My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – The Top 20

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Finally, we have reached the best of the best, the big enchilada, the Top 20 of this countdown. Herein lies my list of the one-hit immortals. Some are well-known and well-loved, while others may have been forgotten but will definitely bring back memories.

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Kimbra & Gotye

I love doing countdowns mainly because I was addicted to Casey Kasem’s fantastic weekly radio program American Top 40 (AT40). AT40 was the one thing I loved on the radio, especially from 1974, when I discovered it, to around the time in the late-Eighties when someone got the bright ideas of (1) editing out all rap songs from the broadcasts, and (2) replacing Casey Kasem with Shadoe Stevens. Nothing against Shadoe, as he was an excellent on-air personality, but he was never as a comforting voice as Casey. At least, that’s my opinion. Plus, you never want to be the person to replace a legend. You see that all the time in sports with player and coaching changes. And, I still believe that Casey deserves induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for his contributions to popular music.

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Soft Cell

I don’t know who coined the term “one-hit wonder,” but I learned of it from Casey Kasem. Plus, I remember him doing periodic One-Hit Wonder Countdowns himself, so it has been etched in my mind for 40+ years. So, let’s get this thing rolling!

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20. Buffalo Springfield – “For What It’s Worth” (1967). This group only lasted for two albums, but their impact was so immense that they were inducted into the RRHOF. Members of this band included Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furray (of Poco). Yet, this was the band’s only Top 10 hit. They sure did it right.

19. ? & the Mysterians – “96 Tears” (1966). This has got to be THE pre-punk rock classic of them all since it was covered by nearly every punk band in the Seventies and early-Eighties. The blueprint for punk rock is found here, from its Farfisa organ to the eerie vocals. This one grabbed me at a very young age and never let go.

18. M – “Pop Muzik” (1979). This quirky synthpop song heralded in the new wave era here in the States when it peaked at Number 1 late in the year of 1979. I still remember how cool I thought this song was and how it inspired me to seek out more synthpop artists.

17. The Surfaris – “Wipe Out” (1963). THE drummer’s song of all drummer songs, “Wipe Out” was often the song that separate the wannabe drummers from the budding drumming heroes. Plus, it does have the greatest vocalization introduction of all-time. This is rock & roll summed up in a three-minute song.

16. Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come on Eileen” (1982). This slice of Celtic folk-influenced new wave caused a big sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. And, you know what? This isn’t the band’s best song. I highly recommend their first two albums, as you get a a feel for what a talented songwriter leader Kevin Rowland is. I often wonder if the fictional band The Commitments, from the famous book and film, were based upon this band? Anyone know definitively, let me know!

15. Modern English – “I Melt with You” (1982). This song and band deserved a much better fate than it got. First, the song stalled way outside of the Top 40 upon its release. How in the hell does this song NOT land in the Top 10 here? Second, Modern English was a very talented band with a fantastic debut album. Yet, few know it. At least, it has made them more money over the decades than it did initially.

14. Redbone – “Come and Get Your Love” (1974). What a perfect pop/rock song! Redbone was a total Native American band who brought their culture to the forefront here in the States. It’s such a great song that it got life pumped back into it 40 years later when used in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

13. Crazy Town – “Butterfly” (2000). Big things were expected by this band back when they dropped this song on an unsuspecting public. Allegedly, the song is based upon a Red Hot Chili Peppers bass riff. If so, kudos for great taste! And “Butterfly” sounds fantastic to this very day.

12. Bobby Fuller Four – “I Fought the Law” (1965). This is the other pre-punk rock classic, another Sixties tune covered by punks like The Clash and Green Day. What was it about Texan garage bands in the Sixties?

11. Sir Mix-A-Lot – “Baby Got Back” (1992). I know! This is not a hip hop purist’s choice, but as a pop song, Mix-A-Lot got in down in spades. There was no way he could ever top this one. C’mon! Give the man his due! He was a great gateway into hip hop culture.

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10. Barrett Strong – “Money (That’s What I Want)” (1959). Barrett Strong was the first hit song for Motown. Additionally, it was the first song you here being played when Pinto and Flounder enter the Delta House with Bluto in my generation’s defining film, Animal House. How can you top a legacy like that? Well, in 1979, it became a one-hit wonder all over again for the cult band The Flying Lizards. Now, that’s a terrific history!

9. Harvey Danger – “Flagpole Sitta” (1997). My older son will kill me for this pick, but I don’t care. This is a great pop-punk song. And I don’t care that it was used to great effect in Clueless. This song is a dream.

8. King Harvest – “Dancing in the Moonlight” (1972). This Halloween classic is simply a timeless tune. I have heard many of my friends say this is their all-time favorite song. High praise, I think. Plus, the band’s name references a song title by The Band, which makes it all the better.

7. Love & Rockets – “So Alive” (1989). While living in Oxford, Ohio, I was very in tune with alternative rock, especially the work of Love & Rockets. But, I was not prepared for this very dark take on obsession with another person. It was sexy, sinister and soulful, which makes for a very exciting listen.

6. Sinéad O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990). O’Connor was definitely on my radar when this song was dropped in 1990. Plus, I know this Prince song by is originally-released version by The Family. But, O’Connor stripped the song completely of the Prince touch and got down to its bare emotional essence. You can feel the hurt in her soul by the way she pours herself into the lyrics. She did NOT deserve the fate she got since we found out a decade later that she was absolutely correct about the child abuse happening in the Catholic Church. She deserves an apology by society.

5. Gotye featuring Kimbra – “Somebody I Used to Know” (2013). What an awesome song! It is nearly perfect. No wonder Gotye has been silent for the past seven years. Leave it alone and move on. None other than Prince had high praise for this one.

4. Sugarhill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight” (1979). This one brought rap to the masses. You can argue about the creative purity of the song, but it started a revolution that’s being felt to this day.

3. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love” (1981). Take a little known soul song from the early-Seventies, strip it down to its unnerving essence and turn it into a creepy song about the perils of love, and somehow, you have a hit song. But, man, it was so easy to learn the lyrics and it had that electronic hook. This is synthpop heaven.

2. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980). Technically, never a hit over here, but I don’t care! This song influenced my generation like few others. Just like to alternative music throughout the Eighties and you can pick out the Joy Division influence. Once again, this song has stronger legs as it ages.

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1. New Radicals – “You Get What You Give” (1998). Like I have said before about this one, I thought it was a new Todd Rundgren song when I first heard it. From me, that’s high praise. Then, as I listened to it more and more, I heard Daryl Hall & John Oates in it. Then, I realized the singer had a slight punk snarl to his voice. By the end of the song, I was convinced that I had just heard the greatest song of all-time. After this song became a hit, the creative force behind the band, Matt Johnson, broke the band up so he would become a one-hit wonder. Now, that’s commitment!

And, there you have it folks! My first COVID-19 pandemic countdown. I’m sure as this thing plays out, I will have more of these big countdowns since I enjoy them. But, they do take much work. Have a great weekend!

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 8

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It’s Day 8 of this countdown of my 300 favorite one-hit wonders, and I have all ready discovered several songs that should have been in this list. I’ll never ever compile the perfect list of anything on this blog. And, as something of a perfectionist, or is it a OCD person, or some other personality quirk, that will always drive me crazy as long as I act as both the researcher AND the writer.

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Today is one of those perfect days in which to be quarantined. It’s been rainy and cool all day long. For me, that means a stupid air pressure change that only aggravates the muscle spasms in my back and down my legs. When this happens, I usually go for the heavier music in my collection, such as Metallica (…And Justice for All is usually perfect) or Black Sabbath. But, when you couple a horrible night of sleep with and extra notch or two on my pain level, it becomes a moment when you simply want to curl up in a ball in bed and just let the world pass you by. Surprisingly to some, it’s a Lana Del Rey day today.

