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:
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!:
Flashdance – Michael Sembello – “Maniac.” This song and scene made the movie:
The following video, a compilation of scenes from the movie, is also great:
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!