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August 30, 2009

Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s (#10-1)

This is it, race fans! The Top 10 one-hit wonders of the 80s, as counted down by VH-1. It's been a long road, doing these ten at a time. But they've been fun to do too. Especially gratifying is when I see somebody find one of these posts and then continue on through the rest of them. These are my most popular posts with the exception of the Alan Rickman fans finding my Harry Potter post (isn't he dreamy?)

Who would have thought, when I started this on that fateful Sunday evening, August 2, that within a month I'd be done with all 100? Anybody who knows me would have thought I'd end with the second post (if not the first). It's all of you who have kept me going, so I thank you.

Now, without further adieu, the top 10!

#10: Frankie Goes to Hollywood: "Relax" (1984)

And what a way to start the countdown, with a song about sex! Just listen to the words, you'll see what I mean. Damn, but this song has a great beat, though. It's no wonder it was popular in dance clubs. I've always kind of liked the song for just that reason, which isn't normally the case with these types of songs. For some reason, this one just hits that nerve just right and I actually like it.

The song and video was originally banned in Britain on the BBC for their overt sexuality (also the cover of the album sleeve). Of course, this rocketed the song to the top of the charts. However, the original video never made it to air, supposedly shot in a gay S&M parlor in London. This video was the one that replaced it. In 1984, it only reached #65 in the US, but by 1985 it had hit the top 10.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood had a few more monster hits in the UK, but never charted in the Top 40 again in the US. Those of you thinking of "Two Tribes" and "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" and saying "wait, those were hits!" actually need to re-think. Even though I have fond memories of "Two Tribes," it only hit #43 in the States while the other one hit #48. The band broke up in the late 80s, tried to reunite in the mid-2000s but subsequently disappeared.

#9 Kajagoogoo: "Too Shy" (1983)

This is another song that, thinking about it, I shouldn't like. But for some reason, it just gets my toe tapping. Gotta love that 80s hair! And the heavy keyboard electronics. The video shows a drummer, but the drum sounds in the song sound more like a drum machine than actual drums. But what do I know? It's still kind of an infectious song.

"Too Shy" was Kajagoogoo's debut single, and it was all downhill from there, at least in the States. They continued to hit in the UK for the next couple of years, before things just stopped happening for them. They reunited briefly in 2004, but have since reunited again and are planning a tour and new CD.

#8: Bow Wow Wow: "I Want Candy" (1982)

This song just annoyed the hell out of me when I first heard it (don't know if that was 1982 or not, since I was only 12 at the time). I don't know if it's the song or Bow Wow Wow's version of it, since it is a cover of a 1965 song. Either way, the instrumentation and beat just get on my nerves. I can't believe this song was as popular as it was, but I guess I'm not the arbiter of society's taste, am I?

Bow Wow Wow had a lot of controversy involving lead singer Annabella Lwin, mainly for sexualizing a 14-year-old girl (both in this video, but also on the cover of one of their albums). Of course, these days that wouldn't even be commented on except in Conservative circles (Miley Cyrus and her Annie Leibovitz photos, anyone?), but back then, it was an outrage. The band wasn't even allowed to leave the UK unless they promised to stop doing that. I won't even get into their alleged plagiarizing of African melodies in their songs. Wouldn't that just be considered "sampling" today? This band was before its time!!!!

They broke up in 1983, but they reformed in the early 2000s (who says 80s nostalgia is dead, with all of these reunions and reformations?). They haven't performed since 2006, but they aren't officially broken up or anything like that.

#7: Modern English: "I Melt With You" (1983)

Damn, but I love this song! Yes, that kind of embarrasses me, but what can I do? Me and my friends would listen to this song and dance all the time. Of course, this was five or six years later, when I was in college, but that's beside the point. I think my friend Erin introduced it to me, or at least it was listening to it with her that made me notice it (I don't really remember it before then). I do like the song, but I think part of my adoration is because of the memories it brings back.

All of that being said, this song really doesn't qualify as a "hit" compared to most of the other songs on this list. It hit #7 on the "Top Tracks" Billboard chart, but only #78 on the Billboard Top 100 (what the hell's the difference?). However, this is such a quintessential 80s song that its inclusion on the list is almost mandatory.

Modern English broke up in the late 80s, reformed with a couple of original members in 1990, broke up again, reformed with a couple of original members and produced an album, broke up...well, you get the idea. Supposedly, the original lead singer has toured recently with a "new" line-up of bandmembers, and they are supposedly working on a new album (It's supposed to be released soon, I think). We'll see what happens.

#6: Toni Basil: "Mickey" (1982)

I actually remember hearing this song when I was in junior high school (one of the few early 80s songs I remember from the time period it came out). For me, it's another guilty pleasure, as it's a fun song but I kind of cringe when I hear it. That doesn't matter, though, it's still well-loved on this end. The video's very funny, and it helps that Basil's incredibly cute. So's the song. This song is also seared into my memory for Weird Al's parody of it, "Ricky" (the Ricky Ricardo song).

Basil has never charted again, at least on the Top 40 (two songs were low on the charts, and numerous ones hit the Dance charts) but she has a wonderful career as dancer and choreographer, even appearing as a guest judge on one of the "So You Think You Can Dance" shows. Seeing her on the VH-1 special, you can see that she still has an insatiable thirst for life, and still appears to be a lot of fun.

