This thought may not be enough to sustain a long-term discussion of any real merit. However this thought was too involved to pose as a question in the Q & A forum, and we might get something out of it yet. Who knows?
Our subject is the expression "one-hit wonders." We usually use this expression to refer to musicians who, after a career of many years, produce only one hugely popular "chart topping hit" song.
"One-hit wonder." Is this not a loathesome expression, dismissively and even somewhat cruelly reductionist? Take this where you will. We might even get to talking about the "cult of celebrity" in general as well. Who knows?
Funny you should post this. I was JUST thinking about one-hit wonders in the car yesterday!
It is indeed a strange phenomenon. You would think that if an artist or band had the talent to create one hit that they knew the "formula for success."
So, what famous OHWs come to your mind?
The one that pops in for me is The Knack and "My Sharona."
Terry Jacks "Seasons in the sun" Yep, I'm old.
Good Day Mighty Mom:
Thank you for being the first to post in this thread. Yes, we can do "What's your favorite one-hit wonder?" lists. That's fine with me but there is also another purpose at work here.
First, to answer your question. Let's see:
1) Rob Base and EZ Rock: "It Takes Two"
2) Mica Paris: My One Temptation
3) Joyce Sims: Come into My Life
4) Loose Ends: Hangin' On a String
And many more.......
We are also interested in the expression "one-hit wonder." Becoming slightly more serious now, I do think the term is somewhat dismissive and reductionist. I think it is a harsh thing to refer to an act as -- almost an insult from the perspective of bands that have surely put in decades in the business only to have such limited luck and score only one "break through" song.
What I am asking is: what do we think about this? What do we think about the expression "one hit wonder?" Do we see anything at all disparaging in the term?
Good Day Friendlyword
Thank you for joining our discussion. May I ask, first of all, who "Genius of Love" is by? Secondly, I'd like to get your thoughts on the expression "one-hit wonder" itself. Do you think it is a fair thing to call a singer or band or duo who had, no doubt, put many years and decades into the business only to have his career reduced to one song?
Do you find the expression "one hit wonder," in any way, dismissive and reductionist? If not, why not? If you do, why?
Thanks for posting and I hope you hang in with us until we unravel this cultural mystery!
Okay, here's one -- "Lift Every Voice" by the House duo called Mass Order.
It's just the best one hit wonder ever! They didn't make another record because they just don't have the time. Too much money to spend!
Hey Jim Hunter!
I just YouTubed Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun." Man, you are old! LOL. But then again, so am I. Yes, as I was listening to it, the memory of the song vaguely trickled back to me. Its a sweetly melancholy tune. Thank again for mentioning it.
Right now my mind is only giving me "La macarena" ... well, actually Macademia nut by the animaniacs, but you get the idea.
Good Day Jim Hunter
Thank you for joining our conversation! I shall YouTube Terry Jacks and "Seasons in the Sun." By the way, you know another cool single breakout hit song? Its from the group White Town and the song is called "My Woman."
We also have another purpose with this thread. I'd like to know what you think about the expression "one-hit wonder." Put yourself in the shoes of x hardworking act (singer, duo, or band collectively) that has put decades in the business....
Please look very deeply into yourself, Jim Hunter, and tell me how you would feel about being referred to as a "one-hit wonder." Again, I'm very glad to have you on this thread.
Ciao for now!
"Butterfly" by Crazytown is another one -- I loved that song.
But in answer to your question, wingedcentaur, the term one-hit wonder is definitely a pejorative. It is very dismissive.
But it can only be applied to certain classifications of entertainers -- ones who literally have only produced one recognizable hit.
These performers/bands have worked hard to make it.
For every band that even breaks the charts with their "one hit" there are thousands more who never even get that far.
I am going to sign off now as I fear that Jim Hunter will be back momentarily calling President Obama a "one-hit wonder."
So rather than usurp a perfectly nice conversation about music, I will say goodnight!
Yes, thank you Mighty Mom. That's what I was getting at. "For every band that even breaks the charts with their "one hit" there are thousands more who never even get that far." It is no small thing to work at something, anything, and then have a moment in which your impact suddenly (or even at all again) reaches millions, to have such a moment of transcendence! But that sometmes doesn't seem to be enough for us......
There is something deeper still I'm getting at. But I'm going to wait awhile before springing it. This conversation is starting to go well and perhaps it (the big IT) will be revealed by someone other than myself!
I did a whole hub on One Hit Wonders, interestingly enough, called One Hit Wonders and has always been my best-performing hub in getting a consistent stream of traffic. So, this is obviously a subject that interests people!
Yes..I suppose the term "one-hit wonders" is a little demeaning. However, some of these hits (particularly in the 60's) were only intended as a way of capitalizing on a fad at the time, or just some goofy song that became popular.
Some items that come to mind:
Monster Mash (Bobby 'Boris' Pickett)
Martian Hop (The Ran-Dells)
I Love Onions (Susan Christie)
or during the height of Beatlemania:
We Love You Beatles (The Vernons Girls, The Carefrees)
My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut (Donna Lynn)
Also, a fine movie that captures the spirit of the era is "That Thing You Do". Worth checking out if you haven't seen it.