But, according to Murphy’s Law, no! Fate, instead, intervened with a couple of minor family situations that made me have to dig deep to be the responsible one of the family. I really hate adulthood sometimes! Man, if we only realized how much easier our childhood was we’d had never wished it away. Yet, for some reason, I did savor most of my college years like a fine wine. Or nice expensive bourbon. Or some high quality beer. Only, I did it on a Boone’s Farm budget. Regardless, I felt I lived those years the correct way.

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Wild Cherry

And that meant, I spent much of my dormitory cafeteria wages on music, food and beer. You know, the three essentials of college life. When I started college, I had around 75 albums. When college was over, my collection grew to nearly 300. I was off and running. Then, I got that good-paying first job in a town with the greatest record store I had ever seen up to that point in my life. During those four years, my collection again doubled. As a microbiologist, I call that period of time the exponential growth phase of my music collection, which continued until I became a teacher.

Now, as an empty-nester, my music collection is in its third wave, if you are thinking about the graphs on COVID-19. We are in the early stages of a third peak on the graph, slowed only because of this stupid virus. I placed pre-orders for a few albums just as the pandemic was heating up, so I still have new albums by Weezer, Prince and Paul Weller to come in May. But, after that, who knows what will happen? And, it’s not looking good for my stellar summer concert lineup as well.

Anyway, enough of the babbling! Let’s crack up this Top 40 today!

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40. Hanson – “Mmmbop” (1997). Sure, this song revived the whole teenybopper bubblegum pop thing all over again. Still, the song was fantastic. Plus, the Dust Brothers had perfected their whole production touch with this one.

39. Kajagoogoo – “Too Shy” (1983). These guys were discovered by one of the Duran Duran members. Then, their lead singer left the band for a solo career. But, the real story of the band was their bass player. He was the best thing in the band.

38. The Church – “Under the Milky Way” (1988). This just might be the greatest song ever recorded by an Australian band. And I’m including music by the Bee Gees, AC/DC, INXS, Men at Work, Midnight Oil, The Saints, Flash & the Pan, The Outsiders, Rose Tattoo, or any other artist from down under. This is a great song to listen to outside from dusk to dawn.

37. T’Pau – “Heart and Soul” (1987). First off, the band’s name comes from a Star Trek character, or at least I think so. I know it comes from some sci fi show. More importantly, this song sounded so good on my old Eighties Technics stereo. I really don’t think people realize what a great song this was. This truly was captured magic.

36. Starbuck – “Moonlight Feels Right” (1976). Many people claim that Yacht Rock really began when Michael McDonald joined the Doobie Brothers. Others say it was all Jimmy Buffett’s fault. Me? I point to this delectable song has a potential “patient zero” of sorts.

35. The Wonders – “That Thing You Do” (1996). Seriously! Isn’t it perfect that the film about a one-hit wonder and it’s lone hit single was a one-hit wonder on its own? Is life imitating art, or is art imitating life? Or, is it art imitating like that’s imitating art? Who cares! It’s a great song, written by Adam Schlesinger. Long live The Oneders!

34. T. Rex – “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” (1972). Here’s another Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist who only had one hit here. Unbelievable! At least this song is universally considered to be a classic.

33. Cheryl Lynn – “Got to Be Real” (1978). This disco classic was released at the height of the Studio 54 days. Cheryl Lynn sung the hell of this one. But, how did a woman with those pipes manage only one hit song? That question is often the theme of this countdown.

32. The Contours – “Do You Love Me?” (1961). Motown pushed out several one-hit wonders during its great run as a label. But, this one just might be its quirkiest hit song ever. And, the Funk Brothers were at their loosest on this one.

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31. Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me” (1984). Here’s Motown’s quirkiest song of their L.A.-era. Performed by owner Berry Gordy Jr.’s son, who had backing vocal help by Thriller-era Michael Jackson, this song burned up the club dance floors and the pop chart during the spring of 1984. You know, everyone my age probably has a story surrounding this song and its lyrical content.

30. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love” (1981). So, Talking Heads changed the musical landscape in 1980 with their take on a fusion of world musical sounds and punk rock with the release of Remain in Light. Then, the members went off in different directions for their own creative outlets during which the husband/wife rhythm section of the band formed a studio coterie of musicians called Tom Tom Club. That debut album was a fun, tropic distillation of the lessons learned during the making of Remain in Light, topped off with some levity and booze and drugs to create this early foray into hip hop-influenced sounds with a pop sensibility. And we are still feeling the ramifications of this song today.

29. Ace – “How Long” (1975). Before this song became part of an ad for Amazon and before singer/songwriter/keyboardist was a member of Mike + The Mechanics, Squeeze or a solo artist of some renown Paul Carrack was the singer for an English pub rock band called Ace. And, this blue-eyed soul classic was Ace’s one hit song in the States.

28. The Five Stairsteps – “O-o-h Child” (1970). I have seen this classified as bubblegum soul. Are you kidding me?!?! This is a soul classic…period.

27. The Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction” (1966). This one is the beginning of punk rock, a full decade ahead of time.

26. Maurice Starr & the Zodiacs – “Stay” (1960). How can you NOT have this song in this countdown? Remember when Jackson Browne revived it on his outstanding Running on Empty album? Sorry, but even he could not outdo the original.

25. Norman Greenbaum – “Spirit in the Sky” (1970). THE Boomer song of choice for any film about the early-Seventies. This was from the height of a short-lived sub-genre known as Jesus Rock. Ironically, Greenbaum had been raised Jewish. Still, this has one of the classic guitar riffs of all-time.

24. Wild Cherry – “Play That Funky Music” (1976). This is what happens when a rock band creates one song as a parody of disco, then ends up with a monster hit on their hands. You just cannot live up to something like that happening. Regardless, the album sucked, but, man, could those white boys play that funky music. And, as quick as they were here, they were gone.

23. Beck – “Loser” (1992). This one is going to get me in trouble! Yes, Beck is one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the last three decades, has won multiple Grammys and will eventually end up in the RRHOF. But, believe it or not, this was his only entry onto the Billboard Hot 100. Scout’s honor, even though I was never a boy scout.

22. Looking Glass – “Brandy (You’re Such a Fine Girl)” (1972). The memories of my childhood from the summer of 1972 are intertwined with this song. That was the summer I discovered I could run long distances pretty fast, even though I was three years away from showing the world that talent. That’s when I was exposed to the three biggest running influences in my life: Frank Shorter, Dave Whottle and, most importantly, Steve Prefontaine. Plus, I loved that the Guardians of the Galaxy used it in their two movies.

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21. Jane Child – “I Don’t Want to Fall in Love” (1990). This song burst onto the scene, then disappeared, along with its creator Jane Child. She was the first rock singer to have a pierced nose with a chain that ran to her ear. She was a half-decade ahead of society. More importantly, this song is a forgotten classic. Go back and listen to it again. I am right!

This can only mean that we are almost done with this countdown. Tomorrow, it’s the Top 20! Who will be number one? Check it out tomorrow.

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 7

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Of course I watched the Prince special last night! And, yes, I thought The Time stole the whole show, no doubt about it. But, we all know that I am a Prince fanatic through and through, so we really don’t need to rehash it. Instead, I would like to tackle something else in this opening to my entry today.

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The Tokens

If you haven’t seen it, may I recommend the Netflix docuseries Remasterd? This is an excellent storytelling series that brings to light some forgotten tales in the rock world. Specifically, there is an episode entitled The Lion’s Share, which is about the famous song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and legendary South African rock journalist Rian Malan’s quest to get the descendants of the poor South African man who actually wrote the song a cut of the profits from this one-hit wonder. Things like this never ceased to amaze me how these musicians continue to be exploited by record company executives for their gain while the true creative forces are marginalized. And this whole situation seems to get magnified when the artist is a minority or a foreigner, especially if said artist is black.

