Sunday, March 28, 2010

Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s 40 - 21

I was flipping channels yesterday, and caught part of VH-1's countdown of the Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s. It dawned on me that I had started blogging though this countdown before, and never actually finished the list. In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago when I kind of lost the thread around #41. If you're new to the blog and want to check those posts out, or want to revisit them before proceeding onward, you can do so here:

100 - 81
80 - 61
60 - 41

Here's the preamble:

The preamble:

As I go through the One Hit Wonder countdown, I'll offer some thoughts on the song, video or anything else that pops into my head. Also, I'll examine my iTunes library and indicate if I already have the song there (H), will be downloading it (Y) or will make like Nancy Reagan, and just say no (N). Feel free to chime in with any of your personal remembrances or anecdotes as we jump into the Wayback Machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody.

Now, one year later, let's resume the countdown, starting with #40:

40 The Buggles: “Video Killed the Radio Star”
By now, I think everyone knows this was the first video played on MTV. Have you looked at the channel lately? These days, the tune could be “Vapid Attention Seeking Teenage Whores Killed the Video Star.” Good trivia I didn’t know: Keyboardist Geoff Downes went on to form 80s supergroup Asia. H

39 Matthew Wilder: “Break My Stride”
One of the more annoying tunes on the countdown. Once you hear it, you need some mental Clorox to get it out of your head. N

38 Bruce Willis: “Respect Yourself”
Another celebrity vanity project. Not as irony free and tone deaf as Don Johnson’s, and John McClane is much of a badass than Sonny Crockett. Also, this was around the time that Bruce was shilling for (sing along) Seagrams…..Golden Wine Coolers. My mom loved those things, and we were all fans of Die Hard and Moonlighting, so every time mom wanted one of those “drinks,” my dad would sing Bruce’s jingle. I probably would have preferred “Respect Yourself.” (Though really, if you did respect yourself, you probably wouldn’t be singing about wine coolers). N

37 Lipps, Inc.: “Funkytown”
A classic of the disco era, that just arrived too late for the disco movement proper, and also an astonishing lyrical achievement that reportedly made Bob Dylan weep with jealousy. What I remember most about this song was that it was always played at this cheesy amusement park in my area, called “Lake Winnepesauka.” I went there with some friends one time, and we got in the spinning cylinder ride, where the floor drops out and you’re pinned to the wall by centrifugal force. Well, one of my buddies had eaten one chili dog too many, and barfed during the ride. It barely escaped from his face and the front of his shirt, but everyone on the ride knew what was going on, and we were dreading the eventual slowing of the ride, since the bubbling stew would then start to make its way around the cylinder. Yeah, I always think of that with Funkytown. H

36 Weather Girls: “It’s Raining Men”
Letterman’s Paul Schaffer actually co-wrote this eminently danceable ditty, about a meteorological event only slightly less believable than the conclusion of Magnolia. One of the singers, Martha Wash, went on to provide the voice (but not the lip synching hot bod) for C+C Music Factory. Last year, the song was co-opted in a funny video mocking the dimwitted bigots opposing marriage equality. (I was going to put a link to it here, but the video has been taken down from YouTube for a “copyright violation” because it uses some of the laughable scenes from the “National Organization for Marriage” fear-mongering hate vid). Regardless of your sexual orientation, I think we can all agree that the best way to get men would not be via "rain." Wouldn't that be, its very best, messy? Could an umbrella, even one created by The Penguin, withstand a 200 pound studmuffin dropping out of the sky? And would your really want your "man" after he had fallen from the clouds onto the pavement? H

35 Tom Tom Club: “Genius of Love”
Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth to a break from Talking Heads to pen this tune, which was always a dance floor favorite. H

34 The Waitresses: “I Know What Boys Like”
Okay, forget what I said about Matthew Wilder. THIS is the most annoying song of the 80s. Yeah, it captured the new wave attitude of the 80s perfectly, but this on repeat could force me to confess to crimes I didn’t commit. N

33 John Waite: “Missing You”
I remembered Waite from his work with the Babys, a very underrated 70s band, but you couldn’t escape this particular song in the 80s. It’s a little melancholy for my taste, and I actually preferred another song from his first album, called “Change.” H

32 Quarterflash: “Harden My Heart”
This was a great song, and who didn’t have a crush on the frizzy haired, vulnerable sounding chick in spandex who could also wail on the sax? From the same album, “Find Another Fool” was also a good track. Y

31 Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
Oh lord. What started out as a charming little instrument-free lark turned into the earworm of the 80s. It was the first a capella song to top the Billboard charts. N

