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February 3, 2010

The True One-Hit Wonders of the 80s (Part 5)

I've read that the music of the 80s has various healing qualities. It can cure food allergies (it's gluten-free, you know!), neuroses, hallucinations, mania, alien abduction, and even death! That's right. By posting these one-hit wonders of the 80s posts, I am helping my fellow man! I am Dr. Livingstone to your Stanley! I am Dr. House to your whining family of my patients! I am Hawkeye to your Hot Lips! I'm....I'm wearing out the ink on my exclamation mark key. (Note to any teenagers reading this: if you didn't get that joke, ask your mother)

Ah, who am I kidding? The music of the 80s was generally crap, but it was fun crap at times! And one-hit wonders were generally more fun (and more crappy) than the other songs that I hear all the time on the 80s station I listen to when I'm goofing off doing my job so diligently at work or when I go to bed. They're more fun because you have to wonder just why these songs hit the Top 40. And why they couldn't do it again. Did they even want to do it again? Did they try and fail miserably? Did they end up living on the streets destitute? Or, even worse, married to Sean Penn?

As usual, I must point out that these are the true one-hit wonders of the 80s, as researched in the Billboard Top 40 book by I really hope he appreciates the traffic I'm sending his way. Just as much as I appreciate getting eight whole posts out of his one.

I won't even mention the VH-1 list that seems so incomplete after reading this one.

I just did what? Posted the link anyway? Oh, curses! Foiled again!

While I go see about more ink for my keys, let's begin....

1) M/A/R/R/S : "Pump Up the Volume" (#13, 1988)

This song is so addictive that it hurts. No, it doesn't really hurt (unless I tap my foot too hard), but it really gets me seat-dancing (thanks for that phrase, David!). And the thing is, it shouldn't! I don't like club dance music, and this is a perfect example of it. Yet there I am, moving away like the man with no rhythm that I am. And the video! I love the space program images they use. It fits perfectly.

This is a knockout of a first song to post. Will it all go downhill from here?

It usually does.

2) Nancy Martinez: "For Tonight" (#32, 1986)

Nancy Martinez - For Tonight
Uploaded by yannick2lanight. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Couldn't find this on Youtube, but this site works well too.

I have absolutely no memory of this song, and I was 16 when it became a hit! Thus, I'm sure David will be on here shortly telling me he can't believe I can't remember it.

Anyway, it's a catchy tune, but it's also very typical 80s. And a typical video, too. For some reason, the back alleys of New York have been infested with dancing badasses and scantily-clad women. It was a problem for a long time until Giuliani took care of it. It's not a bad song, but it just fades into all of the other 80s songs that are so similar. It's not surprising there wasn't any more. That being said, I just looked and she is a Canadian artist and she appears to have had quite the career up here, so I guess it's just a matter of this is the only song to hit big in the US.

Damn those Yankees with no taste! Or good taste. I'm not sure.

3) Bob & Doug McKenzie: "Take Off" (#16, 1982)

(no video, I assume there wasn't one)

Yay! Another novelty song from a couple of comedians. Thankfully, it's a very funny one. Especially those of you familiar with SCTV. And even better, it's got Geddy Lee from Rush! True Rush fans consider this a Rush song with a couple of comedians interjecting.

Ok, that's not true, but it would be funny if it was.

4) Models: "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" (#37, 1986)

Oh, great sax!!!!

Get your mind out of the gutter...

(I don't care if I've already used that joke)

Wow, that keyboard player is really whacking that thing hard. It doesn't even look like he's looking where he hits! Must be that good. Or lucky.

Wow, you can't go wrong with three saxes in your group. Some may say that's overkill, but I say "the more sax, the happier you are." (ok, I'll stop).

Seriously, though, I have absolutely no memory of this song, but it's kind of cool. The saxes really make it, though, as the rest of it is kind of generic. You know that the only reason Chicago was any good at all was because they had an awesome horn section. Models appears to be the same way.

It's worth a listen, though.

5) Shirley Murdock: "As We Lay" (#23, 1987)

Nice piano opening. Kinda sweet. She's got a wonderful voice, and the fact that it was sung by Angela Peel on American Idol early in the show's life means that this song has some staying power (and now I watch the Idol traffic roll in!). It's got a very simple tune, which is actually quite refreshing. It's not over-processed like so many 80s ballads are. It's also freakin' long!!! Almost 6 minutes on Youtube.

Murdock had a few more hits on the R&B chart, but this was her only regular Top 40 hit. That's too bad.

6) John O'Banion: "Love You Like I Never Loved Before" (#24, 1981)

Wow, this is a first. I can't find a video (or even audio!) of this song anywhere. So, just to give you a taste of the man himself, here's another hit (I guess it was on the Country chart) called "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love"

I'd be willing to bet that "Love You Like I Never Loved Before" is along the same lines. Looking at his biography, it sounds like that was his type of music.

Sadly, he died in 2007, so I shall not mock. I'll just say that I have to be in the right mood for something like this. And that rarely happens.

7) Ollie & Jerry: "Breakin'.....There's No Stopping Us" (#9, 1984)

Ah, yes. Breakdancing!! I'm surprised that this is the first video/song on these lists that has to do with that. Very strange. This song just kind of grates on my ear, really. But at least the video has Jean Claude Van Damme! Pause it at the 1:03 mark (I think whoever posted the video helps you out there). Excuse me while I check these earphones for blood.

Sorry the song cuts off, but it's the best version I could find. And really, do you *want* to hear any more?

8) Opus: "Live is Life" (#32, 1986)

Excuse me, but what the hell does this title even *mean*? And do they all have big noses in honour of the more famous Opus? Ehhhhhh, could be!