Of course, the man who is historically recognized as the man who wrote the song is a deceased black man from the country of apartheid South Africa. And, despite having songwriting credit in South Africa, his contract was exploited by American businessmen for their benefit without him ever being involved in the process. Not only have different artists have recorded the song, including the great folk artist and fighter for social injustice Pete Seeger, The Tokens recorded the most famous version of the song, which lands on today’s countdown. In the years since this version’s release, the song has made many people vastly wealthy especially after the song’s inclusion in the classic Disney movie and soundtrack, The Lion King.

Georgia Satellites

To this day, Malan continues to try to fight for the man’s descendants to receive a cut of the pie, which is substantial. And all of this continues as the originator of the song died in poverty, as well as his family members. It is an amazing story, and very emotionally charged if you have a heart. And I continue to be amazed how one of the wealthiest companies in the world continues to fight this whole process when the documentation shows who owns the songwriting rights. And, although I love this version of the song, it makes me mad, and sad, that the creator of the thing is not recognized nor included in on the profits.

If you are interested in the full story, which is much more fascinating and complete than my blurb, watch the episode. Nearly a year after watching it, I am still pissed off about the situation.

With that said, let’s get the countdown going.

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60. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto – “The Girl from Ipanema” (1964). Who knew that a tune by a jazz great and sung by an unknown Brazilian hottie would have such a lasting impact on the world?

59. Men Without Hats – “The Safety Dance” (1983). My college friends probably will not believe this is ranked so low as I played it all the time back in the day. “You can dance if you want to, but if you don’t dance, and you won’t dance, then you’re no friend of mine.”

58. Devo – “Whip It” (1980). I’m cheating again! Spuds unite!

57. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (2003). My older son loved this song at the time. He thought they were the second coming of T. Rex. And, he was correct because The Darkness joins T. Rex as a one-hit wonder here in the States.

56. The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony” (1997). This Britpop classic is, unfortunately, the only hit song The Verve had over here. But, what a song this is! And, don’t get me wound up about the songwriting credits on this one either, even though this one actually got rectified recently.

55. The Capitols – “Cool Jerk” (1966). You know who really got exploited in the early days of rock music? The uncredited session musicians, especially The Funk Brothers, the stalwarts of all of those great Motown hits of the Sixties. So, when the guys got fed up with Berry Gordy Jr. screwing them, the went over to another label and created the sound of this record. Of course, they all went back to Motown only to get screwed again. Watch the fantastic documentary Standing in the Shadows for the full story (on HULU and Amazon Prime).

54. Johnny Kemp – “Just Got Paid” (1988). This takes me back to a time when my wife and I were first married and making a little money. And even though we were at home, we’d crank this song every pay-day Friday.

53. 4 Non Blondes – “What’s Up” (1993). Songwriter, producer and band leader Linda Perry is a pop/rock genius. This was her introduction to the world.

52. Gary Numan – “Cars” (1979). The icy-sounding synths of the song couple with that great hook made this a new wave classic. Numan was HUGE in the UK and Europe, but he only had one hit in America. Yet, it influence a multitude of artists across the genres here.

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51. Bruce Channel – “Hey Baby!” (1961). Where would any film set in the early-Sixties be without this song?

50. Lipps Inc. – “Funkytown” (1980). Before Prince took over the world, we got an inkling of the Minneapolis sound when this song was unleashed on the world in 1980. “Funkytown” became a one-hit wonder all over again six years later when Pseudo Echo released a pop-punk version of the song and rode it into the Top 10, proving that a great song is just a great song.

49. The Tokens – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1961). Controversy aside, this remains a timeless version of the song.

48. Billy Paul – “Me and Mrs. Jones” (1971). Just a terrific slice of Seventies Philly soul, I still am dumbfounded that this was Paul’s only hit song.

47. Georgia Satellites – “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” (1986). At a time when most song were drenched with synthesizers or were just another take on either Prince’s sound or a lame Hair Metal tune, the Georgia Satellites popped up with this update on the Southern Rock sound. And, just as quickly, they were gone. Yet, their great debut album remains in my collection to remind me they truly deserved better treatment by history.

46. Patti Smith – “Because the Night” (1978). I hate to admit that one of my favorite artists is a one-hit wonder, but it is true. And, for a woman who is recognized as a legendary songwriter, she shared a co-writing credit on this Bruce Springsteen tune.

45. Thin Lizzy – “The Boys Are Back in Town” (1976). Thin Lizzy is legendary, but this song is their only hit here in the States. I know! It doesn’t make any sense.

44. Edison Lighthouse – “Love Grows (Wherever My Rosemary Goes)” (1970). This just might be the greatest bubblegum pop song of all-time. I love to watch the video on YouTube because it just makes me laugh.

43. Ronald & Ruby – “Lollipop” (1958). To this today, I continue to hear teenagers sing this song. As a matter of fact, I have heard it sung at high school basketball games all over Central Indiana when I coached in the Nineties and 2000s. Talk about timeless.

42. Neneh Cherry – “Buffalo Stance” (1988). As I mentioned earlier, Neneh is one-half of the only siblings to be one-hit wonders in their own rights (Eagle-Eye Cherry is her brother). But, keep in mind that Neneh sampled a Malcolm McLaren (former manager of the Sex Pistols and just a music gadfly) song for this huge hit. It never stops amazing me how entwined music history can be.

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41. Fountains of Wayne – “Stacy’s Mom” (2003). The late Adam Schlesinger’s band had this timeless slice of teenage lust, popularizing the American Pie concept of the MILF. Oh, and having supermodel Rachel Hunter star as Stacy’s mom is the video was a stroke of genius.

Which brings us to the end of the countdown for today. Stayed tuned, as we will begin to crack the Top 40 tomorrow.

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 6

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Generally speaking, it seems as though you can place most one-hit wonders into one of two categories: flat-out rock classics and quirky novelty songs. But, then, every once in awhile, a song comes along that becomes a hit that defies categorization. That song could be something as left-field as performance artist Laurie Anderson’s 1982 hit “O Superman” or XTC’s atheistic ode “Dear God.” Let’s look a little closer at the latter.

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XTC made an impact in there native UK in the waning punk days of the late-Seventies. They represented something of a bridge from the punk and new wave days to the post-punk era, along with The Cure, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, and so many other terrific artists who only attained a cult following here in the States. XTC’s M.O. was taking a Beatlesque sound and creating a totally new vocabulary, when in 1986 the band teamed up with Todd Rundgren to produce something of an ode to Sgt. Pepper with their brilliant Skylarking album.

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The initial release of that now-classic album did not include the eventual hit song “Dear God.” That song was actually released as a B-side. But, as often is the case, a DJ flipped the record and began playing the song that openly questioned the existence of God. And, believe it or not, the song became the band’s only American hit during the waning days of the Reagan administration. Of course, when the band’s label started to see “Dear God” take off on the radio, they scrambled to include this left-field hit on the band’s new album. And, the rest, as they say, is history.

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The Surfaris

Vividly, I remember hearing the original version of the LP without “Dear God.” The hospital in which I worked had a bunch of college students who worked as phlebotomists and specimen distributors, so we were constantly discussing the latest music, with XTC being a band of the moment. But, to me, the album became even more substantial once “Dear God” was added, as I feel the song grounded the song in reality. It is a stark, existential song within the context of a series of songs dealing with the idea of growing up. The pre-“Dear God” version was more a whimsical and yearning album, while the inclusion of that one song breaks up the mood nicely and makes the record a substantive statement.

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? & the Mysterians with Dick Clark

“Dear God” is one of the 20 songs today, and I simply felt it warranted a little more praise even though I have it ranked relatively lower than I feel like its importance warrants. Simply put, the song brings up a topic with which most young adults grapple: the existence of God. And, while it stands as a fine stand-alone statement as a single, it works even better within the context of the album.