Good Day timorous
Welcome to the thread and thank you for joining our conversation today. You know, I rather like it when I get hit with the unexpected. You do raise an interesting issue -- "... some of these hits (particularly in the 60's) were only intended as a way of capitalizing on a fad at the time, or just some goofy sone that became popular."
I guess we needn't cry any tears for those acts that seemed to have been deliberately set up just to record a "one hit" song, with which these "acts" rightly or wrongly hoped to "capitalize" on this or that fad.
In fact here's one: Remember the former rapper called Vanilla Ice? Ice, Ice Baby I believe is the song. Last I heard of him he left his hip hop persona behind (and that is largely what it was, a persona --- remember the mini scandal about him lying about his background, claiming his was "street" and so forth?). I concede that, you are quite right.
But what about others who were more, shall we say, honest? You hinted at your feelings already when you wrote" "Yes...I suppose the term "one-hit wonders" is a little demeaning."
Care to expand on that?
It's true, many performers just sort of coast along on the lower reaches of the Top Forty charts (if at all), until they have that big hit song that everyone remembers. Or they have that big hit, and never manage to capture that same magic, but nonetheless continue to have many other, much less well-known [hits].
Or in the case of some bands in the 70's whose albums were fairly popular, but who somehow managed that one breakthrough Top Forty hit. I'm thinking here of the British group 'Renaissance', who had many albums out before they had a big hit with "Northern Lights", which sounded kind of Abba-ish, though not intentionally...
I think it's the song and the melody that captures the public's fancy, and to a lesser extent the performer, although I suppose the magic that makes the hit is really a combination of the two.
One-hit-wonders does not mean they didn't have any other hits. It only means that the ONE hit they had was so massive that other smaller hits were completely ignored at the time and later, completely forgotten.
Do you remember anything else except "Love goes where Rosemary goes" by Edison Lighthouse?
Can anyone think of Shocking Blues and not think about "Venus" ? And, however much one tries, can you think of another hit?
The lovely "Listen to the rythm of the falling rain" by the Cascades is synonimous with their name though many others covered it.
I must say that their one hit is better than many others' string of hits but that is another matter.
Good Day thirdmillenium
Thank you for joining our discussion. I suppose "hit" is both an absolute and relative term. I'm not well-versed about these things, but I would imagine that the recording industry has quantified, objective measures of what they consider to be hit songs (having to do with sales, radio play, various statistics).
Then I suppose there's the relative scale. For example I might think Lovefool by the Cardigans is their "one hit." But suppose I learned that another song I'd personally never heard of actually sold more and was played on the radio more. Just suppose that was so. That's a difference between popular wisdom and actual objective data.
Also, to say that an act or band or singer or duo is a "one-hit wonder," of course has nothing to do with the quality of their material as a whole.
"One-Hit-Wonder" is kind of a put down expression IMO. There could be many reasons for having only 1 hit. I'm thinking of Bobby Bloom's "Montego Bay."
He died in a bar -- gunshot, but the circumstances weren't ever determined as far as I know. Some say he was despondent over being defined as a "1-hit-wonder" and shot himself; others say he was murdered.
In any case, there won't be any more hits from the talented Bobby.
Good Day Will Benson
Welcome to the thread and thank you for joining our discussion this morning. You bring us valueable and new information here. The story you tell of poor Bobby Bloom reminds me of the story surrounding George Reeves's suicide. George Reeves was played the character of Superman on television in the 1950s.
It was said, of him, that he was despondent about being "type cast" as Superman. He was having trouble finding other acting work -- the Superman series, in a way, made him a "one-hit wonder" in the field of acting. I will check out that link you provided when I get a chance. I presume it Bobby Bloom's "Montego Bay?"
Thanks for joining us.
Yes, the link is for "Montego Bay." It's pretty rough by today's standards but I think it showcases his excellent vocals.
Maybe in some cases, like Bobby Bloom and Geo. Reeves they would have lived longer without their "1-hit" but I bet they wouldn't have exchanged their time in the limelight for anything.
My thoughts. Good thread.
Hi Will Benson
"...but I bet they wouldn't have exchanged their time in the limelight for anything."
No doubt that is just so. For the most part I think you are quite right. Consider this though. Remember the rapper Vanilla Ice? Remember his hit song "Ice, Ice Baby?" Last I heard of him he'd left his rapping persona (and that's what it was -- remember the mini scandal he was embroiled in basically pretending he was Eminem, that he was "street" and so forth?)
Well, not that I'm a regular viewer of reality television but years back I used to catch the occasionaly episode of "The Surreal Life." Remember that show? Its basically Big Brother for former celebrities. Well, the former Vanilla Ice was on the show one time and he was quite defensive about his hip hop past, if you can believe that. He does thrash rock, last I heard and a quite credible rock remake of Ice, Ice Baby...... anyway he seemed to have interpreted his spotlight years as infamy as opposed to clean fame.
