Classic Rock And Pop Music Blog

Tag: One Hit Wonders

Alive And Kicking & 1-2-3 – Not Just One Hit Wonders

Two weeks ago I blogged on One Hit Wonders, and promised to try to rectify the wrongs done to artists on the list wrongfully accused.   The most egregious offenses were against Blind Faith, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Simple Minds, and the Grateful Dead.  In defense of those categorizing such memorable bands with the ignominy of One Hit Wonders is these acts often only had one song to peak high on the charts.  But charting doesn’t always capture the popularity of a band and their releases, with many other quality, well known songs being a part of the fabric of their generation.  For instance, while the Dead’s only hit song on the charts was “Hell In A Bucket” most music listeners in the ‘70s and ‘80s even if not Dead fans know “Friend Of The Devil,” “Casey Jones,” “Ripple”, “Truckin’,” “Shakedown Street,” “Fire On The Mountain,” and “Uncle John’s Band.”  And while Simple Minds was responsible for one of the true anthems of the ‘80s with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” they also had well known quality songs in “Sanctify Yourself” and “Alive And Kicking,” the latter of which provides the title of the playlist, as these bands didn’t roll over and play dead, but were very alive and kicking

Also included on this new Alive And Kicking playlist that had been previously featured among One Hit Wonder bands on my playlist Video Killed The Radio Star are the likes of Survivor, Shannon, General Public, A-ha, Dead Or Allive, Scandal, Cutting Crew, and even Tone-Loc.

These artists who often had 2 or 3 or more quality offerings inspired a follow-up playlist of bands who were Two and sometimes Three Hit Wonders.  These bands were primarily known for 2 or 3 songs that were hugely successful, with a very significant drop-off in popularity of their other releases.  That doesn’t always mean they didn’t have other quality songs, but often just that such songs were less well known to the general music listening unless big fans of the band.  The playlist is titled “123 – Two (and Three) Hit Wonders” borrowing its name from the Len Barry 1966 song “1 2 3,” with the band’s only other song of significance “Like A Baby.”  Other Two Hit Wonder bands featured include Steppenwolf, Gerry Rafferty, 10cc, Orleans, The Motels, The Romantics, Golden Earring, Power Station, Naked Eyes, Mr. Mister, Crowded House, John Secada, Blues Traveler, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Dido, Five For Fighting, Neon Trees, Owl City and even LMFAO as well as many others. 

Three Hit Wonder greats include The Zombies, The Spencer Davis Group, Argent, Kansas, Don McLean, Seals & Croft, Blue Oyster Cult, Steve Perry, Asia, A Flock Of Seagulls, UB40, Tears For Fears, Rick Astley, Spin Doctors, The Fray, Train, and Plain White T’s, among others.  Steve Perry, Tears For Fears, Train, and Plain White T’s are examples of acts who undoubtedly had several other great songs, but not near attaining the popularity of the 3 songs that achieved such success, airplay, and popularity.  Many of you will likely argue how many songs that you love by such artists aren’t included, and thus they are, similar to my One Hit Wonders listed above, falsely accused.  But there’s no denying how popular the listed songs were, and it makes for a fun playlist and great fodder for argument and discussion.

If you are fans of music of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I trust you will thoroughly enjoy the music, if not be frustrated by some of the songs not included.  But that’s the great part about such playlists – they can be a springboard to inspire further listening of other songs, artists, and albums from the past.

I thought I’d do such a wandering, inspired by the playlist, to highlight one of my favorite keyboardists, Steve Winwood, who is featured in these playlists as a member of The Spencer Davis Group and Blind Faith.  In addition to my first concert artist Billy Joel, and another favorite Elton John, Steve is one of the best keyboardists of all time, if not the most precocious.  Steve started his career in his early teens backing on guitar and keyboards for the likes of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Chuch Berry, and Bo Diddley.  At the age of 14 he joined his first band The Spencer Davis Group.  They had to sneak him into clubs and bars to play, as he was so underage.  He also played keyboards on “Voodoo Chile” on Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland album. Additionally he provided keyboards for David Gilmour on his About Face album

So as one of my friends likes to say, we’ll venture down that rabbit hole, borrowing a phrase from Alice In Wonderland.  Though the choice is up to you.  As Morpheus proposes in The Matrix:

You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

morpheus in The Matrix

So if you’re interested in a trip down Steve Winwood lane, take the red pill, and follow the rabbit down the hole to some great music and videos.

Here he is in his mid-teens with the Spencer Davis Group, with a song not included on my playlist, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.”  What white teen from England can sing and tickle the ivories like Ray Charles?  Steve Winwood, that’s who!

Now just barely 20 with Blind Faith in Hyde Park, London, in 1969, along with Eric Clapton on guitar only 24, and Ginger Baker on drums the elder statesman at 30.

