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August 12, 2009

Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s (#60-51)

It's time for another part of the countdown! Why am I starting to feel like Casey Kasem with a normal voice? I don't know, but this is #60-51 of the Top 100 One-Hit Wonders of the 80s, as compiled by VH-1 (and you know how accurate that must be!). Will this be another post full of "this band/singer/dancer/actor/politician doesn't belong here!" complaints? Hopefully not. I haven't looked at the list yet, so I don't know. If you have any suggestions for those acts who should be on this list but aren't, let me know in the comments!

Here's the link to VH-1's list, so you can check it out ahead of time.

And this will hopefully be another American Idol-free zone.

So on to the countdown!

#60: Nu Shooz: "I Can't Wait" (1986)

One of my favourite songs on this list! This is another song I sing along with on the radio when it comes on, even today. There's nothing I can point to in the song that says "This is good!", but it just makes me bob my head whenever I hear it. The video, though, is quite surreal. What's with the office in the middle of the paper mache desert? And pulling the fish out of the urn? And what's with that magnet? Just what are they trying to say? Or are they just going for "weird?"

*Sigh* This is yet another "how are they one-hit wonders?" entry, as their next song, "Point of No Return" also charted (listening to it now, it's a thoroughly forgettable song, though, so maybe they just forgot?). I'm really starting to warm to that "two-hit wonder" post that I mentioned in a previous one. Of course, that would be too much work to put together, and I'm lazy. I'll happily link to anybody else who wants to do it, though!

Sadly, the group decided to disband in the early 90s, though why Wikipedia says that they existed "1979-Present", I have no idea.

#59: The Outfield: "Your Love" (1986)

This, on the other hand, isn't a bad song but it just never really appealed to me. Maybe it's lead singer Tony Lewis' voice just kind of grates on me a bit. It doesn't sound like a typical 80s song, though, which does add a little bit to its appeal. Not much, though.

This song's inclusion on this list is even more mystifying, as they had numerous singles that charted. Never as high as this one (#6), but one reach #19 and another #25 and another #21. What is the deal?

The Outfield are still together, releasing another album (I would say "CD", but this is an 80s post) in 2006. They took an extended hiatus throughout the mid-90s, and have never reached the heights of their popularity from the late 80s and early 90s, but they're still in business.

At least they have a job.

#58: Don Johnson: "Heartbeat" (1986)

Oh no!!!! It's another actor who decided to dabble in singing!!! And another actor who can't sing, either. This is a horrible song, and a really horrible video. Playing a guy who must like cameras, as he's filming people on the streets, and then the video cuts to him being in some (I assume) Central American war-torn country as some kind of photojournalist. Interspersed with this are shots of him singing in some generic, white square-filled backdrop, including reaching out to some mythical figure just off the side of the screen in heartfelt....well, some emotion, anyway. I love the clenching of the fist and intense look on his face. Personally, I think it makes him look constipated, but that's just me. Then the video moves on to, I don't know, gang-infested LA? The images just don't seem to go with the music, but I could be wrong there.

This isn't the worst song on this list, but it is really close. While it was Johnson's only "hit," he did chart (#56) with another song off of this album.

I don't really need to give you an update on what he's doing now, do I?

#57: Jermaine Stewart: "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" (1985)

If we do that, will it make the song more palatable?

Actually, I don't mind this song that much, though I think it would depend on the setting. It would be a good song to dance to, but I'm not a big fan of just listening to it. Still, Stewart appears to be having fun in the video, so that's a plus. It does have some really weird dance moves, though.

Stewart died of AIDS-related cancer in 1997. In a seemingly common refrain in this post, he did have another moderate hit on the US charts, so he really doesn't belong on this list.

#56: Til Tuesday: "Voices Carry" (1985)

Finally! An American New Wave band from the 80s!

I actually kind of liked this song when it came out, and it's still pretty good today. It's another relevant song, and it's still relevant today, being about being in an abusive relationship. The video adds a bit of a "class" motif to it, with the boyfriend/husband trying to change her into a more upper-crust sort rather than the spikey-haired rebellious woman that she really is, but I think it's more about abuse than anything else.

