Friday, May 18, 2012

Top 5 One-Hit Wonders that Helped Define the 80’s

Christie is back with part 2 in her series of One-Hit Wonders (read part 1 here).

As promised, we'll look at different categories, but I am sticking with the 80’s for now...  This was a difficult list to order.  I rearranged it several times, changed it, put it back together, and changed it again.  Limiting this to 5 was truly a challenge!  But here are my, the top 5 one-hit wonders that helped define the 80’s…

5: Mickey—Toni Basil.  To add or not to add this one was a tough decision.  It made the cut, and as someone who used to roller skate to this gem, I had to do it.  The question is, what was truly more memorable—the song or the video?  The song was basically a football cheer, while the video, cheerleaders on steroids!  Either way, it almost always makes the top 10 list of 80’s tunes and I, for one, won’t argue with that.

4: Cars—Gary Neuman.  The Twilight vampires have nothing on Gary Neuman!  He is, in fact, the undead…drawing upon pyramid power in this classic 80’s video.  Relying heavily on a synth for the actual music in this song, Neuman’s pre-auto-tuned vocals repeat the same phrases over and over again, a technique which most one-hit wonders relied on.  They were catchy and easy to sing--that’s why they stand the test of time.  Cars is a perfect example of this.

3: I Ran (So Far Away)—Flock of Seagulls.  Sorry to the band but seriously, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them is not the music, but the hair.  Nothing drove this point home more than when Chandler Bing showed up at the Geller’s house with his own “Flock” haircut.  Now, having said that (the hair not being as severe in this video)…the tune itself has merit.  They were a New Wave band that didn’t just use electronica, but utilized the guitars and drums equally.  Plus, it’s a fun song to sing along to!

2: 867-5309 Jenny—Tommy Tutone.  Anyone who actually had this phone number rued the day that Tommy Tutone recorded this hit.  It was inevitable—you heard the song, you dialed the number (and tried it in different area codes too!).  To this day, people still give this number to deny drunken bar-room pick-up attempts.  Everyone sings it when it comes on the satellite radio or jukebox (and every now and then, on a very rare occasion, at karaoke).  However, how many actually remember the “Jenny” part of the title?  This is one of the greatest one-hit wonders to come out of the 80’s and therefore it deserves the # 2 spot! 

1: Tainted Love—Soft Cell.  A remake of the 1964 Gloria Jones version, this song helped define the 80’s.  There have been many incarnations of this song…everyone from the Pussycat Dolls to Marilyn Manson have done it, but the Soft Cell version is the definitive go-to rendition that we all love and cherish.  We immediately recognize the song from its iconic opening, and everyone, whether consciously or not, does the ‘bang bang’ on a table or bar stool or whatever when they hear it.  (“Sometimes I feel I’ve got to [bang, bang] run away…”)  The fact that Soft Cell uses a phrase or two from Diana Ross and the Supremes seems to go over everyone’s head, but that’s ok…it’s just an extra bit of happiness to an already awesome song.  Another bonus is that no one thinks of the video for this song--we only think of the song itself, so on the strength of the music alone, Tainted Love gets the top spot.

So this wraps up another Top 5 list based in the 80’s.  There will be more one-hit wonders to come, as there are plenty of decades, genres, and craziness to be explored.  We’d love to hear your comments on this list and personally, I urge you to watch the Marilyn Manson version of Tainted Love.  And as usual, please go here and press "like."


  1. I wish my iPad would let me watch these videos! But I do have Tainted Love stuck in my head now, thank you very much.

  2. Always happy to help. :D