Friday, August 26, 2011

Not One Hit Wonders After All

The term "one hit wonder" with regards to music has become almost useless thanks to overuse. Have I really seen Rick Springfield referred to as a one hit wonder? I know "Jessie's Girl" is the one everybody remembers best, but the man had sixteen other Top 40 hits - including 4 others in the Top 10. You can call Springfield a lot of things, but a one hit wonder sure isn't one of them

(And before anyone asks, I happen to like Rick Springfield's music. There. I said it. But that's not the topic at hand.)

In discussing the whole one hit wonder thing, there is a peculiar class of artist that gets tagged with the label all the time. These are the singers or bands who scored one monster hit, then followed it up with a lesser hit that has since been forgotten. As a result, they get branded "one hit wonders" even though they aren't. I doubt they complain about it, though, since at least people still talk about them.

Here are five "one hit wonders" who aren't, plucked from 1970s & 80s music (which is what I know best):

1)Starbuck ("Moonlight Feels Right", #3)

Almost exactly a year after their big hit, they returned to the Top 40 with "Everybody Be Dancin'". It got as high as #38 before disappearing into the ether after two whole weeks in the Top 40.

2)Henry Gross ("Shannon", #6)

After scoring with possibly the saddest song ever written about a dog, Henry made a 2 week cameo in the Top 40 with "Springtime Mama" ascending to #37. Does anyone who isn't already a huge Henry Gross fan remember this song?

3)Looking Glass ("Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)", #1)

Not only did Looking Glass break a single from their follow-up album, it's a pretty good companion piece to "Brandy". "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne" still only reached as high as #33 during its 3 week stint in the Top 40.

4)Tommy Tutone ("867-5309/Jenny", #4)

The crazy part is not that Tommy Tutone managed another hit besides what I affectionately refer to as a gleefully perverse love song. No, what's crazy is that "Angel Say No" was on the charts almost two years before that famous temptation for phone pranksters. "Angel Say No" got as high as #38 and stayed only 2 weeks in the Top 40.

5)Stacey Q ("Two of Hearts", #3)

I only juuuust barely remember Stacey Q in the first place, but she looked like she might possibly be the Next Big Thing in 1986. Alas, "We Connect" only made it as high as #35 (though it spent 4 weeks in the Top 40 - kinda weird, actually) before it vanished. But it looks like she is still hanging in there, and good for her.

I might do another little survey like this in the future, because the pop charts are loaded with anomalies that fascinate me.


  1. well, perhaps it should be "One BIG Hit" wonders? there are tons of them out there like that, where us music connoisseurs can easily point out the follow up hits of ABC, Men Without Hats and Thomas Dolby or the Knack, most people can't.

    music nerds, us?

    do more!

  2. I purposefully went deliberately obscure with the artists this time, though a couple of the ones you mentioned are good candidates for a follow-up.

    Oddly enough, Thomas Dolby really DID make the Top 40 only once, though his Hot 100 tally of three is pretty decent. "Hyperactive!" was far more successful in the U.K. than over here.

  3. lots of our one hit wonders are huge elsewhere- Sweet, Divinyls, you name it. usually Europe. and do hairbands even have one hit?

  4. Exactly. This is why I don't consider someone like Gary Numan one, even though he is on the American charts. And sure, many did! Just because I list someone doesn't necessarily mean I like their music!

    Although, Sweet falls into the Rick Springfield category. They had FIVE. You can probably name four without much effort; all five if you try.

  5. Little Willy
    Ballroom Blitz
    Love Is Like Oxygen
    .... Wig Wam Bam?
    .... Teenage Rampage?

    only the first three I know for sure.

  6. I'm a little surprised. It goes like this (chronologically):

    "Little Willy" - #3
    "Ballroom Blitz" - #5
    "Fox on the Run" - #5
    "Action" - #20
    "Love Is Like Oxygen" - #8

    Obviously, "Action" is the most obscure of that bunch. And of course, they had way more hits on the U.K. chart.

  7. d'oh! Fox on the Run, of course. Action I would never have guessed.

  8. My suspicion is that "Action" went as high as it did because it was the follow-up single to "Fox on the Run", and it benefited from some carryover from that song by radio of the day.