A great concert to watch Winwood and Clapton reunited is “Live From Madison Square Garden” from 2009 (currently available through Qello Concerts on Prime Video).  It’s such a great concert, well worth a watch.  A similar performance at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007 paired Winwood and Clapton with Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II.  Just amazing guitars.

His third band was another favorite of mine, Traffic.  Here he’s featured on the almost 14 minute long classic “The Low Spark Of High Healed Boys,” a song featured for its saxophone on my playlist Sultans Of Swing:

And a newer performance of an old Traffic song “Glad” highlights Steve in one of his better piano performances, featured on my Piano Man playlist:

As an FYI, all of my playlists and their associated blogs are accessible via the menu on this blog, sub-categorized as genre, theme, or word centered playlists. So if you’re hunting for certain past playlists or blogs that’s where to find them.

As a solo artist he had many hits, including “While You See A Chance,” “Valerie,” and “Roll With It” and “Higher Love,” among many others:

He even parlayed his popularity to making beer commercials:

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Steve Winwood twice, once in 2004 on his About Time tour, and again in 2010 opening for Carlos Santana.  He’s such a talented musician, with such a soulful voice, amazing keyboard skills, and great guitar chops.  Sadly he was supposed to be on our Keeping the Blues Alive Mediterranean II cruise (see Mediterranean Blues blog and playlist), but had to withdraw for health reasons.  I wish him well, and thank him for the amazing music.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the Music!

Video Killed the Radio Star – Celebration of One Hit Wonders

September 25th was declared at National One Hit Wonder Day by music journalist Steve Rosen to commemorate songs that are often artist’s only claim to fame.  One hit wonders are songs that achieved great notoriety and fame, typically top 40 hit songs, by artists that never achieved future songs of such significant popularity.  

Sometimes they are the one shining moment of artists who otherwise fade into obscurity.  Songs that come to mind are “Precious And Few” by Climax, “Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks, “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Fobert, “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, or “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell (a song helped by being the son of Motown founder Barry Gordy, and backing vocals by Michael Jackson).

Other times they are the pinnacle achievement, the song that the artist is most identified by, though having otherwise quality song releases that didn’t achieve such high accolades.  Such songs and artists include “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.  They also have some great songs in “Alive & Kicking” and “Sanctify Yourself.”  Or Georgia Satellites with “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and “Hippy Hippy Shake,” The Fabulous Thunderbirds” with “Tuff Enough” and “Wrap It Up,” A-ha with “Take On Me” and “The Sun Always Shines On TV.”  Or think of Warren Zevon “Werewolves of London,” Rick James “Superfreak,” Lou Reed “Walk On The Wild Side,” and Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Relax.”  Some of these artists will be the subject of a future blog and playlist of what I call Two Hit Wonders (and sometimes Three…)

Some popular artists appear as one hit wonders, most notably Eric Clapton.  His “Can’t Find My Way Home” with Blind Faith as well as “Layla” with Derek & The Dominoes made the list, the only big hits of those short-lived bands.  And the Grateful Dead, for all their hippie following, was never a band looking for hits, but found their one and only with “Touch Of Grey” in 1987.  Somewhat ironic a song about their getting older drew the most attention.

The title of the blog and playlist are a tribute to the Buggles and their song “Video Killed The Radio Star,” the first ever video featured on the then brand new network MTV.  It’s joked that video/MTV killed the Buggles, as the song is their only hit, their 5 minutes of fame.

The Marvel movie Guardians Of The Galaxy sets the bar for the most One Hit Wonder songs in one movie, with at least 10, including Come And Get Your Love, Hooked On A Feeling, Go All The Way, Spirit In The Sky, Fooled Around And Fell In Love, I’m Not In Love, Cherry Bomb, Escape, O-o-h Child, and Magic.

The first Spotify playlist is an offering of some of the best One Hit Wonders of the ‘70s and ’80s.  I made a similar though much shorter playlist of the best of the best One Hit Wonders of the ’50s and ’60s.  There are a few songs, namely “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Spirit In The Sky,” and “Get Together” that straddle both lists.  Though released in 1969, they seem to be a bridge to the ‘70s, so I included them in that playlist as well.

