wonders never cease
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd, 2009 play list of the week: national one hit wonder day
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[/caption]WeвЂ™re sure you know September 25th is National One Hit Wonder Day, so this weekвЂ™s play list topic should come as no surprise. However: while the songs we've chosen all appear regularly on OHW lists and VH1 Specials, not all truly belong there. Some artists had other hits that just didnвЂ™t stick in the collective consciousness. It could be said that the sheer popularity of their big hits doomed their other works and fated them to the ignominy of historyвЂ™s list makers. We honor those poor bands today with an alternating playlist: each true OHW on the list is followed by a song that deserves a better fate, or at least a newly-titled list, like 2-Hit Wonders, or Bands-With-One-Big-Song-and-Some-Lesser-Songs-Too (BWOBSSLS). (Also, you should check out the secondary list of Possible Follow-Up Songs For One-Hit Wonders, courtesy of the brilliant folks at McSweeneyвЂ™s Internet Tendency.)
1. вЂњMickeyвЂќ вЂ“ Toni Basil
Really better known for choreography and quirky acting roles, Basil may be the queen of one-hit wonders. That hasnвЂ™t stopped record companies from releasing no less than five Greatest Hits Collections of her work, however.
2. вЂњCome On EileenвЂќ вЂ“ DexyвЂ™s Midnight Runners
A band named for recreational amphetamines may very well deserve the OHW crown, and this song appears on almost every OHW list. That said, вЂњCome On EileenвЂќ was actually the band's second No. 1 hit: they reached the top of the charts in the UK with вЂњGenoвЂќ years before вЂњCome On Eileen.вЂќ
3. "MacArthur Park" - Richard Harris
Perhaps the most mysterious song on this list. How did a song longer than 7 minutes with sweeping orchestrals and butchered lyrics ever reach the top of the charts and inspire countless remakes? Although Jimmy Webb is responsible for creating this song, Richard Harris inflicted this particularly horrid performance on the musical world. He did go a long way toward winning us back with some pretty great movie roles: English Bob from Unforgiven, Marcus Aurelius from Gladiator, Bull McCabe from The Field, and Albus Dumbledore from the first two Harry Potter movies. Hard to imagine any of them bemoaning a cake left in the rain.
4. вЂњKung Fu FightingвЂќ вЂ“ Carl Douglas
WeвЂ™re not just defending this song just because we knew all the words and ran around singing it at the top of lungs when we were younger - like yesterday, for example. Nor is our defense based on the fact that this song was used to advertise Clamato, a product that must've benefited from some great advertising to have survived since the 70вЂ™s. Facts are facts, and the charts donвЂ™t lie. Douglas followed up his No. 1 hit with вЂњDance the Kung FuвЂќ, which reached No. 35 in 1974, and he also reached No. 25 with вЂњRun BackвЂќ in 1977. Did we run around singing those songs and kicking the air? No, at least not that weвЂ™re willing to admit to.
5. вЂњRapperвЂ™s DelightвЂќ вЂ“ The Sugarhill Gang
The first hip-hop song to break into the top 40, it really was the only hit for Master Gee, Wonder Mike, and Big Bank Hank. These guys are back together and touring, so maybe theyвЂ™ll crank out another big hit and be off the list by next year. Master Gee, itвЂ™s on you, so what ya gonna do?
6. вЂњVideo Killed the Radio StarвЂќ вЂ“ The Buggles
The problem with this OHW is that it really wasnвЂ™t that big of a hit in the first place. Its claim to fame really was the fact that it was the first (and the millionth) video ever played on fledgling TV station MTV. It did top the charts in the UK and Australia briefly (the first of many No. 1 hits for Island Records), but it only spent one week in the Billboard Top Forty in the US, reaching the lofty position of No. 40. Two other Buggles songs actually enjoyed a better run with Billboard, вЂњLiving in the Plastic AgeвЂќ reached No. 16, and вЂњClean CleanвЂќ made it to No. 38 in 1980. Give the Buggles a break, VH1.
7. вЂњTubthumpingвЂќ вЂ“ Chumbawamba
WeвЂ™re torn which side of the list to put these English anarchists and their lasting contribution to the OHW discussion. While theyвЂ™ve had some success with other songs, none have approached the commercial success of вЂњTubthumping,вЂќ so weвЂ™re lumping them in with the proper One Hit Wonders. However, they keep cranking out albums, like 2008вЂ™s "The Boy Bands Have Won," with such radio friendly tunes as вЂњI Wish That TheyвЂ™d Sack MeвЂќ, вЂњUnpindownableвЂќ, and "The Ogre", based on a W.H. Auden poem. If you canвЂ™t break through with a pop song about an Auden poem, is there any hope for the world? Maybe the boy bands have wonвЂ¦ On a side note, the albumвЂ™s full title contains 865 characters, and holds the record for the longest album title, as of August 2009.
8. вЂњWho Let the Dogs Out?вЂќ вЂ“ The Baha Men
We hate to let this song off the hook, but the Baja Men actually did have two more hits: вЂњYou All DatвЂќ reached No. 14 in 2001, and вЂњMove It Like ThisвЂќ reached No. 16 in 2002. Seriously. You can look it up.
9. вЂњFunkytownвЂќ вЂ“ Lipps, Inc.
It seems unfair to pick on a disco song, since the whole genre was a bit ripe for OHWs, but this song went platinum and spent four weeks atop the charts in 1980. Unfortunately, the band really couldnвЂ™t make the move to a time that was right for them after disco died.
10. вЂњDonвЂ™t Worry, Be HappyвЂќ - Bobby McFerrin
Once again, a song that appears on many OHW lists, perhaps because it is the jazz vocalistвЂ™s only marketed cross-over into popular music. That said, this song provided McFerrin with only one of his eight grammy awards for vocals. Sing that note for note, haters!
11. вЂњLouie, LouieвЂќ - The Kingsmen
Often topping OHW charts, this 1963 classic was actually investigated but not prosecuted by the FBI for supposed obscenity of the lyrics. Little wonder. We canвЂ™t understand the lyrics either.
12. A 9-Way Tie: 1992вЂ™s "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred, 1996вЂ™s "Macarena" by Los del RГo, 1970вЂ™s вЂњSpirit in the SkyвЂќ by Norman Greenbaum, 1990вЂ™s вЂњIce, Ice BabyвЂќ by Vanilla Ice, 1982вЂ™s "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, 1982's "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls (co-written by Paul Schaffer of Letterman and SNL fame), 1982's "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats, 1982's вЂњJenny/867-5309вЂќ by Tommy Tutone, and 1982's вЂњPass the DutchieвЂќ by Musical Youth.
WeвЂ™re not trying to be cruel, but is anyone really surprised that these acts were one hit wonders? And what was in the water in 1982? We left plenty of possible options from 1982 off the list, like вЂњI Want CandyвЂќ by Bow Wow Wow, вЂњKey LargoвЂќ by Bertie Higgins, вЂњIвЂ™ve Never Been to MeвЂќ by Charlene, вЂњPac-Man FeverвЂќ by Buckner and Garcia, вЂњI Know What Boys LikeвЂќ by The Waitresses, вЂњMexican RadioвЂќ by Wall of Voodoo, and вЂњGenius of LoveвЂќ by Tom Tom Club, not to mention the previously listed вЂњCome on EileenвЂќ and вЂњMickeyвЂќ. 1982, the year bands released songs that killed careers.