With that sobering introduction, let’s focus on all the fun songs that are also included on today’s list. Let’s get rockin’!

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80. Thomas Dolby – “She Blinded Me with Science” (1982). The nerd anthem of the Eighties.

79. Timex Social Club – “Rumors” (1986). This long-forgotten song was one of the first songs to be overtly influenced by hip hop. Too bad its full impact has been lost to history.

78. Len – “Steal My Sunshine” (1999). I have always loved this song for its carefree lyrics. Reminds of the bubblegum pop of my youth, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

77. XTC – “Dear God” (1986). The Eighties were so very crazy that a song questioning the existence of God was even a hit. No surprise when it’s as brilliant as this is. But, seriously, with the number of fantastic songs in the XTC catalog, why was this their only American hit?

76. Marc Cohn – “Walking in Memphis” (1991). The only hit by the former Mr. Elizabeth Vargas is a crime. This guy is so very talented.

75. Robbie Nevil – “C’est la Vie” (1986). For the life of me, why was this guy a star?

74. Jermaine Stewart – “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” (1986). This song is a perfect time capsule of mid-Eighties music, both lyrically and instrumentally. Unfortunately, Mr. Stewart was an early casualty in the AIDS epidemic.

73. The Vapors – “Turning Japanese” (1980). This catchy power pop/new wave hit is not the ode to early-Eighties Japanese culture you might think it is. It’s a little racist view of some solo activity.

72. Semisonic – “Closing Time” (1998). This one is a metaphor song for the upcoming birth of a child. This became a rallying cry for the ninth month of one of my daughters-in-law’s pregnancies.

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71. Frankie Smith – “Double Dutch Bus” (1980). It is rap or not? I don’t care! It reminds me of a fun time in my life. Plus, Snoop made a career out of its lyrics.

70. Club Nouveau – “Lean on Me” (1987). Take a Bill Withers standard and apply a reggae beat to it, add some Eighties-styled synth flourishes to it, and you have a huge hit song that made a whole generation of people forget the original, no matter if that was wrong.

69. Nu Schooz – “I Can’t Wait” (1986). I remember after hearing this song a couple of times that I knew it was some cool urban band who recorded this club classic. Imagine the world’s surprise when you discovered it was a white middle class couple who did this. Well, I needed some clean shorts.

68. Red Rider – “Lunatic Fringe” (1981). One of Canada’s greatest rock exports only had one hit south of the border. But, the story did not end there! Lead singer Tom Cochrane also had a single hit a decade later with “Life Is a Highway.” That’s a double-shot one-hit wonder.

67. Tommy Tutone – “867-5309/Jenny” (1982). I keep yelling that Tommy Tutone actually is NOT a one-hit wonder, yet I have them on the list. I’m a hypocrite.

66. Stories – “Brother Louie” (1973). You might remember this song as the theme song for Louis CK’s hit TV show. You also might be surprised that this band was really a power pop band who originally recorded this R&B song as a B-side. But the record intervened, and the rest is history…and so was the Stories’ career.

65. Jeannie C. Riley – “Harper Valley PTA” (1968). This ode to rural small town America was such a sensation that there was no way Riley could ever follow it up. Nothing like exposing the underbelly of that wholesome image.

64. The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star” (1979). Even if the song weren’t great, it HAD to be the first video on MTV based on its title alone. Throw in that it’s a new wave classic, well, then it had to be on this list. Fun facts: (1) did you know that this duo was added to the line-up of prog rock gods Yes for one disastrous album? (2) Keyboardist Geoffrey Downes became a founding member of Eighties supergroup Asia. And (3), vocalist Trevor Horn became an in-demand record producer for the likes of Art of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and, ironically of course, Yes on their 90125 album. The Buggles’ impact was greater than many other one-hit wonders.

63. The Shadows of Knight – “Gloria” (1966). Yes, everyone from Van Morrison to Patti Smith has done a version of this song. But, this garage punk version is the definitive one.

62. The Champs – “Tequila” (1958). What a great instrumental! And, if it wasn’t for this tune, where would had that iconic scene of Pee Wee Herman dancing in those huge shoes in his first movie been like?

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61. Ram Jam – “Black Betty” (1976). This hit is both racist AND misogynistic at the same time. And, it was still a hit! Oh, man, the Seventies were a different time. But, the guitar riff is so awesome! This song just pains me to rank. Musically, I love it. Lyrically, it appalls me. Still, I rank it high. Like I said earlier, I’m a hypocrite.

Okay, fans. There you have it, for better or for worse. See you tomorrow for the next installment of this countdown. I don’t anticipate anymore existential crises.

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 5

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Since the COVID-19 death of the great John Prine, I have read many articles about this man. I am very embarrassed to admit that I got to his party very late, like when my older son was in college. He brought home a box set of Prine’s music, and, of course, I was floored. You see, in the pre-internet days, discovering music was difficult, plus I had a bias against folk and country artists. That all changed because of my older son.

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Tom Tom Club

Anyway, Prine’s lyrical points of view were always interesting to me. But, I was struck by a quote he said about songwriting. He said, and I am paraphrasing, that when he stares at a blank piece of paper, he was amazed at what he choose NOT to write about. Think about that, of everything in the world that you can write about, the writer has the ability to choose what NOT to write. It seems so simple, yet, simultaneously, it seems so profound.

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The Darkness

Now, what does this have to do with one-hit wonders? Absolutely nothing. It’s just that I could have written about anything leading up to this point (COVID-19, some interesting factoid about one of the upcoming artists, what album I currently listening to – Cheap Trick’s Black Friday Record Store Day release Are You Ready? Live 12/31/1979 if you must know – or any other stupid crap I could think of. But, no, I wanted to admit that I am not a know-it-all when it comes to music. Sure, I know more that the average person should probably ever know, but at 57 years old, I am still discovering music from the past. But, I am a pop/rock guy who came of age at the end of the DJ-dominated era and the dawn of corporate programming and MTV, which is both liberating and a curse. But, that’s what makes one-hit wonders so fascinating to me. And, this week, we finally break into my Top 100.

So, let’s get this party started! On with the countdown.

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100. Frank & Moon Unit Zappa – “Valley Girl” (1982). Supposedly, Frank overheard daughter Moon making fun of the way some girls spoke at school, which Frank then immortalized in this song. Ironically, it became something of a novelty hit at the time. Yet, it has got to be included in a 1982 time capsule, along with a copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the LP Business as Usual by Men at Work.

99. Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning” (1987). I really thought Midnight Oil were going to become something of a new U2 at the time. But, this Aussie band had bigger plans, as lead singer Peter Garrett went on to become a politician of high regard in Australia with his environmental concerns. Yet, this political rant about the Aborigines’ plight lives on.

98. Planet P Project – “Why Me” (1983). This slice of prog rock by Tony Carey’s studio group set the stage for Yes’ 90125 transformation later in the year as it combined the best of prog with flourishes of new wave. This one does not receive the credit it deserves.

97. Deep Blue Something – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1995). I know the purists out there are crying, “Foul!” on this one. But, any song that claims that a relationship should stick together because of some stupid movie is too funny not to be included. Yes, it’s icky and gooey, but so is quite a bit of candy that I like. And, it’s MY countdown!

96. E.U. – “Da Butt” (1988). Before twerking, we had Da Butt. Da Butt was simply a slowed down version of tonight’s rump shaker. This slice of D.C. go-go music was included in the Spike Lee film School Daze and become a club sensation in the aftermath.

95. A-ha – “Take on Me” (1985). This was first and foremost a fantastic cutting edge video. But, I think the song is great, but a little overrated. Regardless, it is timeless. Plus, Weezer did a helluva cover version last year.

94. Scritti Politti – “Perfect Way” (1985). Scritti Politti was one of the punk bands-turned-pop masterminds that were so prevalent in the 1980s. Unfortunately for the American public, this was the only hit song the band had. To this day, I maintain that their album, Cupid and Psyche 85, is a lost classic.

93. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” (1982). Wall of Voodoo was a great band. I saw them open for Devo during a “closed circuit” broadcast of their Halloween concert in 1983. The poor girl who went with me didn’t know what had hit her as we watched it. That became our last date. At least this song lasted longer.

92. The Weather Girls – “It’s Raining Men” (1982). One of the last vestiges of disco, this Paul Schaffer-co-write was a fantastic piece of camp that bridged the transformation of disco music into dance music. Was there really a difference? Nah!

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91. The Silhouettes – “Get a Job” (1957). Back during the heyday of the TV show Happy Days, we experienced a little Fifties nostalgia that our parents were driving. This song always stuck with me because of its rebellious nature masked by its humor.

90. John Stewart – “Gold” (1979). Having Stevie Nicks lend her vocal magic finally garnered the long-time critic darling songwriter his only hit song. It remains one of my best friend’s favorite songs of all-time. And, it came from the Summer of 1979, which was a stellar summer of great hit songs.

89. Thunderclap Newman – “Something in the Air” (1969). I remember loving this song as a kid. The lyrics always seems foreboding to me, which for some reason I loved as a six-year-old and continue to this day. And, then, my man Tom Petty covered it and brought the song to a whole new generation.

88. Charles & Eddie – “Would I Lie to You?” (1992). In the beginning days of grunge and New Jack musics, along came this tune that took me back to the sweet soul days of the early Seventies. This song single-handedly forced me to rediscover The Spinners, The Chi-Lites and all of the rest of those great soul vocal groups from two decades prior. What a great song that has probably been forgotten by many of you.

87. Nazareth – “Love Hurts” (1975). THE slow dance standard from my middle school years, this song was one of the first popular power ballads AND a cover of the Everly Brothers. How can you go wrong?

86. The Waitresses – “I Know What Boys Like” (1981). Talk about a great band that is unjustly remembered for two songs, this one and “Christmas Wrapping.” The Waitresses were a band that hailed from Akron, Ohio, whose female-empowering songs were written by a man, Chris Butler, and sung with perfect attitude by lead singer Patty Donahue. What a fun song!

85. Sniff ‘n’ The Tears – “Driver’s Seat” (1979). Yet another terrific song from the summer of 1979, “Driver’s Seat” happens to be one of the greatest songs to listen to while cruising at night with the windows down on a warm summer night. It also doubles as a great make out song. At least, I imagine it would be.

84. Mountain – “Mississippi Queen” (1970). This classic rock radio staple was the only hit for these road warriors, a power trio band whose members were such big men that they lived up to the name of their band with their size and their sound. Everyone has heard this one in a bar at one time or another.

83. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy” (1982). This MTV staple was a cover of The Strangelove’s 1965 hit and was the only hit by this controversial band. Controversial for the early-Eighties, since the lead singer was exploiting her Lolita-like sexuality even though she was only 16 at the time. Of course, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera made whole careers by doing the very same thing around a decade-and-a-half later.

82. Free – “All Right Now” (1970). This was America’s introduction to the vocal talents of Paul Rodgers, who’d shortly become the vocalist of the supergroup Bad Company. And, we all know this song from classic rock radio.

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81. The Standells – “Dirty Water” (1965). In the mid-Sixties, kids were starting garage bands all over the world and having hit songs, as depicted in the terrific film That Thing You Do. The cool thing is The Standells sounded like The Stones and recorded this pre-punk classic. Then, a decade later, punk bands popped up everywhere playing this song all over again.

The numbers get smaller as the hits get bigger. Stay tuned for more of the countdown!

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 4

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I know I am jumping the game a little bit, but I would love to point out an artist who is in this countdown as a songwriter twice, and that artist is the late Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne-fame and one-hit wonder “Stacy’s Mom.” Recently, Schlesinger was a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, and his songwriting is going to be missed by me. To be honest, I became familiar with his work through his involvement in the great Tom Hanks project That Thing You Do. Schlesinger lent his talents to the project by writing or co-writing many of the songs on the soundtrack, most memorably the title song which itself is another one-hit wonder by the fictional band The Wonders.

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Fountains of Wayne

Knowing I was in the middle of this multiple-part series, my older son sent me an article from Rolling Stone stating that The Wonders were reuniting to perform in a Zoom-type group performance for the first time in a quarter century to help raise many for Adam’s expenses. That film and soundtrack were special in the Keller household back in the mid-Nineties, as pre-teen boys are wont to do by playing a movie over and over again. So, the band originally known as The Oneders (pronounced “The O-needers,” or as guitarist Lenny once said, “That’s The O-netters.”) will be paying tribute to their famous song’s creator.

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The Wonders

Unfortunately, neither Fountains of Wayne nor The Wonders are in today’s countdown. But, the timing of the story was impeccable and worthy enough for a mention today. See? A current story not only about a single one-hit wonder but TWO!

With that said, let’s move on with the countdown.

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150. Nena – “99 Luftballons” (1984)

149. Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX – “I Love It” (2013)

148. Meredith Brooks – “Bitch” (1997)

147. Big Country – “In a Big Country” (1983)

146. Iron Butterfly – “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (1968)

145. Oran “Juice” Jones – “The Rain” (1986)

144. Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (1984)

143. Flash & the Pan – “Hey! St. Peter” (1979)

142. Pilot – “Magic” (1974)

141. Spiral Starecase – “More Today Than Yesterday” (1969)

140. The Calling – “Everywhere You Will Go” (2003)

139. Shannon – “Let the Music Play” (1983)

138. American Hi-Fi – “Flavor of the Weak” (2000)

137. The Monotones – “The Book of Love” (1958)

136. Chumbawumba – “Tubthumping” (1997)

135. Blind Melon – “No Rain” (1993)

134. Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby” (1991)

133. Haircut One Hundred – “Love Plus One” (1982)

132. Dr. John – “Right Place, Wrong Time” (1973)

131. Alannah Myles – “Black Velvet” (1989)

130. Bertie Higgins – “Key Largo” (1981)

129. Jeff Healey Band – “Angel Eyes” (1989)

128. Philip Bailey & Phil Collins – “Easy Lover” (1984)

127. Shocking Blue – “Venus” (1970)

126. Tom Cochrane – “Life Is a Highway” (1991)

125. Katrina & the Waves – “Walking on Sunshine” (1985)

124. Joan Osborne – “One of Us” (1995)

123. House of Pain – “Jump Around” (1992)

122. Callaway – “I Wanna Be Rich” (1989)

121. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock – “It Takes Two” (1988)

120. Swing Out Sister – “Breakout” (1986)

119. Anita Ward – “Ring My Bell” (1979)

118. Patrice Rushen – “Forget Me Nots” (1982)

117. Toni Basil – “Mickey” (1982)

116. Biz Markie – “Just a Friend” (1989)

115. MFSB featuring The Three Degrees – “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” (1974). The theme song for Soul Train.

114. Bobby Day – “Rockin’ Robin” (1958)

113. General Public – “Tenderness” (1984)

112. Nick Lowe – “Cruel to Be Kind” (1979)

111. The Dream Academy – “Life in a Northern Town” (1985)

110. The Outsiders – “Time Won’t Let Me” (1966)

109. Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers – “Tomorrow People” (1988)

108. First Class – “Beach Baby” (1974)

107. Human Beinz – “Nobody but Me” (1968)

106. Sanford Townsend Band – “Smoke from a Distant Fire” (1976)

105. Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn” (1997)

104. Divinyls – “I Touch Myself” (1990)

103. The Outfield – “Your Love” (1986)

102. Steam – “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (1969)

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101. After the Fire – “Der Kommissar” (1982)

And all that’s left is my Top 100. Stay safe, stay healthy, wash your hands and wear a mask and gloves if you go out. Have a great weekend!

