First Hit #1: November 30, 1991
While I’m not American, I’m doing the American chart because it’s honestly pretty similar to the Canadian one. We have our CanCon, and there are some variations on what hits when, but in general our pop history is pretty similar. Also, America’s pop charts are very well documented – Billboard is kind of obsessive about it – while Canada’s are not. I bring this up because I have no memory of Set Adrift on Memory Bliss. At all.
It did chart in Canada, reaching #9 on the general chart and #1 on the dance charts. Yet, I’m sure I’ve never heard it before. This is, in a word, strange. The ’90s had a much more infrequent rate of chart changes than previous decades – songs were sitting firmly planted at the top for months – and all of the kids in my family were desperately trying to find anything that wasn’t country music, tuning into top 40 stations if we could and generally trying our hardest to be more cultured musically. Yet, somehow, this never really hit the airwaves.
I don’t think I really missed anything by being ignorant of Set Adrift’s existence for over 20 years. PM Dawn isn’t a particularly great rapper, with lazy delivery and oddly incoherent stream of consciousness rambling for lyrics. The biggest problem is that the song is built heavily on Spandau Ballet’s True. One of the most difficult tricks for a song to pull off is to be based heavily on a sample and not inspire people to just listen to the original. Set Adrift just makes me want to listen to True, the changes make it more modern (well, for 1991 audiences) but not particularly special.
Thus, everyone in my little corner of Canada immediately forgot about it.