Friday, March 10, 2006

Favorite One Hit Wonders

They're kind of a cultural phenomenon. They appear, seemingly out of nowhere, become ubiquitous and gradually disappear. The musicians that create them fading back to obscurity after their 15 minute timer goes off. With some bands it's due to a general mediocrity-- they had their moment of greatness then receded back to mediocrity and thus obscurity.

With other bands and musicians it's more a matter of acccesibility. They're accomplished musicians with a small but loyal cult following who put out that one song that's accessible not just to their small cult of loyal fans but to a larger mass audience... They're never able to re-create that one magic moment that allowed them to connect with people beyond their small circle of fans. Some of them have no problem with this, others are distinctly bothered by the phenomenon and try their damndest to recreate that mass appeal that ever so briefly graced their otherwise obscure musical career.

Some of my favorite one-hit wonders include:

10. Pilot - Magic
9. Moving Pictures - What About Me
8. Joey Scarbury - Believe It Or Not (theme from The Greatest American Hero)
7. . The Refreshments - Banditos
6. A Flock of Seagulls - I Ran
5. Chase - Get It On!
4. The Outfield - Your Love
3. Escape Club - Wild Wild West
2. Player - Baby Come Back

*drumroll please*

1. Level 42 - Something About You

What are some of your favorites?


Bar said...

I'll come back and answer this later when I am not at work...but here is a sort of related but unrelated question:

Mike and the Mechanics. What do you think of them? I think they had a one hit wonder, but a song I LOVE by them is called "Don't", are you familiar?

Metal Mark said...

I remember Autograph's Turn up the radio being a hit in late 84 and they never had another.

Godwhacker said...

Hi perplexio,
• "She Blinded Me With Science" Thomas Dolby
• "867-5309" Tommy Tutone
• "Genius of Love" Tom Tom Club
• "My Sharona" The Knack
• "If God Was One of Us" Joan Osbourne
• "Tainted Love" Soft Cell
• "I Touch Myself" The Divinyls
• "Jungle Love" The Time
• "Barely Breathing" Duncan Sheik
• "Funkytown" Lipps Inc.

David Amulet said...

Both Flock of Seagulls and the Outfield had other hits -- the former had "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) and "Space Age Love Song;" the latter had "All the Love in the World," "Every Time You Cry," and another one I can't recall. So I'll exclude them.

Mike + the Mechanics had a number of Top 40 hits, including "Silent Running," "All I Need Is a Miracle," "Taken In," "Nobody's Perfect," and "The Living Years," to name a few. I agree that "Don't" is a great pop song; it should have been a huge adult contemporary hit.

I agree with Mark, Autograph takes the cake in the hard rock (?) world. That song captures every element of pop metal, but nothing else the band did could compare.

The big one-hit wonders in my head are always the actors-turned-singers who did one snigle or album and had a hit but no real success thereafter. Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Michael Damian, Eddie Murphy, etc.

-- david

Jay Noel said...

The Outfield has at least one other hit as well. I remember "All the Love in the World."

Interestingly, Level 42's "Something About You" is still one of my favorites. I think it's one of the best well written songs. They had a minor hit, "Running in the Family."

My favrotie one-hitters:

The Verve "Bittersweet Symphony"
Young MC "Bust a Move"
New Radicals "You Get What You Give"
Jamaroqui "Virtual Insanity"

Perplexio said...

To me the New Radicals sounded kind of like the Rolling Stones. Their lead singer had a Mick Jagger-esque quality to his voice.

Their one and only CD is one of my wife's favorites. I like it too, but not to the extent she does.

David Amulet said...

I'm with Phoenix--I loved "Something About You." Level 42's follow-up song, "Lessons in Love," was actually a pretty good pop song as well.

-- david

Perplexio said...

Something About You is such a great song. Maybe it's just me but I think the song really captures the essence of summer. It's got that driving down the interstate with the windows (or ragtop for those lucky enough to own convertibles) rolled down and stereo blaring.

And technically, come to think of it, Escape Club also had a 2nd hit, I'll Be There charted in 1990 or 1991 I believe. It wasn't as big a hit as Wild Wild West and then the band just seemed to fade back into obscurity.

Another one hit wonder that comes to mind is Popular by Nada Surf, but the thing with that song was, there was something about it that just screamed "one-hit wonder"-- you could just tell from that one song, that the band didn't really have much else to offer and they would fade back to the obscurity from whence they came. The song had a grunge feel to it a few years after the whole grunge movement had disappeared. If Popular had come out between 1992 and 1994 the band may have been able to follow up on its succcess.

:P fuzzbox said...

"Come on Eileen", by Dexie's Midnight Runners has always been one of my favorite one hit wonders. It just so darned snappy.

Anonymous said...

Well, one hit wonders are interesting. Sgt. Barry Sadler's The Ballad of The Green Berets was iconoclastic in a period of Vietnam protests as was the movie that the song came from.

Our House by Madness is great, but they had some other big hits(House of Fun was no.1) that were all in their native England.

Drexy's Midnight Runners(Come On Eileen is one of the best 80s songs) had a few other hits but the problem is that many "one-hit wonders" were that way because they came from a country like England. Take On Me by Aha was very good, but the B-side When The Sun Shines on TV is also a hit, yet a minor one.

The New Romantics were in that category with What I Like About You, but they had lesser hits. I recommend checking them out for songs like When I Look In Your Eyes.

I don't much like The New Radicals in terms of 90s Rock and prefer Collective Soul, and Live to that band.

I actually think that Something About You is OK but not special. I prefer, definitely, the song of the same name from Boston's debut which is a lot better yet not the same song.

How come nobody has mentioned Louie, Louie by The Kingsmen or Tequila by The Champs? I know that the 80s are very well known for the one-hit wonders but there are some better one-hit wonders from the 60s. California Sun by The Rivieras for example. Oh well, time to end the rambling.