Saturday, June 21, 2008

Love At First Night A Hit At First Listen

New Zealand born Kim Hart debuted on the Australian singles charts for the first time in May 1980, just in time for her 20th birthday. The radio friendly dance-pop song ‘Love At First Night’ was the perfect vehicle to commercial success at the time. Australia’s own Christie Allen was huge on the charts during 79/80 and Kim Hart’s sound and image were not a million miles away - probably a contributing factor in why I used to get the two confused back in those days.

But Kim Hart was definitely her own singer and though she seemed to arrive on the charts out of nowhere, like many other “overnight” successes she too had done some hard yards in the lead up to instant fame. Hart had been singing in bands since highschool and in 1976 had been part of the band Chalkdust which won the New Zealand Battle Of The Bands competition. From there she performed in the cast of the television musical ‘Sing’ and became a regular on local TV.
EMI New Zealand saw potential and soon signed her to a recording contract. 1977 saw the release of Kim Hart’s first single ‘You Don’t Need Me’. Decent sales led to two more singles during 1978 with ‘You’re A Changed Man’ and ‘On My Toes Again’, the second of which was New Zealand’s official entry in the 1978 Yamaha Song Festival in Japan - I guess Asia’s answer to Eurovision. Singer John Rowles invited Hart to support on his New Zealand tour which increased her profile.

Soon after Kim Hart released her self-titled debut album which sold well in New Zealand, though two more singles ‘Fly Right Away’ and ‘Running Round In Circles’ in 1979 still didn’t prove to be breakthroughs on the charts. The song that finally did that was ‘Love At First Night’. It reached #15 in New Zealand but Australia adopted the song as its own, propelling it to a peak position of #6 in mid 1980. But the winning formula proved a fleeting one as Hart’s next three singles fell well short of ‘Love At First Night’s commercial appeal. She only managed one more appearance inside Australia’s top 100, this time with ‘You’re The One’ (#89) later in 1980. Hart continued to record and continued to enjoy some moderate success in New Zealand but her final single release I Australia was 1984’s ‘Heartbeat’ which failed to chart.

A couple of bits of interesting trivia associated with ‘Love At First Night’. The song was written by Alan O’Day (see earlier post), and was produced by Russell Dunlop who just months earlier had also had an Australian top 10 hit with ‘Space Invaders’ as one half of the studio outfit Player 1 (see much earlier post). The song has occasionally shown up on various artists retro compilations over the years but is generally pretty hard to find on CD.

Kim Hart is still singing, providing backing vocals on the 2005 hit ‘Star2Fall’ by Cabin Crew and most recently as a backing singer during 2007 with the Australian Idol band (the TV show), which also featured Gary Pinto ex of 90s group CDB.

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