed to jot down authentic music, so that they left the band and fashioned their very own duo. First, they known as themselves Crush, earlier than studying {that a} British group already had that title. Finally, they renamed themselves Savage Backyard after a line from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles books, a fairly clear signal that these guys have been dorks.

Savage Backyard despatched demo tapes to labels all all over the world, they usually caught the eye of John Woodruff, a supervisor of some pretty outstanding Australian rock bands. Woodruff helped Savage Backyard get signed to Roadshow Music, a Warner Bros. imprint. In 1996, the duo launched their debut single “I Need You,” an odd and addictive piece of dream-world bubblegum. Darren Hayes quasi-raps over weightless keyboard diddles and sensitive-heart power-chords, and the entire thing simply hovers within the air. “I Need You” grew to become a giant hit in Australia — the largest hit from a homegrown Australian artist that 12 months, actually — and Savage Backyard began to get worldwide curiosity.

After they have been attempting to determine increase past Australia, Savage Backyard caught a fortunate break. The title Man Zapoleon has come up on this column a few instances. He’s the idiosyncratic Phoenix radio programmer who, on a whim, revived UB40’s “Purple Purple Wine” 5 years after that track’s launch and helped it change into a chart-topper. Zapoleon had additionally began enjoying “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You,” a track from the 16-year-old Hawaiian child Glenn Medeiros, after listening to the track whereas on trip in Hawaii. That track grew to become a world hit, and Medeiros ultimately scored a #1 hit of his personal. Within the ’90s, Zapoleon was working as a music-business guide, and he heard “I Need You” whereas he was at a convention in Australia. Zapoleon took the track again to the US with him, so when Savage Backyard began angling for an American deal, the large labels have been already aware of the duo.

Clive Davis needed to signal Savage Backyard to Arista, however the group knew that he’d get closely concerned on the inventive facet, so that they went with Don Ienner at Columbia as a substitute. Columbia launched “I Need You” within the US in 1997. The track grew to become a #1 hit in Canada, and it reached #4 on the Scorching 100 — a fairly nice displaying for a debuting artist from abroad. (“I Need You” is an 8.) By the point the track landed within the US, Savage Backyard had their self-titled debut album all able to go.

When “I Need You” did nicely in Australia, Roadshow, Savage Backyard’s Australian label, moved the group to Sydney and set them up with Charles Fisher, a producer who’d labored with Australian teams like Radio Birdman, Hoodoo Gurus, and former Quantity Ones artists Air Provide. Savage Backyard already had successful on their fingers, however they weren’t earning profits but. In Sydney, Hayes and Jones lived collectively in a one-bedroom condominium and skipped meals to economize. Darren Hayes had married his girlfriend a few years earlier, and he missed her terribly.

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Sooner or later, whereas sitting in a café, Hayes began writing a track about his spouse. At first, he known as the observe “Magical Kisses,” a really horrible title. For some time, the track didn’t have a refrain, however then Hayes got here up with a bit about wanting to face with you within the mountain, to wash with you within the sea, to put like this eternally till the sky falls down on… he? (You possibly can’t actually change that refrain to the third individual with out fucking up the rhyme scheme.) Hayes additionally gave the track a brand new title. He named it after Actually, Madly, Deeply, an Anthony Minghella movie from 1990 the place Juliet Stevenson retains up her relationship with Alan Rickman even after Rickman dies and turns into a ghost. (That’s proper: It’s the different ghost romance of 1990.) In Fred Bronson’s Billboard Guide Of No 1 Hits, Hayes says, “It was a wink-wink nudge-nudge reference to a movie I didn’t assume anybody had seen.”

Hayes thought that “Actually Madly Deeply” must be a hidden bonus observe on the Savage Backyard CD: “I believed nobody would need to hearken to this sappy track about my love life.” However Charles Fisher, Savage Backyard’s producer, knew that the world loves sappy songs about folks’s love lives, and he thought that Hayes had simply written his first #1 hit. Fisher produced the track to make it sound huge, getting Hayes to sing stately overdubbed backing vocals. When “Actually Madly Deeply” got here out in Australia, it had a drum-machine beat and an affordable music video, and it nonetheless topped the Australian charts.

