Big thanks to Jenna for hosting me on the blog this week. She graciously offered to let me write a piece I’ve been wanting to write, about the 80s one-hit wonders who should have been so much more (in my estimation, at least). So, I scoured the list of the decade’s one-hit wonders and after breathing a sigh of relief that The Communards and Pia Zadora only had one chance to leave their mark on the musical landscape, I came up with my list—the artist and their wonder of a one-hit.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On Eileen” (1983)
What an adorable group of Brits Dexy’s were, and fabulous musicians to boot. When researching this song, I discovered that the inspiration for the title came from the 1960s soul song “A Man Like Me”. No mention of the fact that Bananarama totally stole Dexy’s look for the “Cruel Summer” video.
Modern English “I Melt With You” (1982)
This song played over the closing credits of “Valley Girl” and became forever an iconic piece of music. It’s a timeless pop song, despite its presence in Taco Bell commercials.
The Vapors “Turning Japanese” (1980)
Some people might argue that this song is a throwaway, but I think that’s largely due to the enduring debate over whether or not this song really is about masturbation. I still think this band could have cranked out at least one more hit.
Haircut 100 “Love Plus One” (1982)
All I see when I think of this song is Nik Kershaw’s dimples. What a bunch of well-scrubbed, fresh-faced lads, with a perfectly sweet and poppy sound. They were so cute that they could have been popular today, but I do not wish to hear this song auto-tuned.
Sugarhill Gang “Rappers Delight” (1980)
This was the very first rap song to hit the Top 40 and who doesn’t have a soft spot for that scene in the “Wedding Singer” when elderly Rosie sings it? Bonus points for the bass line from the best roller skating song of all time: “Good Times” by Chic.
Talk Talk “It’s My Life” (1984)
There’s a lot of question as to whether No Doubt’s cover of this song is better than the original, to which I say, “WTF is wrong with people?” Not really…I actually like the No Doubt version quite a lot, but there’s a reason Gwen wanted to cover it–perfectly catchy hook, perfect song.
Style Council “My Ever Changing Mood” (1984)
I totally did a double take when I saw this on the one-hit wonders list, but it’s true—Style Council only had one hit. Amazing that as talented as Paul Weller is, his success has mostly stayed underground. This song’s title is quite apt, as I find it impossible to be in a bad mood after listening to it.
Icicle Works “Whisper to a Scream” (1984)
These Brits came out of the Liverpool scene that spawned Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. I think they must have all had the same hairdresser as well. I own the first three Icicle Works records on vinyl. That’s how hardcore I am. Love this song and the video is the first lesson in 80s Video Production 101.
Scritti Politti “Perfect Way” (1985)
Here’s one piece of trivia that might come as a surprise—Scritti Politti were originally a very left-wing punk band before they “revamped” their sound to a far more mainstream pop sound. The catalyst came during a break after touring with Joy Division, when Green Gartside started listening to R&B, apparently non-stop. That’s where the “precursor to Justin Timberlake” vibe in the video for “Perfect Way” comes in.
The Plimsouls “A Million Miles Away” (1983)
I saved this song for last, but not because I think it deserves to be number 10. It might deserve to be number 1. It’s very close to my heart. It not only was a big part of my teen years, the title for my new book, “Bring Me Back”, comes from the lyrics. I reached out to front man Peter Case after I named the book and he was actually flattered that I stole his lyrics to suit my own needs. He’s a very talented man and has recorded some amazing music since the days of The Plimsouls. He should have had way more than one hit.