30 The Vapors: “Turning Japanese”
When this song was released, I was early on in high school, and I don’t think I really got the gist of song’s meaning. It was a guy talking about a picture of his girlfriend, and I thought he had stared at it so long and so intently, he just began squinting. However, as I got older, and really thought about it (especially this lyric: “No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women; No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark”), I realized it was quite obviously an ode to masturbation, joining such other self-gratification tunes like “She Bop,” “You and UR Hand,” “The Stroke,” “Dancing with Myself,” “Blister in the Sun,” “I Touch Myself” and “Darling Nikki.” Wow. There are a lot of songs about masturbating. And I knew all those off the top of my head. I wonder what that means. H

29 Madness: “Our House”
Another song that got played to death in the 80s, that I used to like but just became sick of eventually. And I know it was a massive radio and MTV hit, far overshadowing anything else Madness did, but they also enjoyed some success with “It Must Be Love” and “One Step Beyond,” which I recall seeing on MTV first, and which I actually like better. (N – “Our House”; Y – “One Step Beyond”)

28 John Parr: “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)”
The Brat Pack grows up. Mostly, I remember the movie for Rob Lowe playing saxophone, Emilio Estevez stalking Andie MacDowell and Demi Moore being the hottest cokehead since Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Some interesting trivia about the song: it was written by prolific composer David Foster and John Parr about a dude in a wheelchair who was rolling around the world to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries. Also, it never appeared on a John Parr album. And again, this is another where I question the moniker of “One Hit Wonder,” as you couldn’t escape “Naughty Naughty” on MTV and pop/rock radio in the 80s. N

27 Stacey Q: “Two of Hearts”
Now here’s a true One Hit Wonder. Did you know Stacey Q appeared on The Facts of Life as a rival to Tootie, named “Cinnamon?” And she sang this song? No, I didn’t either. N

26 Cutting Crew: “I Just Died In Your Arms”
Another song about an orgasm, though unlike “Turning Japanese,” someone else is involved in the act (hence the “your arms” part). The writer dreamed this up just after boning his girlfriend. Musically, he didn’t get it up again. Y

25 Musical Youth: “Pass the Dutchie”
I wasn’t too hep to the slang for the Devil’s Parsley in high school, so I had no idea what was going on with this song. Evidently, it was a remake of song dealing directly with sparking up, called “Pass the Koutchie.” (I wouldn’t have known what the hell a Koutchie was either, but apparently, it’s a bong). When a bunch of kids did the cover, they changed it to “dutchie” and changed the lyric “how does it feel when you got no herb” to “how does it feel when you got no food.” Isn’t that a little depressing for a reggae song by a bunch of kids? Though when I was in college, given the choice, I probably would have forsaken the food. And what the hell was a “dutchie?” If they were hungry, they could have changed it to “Debbie,” to mean a Little Debbie. I loved Swiss Cake Rolls. I would imagine they're even better if you're high, so it all fits together. The group’s efforts to sanitize the tune came back to bite them, however, as eventually “dutchie” came to refer to a blunt. N

24 Edie Brickell & New Bohemians: “What I Am”
Man, there were a lot of ska influences in the 80s. I think I first became aware of the movement listening to the English Beat (who were awesome, and still pop up regularly in my various playlists). This was one of those songs you either loved or hated. I loved it, and hell, most of their first album, too, though the band never saw the success of this single. And then Edie Brickell married Paul Simon. Princess Leia and the “What I Am” chick. Not bad, Paul Simon. Not bad. H

23 Eddy Grant: “Electric Avenue”
“BOY!” The first zillion times I heard this song, I thought he kept screaming “OY!” and it was some bizarre hybrid of English, reggae, electronica and Yiddish. Also, didn’t all the Lectroids from Planet 10 look like Eddy Grant? “BOY!” N

22 Michael Sembello: “Maniac”
Okay, when you read the title of this song, you started running in place and running your hands up and down your legs, didn’t you? Don’t lie. Much like “Dutchie,” this was originally about something entirely different. Take a song a maniacal serial killer and turn it into a tune about a dancing steelworker? No problem! H

21 Twisted Sister: “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
Anything that pisses off Tipper Gore is A-OK in my book. And the video also brought back Mark Metcalf (Douglas C. Niedermeyer himself!), and led to his sublime turn as The Master on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. N

1 comment:

  1. I love me some ska and the English Beat is also one of my favorites but every time I heard Edie Brickell & New Bohemians sing “What I Am" I thought of Popeye-I am what I am and that's all what I am
    Have some spinach.