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August 16, 2009

Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s (#50-41)

It's Sunday morning, bright and early, so what better time to do another installment of the top 100 one-hit wonders of the 80s, according to VH-1? We're past the half-way mark and still going strong, though my ears are starting to bleed a little bit. That's ok. I'll just get on the waiting list to take care of that and be good in 2-3 years.

Anyway, on to the countdown!

#50: Neneh Cherry: "Buffalo Dance" (1989)

I kind of liked this song when it came out, but for the most part, I found it incredibly annoying. Typical 80s synth and early-techno beat just grated on me, and Cherry's voice didn't really help much. The video is almost psychedelic, with EXTREME close-ups at times of Cherry singing the song. It's not a totally bad song, but it just gets on my nerves (I'm starting to shake right now, actually).

Cherry is another two-hit wonder, actually, with "Kisses on the Wind" hitting #8, which to me, seems like a hit. Call me crazy! But she never made the Top 40 again after that, though she did continue to hit various European charts. She continues to work in the business, forming a new band and supposedly her next solo CD is supposed to be out....sometime. Give her time! She needs time to make sure everything's perfect. It's only been 13 years. Give her a break!

#49: Philip Bailey (w/ Phil Collins): "Easy Lover" (1984)

Obviously, Phil Collins is not the one-hit wonder here...

I actually really liked this song, singing along to it whenever I heard it. I haven't heard it in ages, though, so I can't say whether I would today or not. Actually, I probably would. It's got a great beat, Phil Collins along for the ride, what could be better? Ok, maybe listening to it while getting a backrub from Sarah Michelle Geller. But that's it! The video's kind of funky too, in that "let's get a helicopter view of the city while heading to the making of the video" way. And then watching the behind the scenes stuff is quite cool too. Especially funny is watching Phil Collins' receding hairline get a trim. They look like they had a lot of fun making this video. Or at least, we're supposed to think that.

Bailey is a long-time member of Earth, Wind, & Fire, and this was his only solo hit.

I love this bit from Bailey's Wikipedia entry:

"Phil Collins, during a radio interview, was asked how "he discovered" Philip Bailey. Annoyed with the interviewer's lack of knowledge, Collins made up a story about how he had been filling his car with gas/petrol when he heard the attendant singing...and that turned out to be Philip Bailey. The interviewer believed the whole story, which was also picked up by other media outlets"

He continues to front Earth, Wind, & Fire as well as having released various jazz and gospel albums as well.

#48: Yello: "Oh Yeah" (1985)

I had forgotten that this song was called "Oh Yeah" when I saw this, so I figured I had never heard the song. Of course, I then listened to it, and the memories flooded back. Seemingly used in almost every movie of the mid-80s (ok, only six, but it seemed like more), I never actually listened to the whole song at any time. Now that I am, I find it incredibly annoying. I don't mind electronic music, but this one simply grates on my ears.

Yello is a Swiss electronica band, and their music is popular in pop culture, in everything from movies, video games, TV shows, commercials, and more. This was their only hit (though it only hit #51, so VH-1's definition of a "hit" continues to elude me), but they were popular on the Dance charts and in Europe. They're still going strong, too.

#47: Pretty Poison: "Catch Me, I'm Falling" (1987)

A song from Jon Cryer's movie, Hiding Out (before he turned into the total dweeb he is in Two & a Half Men), this pop dance track is actually kind of fun, though not in any memorable way. It's an ok song, but I don't have a lot of good memories of it. And that video! Interspersed with scenes from the movie, it seems like an impromptu mass hysterical dance disease has infected everybody! Lead singer Jade Starling shows up in the subway and everybody starts dancing. I don't think that really happens in New York, though you New Yorkers can correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe it was an 80s thing? And then they show up at school and the same thing happens! I think Starling is a Typhoid Mary of Dancing Disease.

This was their only single, thanks to heavy MTV exposure, but they continued to hit the Dance charts. They've been gone since 1997, but a new single just came out on iTunes and a new CD is supposedly in the works.

#46: Georgia Satellites: "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" (1986)

Sorry, I couldn't find any recording of this song other than New Year's Rockin' Eve from 1987.

Just thinking about this song, I feel like I shouldn't be liking it. But yet, I do. It has that southern rock feel to it with screaming guitars and Dan Baird's southern-inflected voice just kind of infects you (yes, there does seem to be a medical theme to this blog post). It really got me rocking back in 86 when this came out and I still have trouble not tapping my foot. The lyrics are, of course, extremely silly, but that's not always a bad thing.

This was their only hit, and I'm not sure exactly why that was. Their song from Cocktail, the cover of "Hippy Hippy Shake," I really have fond memories of and could have sworn it charted, but evidently not. The band is still around, though they're definitely flying under the radar after a couple of break-ups in the 90s.