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 3

A few of the artists on this multi-day list are artists whom I actually follow. Personally, I have multiple albums by Dexys Midnight Runners in my collection for I find the mastermind behind the band, Kevin Rowland, a fascinating pop visionary. Still, I can understand why only “Come on Eileen” broke big here in the States. The same can be said for Fiona Apple, Madness, Nick Lowe, Midnight Oil, Frank Zappa, Devo and so many others.

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Jeannie C. Riley

And, of course, there are intriguing artists littered throughout the countdown whom I was certain big things were going to be heard from them only to watch them disappear. Take Natalie Imbruglia as my first example. I distinctly remember her mid-Nineties SNL appearance being pimped so hard along with a major star-making machine placing all over the music media. Then, her hit “Torn” was a truly great song. She had “The Look.” She had the musical goods, a pretty good album, a fantastic video, etc. But, where is she now? Anyone remember Robbie Nevil? He had a huge hit in 1986, “C’est la Vie.” At one time, I actually owned his debut album, and it was a good album. But, he simply fell off the face of the musical world. And there are others, such as Nu Shooz, Kajagoogoo and Crazy Town.

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Yet, as I stated earlier in this series, this is what makes the whole history of rock music so very compelling to me. The fact that a person or a group of people bottled enough rock mojo into one song that they are forever remembered by people. That type of notoriety never really happened in the days of Mozart or even in jazz. Nor are these types of songs held onto so endearingly in country music. Yet, we continue to hear on all forms of rock and pop radio “One-Hit Wonder Weekends” or even a “One-Hit Wonder Day.”

With that said, let’s continue the countdown.

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200. Toby Beau – “My Angel Baby” (1978)

199. Dionne Farris – “I Know” (1995)

198. Bob & Doug McKenzie featuring Geddy Lee – “Take Off” (1982)

197. The Swingin’ Medallions – “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love” (1966)

196. Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime” (1970)

195. Tag Team – “Whomp! There It Is” (1993)

194. Brewer & Shipley – “One Toke over the Line” (1970)

193. Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy” (1991)

192. Europe – “The Final Countdown” (1986)

191. Mary Jane Girls – “In My House” (1985)

190. The Music Machine – “Talk Talk” (1966)

189. Van McCoy – “The Hustle” (1975)

188. The Ataris – “The Boys of Summer” (2003). These guys were from nearby Anderson, Indiana.

187. Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight” (1997). His sister, Neneh Cherry, is also a one-hit wonder, making the Cherry family a double shot of one-hit wonders.

186. Walter Egan – “Magnet and Steel” (1978)

185. Marcy Playground – “Sex and Candy” (1997)

184. Information Society – “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)” (1988)

183. Deee-Lite – “Groove Is in the Heart” (1990)

182. Cutting Crew – “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” (1986)

181. Ten Years After – “I’d Love to Change the World” (1971)

180. Alicia Bridges – “I Love the Nightlife” (1978)

179. Fiona Apple – “Criminal” (1997)

178. The Wallflowers – “One Headlight” (1996)

177. Vixen – “Edge of a Broken Heart” (1988)

176. Aldo Nova – “Fantasy” (1982)

175. Aqua – “Barbie Girl” (1997)

174. The La’s – “There She Goes” (1990)

173. ‘Til Tuesday – “Voices Carry” (1985)

172. Robbie Dupree – “Steal Away” (1980)

171. The Flying Lizards – “Money (That’s What I Want)” (1979). This song was a one-hit wonder for TWO artists.

170. Jean Knight – “Mr. Big Stuff” (1971)

169. Mathew Wilder – “Break My Stride” (1983)

168. Blue Swede – “Hooked on a Feeling” (1973)

167. La Roux – “Bulletproof” (2009)

166. Timbuk 3 – “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” (1986)

165. Billy Swan – “I Can Help” (1974)

164. Paul Hardcastle – “19” (1985)

163. The Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979)

162. Nik Kershaw – “Wouldn’t It Be Good” (1984)

161. OMC – “How Bizarre” (1996)

160. Musical Youth – “Pass the Dutchie” (1982)

159. Maria Muldaur – “Midnight at the Oasis” (1974)

158. Gregory Abbott – “Shake You Down” (1986)

157. Eddy Grant – “Electric Avenue” (1983)

156. Capital Cities – “Safe and Sound” (2013)

155. Madness – “Our House” (1983)

154. Billy Vera & the Beaters – “At This Moment” (1985)

153. Patrick Hernandez – “Born to Be Alive” (1979)

152. Grover Washington Jr. – “Just the Two of Us” (1981)

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151. Michael Sembello – “Maniac” (1983)

And, now, we are half-way through this countdown. See ya tomorrow! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Channel!

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 2

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Hello fellow bored quarantined music lovers! I understand that this whole thing is different for many of you, but I have been doing this thing for the past eight years, so I’m kind of old hat at this stuff. And even though my wife is here as well trying to educate her students via the worldwide inter-web, the key to surviving is to stake out areas of your living quarters for yourself. While my wife gets the rest of the house, I get the smallest room for my music room, but I’m cool with it.

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Love & Rockets

As you gathered from the creative title to today’s blog, this represents the second day of a ranking of my favorite 300 one-hit wonders. Allow me a moment that people often play wild and loose with the term “one-hit wonder.” Technically, I have always felt that a one-hit wonder meant that the artist only had one song that entered Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. But, then, I used to believe that it meant only songs that went into the Top 40, but that left out songs that grew in stature over the intervening years. While, there are others who cherry-pick only big hits, thus allowing those to have The Knack’s “My Sharona” (while ignoring that the forgotten but fantastic “Good Girls Don’t” was a huge hit too.) or “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash (even though they had another Top 10 song, regardless of whether I remember the title of it or not – they had two more Top 20 songs!). So, you won’t find those outstanding songs on my list. Nor will you find the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” on the list, though I really should put it on here because it IS one of the great anomalies of Top 10 music of all-time. However, so many of their older songs have become standards on the radio, I decided against including them.

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Neneh Cherry

On the other hand, I did ignore Frank Zappa’s terrific “Dancing Fool” hitting the lower reaches of the Hot 100 in order to include another of his ditties. Likewise, many of you probably did not know that Tommy Tutone hit number 38 with “Angel Say No” a full year-and-a-half before they told us about Jenny’s phone number. So, I ignored that glitch too. And some of you chart historians might find other glitches such as these interspersed throughout my chart. Please feel free to list my omissions and questionable inclusions. I really would love to one day have an accurate representation of the songs that have played such an important part in this portion of rock history.

So, with all of that legalese out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this thing and do another 50 songs on my list, beginning with the song at number 250.

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250. Paul Mauriat – “Love Is Blue” (1968)

249. Montel Jordan – “This Is How We Do It” (1995)

248. Rusted Root – “Send Me on My Way” (1994)

247. When in Rome – “The Promise” (1988)

246. Terror Squad – “Lean Back” (2004)

245. Shoes – “Too Late” (1979)

244. Paperboy – “Ditty” (1992)

243. Technotronic – “Pump Up the Volume” (1990)

242. Young MC – “Bust a Move” (1989)

241. Animotion – “Obsession” (1984)

240. The Vines – “Get Free” (2002)

239. Sisqò – “The Thong Song” (1999)

238. Paul Lekakis – “Boom Boom Boom Let’s Go Back to My Room” (1987)

237. Afroman – “Because I Got High” (2001)

236. Baltimora – “Tarzan Boy” (1985)

235. Starland Vocal Band – “Afternoon Delight” (1976)

234. Jigsaw – “Sky High” (1975)

233. Eddie Murphy – “Party All the Time” (1985)

232. Vangelis – “Chariots of Fire” (1981)

231. Peter Schilling – “Major Tom (Come Home)” (1983)

230. Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt Kickers Five – “Monster Mash” (1962)