This was Til Tuesday's only real hit, though they did have one other song get up to #26 (just what is the definition of a "hit" anyway?) The band broke up in 1988, though lead singer Aimee Mann is still active.

#55: Johnny Kemp: "Just Got Paid" (1988)

I am definitely not the audience for this song. This was a #1 crossover hit for Kemp, who traditionally was on the R&B charts (and I say "traditionally," even though he only had three albums). The video is another one of those where it's mostly the singer and a bunch of dancers doing some heavily choreographed moves, interspersed with other dance club images. I can't point to anything in it that says "this is bad," but it just doesn't turn me on. I can point to the entire song that says "this is the 80s!"

As I said, Kemp only had three albums, and this song came off of his second. He had one other moderate hit, with "Birthday Suit" hitting #36 in 1989 (what is it with 80s singers and nudity?). He's still around, doing stuff, but that's about all I can find out.

#54: Chris DeBurgh: "Lady in Red" (1986)

This is one of the most popular songs from the 80s, I think. It was the love theme for Steve & Kayla on "Days of Our Lives," which has to be why it became so popular (those soap opera moms can be quite rabid). It's not too bad, but it just wears on my nerves to this day. I think it was overplayed when it was popular, and I still haven't recovered from that. Still, guys, if you can sing, it can't hurt if you sing it to your loved one. You might get lucky! Unless, of course, she's rabidly anti-80s music, in which case you'll get thrown out on your ass.

This was DeBurgh's only US hit, though he remained popular in the UK for a while. Even that success started to fade after a while, though. He does still have quite a fan following, though, so at least he's still working.

#53: Taco: "Puttin' on the Ritz" (1983)

I don't know why, but I love this song. It's a "pop" version of Irving Berlin's 1930s song, and it's enough to get your toe tapping. I guess having a Berlin pedigree certainly helps. The video for this was censored from its original version which contained some dancers in blackface (the uncensored version is what I'm linking to).

Taco vanished from the US shores after this song became a hit, though he continues to work and perform in Germany, where he lives.

#52: Mary Jane Girls: "In My House" (1985)

This song definitely has that vintage 80s sound, that little bit of funk and that little bit of weird synth guitar. The video is also vintage 80s weirdness, with a bunch of rather scantily-clad women just dancing in various urban environments (along with a brief tub scene that I guess was supposed to titillate the guys?) I'm not a big fan of this song, though again, I don't think I'm the target audience. It would probably make a good dance club song.

This was their only Top 40 hit, and the band pretty much broke up in the late 80s/early 90s. All of the women in the group seem to be still working in the industry, however.

#51: After the Fire "Der Kommissar" (1982)

This is a song I'm of two minds on. Part of me just doesn't like it, but the other part of me loves the interesting guitar riffs and the vocals by Peter Banks (almost sounding like an English version of Falco, the original artist who recorded this song). I think I'm leaning toward the liking part of my brain. It's quite catchy, and vintage 80s too.

This was After the Fire's only US hit, and they never really had much success in the UK either. For some reason, they hung around for a while, broke up and then reformed in 2005 and are still going strong (if under the radar) today. Remarkable, considering the fact that the general populace still doesn't seem to have heard of them (at least judging by the charts). That kind of existence can probably be quite pleasant, though. Playing for your fans but not having to deal with the trials and tribulations that actual popularity gives you.

It's a win/win!

So there you have it. We've reached the half-way point in the countdown, and I haven't given up on it yet. When I started, I thought it might be a good possibility, as I'm a lazy sot. But this has been fun, and now that I know some people like it, I will definitely get to #1. Consider me the After the Fire of bloggers.

Update #1 (3/2/10): Changed "Just Got Paid" to a link 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. i ACTUALLY knew a song from this list. I play (putting on the ritx)on my keyboard & love to play it.

  2. You mean you didn't recognize Steve & Kayla's love theme from the soap? LOL

    Or did you not check out the song to see if you recognized it? I figured that one would be the one you recognized.


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