THE GREATEST ONE HIT WONDERS OF ALL TIME
Recently VH1 made a series of programs listing the top 100 one hit wonders of all time, and there were some all time classics contained within. Below is my own take on the same list: the top ten greatest One Hit Wonders (that is, artists who had one great hit and fell into obscurity thereafter) and why. In parentheses, VH1's ranking.
10. What's Up - 4 Non Blondes (1994) (94) It seemed to be a bright future for this group, which was fronted by the powerful voice of Linda Perry. "What's Up" was a massive hit in the summer of 1994, as was their album "Bigger Faster Better More" but the group disbanded before a second album was recorded. Perry then embarked on an unsuccessful solo career and now languishes in obscurity.
9. Epic - Faith No More (1989) (67) Before there were rap-metal groups like Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine, there was Faith No More. Their first and only hit mixed metal, rap and even a little delicate piano at the end into one of the great quirky smashes of 1989. Members of Faith No More went on to a side project (Mr. Bungle), and released several albums during their career, but never reclaims the notoriety they received for this song. The video is awesome.
8. Don't Wanna Fall in Love - Jane Child (1990) (90) This young Canadian singer-songwriter seemed to be on the verge of becoming the Prince of the 90s: She wrote, produced, sang and played just about all the instruments on her debut album for Warner Brothers. The album also spawned this top 5 hit. However, creative differences between Child and the label led to her demise into obscurity, coming shortly after the release of her second album.
7. Rebirth of Slick - Digable Planets (1993) (74) Merging rap and classic jazz was all the rage in the early to mid 90s. Through groups like Digable Planets and US3, audiences were introduced to the likes of the Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis. "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)", which sampled Art Blakeley's "Stretchin'" was a finger-poppin' hit in 1993. DP (which consisted of Doodlebug, Butterfly and Ladybug), only released one more album, the ambitious "Blowout Comb" before disbanding.
6. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1982) (41) One of the surprise hits of 1982 was by the British group Frankie goes to Hollywood. Bold and pretentious, they released the controversial "Welcome to the Pleasuredome", and this, their only hit, was banned in Britain for obvious reasons. It remains one of the great trance-dance songs of the early 80s.
5. When I'm With You - Sheriff (1989) (nr) This song, quietly released in the 1989 by minor Canadian hair metal band Sheriff, featured the multi-octave vocals of Freddy Currci and didn't become a smash hit until two years later. Currci's vocal pyrotechnics at the end of the song are worth the price of admission alone. Sheriff's self-titled album remained their only release, although members of the band went on to form another one hit wonder band called Alias ("More Than Words Can Say") "When I'm with you" remains a wedding reception favorite.
4. Got to Be Real - Cheryl Lynn (1979) (33) It is truly puzzling why this Disco Diva only enjoyed minor fame. Cheryl Lynn had the looks, the voice, the musical backing and songwriting (featuring member of the group Toto) for major stardom. This song, her only hit, barely cracked the top 20 but was a favorite among clubbers in the late disco era, and Lynn recorded until the late 80s, with middling success on the R&B charts, but nowhere near the mainstream airplay of this song. It is also one of the best disco songs ever released.
3. Into the Night - Benny Mardones (1982) (nr) Somewhere, in small clubs in and around Syracuse, NY, Benny Mardones is still performing this song. A feature length documentary on the life and times of Mardones is being released. A small and very fervent following still continues to idolize the over-the-top Neil Diamond wannabe, who reportedly still very much acts like the mega-star he never was. Still, this classic song is one of the most frequently played on Adult Contemporary stations around the country. Original copies of his second album, "Never Run, Never Hide", which features "Into the Night", fetch as much as $100.00. Go figure.
2. Take On Me - A-ha (1985) (8) How is it that this group floundered after releasing a song as great as this? There aren't too many out there that don't like this song and the groundbreaking video that accompanies it. Surprisingly, this synth-driven Norwegian group resumed recording and touring in 2000 after breaking up in 1991. A prime example of a great video making a great song even better.
1. It's Raining Men - The Weather Girls (1982) (55) This somewhat ridiculous premise for a song gets points for being so OVER THE TOP. The Weather Girls, formed with a background in disco and gospel, released this song, which features the jaw-dropping voices of Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes, a duo formerly known as "Two Tons O' Fun". "Men" was one of the most successful songs of the late disco era, and the Weather Girls make up for this silly song with their incredible vocals and boundless energy. It is an all-time classic.
The ONE HIT WONDER MINI-GALLERY:
(L-R): Linda Perry from 4 Non Blondes; Benny Mardones; Frankie Goes to Hollywood; The Weather Girls; Jane Child (click on Thumbnail for larger pic)