229. Toadies – “Possum Kingdom” (1994)

228. The Rembrandts – “I’ll Be There for You” (1995)

227. Climax – “Precious and Few” (1971)

226. Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry Be Happy” (1988)

225. The Lemon Pipers – “Green Tambourine” (1968)

224. Jump ‘n the Saddle – “The Curly Shuffle” (1984)

223. Murray Head – “One Night in Bangkok” (1985)

222. Tal Bachman – “She’s So High” (1999)

221. Kriss Kross – “Jump” (1992)

220. Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne – “You’re a Friend of Mine” (1985)

219. Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting” (1974)

218. EMF – “Unbelievable” (1990)

217. Taco – “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (1983)

216. Bobby Bloom – “Montego Bay” (1970)

215. Soul Asylum – “Runaway Train” (1992)

214. The Cardigans – “Lovefool” (1996)

213. Haddaway – “What Is Love?” (1993)

212. Ben Folds Five – “Brick” (1997)

211. The Fabulous Thunderbirds – “Tuff Enuff” (1986)

210. Autograph – “Turn Up the Radio” (1984)

209. Tim Curry – “I Do the Rock” (1979)

208. The Knickerbockers – “Lies” (1966)

207. The Verve Pipe – “The Freshman” (1996)

206. The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” (1988/1993)

205. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – “What I Am” (1988)

204. Nick Gilder – “Hot Child in the City” (1978)

203. Rednex – “Cotton Eye Joe” (1994)

202. Dead or Alive – “You Spin Me ‘Round (Like a Record)” (1985)

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201. The Youngbloods – “Get Together” (1969)

And that’s Day 2. See you tomorrow for more one-hit wonders!

My 300 Favorite One-Hit Wonders of All-Time – Day 1

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The rock era, which historically is agreed upon as 1954 when “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, seems to built upon the giants of the music. Artists like The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Prince and Jimi Hendrix are generally acknowledged as just a few of the immortals of the dominant form of music of the past nearly 70 years. But, to me, perhaps the most important aspect of rock music has been those artists who bottled pop magic one time and released that one song just at the perfect moment to tap into the zeitgeist of rock music. These songs, known as one-hit wonders, are what make rock music truly special, for if they did not exist, rock music might just have stagnated, either from its own self-importance or its need for the occasional palate cleansing.

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Crazy Town

One-hit wonders come in all shapes and sizes. You will find members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame saddled up right next to novelty songs. Additionally, there are instrumentals of questionable taste that are of equal importance to me as those proto-punk songs of the Sixties. All in all, the one-hit wonder is what makes music so very diverse, allowing music to follow very different paths at the very same time.

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Billy Paul

And, just when you think this list could be dominated by the great one-hit wonders of the Eighties, you discover that these types of songs are strewn throughout the whole history of the genre. And, if you think I might take a musical snob’s approach to this topic, I think you will be surprised that I find some very schmaltzy music just as compelling as some of the now-rock standards scattered throughout my list. Additionally, I did attempt to rank these songs, but, seriously, how much better is The Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” than, say, “Rumors” by Timex Social Club? Who knows? It’s all in the ear of the beholder.

Therefore, today is Day 1 of ten days of my countdown of my 300 favorite one-hit wonders of all-time. Kick back and enjoy the ride!

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300. Los del Rio – “Macarena” (1995)

299. Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots – “Disco Duck” (1976)

298. Psy – “Gangnam Style” (2012)

297. Ylvis – “The Fox (What Would the Fox Do?)” (2013)

296. Daniel Powter – “Bad Day” (2006)

295. Phantom Planet – “California” (2005)

294. Big Mountain – “Baby I Love Your Way” (1992)

293. Walter Murphy & His Big Apple Band – “A Fifth of Beethoven” (1976)

292. David Soul – “Don’t Give Up on Us” (1977)

291. Amii Stewart – “Knock on Wood” (1979)

290. Los Lonely Boys – “Heaven” (2003)

289. Pretty Poison – “Catch Me I’m Falling” (1987)

288. Mr. Big – “To Be with You” (1991)

287. Snow Patrol – “Chasing Cars” (2006)

286. Debby Boone – “You Light Up My Life” (1977)

285. Us3 – “Cantaloop” (1993)

284. Yello – “Oh Yeah” (1985)

283. Dishwalla – “Counting Blue Cars” (1995)

282. Force MD’s – “Tender Love” (1985)

281. Inner Circle – “Bad Boys” (1992)

280. Sherriff – “When I’m with You” (1989)

279. Clarence Carter – “Patches” (1970)

278. Desmond Dekker & the Aces – “Israelites” (1969)

277. Duncan Sheik – “Barely Breathing” (1996)

276. World Party – “Ship of Fools” (1986)

275. Jann Hammer – “Miami Vice Theme” (1986)

274. The Tornados – “Telstar” (1962)

273. The American Breed – “Bend Me, Shape Me” (1967)

272. Shawn Mullins – “Lullaby” (1998)

271. Hugh Masekela – “Grazing in the Grass” (1968)

270. Alan O’Day – “Undercover Angel” (1977)

269. The Heights – “How Do You Talk to an Angel” (1992)

268. Lou Bega – “Mambo No. 5” (1999)

267. Godley & Creme – “Crying” (1985)

266. Josie Cotton – “Johnny, Are You Queer?” (1982)

265. Odyssey – “Native New Yorker” (1977)

264. Hoobastank – “The Reason” (2004)

263. David Essex – “Rock On” (1974)

262. Wheatus – “Teenage Dirtbag” (2000)

261. Martika – “Toy Soldiers” (1989)

260. Stacey Q – “Two of Hearts” (1986)

259. The Syndicate of Sound – “Little Girl” (1966)

258. Lit – “My Own Worst Enemy” (1998)

257. Johnny Hates Jazz – “Shattered Dreams” (1988)

256. King Missile – “Detachable Penis” (1992)

255. Macy Gray – “I Try” (1999)

254. Keith – “98.6” (1967)

253. Harold Faltemeyer – “Axel F” (1984)

252. The Breeders – “Cannonball” (1993)

4.14 251.Red_Rubber_Ball

251. The Cyrkle – “Red Rubber Ball” (1966)

Well, that’s the first 50 songs in this massive countdown. If your favorite has been listed, just imagine what forgotten gems await you over the next nine days.

I’m So Bored with the USA: Here’s My 60 Favorite Britpop Hits

4.9 Britpop

To paraphrase the words of the great Garrett Morris SNL character Chico Escuela, “The quarantine been very, very good to this blog.” Believe it or not, I really don’t check my blog’s stats daily or anything, which kind of goes against my nature. Needless to say, I am always surprised to see how many of you stop by to read a blog or two. Thanks guys! Honestly, I only do this to keep my sanity since I happen to be a home-bound guy for the most part. On the other hand, my wife, who does her very best to keep my ego in check, says this influx is do to the fact that people are extremely bored right now. Regardless, I’m taking this as a victory, and I am undefeated since I retired from coaching.

4.9 oasis-versus-blur
Blur vs. Oasis

Earlier this weekend, I tackled a sub-genre of music that at one time had the music world split on its opinion of it, so I thought I would tackle a more recent sub-genre that caused much controversy back in the Nineties and seems to continue to do so. Now, let me begin with this disclaimer: I am by NO means an expert on this subject. Hell, to be honest, the Nineties were a blur to me as my kids grew up during this decade, I started the decade by changing careers and I really did not have the time to keep up on the latest musical trends as I had throughout the Eighties. Oh sure, like most Americans, I was keenly aware of grunge and gangsta rap, though I was attempting to hide that music from my impressionable kids. Truth is, they would find it. But, for the most part, some trends just went past me. Therefore, over the past decade or so, I have been playing catch up with music that barely made a dent here in the States but was all-consuming to young people in the UK, and that was Britpop.

