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August 23, 2009

Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s (#40-31)

It's that time again, boys and girls! Yes, it's time for the next installment of VH-1's Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s. I know you've been holding your breath since Sunday, when I posted the last one. My apologies for the delay. You can let go now. Please, David, you can let go! You're turning blue, David!

Oh well...I hate it when I lose fans.

Anyway, on to the countdown!

#40: The Buggles: "Video Killed the Radio Star" (1980)

Ah, yes. The video that launched it all! MTV used it to launch their new service in 1981, thus bringing it back to national consciousness after its initial release in 1979. Thankfully, I didn't catch MTV right at the beginning (not even sure if it was available from Day 1 in Davenport...maybe Dave can answer that?

The reason I say "thankfully" is that I find this song horribly repetitive and annoying. The video is also annoying; maybe it's lead singer Trevor Horn's weird glasses? I don't know, but this song just does nothing for me. That being said, for being the first "official" video, it is kind of inventive.

The Buggles are still kind of around. Both of the main musicians (Horn and Geoff Downes) are still active in the music business, though sometimes it doesn't seem like it. They briefly merged with the band Yes in the early 80s, have mentioned the idea of reviving the Buggles occasionally, and were supposed to come out with another CD, but it never happened.

I can't say I'm heartbroken about that.

#39: Matthew Wilder: "Break My Stride" (1983)

Ah, yes. I liked this catchy tune back in the day, though that could just be my early teenage brain not having activated the "quality" brain synapse. Listening to it now, it's rather annoying, isn't it? Wilder's voice just grates on my nerves. It's sending shivers down my spine right now, actually. And that moustache and hair! He's definitely a product of the 80s.

Wilder charted with another couple of songs, though none reached higher than 28. Now, he has does songwriting for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, No Doubt, Christina Aguilera and others.

#38: Bruce Willis: "Respect Yourself" (1987)

OH NOOOOOO!!!! Another actor who wanted to "branch out." Like Don Johnson and so many of the others in the 80s, he CAN'T SING! And watching the video, he can't dance either. It helps that he has June Pointer from the Pointer Sisters joining him, but it also hurts because he really pales in comparison. The song is really good, but that's because this is a cover of an earlier, actually good song rather than being written for Bruce to perform. By the way, don't you just hate it when spontaneous mass dancing breaks out in your local pool hall? I know I do.

Do I really need to give you an update on what good ol' Bruce has been doing with himself since this song came out?

#37: Lipps, Inc.: "Funkytown" (1980)

This song was played a lot throughout the 80s, because I doubt I became aware of it when I was 10 years old (or maybe I did?). It seemed to be the staple of many "pop" music stations in the 80s and was played all the time. Either that, or my memory is playing tricks on me and it just seemed that way. It's got a nice Jamaican-blend electronic beat at the beginning, but then it's just kind of a standard disco song. It's not horrible, but I don't have fond memories of it. It's rather more annoying now than I'm sure it was then, but maybe I'm not the audience for it. Of course, this song has been used so often in other media, with numerous covers, that it must have made an impression on somebody.

Lipps, Inc only charted the one time, at least in the Top 40, though they had some Dance hits after this one. They released a couple more albums but pretty much disappeared after the mid-80s.

#36: Weather Girls: "It's Raining Men" (1982)

This song has kind of been poisoned for me by Geri Halliwell's version of it from 2001, but looking back on this video, it's actually kind of a cool song. It's certainly very danceable with a nice beat. The video is incredibly cheesy, but it's kind of a cheesy song, so that's ok. They start out playing to the "sassy overweight black woman" stereotype, but once they actually start singing, it turns pretty good. Until the speedo-clad men in raincoats show up, of course (were they even called "speedos" back then?). Then again, I guess there has to be some eye candy for the women and gay men out there. Heaven knows we certainly get enough.

It would help if they could dance, though.

The Weather Girls never charted again after this, though they did have a couple of Dance hits under another name. Then again, this song only reached #46, so I'm not sure why it's called a "hit." I guess because we're still remembering it?

They were still active for a while, with new members now (the daughters of the original duo). Incidentally, Wikipedia says that their core audience was gay men. I swear I wrote the above comment before I saw that. I think the video indicated that more than I originally thought. :))

#35: Tom Tom Club: "Genius of Love" (1981)

I have no idea if that's the video for the song or some Youtube remake, so I won't comment on the video).

I have absolutely no memory of this song. After hearing it now, I must have blotted it out of my mind, because it is horrible. The beat is annoying, the electronics get under your skin and make you itch like a bad rash. And that guy almost screaming "James Brown" in the middle of it? This is totally forgettable 80s synth pop. No wonder I forgot it. This song is a great example of the worst of the 80s, and I may have to go scrub my brain now so that I can forget it for another 30 years.

The band, founded by a couple of Talking Heads alumni, is still active and producing albums, but hasn't even touched a chart since 1992.

#34: The Waitresses: "I Know What Boys Like" (1982)

I don't think I've liked a song yet on this part of the list, have I? This song doesn't break that string. Incredibly repetitive beat, banal lyrics, and even the sax sounds horrible (though that could be this recording of it). My brain is actually starting to hurt, listening to this song again.

This song topped out at #62, so again, I'm not sure why it's considered a "hit," though it's definitely remembered as part of the 80s. Maybe that's why? Wikipedia says that The Waitresses weren't active after 1983, but a couple of "Best of" (?????) albums/CDs were released in later years. Thankfully, I've never seen one.

