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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.