Anyway, this song is simply annoying. Sorry for any fans of it, but it is. On the bright side, I actually remember this song, which is a big plus. It's kind of hard to write these as nostalgic pieces when I don't remember any of the freakin' songs!

Excuse me while I bitch instead of talking about how awful this song is. It's cathartic.

9) Benjamin Orr: "Stay the Night" (#24, 1987)

Now *this* song I remember!

Here's a hint, Benjamin: If you get out of the recording studio occasionally, instead of watching your girl on the video screen, you might actually get a little more action. With that hair, you should be racking up the chicks! Just a tip from your Uncle Ed.

I knew the tone of this song sounded familiar. That's when I looked him up (Wikipedia's your friend!) and saw that he was lead guitarist for The Cars. I love this statement in Orr's Wikipedia entry:

"The album had a very familiar rhythm and feel of The Cars but was also free of Ocasek's frequently cryptic lyrics."

Of course Ocasek's cryptic! How do you think he landed a hot model, looking like that? It's the intrigue, man. The intrigue.

Anyway, back to Orr. I really like this song, and remember liking it when it came out. The video's kind of strange, but that doesn't take away from the quality of the song. A great song to end this list on.

So that's it. Part 5 of my the "True" one-hit wonders of the 80s. And I only knew 4 of the 9! That's not a great average. I'm beginning to see the purpose of VH-1's list. These songs aren't really good enough to require new exposure, and they're not memorable enough to get viewers to tune in to the show. But couldn't they have called it something else?

Maybe "80s songs you should remember from artists that had one, maybe two, or at most three hits at the time."

Ok, that doesn't quite roll off the tongue, and it probably wouldn't fit in your cable guide. But it would be much more accurate.

After all, if you can't believe what you see on TV, what can you believe?

Anyway, I'll be back with the next batch of one-hit wonders after I go get some ink for that damned exclamation mark key. It's begging me for mercy, poor thing.

"True" One-Hit Wonders of the 80s posts
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 look forward to seeing this. Again I didn't know any songs or artists. Couldn't believe there were 3 slow songs. Number (5) was good but I agree it was way toolong.I write all these down & make my own comments. I wrote on (5) the words might have been a little risque for 1987. The Jonn O'Banion song was real good. The video was even good. The number (4) song you said the sax was good. I'm sorry but I couldn't even hear a sax. I wrote (awful) after it. Over all I liked 4 out of the 9. Keep them coming.

  2. I think there are only 3 left, but I will keep them coming as long as I can. :)

    And nothing is too risque for 1987. Have you seen some of these other songs? LOL

    How could you not hear the sax in that song? That's all I heard. There were three of them! :P

  3. Hey Dave - Matt from here. I just came across your posts today (don't feel bad, I don't check my traffic too often) - very cool! I love that my little research project has inspired someone else. I remember watching these on YouTube when putting the list together and having the same reactions as you. Some tunes were "yeah, I sorta remember that", some were "why on earth did this hit?", and occasionally there'd be a hidden gem amongst the rubbish.

    Between this and the "Bottom Feeders of the '80s" (chronicling every single that peaked at #41-100 back then) posted at, I'd say the music industry pumped out a lot of unmemorable krep-ola back then. And yet, still I'm strangely drawn to it! There's a whole lotta generic arena rock, R&B and dance music on my iTunes right now. I really need some good therapy.

    p.s. You really have to find the weird-ass video for Rebbie Jackson's "Centipede." I can't believe it's not on the internet somewhere.

  4. Hey Matt!

    I'm glad you like what I've done with your list. Thank you for the inspiration.

    There was definitely a lot of crap back then, wasn't there? But I think that's what makes it kind of fun, in a way. I've been really drawn to it too since I started the VH-1 posts, which is kind of scary. I think I might join you at the therapist's.

    There's a "Bottom Feeders of the 80s" list out there? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    No luck on the Rebbie Jackson video, at least when I did my initial search. I went through 4-5 pages of a Google search before giving up. I wasn't *that* interested. LOL

    Thanks so much for commenting. Hope you enjoy the others that come up if you decide to keep an eye on them. I'll identify you by name from now on. :) Should have been doing that from the beginning, actually.

  5. Of course, as soon as I say that, I do another search and it's right there. Where was my head? Is that the one with her in the red dress, shooting lightning bolts from her hand?

    I'm going to go add it to the original post right now, if I can embed it.

  6. Yep, that's the one. Back to work!

    Here's a link to the latest Bottom Feeders post (alphabetically, he's already up to the Ts) -

  7. This was a WONDERFUL COOL post! Honestly, I think I remember one out of the entire group, but honestly I was way into classical music, and Falco back in tha day. Many of the old classics are new to me, so YAY I get to enjoy it like it was brand new! I did enjoy seeing the old fashion and the break dancing. It brought back some hi-larry-ous memories of watching break-dance contests on the court house lawn during the rare street fests.

    On the other hand, looking back and looking around it really makes me feel dated...oh wait, I am dated and proud of it!! LOL Love your writing, dear, I'm looking forward to following you a lot!

  8. I listened to that song again. It's still awful. I heard something that I guess you called a sax. To me it sounded like loud trumpets. The drums drowned everything out.

  9. Widow: Thank you so much! That gives me warm shivers. :)

    Mom: Fair enough. I have to agree that the song was pretty bad. :)

  10. Wow, didn't know most of continue to find some very interesting choices for this blog...thanks. I do love the McKenzie brothers but a music video....LOL...too funny.



  11. Thanks, Bill! I'm nothing if not electric.

    I mean eclectic.

    But I'm electric too!


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