For the American launch of “Actually Madly Deepy,” Columbia added in some beefier dwell drums, and the label additionally commissioned a brand new video. Adolfo Doring, the director who’d made movies for a few Hootie & The Blowfish hits, filmed a newly short-haired Hayes strolling round Paris, narrating a pair’s love story. It’s an nearly aggressively nameless video, but it surely didn’t want persona. The track did the work.

“Actually Madly Deeply” is a type of songs that may as nicely have been crafted by mathematicians in lab coats in a sterile, sealed-off laboratory. It sounds inevitable. Each line is a hook. The primary verse begins with Darren Hayes promising to be your dream, your want, your fantasy. That line sticks with you, and so does virtually every thing else Hayes sings on the track. The refrain, the one about laying standing with you on the mountain and bathing with you within the sea, is only a completely composed piece of sentimental gibberish. I find it irresistible.

If something, I want Savage Backyard made that refrain sound even larger and extra cruel. Hayes delivers that hook in a feathery, delicate voice and not using a entire lot of muscle behind it; he sounds possibly a tad embarrassed. The manufacturing, with its gauzy synths and its fake-Spanish guitar solo, hews a little bit too near late-’90s adult-contempo developments. Across the identical time, Swedish pop scientists have been developing with more and more shameless new methods to hammer a huge refrain into your mind, and people guys would’ve gone nuts if somebody had introduced “Actually Madly Deeply” to them. Within the model we bought, “Actually Madly Deeply” sounds a bit too light-weight. It could possibly be an important track, but it surely’s merely a superb one.

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However what do I do know? “Actually Madly Deeply” was Savage Backyard’s third American single, following “I Need You” and the Blade Runner-inspired “To The Moon And Again,” which peaked at #24. By the point “Actually Madly Deeply” reached #1, Savage Backyard’s self-titled album was already platinum. “Actually Madly Deeply” solely spent a few weeks at #1 within the US, but it surely remained on the Scorching 100 for a full 12 months. The radio really embraced the track. On Billboard‘s Grownup Modern chart, “Actually Madly Deeply” sat at #1 for 11 weeks, and it remained on the chart for 123 weeks. In 2013, Billboard named “Actually Madly Deeply” the #1 grownup modern track of all time.

Savage Backyard’s album bought steadily for years, and it will definitely went platinum seven instances over. Darren Hayes’ marriage didn’t final. He and his spouse separated in 1998 and divorced two years later. Hayes got here out as homosexual within the early ’00s, and he ultimately married animator Richard Cullen. Savage Backyard saved making hits, and we’ll see them once more on this column.

GRADE: 7/10

BONUS BEATS: In 2006, the German group Cascada had an enormous hit all throughout Europe with their hammering Euro-dance cowl of “Actually Madly Deeply.” Right here’s the extraordinarily foolish video for that model:

(Cascada’s highest-charting Scorching 100 hit is 2005’s “Everytime We Contact,” which peaked at #10. It’s a 7.)

BONUS BONUS BEATS: I don’t wish to put TV commercials on this part, since I typically hate them, however I’ve bought to make an exception right here. In a 2010 Puma advert, an entire mob of scary, Jason Statham-looking British soccer goons roars out an a cappella model of “Actually Madly Deeply” and makes it sound like Cock Sparrer. That is simply my favourite tackle the track. Right here it’s:

That advert is presumably what impressed this TikTok, which I watched about 5 million instances throughout the early quarantine days of 2020:

@brandonfoster74 #thesquad that is gonna occur #fyp #foru #foryoupage #4u #xyzbca #xyzcba #foryou #pub #comedy ♬ authentic sound – THE MUSIC VAULT

THE ASTERISK: Smash Mouth’s fizzy, organ-happy hip-swinger “Walkin’ On The Solar” by no means formally got here out as a single within the US, so it by no means charted on the Scorching 100. However whereas “Actually Madly Deeply” was at #1, “Walkin’ On The Solar” peaked at #2 on Billboard‘s Radio Songs chart, so who’s to say what might’ve occurred? It’s an 8.