April 10, 2005
One hit wonders

The Chron's Andrew Dansby asks an interesting question:

In postmodern-mix-tape fashion, could a one-hit wonder iPod playlist sustain toe-tapping interest without slipping into novelty jingledom?

The playlist he creates is a pretty good one. Check it out.

(Side note, since I'm feeling a bit snippy: It may not have been the exact moment that they started to suck, but the general time frame in which erstwhile 80s station 106.9 The Point stopped playing songs like The Proclaimers' 500 Miles (I'm Gonna Be) and started playing The Same Damn Songs Over And Over Again (Now With Steve Miller and Boston!) is pretty damn close.)

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 10, 2005 to Music | TrackBack

"The Same Damn Songs Over And Over Again (Now With Steve Miller and Boston!)" sounds like a radio station programmer's wet dream. I'm surprised, however, that you forgot to include Bad Company on the slogan. :-)

Posted by: William Hughes on April 10, 2005 12:12 PM

Heh. I hate Bad Company, but 106.9 has steered clear of them. So far, anyway.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 10, 2005 12:31 PM

You HATE Bad Company??? Dude, not cool. You are seriously shortchanging the caliber of blues-based rock that these guys gave rise to. Furthermore, you DARE suggest a positive aspect of any song by The Proclaimers??? ARGHH! The humanity of it all, Kuff. That song, combined with anything by Right Said Fred ought to be enough to make anyone beg for deafness.

One Hit Wonders is a genre that is a bit overdone, and for my money, the clearest example starts with one of my favorite 80s bands: Scandal.

Wanna guess what their hit was? It wasn't the song everyone in the free world associates with them (Goodbye to You - it peaked just shy of the Top 40) ... No, it's the still-decent, but clearly second-rate: The Warrior. For this, the band is termed a one-hit wonder.

Now, bigger question ... can a one-hit wonder survive in this mix-tape era? I think they can. Reason being is that the push for such tunes will come from new sources: movies, clubs, etc .... Would the theme song from Friends be a hit if it were left to radio? Hardly. Why am I bouncing off the walls of my abode to the theme song from the 80s television bomb Square Pegs? Certainly not because of radio or because I bought the album (ok, so I technically bought an 80s Greatest Hits CD today just to get my fix fulltime).

So yeah, there will always be outside influences on listening habits ... beyond album sales and downloads and so on. The one-hit wonder will live on. Have faith.

Now, that said, my favorite one-hit wonder? Steel Breeze's 1982 hit: "You Don't Want Me Anymore." Catchy as all getout, with just the right mix of new wave and hard rock from the era to placate every aural sensation there is to be enjoyed.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on April 10, 2005 7:11 PM

I thought I remembered Steel Breeze from Greg's comment - so I had to look them up and listen to the sample from "You Don't Want Me Anymore." You're right, catchy as all get out, but very reminiscent of Rick Springfield, and at the point my brain came up with that I had to start playing the Ramone's to avoid earworms.

Posted by: Rich on April 11, 2005 10:58 AM

I've got to ask. Do all of y'all have the Top 40 memorized? Because I'll be damned if I can figure out what made it and what didn't.

That said, I *think* these all made it, and, if so, assuredly end up on my list.

Johnny Are You Queer - the song that defines early 80's pop, an era that officially ended with Wham's "Wake Me Up (Before you Go-Go)"

How Soon is Now - Admit it. If you're my age (40) you bought the awful Meat is Murder LP when you heard this song.

Right Place (Wrong Time) - Sadly, it defines the brilliant Mac Rebenack (Dr. John) for most people.

Does anybody know if Dr. hook and the Medicine Show ever made the top 40 again after "Cover of the Rolling Stone"? That one is close, based largely on the novelty aspect, but I think it makes it.

Again, not clear how one figures on Aimee Mann, but 'til Tuesday's "Voices Carry" was everywhere, and was a good, if overplayed, song. And I don't think they ever charted again. It's not clear to me that they charted the first time.

I think Rockpile (sorta cheating, as it had nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds) made the top 40 with their version of "Girls Talk." If so, it's one of the songs that would stand up to repeated listening.

Did Dusty Springfield ever hit the charts again after "Preacher Man"? How about Dick Dale after his brilliant version of "Miserloo"? And did David Linley chart with "Wild Weekend," or was that just a ubiquitous party song. And, of course, Timbuk3's "Future so Bright" is unfair to a band that had a lot more than novelty going for it, but I'm not sure if it actually charted or just came out while I was in college.

Sorry for the rambling post, but there's so much to choose from.

Posted by: Ron on April 11, 2005 11:35 AM