#33: John Waite: "Missing You" (1984)

Finally!! A song on this list that I actually like. I can sing along with this one even today (and did just last week when it came on the radio). There's really nothing special about this song, but it just has a nice beat and lyrics with a universal appeal. Who hasn't experienced this kind of heartbreak, where somebody breaks up with you and you continue to claim to yourself that it hasn't affected you? Waite has that typical 80s singer look, with the hair and signature earring, but I'm sure the ladies considered him cute. And kudos to him (or the video director) for making his girlfriend in the video Asian.

Waite continued his music career after this, charting numerous times but only breaking the Top 40 twice more (at #37 and #25). He went on to be lead singer for the band Bad English, who had their own big hit with "When I See You Smile". He continues to be active in the business, making a nice career for himself and touring. He even recorded a duet of "Missing You" with Alison Krauss that hit the Country charts. Watching it now, it's actually quite good!

#32: Quarterflash: "Harden My Heart" (1981)

Two songs in a row!!! I loved Quarterflash when they came out, dancing to this song a lot (ok, in my bedroom, because I was only 11!). I'm a sucker for good sax, though, and this song definitely has a good one. I think that's one of the appeals of it, though Rindy Ross having a good voice and being kind of hot (I think I noticed that more in subsequent years) certainly helped. I think I had this album, actually, though I could be mistaken. I seem to remember playing it, though. Maybe it was my brother's?

There's no way this should be on a one-hit wonder list, though, as their follow-up song "Find Another Fool" (another song I really liked) hit #16. They also hit #14 with "Take Me to Heart" off of their next album (which is actually my favourite of the three). It's inclusions like this that make this list ridiculous sometimes.

Quarterflash has broken up a couple of times, but they've reformed and released a new CD just last year, which is kind of cool.

Incidentally, this is where we came in to actually watching the countdown on MuchMore (one of our music video stations).

#31: Bobby McFerrin: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" (1988)

I almost think this is the signature song of the 80s, McFerrin's suggestion that no matter what happens to you, just be happy and you will feel better. Try telling that to the clinically depressed. Anyway, McFerrin recruited Robin Williams and some other guy (I'm sure he was recognizable at the time) for the music video, and they looked like they had some fun making it. However, the song annoyed me almost from the beginning, and it hasn't worn well.

Looking at McFerrin's biography, he seems to be an incredibly talented vocal musician with lots of different skills and he's kept very busy. It's sad (at least for me, who hates this song) that he's best-remembered for this, then. There's so much there that he should be famous for but isn't. Oh well, at least he appears to be happy (and if he's not, maybe he should listen to this song again)

So there you have it. The next 10 one-hit wonders on the chart. We're really getting close close, I can smell it. I just can't remember any grouping of 10 from this list that contained so many songs that I can't stand. If this would have been 100-91, I might not have continued these posts.

Stay tuned for more!

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. I must admit I didn't know a single one of these songs. I never even heard of the groups. Where was I in the 80's? I do enjoy reading your comments though. I'm anxious to see what the number one song is.

  2. You've heard of, like, two of the songs in the previous sixty. Why are you surprised? LOL

    I'm glad you're enjoying it anyway, though.

  3. Dave, oh Dave, how can you only like two songs out this ten? I like maybe 4 or 5 this time. My toughts (sorry it's been a crzy week at U of Arizona, so I finally getting around to reading them now).

    #40 -- this has become true. After MTV started, we said goodbye to the fugly singer/songwriters (Rupert Holmes, Christopher Cross, etc). I didn't MTV out in Buffalo (I didn't live in D-port) until 1 year after it went on air. MTV debuted Aug. 1, 1981, my 11th b-day!! I still remember when they showed actual concerts on Saturday nights and had a simulcast on the radio, so you listen to the concert in stereo!! I vividly remember doing this for the ASIA concert. BTW, Trevor Horn produced the first Seal cd (which I love!!).

    #38 -- I prefered Bruce singing the Seegram's wince cooler song to this. He ruined the Staples Singers.

    #37 -- I thought it was cool that LIPPS, INC is out of Minneapolis. They were out about the same time as Prince's first album.

    #36 -- As a gay man, I LOVE this song. Written by Paul Shaffer of David Letterman fame (while he was in the house band at SNL). Martha Wash is my fave dance diva!! She was the voice behind the skinny models of C7C Music Factory and BlackBox.

    #35 -- Mariah Carey sampled this song TWICE (Fantasy being one of the songs). I really like the original version, since it sounded like nothing else out at the time.

    #34 -- LOVE this song. Loved it when it was first on MTV, too. Had a good friend do a great drag version of it. The Waitresses also sang the theme song to Square Pegs.

    #33 -- I really prefered John Waite's song CHANGE to this. It had a cool viedo.

    #32 - -Quaterflash should have much bigger in the States!! One of my ALL-TIME fave 80's songs!!

    #31 -- liked this song when I saw Cocktail, but it went into overkill. Hated the video.

    Looking forward to the next ten. I will try not to turn blue during the wait 8^)

  4. Thanks again for the further info, Dave!!!

    I look forward to seeing your comments after the next two posts (you do know that they've been posted, right? :P)

    "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was in Cocktail? Wow, I'm glad I don't remember that. LOL


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