4.9 the kinks

Now, since most of my followers happen to be friends and former students, most of you are probably asking yourselves what the hell is Britpop? Well, I have to tell you it is WAY more than Oasis, who made some inroads over here commercially. Now, I have always been partial to the music of the seemingly British nature that does not translate well over here. I have always fancied the mid-Sixties Kinks, Beatles and Who, who all tackled British ways in their music of the time. Much of the music, when steeped in the music hall traditions of Britain, and the accompanying lyrics, tackling the ideas of class and British life, just never translated well to American ears. Of course, The Beatles learned how to temper those tendencies more, but you can hear those traits in “Penny Lane,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” among many others. But, the other two lost listeners here in the States when they stuck with British themes in their music.

4.9 the-stone-roses
Stone Roses

In the Seventies, the mantle of British life in rock music was picked up by a variety of artists, like Squeeze, The Jam, Madness, and the like. Once again, these musicians remained in god-like positions in the UK, while generally falling upon indifferent ears here in the States. Yet, these UK-centric mindset continued into the Eighties and early-Nineties with The Smiths, Stone Roses and Primal Scream leading the way. But, what these artists all proved was that you could have a very fruitful career by playing to their native audience without the silliness that ensues when attempting to conquer America.

4.9 paul weller
Paul Weller

All of that history is important since all these artists played an important role in the musical evolution leading up to this mid-Nineties phenomenon known as Britpop. Perhaps the man whose career casts the biggest shadow over these artists would be Paul Weller, the brains behind The Jam and The Style Council. His songwriting DNA seems to flow throughout the artists of this era of British music. While I will never understand why Americans turn a deaf ear to Weller and his music or all the others mentioned earlier, I am here to continue to champion these artists. Plus, what can you say about a musician whose work will be found in the playlists of great 70s punk, 80s New Wave AND Britpop?

4.9 blur

By the mid-Nineties, the youth of England were tiring of the whole alternative/grunge sounds coming out of the States, so in reaction, independent bands were popping up all over the country whose members were influenced by the artists mentioned because they all shared a single trait: fantastic songwriting skills. In essence, Britpop is nothing but an English take on American power pop in that both are retro- and forward-thinking all the while maintaining their British-centric ways. You will hear it in their unabashed use of their British accents while singing, a throwback to the original artists of the first British Invasion, their use of British slang in their lyrics and the influence of The Beatles, The Kinks and The Jam in their sound. This was hard-edged pop music, and, to me, a breath of fresh air when compared to the second generation grunge crap that was slung at us by the likes of Candlebox, Bush and Creed.

4.9 supergrass

As with every new genre that pops up, there are so major figures who popularized the whole thing. Of all the great bands that popped up during this time period that runs basically from 1993 through 1997, two stand tallest: Oasis and Blur. Here in the States, Oasis was the one that broke through. But, in the UK, those two had something of a chart rivalry. This competition was probably more of a media-made event, but these two bands pushed each other to greater heights than probably possible if neither had the other to use as a measuring stick. For my tastes, I like Blur more than Oasis, simply because they seem more versatile in their songwriting. But, Oasis is not the Beatles-knockoff that critics have reduced them to in recent years.

4.9 the verve
The Verve

Other bands whose music from this era to have stood the test of time are Pulp, Suede, Supergrass and The Verve. Once again, I am a huge fan of both Pulp and Supergrass, while Suede was a little too glammy for my Britpop tastes, The Verve was the one who broke here with one specific song, “Bittersweet Symphony.” While that song remains a favorite of mine, Pulp arguably created Britpop’s finest moment with their brilliant take on class differences called “Common People.” That song is one brilliant sociological explanation of the class separation that remains in the UK, that was lost on the American fallacy in which class does not exist in a society where social mobility exists. The problem is that mobility does exist, but there is a glass ceiling. That’s why intelligent people who break through that ceiling are so threatening to the old money. That’s what is so threatening about athletes and entertainers who are able to make the transition to this upper echelon of society are constantly derided by the power structure. At least the Brits are willing to recognize this existence.

4.9 pulp

But, like any genre in music, what makes its existence so rich and vital is the one- and two-hit wonders. And, Britpop is full of them as well. These are the artists whom few Americans know. I’m talking about bands like Embrace, Sleeper, Dodgy and Echobelly. And, of course, there were others. But, once again, my purpose is to inform and expose, so I will leave the truly obscure artists to my Britpop experts out there in the ether, though I do love that song by Cornershop, but is it Britpop?

4.9 sleeper

Once again, I am not ranking these songs, but I know for a fact they make for a terrific playlist just in case you are bored with your current lists. Give this genre a listen. Here’s my 60 favorite Britpop songs.

  1. Ash – “Girl from Mars” (1995)
  2. Babybird – “You’re Gorgeous” (1996)
  3. Blur – “Beetlebum” (1997)
  4. Blur – “Charmless Man” (1995)
  5. Blur – “Chemical World” (1993)
  6. Blur – “Country House” (1995)
  7. Blur – “End of a Century” (1995)
  8. Blur – “Girls & Boys” (1994)
  9. Blur – “Parklife” (1994)
  10. Blur – “Song 2” (1997)
  11. Blur – “The Universal” (1995)
  12. Cast – “Sandstorm” (1995)
  13. Catatonia – “Road Rage” (1998)
  14. Dodgy – “Good Enough” (1996)
  15. Echobelly – “King of Kerb” (1995)
  16. Edwyn Collins – “A Girl like You” (1994)
  17. Elastica – “Connection” (1995)
  18. Embrace – “Come Back to What You Know” (1998)
  19. Lush – “Ladykillers” (1996)
  20. Manic Street Preachers – “A Design for Life” (1996)
  21. Manic Street Preachers – “Everything Must Go” (1996)
  22. Mansun – “Wide Open Space” (1996)
  23. Oasis – “Champagne Supernova” (1995)
  24. Oasis – “Cigarettes & Alcohol” (1994)
  25. Oasis – “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (1995)
  26. Oasis – “Live Forever” (1994)
  27. Oasis – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” (1994)
  28. Oasis – “Roll with It” (1995)
  29. Oasis – “Some Might Say” (1995)
  30. Oasis – “Supersonic” (1994)
  31. Oasis – “Wonderwall” (1995)
  32. Paul Weller – “Sunflower” (1993)
  33. Paul Weller – “The Changingman” (1995)
  34. Pulp – “Babies” (1994)
  35. Pulp – “Common People” (1995)
  36. Pulp – “Disco 2000” (1995)
  37. Pulp – “Do You Remember the First Time?” (1994)
  38. Pulp – “Lipgloss” (1994)
  39. Pulp – “Mis-Shapes” (1995)
  40. Pulp – “Sorted for E’s and Wizz” (1995)
  41. Pulp – “This Is Hardcore” (1997)
  42. Shed Seven – “Going for Gold” (1996)
  43. Sleeper – “Inbetweener” (1995)
  44. Sleeper – “Sale of the Century” (1996)
  45. Suede – “Animal Nitrate” (1993)
  46. Suede – “Metal Mickey” – Suede (1993)
  47. Suede – “The Drowners” (1993)
  48. Suede – “The Wild Ones” (1994)
  49. Super Furry Animals – “Something 4 the Weekend” (1996)
  50. Supergrass – “Alright” (1995)
  51. Supergrass – “Caught by the Fuzz” (1995)
  52. The Auteurs – “Showgirl” (1993)
  53. The Bluetones – “Slight Return” (1996)
  54. The Boo Radleys – “Wake Up, Boo!” (1995)
  55. The Lightning Seeds – “The Life of Riley” (1992)
  56. The Supernaturals – “Smile” (1996)
  57. The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony” (1997)
  58. The Verve – “Lucky Man” (1997)
  59. The Verve – “Sonnet” (1997)
  60. The Verve – “The Drugs Don’t Work” (1997)
4.9 suede