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August 26, 2009

Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s (#30-21)

I've had a suggestion that I should be getting these one-hit wonder posts out a bit faster. I think the words "enhanced" and "interrogation" were used, along with "cattle prod." I was successfully resisting, even when the branding iron was brought out. That was the case, until I saw that the brand said "Heidi Montag's Biggest Fan" and then I knew I had to give in.

So, as "requested," here's the next installment of the one-hit wonders of the 1980s, as "told" by VH-1.

#30: The Vapors: "Turning Japanese" (1980)

This is kind of a fun song, with a neat beat. I wouldn't call it a favorite at all, even at the time, but it's a nice little piece of nostalgia that's inoffensive and you can tap your foot to it.

This is supposedly a love song about being far away from the love of your life, but the rumour has persisted for years (denied by the band) that it was about masturbation. Listening to the words, I think it's obvious that it's not, but some memes you just can't get rid of.

The Vapors put out two albums but never had the success that "Turning Japanese" did (if you call hitting #36 "success"). They broke up soon after the release of their second album in 1981.

#29: Madness: "Our House" (1982)

This song is another "not a favourite, but fun to listen to" songs. I do love the instrumentation behind the song, whether it's truly trumpet/sax/whatever or if it's a synthesizer doing it, it's quite cool. The video is....quite odd, to say the least. But it just adds to the fun factor of the song. Only in Britain!

Madness has been around since 1976 and is still going strong today, though they did break up in 1988 before reforming in 1992. They still continue to be huge in the UK, though "Our House" is the only song to get above #33 in the US.

#28: John Parr: "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" (1985)

(apologies for the video I could find)

The theme song to the hit film St. Elmo's Fire, this song is actually pretty good too, for an 80s song. It's very singable, and I probably would if I heard it on the radio in the car (and I was alone, of course). This video (and Parr in general, probably) is notable for his having an almost perfect head of hair. I swear, when he moves his head, it waves like a breeze blowing through a wheatfield. Every strand perfectly in place. He probably spent a lot of money on hairspray back then.

This was Parr's only hit, though an earlier song did chart at #23. He continues to be in the music business, flying under the radar but touring with Bryan Adams and Journey.

#27: Stacey Q: "Two of Hearts" (1986)

God, this is an infectious little ditty, isn't it? Listening to it, I know I shouldn't like it, but my toe just won't control itself. I really liked it when it came out, and while that feeling has lessened a bit, it's still quite catchy. I know I'm going to have to turn in my "Good Taste Society" union card, but I can't help it.

Stacey Q is still definitely active in the music business, with her first studio album (Ok, CD) in 12 years coming out this September. She is still performing as well, and, having seen her in the VH-1 special, I have to say that she's just as cute now at 51 as she was back in the 80s.

#26: Cutting Crew: "I Just Died in Your Arms" (1986)

This is another signature 80s tune, and again, one that is decent, but not that great. The Crew definitely has that 80s look too (there's just something about the 80s). It also has a really cool beat and some nice lyrics. I don't know if I'd sing along with it, but I probably wouldn't turn the radio if it came on.

This entry is kind of inexplicable, because "I've Been in Love Before" (a much better song, as far as I'm concerned) was their next single and hit #9. So how are they one-hit wonders? The band broke up in 1993, with some members still active in other venues and guitarist Scott MacMichael dying in 2002 of lung cancer. Lead singer Nick Van Eede has since reformed the group with different members, released an album in 2006, and they are still around.

Nothing like living in the past, eh?

#25: Musical Youth: "Pass the Dutchie" (1982)

This is another reggae song that made it onto the US charts, and is quite fun even today. It's a remake (and re-imagining) of an old reggae song "Pass the Kouchie," which is about marijuana. Of course, you can't have 12-year-old kids singing about that! So the title was changed and all drug references were removed. The kids are cute, and they definitely have that reggae sound to them, though I can't imagine what it is about the song that made it a hit compared to others. Was it the kids' voices that brought out the "they're so cute!!!" reactions? I don't know. I seem to remember it was a song that was vastly overplayed, though, and I quickly grew tired of it. Now that I haven't heard it for a while, it's fun again.

Musical Youth broke up in 1985, but have subsequently reformed in the 2000s, though only two of the original members are in it. They had some success in the UK, but this was their only US hit.

#24: Edie Brickell & New Bohemians: "What I Am" (1988)

This song has a great beat, but the lyrics just seem so pointless. Pseudo-philosophical crap is one way it could be described. It's too bad such great instrumentation has to be wasted on a song like this. Brickell's voice also kind of gets on my nerves, but that's beside the point.

I had no idea this band was still around, knowing that Brickell had married Paul Simon and produced three kids. I thought she was happy in that role, but evidently they are still around, releasing a new CD in 2006.

#23: Eddy Grant: "Electric Avenue" (1983)

Another reggae artist on this list! I think this is the third, but the second in this grouping. Interesting, eh? This song is pretty good, though it's not one of my favourites. It has a great beat to it, getting you to sway to it. I think the electronic music in the song is what made it a hit (what can I say? We liked this stuff in the 80s).

Grant's still active in the music business, and still quite big in the UK, though his only other entry in the US charts was a song for the Romancing the Stone soundtrack that ended up being cut from the movie.

#22: Michael Sembello: "Maniac" (1983)

The theme song to the movie Flashdance, this is another signature 80s tune, though I've never really cared for it too much. I'm not sure why that is, but it's always kind of annoyed me in the same way Frank Stallone's song from Staying Alive did. The video is nothing but clips from the movie, so nothing to comment on there.

Sembello still is quite active in the soundtrack business and is planning to go on tour this year to bring "his unique West Coast Sound around the world."

#21: Twisted Sister: "We're Not Gonna Take It" (1984)

This is another guilty pleasure, as this is such a cool song despite knowing it's not a "good" one. I think the video definitely helps, especially the "dad" in it. C'mon, wipe that spittle off your chin! This is the ultimate in teenage rebellion songs, at least as far as the 80s go. Your parents don't understand you, and the "racket" that you call music. What could be better for a teenage audience? And the video is simply hilarious. What's with Mom's water fixation? She should see somebody about that.

I was going to be complaining about Twisted Sister not being a one-hit wonder, because of their other song "I Wanna Rock," but now I see that it only reached #68 so never truly was a hit. Still, it was a fun song too.

Twisted Sister broke up in 1987 but reformed in 1997, even going so far as releasing a Christmas CD (I can just imagine).

So there you go. Another installment in this long-running series. Please don't hurt me!!!!

Stay tuned for more, coming up.

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


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