Your thoughts, Will Benson?
Vanilla Ice? He was on TV recently promoting something but I didn't watch much of it. About all I know abt him is that he gets bashed a lot for a lack of talent.
Maybe one hit was all he had talent for? Anyway, if he considers his time in the limelight to be that bad, why is he still at it?
Anyway, Ice had a hit and I never did. I wonder what that feels like, even if for a short time? At least Ice knows...
its actually kinda interesting.
You're right, Ice's bio is interesting. It made me curious enough to go to youtube and listen again to the song my son used to play over & over when he was a kid. Well, sooner or later someone's going to do this, it may as well be me....
Will Benson: Excellent! You are putting your finger on something I want to get at eventually -- but not just yet (the conversation is flowing nicely now) but eventually.
"Anyway, Ice had a hit and I never did. I wonder what that feels like, even if for a short time At least Ice knows..."
Yes indeed, Will Benson. And must we confine the idea of a "hit" to music? We are coming very close, very fast to the big IT!
DoorMattnomore: Welcome to the thread and thank you for joining our discussion. At first opportunity I shall consult the wikipedia article. Thank you for posting the link to it.
hits=only music..I dont think so. Think about football jocks from high school...they had their big shiny moment ya know? If you think about it, its all relative and we are all one hit wonders in some way. Just maybe not all famous worldwide, or whatever. But within our own circles.
logic, commonsense, welcome to the thread!
Chick A Boom sounds familiar but who is it by?
Thank you DoorMattnomore. I must check that out. You know, this is good. If nothing else I feel like I'm expanding my music literacy. Thank you for the link.
I think its funny that "one hit wonders" often are remembered for longer then some songs of artists that have more then one hit but then fizzle out. While the term itself is rather condescending, these songs have continued on when others have vanished. Maybe just because they were the only one?
Like you mentioned Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice baby" Im guessing alot of people remeber that. But what else was popular then? I couldn't remeber so here..
"...And must we confine the idea of a "hit" to music? We are coming very close, very fast to the big IT!..."
Sorry wing, I got nuthin.
I do, however, like DMNM's take on the fact that everyone gets their "big shiny moment." Maybe that "moment" doesn't have to involve fame, I guess. Personally, I've had many "shiny moments" -- but they didn't happen in front of millions of people.
When you tell us what the big "It" is, you'll have one of your shiny moments.
Does anyone remember Chesney Hawkes, I am the one and only!!! one hit wonder, very cheesy but what a great catchy song..
Hate to make my opening "contribution" (which I realize is in the eye/ear of the beholder) be a rebuttal, but I feel compelled (since we are talking about one of my fave bands evah).
I would argue that Tom Tom Club's Genius of Love is not an example of a one-hit wonder for two reasons:
1. Tom Tom Club was an offshoot of the wildly popular Talking Heads formed by Husband/wife Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth.
2. Tom Tom Club had many other "hits" including
The Man with the 4-Way Hips
Atsa Baby (Life is Good)
Although Genius of Love is definitely their best known hit.
Zager and Evans "In the Year 2525"
Scared the bejeesus out of me as a kid.
Probably just as well they didn't publish a follow-up!
On the lighter side: for some reason I thought of an old song "Election Day" by Arcadia. I played the crap out of that song, but I don't believe the band went on to great wealth and fame.
To the point of your question, I think the phrase "one-hit wonder" is definitely pejorative these days. I think it is because industry is totally slanted away from anything resembling a "cream rises to the top" kind of thing, and there is more luck than skill involved with getting noticed and promoted. Producers make safe bets with bands and sounds that are like something that sold before and almost no risk taking goes on. So, if someone does happen to "break through" and get a song out there, people want them to keep going. A band that can't keep it going given that opportunity is seen as having, in a way, failed.
It almost makes me wonder if we, as a culture, sort of spit at them the epithet of "one hit wonder" because when they fail, we fail. Our failure comes as the realization that if a group can get that high and still wipe out, what chance to do we mere mortals have of making it big and keeping it, when we can't even get there to begin? Great success becomes even more glaringly elusive and we feel the weight of our lives as serfs laboring in fiefdom subdivided into cubes.
I heard that Vanilla Ice is doing very, very well flipping houses, btw.
Good Day Shadesbreath and welcome to the thread!
Well, ring the bell! You sir, have got it. That is precisely what I was aiming at. The question I was going to pose is: Why do we use the phrase "one-hit wonder" and what does it say about us. Your last paragraph is precisely where I was going and what I wanted all of us to think about.
"Great success becomes even more glaringly elusive and we feel the weight of our lives as sertf laboring in fiefdom subdivided into cubes."
Gee Shadesbreath you know everything!
Thank you everyone for your responses. I really appreciate your participation. There are a few more links I'm going to follow up on. I think this conversation is done.
Thanks again everyone. This has been a great conversation.
I have always really liked Animotion's "Obsession." Thinking back, I can't recall any other hits by this group, so I guess that would qualify them as a one-hit wonder.
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