And as I mentioned, I will be blogging about my Two (and occasionally Three) Hit Wonders, a few of whom are on the One Hit Wonder list, that I feel have other noteworthy songs that shouldn’t necessarily relegate them to a flash in the pan.  We’ll see what you think.  More on that in a week or two 😉

For a nice review of the history of National One Hit Wonder Day and the growing attention to one hit wonders, see:

Other great One Hit Wonder videos include:

A-ha “Take On Me,” perhaps one of the greatest music videos every made:

Taco – “Puttin’ On The Ritz” – so silly:

Peter Schilling – “Major Tom” – space exploration had a resurgence in the ’80s back to it’s late ’60s to early ’70s glory:

Newcelus – “Jam On It” – this is perhaps the epitome of ’80s break dancing scenes – such memories of school dances!:

Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – a kid’s anthem of the ’80s:

Cameo – “Word Up” – a college classic:

Tiffany – “I Think We’re Alone Now”- loved Tiffany and this song:

Alannah Myles – “Black Velvet” – as well as loved Alannah and this song:

Extreme – “More Than Words,” love the song and video, as well as Jack Black and Jimmy Fallon’s cover video (check it out in my Cover Songs blog):

Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby”

4 Non Blondes – “What’s Up” – an interesting tidbit – “What’s Up” isn’t in the lyrics, but was chosen as a title to avoid confusing the song with Marvin Gaye’s iconic “What’s Going On.” Also, until just recently, I thought the lead singer was a guy. Hey, I never saw the video, never connected the name necessarily referring to women, and well, the ’80s were a decade of returning to the falsetto of the ’50s 😂:

CeeLo Green – “Forget You” – a great song and video, and prefer it to the R-rated version, especially for my blog:

Orianthi – “According To You” – watch her unparalleled female guitar prowess:

The Lumineers – “Ho Hey” – love the folky feel of this:

With several One Hit Wonders the theme song of several hit TV shows including:

Happy Days – Pratt & McClain – “Happy Days.” We all loved this show, Mr. & Mrs. C., and a glimpse of the ’50s: 

Welcome Back, Kotter – John Sebastian – “Welcome Back,” a classic ’70s show, and the springboard for Vinnie Barbarino a.k.a. John Travolta’s career:

The Greatest American Hero – Joey Scarbury – “Believe It Or Not” – such a silly, if not stupid show, but we all loved it – a hero who was unmistakably human, yet still managed to do good:

Cheers – Gary Portnoy – “Everybody Knows Your Name,” just a classic sit-com and recognizable song. Who didn’t want to hang out at this place?:

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?

All those nights when you’ve got no lights
The check is in the mail
And your little angel
Hung the cat up by its tail
And your third fiance didn’t show

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name

Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee’s dead
The morning’s looking bright
And your shrink ran off to Europe
And didn’t even write
And your husband wants to be a girl

Be glad there’s one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to go where people know
People are all the same
You want to go where everybody knows your name

Friends – The Rembrandts – “I’ll Be There For You,” one of the best TV series ever. I do believe “Just The Way It Is, Baby” makes them more of a Two Hit Wonder. More to follow:

Cops – Inner Circle – “Bad Boys,” perhaps one of the most iconic TV theme songs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOdiGzkF-8A

And several prominently featured in movies (with Guardians the true champion as mentioned above):

The Poseidon Adventure – Maureen McGovern – “The Morning After,” not the best movie and such a sad song:

Saturday Night Fever – Yvonne Elliman – “If I Can’t Have You,” a classic song and movie of the disco era:

An American Werewolf In London – Warren Zevon – “Werewolves Of London,” such a great song for the movie, along with CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”:

Rocky III – Survivor – “Eye Of The Tiger,” the song that made the movie, with the audience cheering on Rocky to beat Clubber – yes, I remember people in the audience at the theater in Rocky I and Rocky III cheering him on!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERT_7u5L0dc

Flashdance – Michael Sembello – “Maniac.” This song and scene made the movie:

The following video, a compilation of scenes from the movie, is also great:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aclyuqS1MmA

Valley Girl – Modern English – “I Melt With You.” Not a good movie, but a great song:

Beverly Hills Cop – Harold Faltermeyer – “Axel F.” My college cheerleading squad did a routine to this song!🤣:

The Breakfast Club – Simple Minds – “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” a song turned down by Billy Idol. I bet he wishes he had a “do-over” on that one. He did later record a version of the song – not as good as Simple Mind’s classic original:

Pretty In Pink – OMD – “If You Leave,” A great Molly Ringwald/John Hughes movie and great song and soundtrack:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Yello – “Oh Yeah.” I’ve seen a meme around Facebook that we know we’re getting older as we identify more with the principal and think Ferris is a hoodlum 🤣:

St. Elmo’s Fire – John Parr – “Man In Motion.” I recently watched this movie again, such a testament to the ’80s:

Reservoir Dogs – Stealers Wheel – “Stuck In The Middle With You” (video not included – a bit too graphic to be a part of my usually PG-13 blog 😂)

Guardians Of the Galaxy – Elvin Bishop – “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” [Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord explaining his attachment to his mother’s pop music of the ’70s, as mentioned above, mostly One Hit Wonders]:

Now onto the Playlists.  I think you’ll love them.

Video Killed The Radio Star – ‘70s & ‘80s One Hit Wonders [with video killing the Buggles as well 🤣]:

Get A Job – ‘50s & ‘60s One Hit Wonders [suspecting many of these acts had to get a(nother) job 😂]

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the Music!

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