#5: Soft Cell: "Tainted Love" (1981)

This is yet another wonderful song (this is the Top 10, so they better all be good!). I love the electronic beat of this song, and it's just an easy song to sing along with. It's been made more prominent recently with a remake from Marilyn Manson (and Manson's version has kind of spoiled this one for me a little bit, though I still love it). The video is extremely silly, though.

This song holds the record for most weeks in the US Top 40 charts, with 43 weeks. It built slowly, eventually hitting #8. Soft Cell continued to hit it big in the UK, though this was their only US hit. They broke up soon after, though (as is usual on this chart, it seems), they reunited in the early 2000s and actually released a new CD. They're still hovering around in the background, still around and still functioning.

#4: Tommy Tutone: "867-5309 / Jenny" (1982)

This song has transcended the ages, though it's never been a true favourite of mine. I like it, don't get me wrong. It's a fun song, and I wonder how many people dialed this number when this song became popular. I'll bet there were a lot of phone number changes around then (if Bell allowed that, that is). Rather famously, it was the local number of the daughter of the Buffalo chief of police, which ruffled a few feathers. This song remains popular to this day, which it definitely deserves.

The band did have a Top 40 song before this ("Angel Say No" hit #38), but this is pretty much their only solid hit. Lead singer Tommy Heath semi-retired and became a computer analyst in Portland, Oregon, but the band stayed together and played the occasional show. They've since signed another record deal, so who knows what's going to happen?

#3: A-Ha: "Take On Me" (1985)

Note: Apologies for the ad on this version of the song, but the other versions of the video had really crappy audio. Don't pay attention to the ad. :)

This has to be one of the best known Norwegian bands out there. This video was so innovative for its time, winning an MTV award for it. It looks good, even today! How's the song? It's also quite good, bringing back many fond memories. One of my college buddies was a big A-Ha fan, so I got to hear this song a lot in college. It's still cool, even after all of these years.

For the first time in this post, I have to say that "this isn't a one-hit wonder!" Well, kind of. "The Sun Always Shines on TV" hit #20, which to me is kind of a hit, anyway. On the other hand, I have no recollection of that song whatsoever, so I'll just ignore it. "Take on Me" is definitely the song everybody knows A-Ha from.

Unless you're in Europe, of course, where they remain popular to this day, especially in Norway.

#2: Flock of Seagulls: "I Ran (So Far Away)" (1982)

This is one of the most memorable songs from the 80s, I think. Everything's there, both in the video and in the song. Electronic keyboard? Check. Weird hair? Check. Bad clothes? Check. The video is hilarious for all of that, and for watching lead singer Mike Score "play" the keyboard (it looks like he's just pounding it randomly, doesn't it?) "Keep that finger on the move it to the next key! There you go." Still, the song is great.

The band had a series of break-ups shortly after this song. They reformed in 2003 for a VH-1 special and toured for a bit, but then broke up again. Now, lead singer Score fronts a new version of the band (he's the only original member), and this song appears to be quite prominent in their playlist. And Score would like you to know that he's really getting sick of it. I believe his exact words were "I'm sick of it." But he plays it because that's what people want to hear.

Ok, we've now reached the #1 one-hit wonder of the 80s. Do you need to take a bathroom break? Get a cold beverage? Check your email? No? I guess you can pause your reading at any time and do those things, so those questions were kind of nonsensical, weren't they? What? Why am I stalling? I'm not stalling....

Ok, here's #1!

#1: Dexys Midnight Runners: "Come On, Eileen" (1982)

This song definitely deserves its #1 status. I love this song to death. This is a wonderful song, and is also quintessential 80s. Who would have thunk. A song about a guy begging a woman for sex would be #1? I know I'm shocked. Maybe, after the success of this song, they could afford actual clothes, though (see the video). I can sing along with this song any time it comes on. Though funnily enough, it had left my consciousness until the band Save Ferris rerecorded it and I heard that one (that version is also wickedly awesome, almost better than this one).

The band broke up soon after this song, but reformed in 2003 for a few concerts. They've since been "in studio" for a new album, since 2005. Somehow, I don't see it happening. Either that, or this CD has the gestation period of six elephants.

So there you have it. All 100 top one-hit wonders of the 80s. I hope you've enjoyed this journey as much as I have. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these. Anybody who was left out but should be on this list? Remembrances of these songs and what they meant to you growing up? Come on, my high school classmates. Give me your memories! I've especially valued David's commentary, but I'd love to hear more as well. Of course, anybody else is welcome to comment as well.

Will more music posts come up? There are Top 100 lists out about almost everything else. I may dabble in them. What do you think? Should I?

In the meantime, please enjoy this bunch.

True One-Hit Wonders of the 80s
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s posts


  1. Wow, you weren't kidding about there being all these 1 hit wonder posts! So many! I went to the 80's though because I like so many songs from this era :) This was a great read, and some of your blurbs were just hilarious!

    I really enjoyed it Hist! :)


  2. Thanks, Ace!!!! The 90s and 2000s song posts are a bit different, with me really getting my zany out. So you might want to try one of those. :)


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