New on the Charts

Billboard February 16 1991

The unlikely mix of Gregorian chants set to a dance beat, synthesizer accents, and breathy French vocals has propelled the Charisma Records single Sadeness Part 1 onto the Hot 100 in the wake of chart-topping action in seven international markets, including Germany and the U.K.

The track is from the upcoming album MCMXC A.D. with the artist billed as Enigma. It is the creation of a German producer "who prefers to remain anonymous," according to Charisma press information on the album.

But it is no secret in the European pop community that the producer is Michael Cretu, who has scored success previously in Germany as a producer with Peter Cornelius, Hubert Kah, and Moti Special, and as a solo artist (Billboard, Jan. 26).

"If we said Michael Cretu initially [here] it's not like saying Jellybean Benitez. So we thought we'd keep it under wraps," says Audrey Strahl, VP of press and artist development at Charisma. With a sound that falls somewhere between D.N.A.'s remix of Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner and Madonna's Justify My Love, the Sadeness single broke on the Hot Dance Music club-play chart before the 12-inch had shipped, after a push from Charisma's national dance promotion manager, Peter Albertelli.

The track - billed as "a sort of dark homage to the notorious Marquis de Sade" - has sparked some controversy overseas with its combination of religious and erotic overtones. The Enigma sound also has spawned several sound-alike singles in Germany, some of which may see U.S. release. "We're confident we have the original," says Strahl.

Charisma says MTV has accepted a video that already has aired in Europe and will use top 40 play to promote sales of the Enigma album, set for release Tuesday (12).

Reproduced without permission from Billboard Magazine for private and research purposes only.