#45: Robbie Nevil: "C’est La Vie" (1987)

I just heard this song on the radio the other day and thought to myself "this song has to be on the one-hit wonders chart." And sure enough, here it is. It's kind of a forgettable song, though I did enjoy the nostalgia of hearing it again at the time. Once is enough, though, so I'm not as enamored with it as I was Friday. The video is kind of surreal too. Yeah, I love it when women wear a chemise to a construction site, dancing around for all the workers (ok, they would probably like it). Nevil's face looks like it would break if he managed to crack a smile. Come on, Robbie! You've got a very danceable song with beautiful women dancing around you! You should be grinning from ear to ear. He definitely has the 80s hair, though.

After a couple of mediocre-selling albums, he moved back behind the scenes and has been writing and producing for the likes of Babyface, Jessica Simpson and Destiny's Child. Most notably, he's worked on both the High School Musical and the Hannah Montana franchises, which I'm sure has him rolling in dough. Don't feel sorry for his one-hit wonder status. I'm sure he's very happy.

#44: Wall of Voodoo: "Mexican Radio" (1982)

Wow. A combination of New Wave synth and spaghetti western? How can this work? Yet it does. I actually really like this song, helped by both the synth and the interesting vocal inflections of lead singer Stan Ridgeway. The video is kind of funny, too. Can they stand any closer together? It's almost like they couldn't afford a wide-angle lens. And gotta love that iguana!

This song only hit #58, so it's not really a "hit", per se. But it eats its way into your head and hits your musical pleasure center, so I'll give VH-1 a pass on this one. They never had another hit again, and while Ridgeway is currently fronting a band called "Wall of Voodoo," none of the other original members are in it.

#43: Shannon: "Let the Music Play" (1983)

Man, do I love this song. This song will definitely get you dancing in your car (or your boat, or your chair if you're just sitting in front of the computer, which I guess you probably are, aren't you?). I went for years knowing and loving the song and had no idea who actually performed it, though. Oh, the trials and tribulations of the single woman on the dance floor, dancing with somebody and thinking there's a connection. And then the song changes and he's off dancing with somebody else! Maybe it's a good thing I never dated in this time period. Shannon, I feel your pain (well, from the male point of view, I mean).

This song circumvented the anti-disco feeling on US radio stations, bridging the gap between disco and "dance-pop." It's also been covered like crazy. Shannon kept recording, but never had the US success that this song portended. She was big in the UK and on the US Dance charts, though. She seems to be still active in the music scene, too, though definitely not as prominent as she once was.

#42: Timbuk 3: "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" (1986)

Another song I heard on the radio the other day. It's kind of fun, especially if you listen to the lyrics (and, unlike many songs, you can actually understand the lyrics!) The video is a weird mix of the duo playing in front of their trailer, a mule (with some extreme close-ups), and some strange animation. I wonder what TV reception is like out in the desert like that? This was a popular graduation song after it was released, though I don't remember if we were so cliched as to use it as well.

Anyway, the duo released a number of albums in the 10 years after this song, but never charted again. Both husband and wife are still active in the music scene, though.

#41: Billy Vera: "At This Moment" (1986)

Ah, one of my favourite romantic songs of the 80s. Made popular by it's inclusion in the TV series Family Ties as Alex and Ellen's love theme, it just gives me goosebumps every time I hear it (I've got them now). It also occasionally brings a tear to the eye. The combination of lyrics, Vera's voice, and the wonderful sax just gives you chills. I haven't heard this song in ages, and it's definitely still got that power.

This song also launched Vera's film career, but it didn't last long. He still works in the voice-over business, though, and he and the Beaters still perform at clubs.

I'm sure this song is quite prominent in their set list.

So there you have it. The next ten one-hit wonders of the 80s. There was actually some pretty decent stuff in this one. Stay tuned for more, coming in the near future!

Edit #1 (6/30/10): Replaced the "Mexican Radio" video with one that works.

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. Dave,

    Another excellent recap!! Just a few random comments from the penut gallery:

    1. Eagle Eye Cherry (song SAVE TONIGHT) is Neneh;s brother and a 90s one hit wonder!!

    2. I loved the movie HIDING OUT!! My fave song is the duet version of CRYING by Roy Orbison and k d lang. I have been trying to find this soundtrack and DVD forever!! Plus, you have to love this movie since they end up at the Univ. of Iowa!!
    3. Let the music play is heavily sampled in Jordin Sparks' (American idol winner season 6)single S.O.S. (let the music play). I, too, am a major seat dancer to this song!!

  2. Hey David

    I love it when you add little tidbits of information to these posts. You should be the official follow-up artist. LOL

    I haven't seen "Hiding Out" for ages, so I'll have to take your word for the Iowa part. That is pretty cool, though.

  3. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. Thanks, Susan! It's always good to hear from new readers, and I hope that you continue to come back. Don't know if it was the 80s music posts that brought you or just that this is where you decided to leave your first comment, but just wanted to let you know that I've got another 80s post coming up either today or tomorrow.

    Thank you so much for reading, and letting me know that you're reading. It makes me feel good. :)


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