Thursday, September 1, 2011


Little over a week ago, I mentioned that I would be doing an on-going series about one-hit wonders. This was inspired by one of the KY 3 E-List by Ethan Forhetz. I questioned the inclusions of some of the songs, because I thought some of those acts had more than one hit. I noticed that there was quite a bit of confusion among people on who and what songs were one hit wonders. A Wikipedia article even talks about this. I decided to do some research and clear up this subject. I thought it would be interesting to make a list of the greatest number one hits of all time. Not so simple. Do you know how many one hit wonders there are? I did research and started making a list of one-hit wonders. I had to stop listing them. Also, Billboard changed it's charts in the 90s, so you have more one-hit wonders in the 90's than probably any other decade. Most of them I had never heard of.

On reading the Wikipedia article, I decided to rule out a few kinds of one hit wonders. First, I ruled out major country artist such as Tom T. Hall, Lynn Anderson, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Statler Brothers and Vince Gill. Second, I ruled out stars from other media such as Lorne Greene, Paris Hilton, Cheryl Ladd, Patrick Swayze, and Steve Martin. Third, I ruled out artist that it is almost a blasphemy to call one hit wonders such as Jimi Hendrix, Count Baise, Buffalo Springfield, Rush, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop and Bo Diddley.

I considered a list of my favorite one hit wonders. In my research, I figured out that most of my favorite songs were one hit wonders. Since I'm pretty open minded, I thought how about the easiest list to do first would be the one hit wonders I don't like. Hate is a strong word, so I won't use it for these songs. However, I will try to tell you reasons why I don't like these songs and my opinions may get ugly. Of course, my readers are used to that.
Note: Not all of the songs included are not Top 40 hits, but are pretty well-known.

1. Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin (#1-1988): How could a song with such positive and uplifting lyrics make a person want to commit suicide? Part of my problem with this is the acaupella music style. That popping noise gets old after awhile as does the backing vocals. The other part of the problem is it seems to go on forever. "In a Gadda Da Vida," "Rapper's Delight," "Beacon from Mars," "Autobahn" and "Marquee Moon" don't seem to go on for an eternity like this five minute recording.

2. Butterfly Kisses - Bob Carlisle (#10-1997)/the Raybon Brothers (#22-1997): Sappy and crappy. That is all that needs to be said.

3. An Open Letter To My Teenage Son - Victor Lundenberg (#10-1967): This is the record that gave pop culture the phrase "I HAVE NO SON!" Just what everyone needs is a record of a right-wing father lecturing his kid. Some of you may remember that on my old blog, I had a parody of this and a few other spoken word records of the past. I also linked to so rather damning info on the high and mighty sounding patriot Victor Lundenberg, posted on an Internet sight by his daughter. Apparently, Lundenberg was an alcoholic, dead-beat dad, who later sold drugs. I think being disowned by Victor would be a good thing.

4. I've Never Been To Me - Charlene (#3-1982): This has to be the whitest record ever issued by Motown. Actually recorded in 1976, it didn't become a hit until the Reagan years. Why people bought a record in which worldly, jet-set woman, who "has been undress my kings" and "sipped champagne on a yacht"
tries to convince a stay-at-home mom that she has a much better life. Good luck with that. The mommy might just say, "You want my life! Start by changing my kid's dirty diaper."

5. You Light Up My Life - Debby Boone (#1-1977): I know you all want me to trash this one, but it is not a bad song. It just wore out it's welcome very quickly and still can get obnoxious, even though you rarely hear it today. Not sure what it is about this song. I think much of the animosity toward this song for me and others is the self-righteous crowd that thinks "This-song-is-good-for-you-and-you-should-be-forced-to-like-it." Ever so often, this song can truly make you feel good. Watch out though, some people would like to beat you over the head with this.

6. One of Us - Joan Osbourne (#4-1996): A lame soft pop song that masquerades as a ontological argument. This song was played to excessively by local radio stations which made a big deal out of not playing Marilyn Manson and Korn. Personally, I'm found this song more offensive because puts forth the notion of God as a slob on the bus. It is also very repetitive lyrically and music. Midway through, Osbourne sings, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, God is great. Yeah, yeah, yeah, God is good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." So much for ontological thought. The best version of this is the one by Dr. Evil. "Bloob, bloob, bloob, bloob, blooby bloob."

7. Once You Understand - Think (#23-1971): I once read a ridiculous article in the Lebanon Daily Record about how "the country needed more cranky parents." Whoever wrote that drivel probably got that idea from this crappy and unlistenable record. Nothing sets to toes to tapping like a record of parents yelling at their kids and father crying over his son's overdose. This is probably favored by people who are offended by the psychedelic hits of the 60s. They probably clap for the obnoxious father who demands his son get a hair cut.

8. Walking In Memphis - Marc Cohn (#13-1991): Part of an Elvis worship trend of the early 90s, along with "Black Velvet." I base much of my anger for this song on the fact that it was overplayed by local radio and the constant singing of this song by a douche bag from Texas, who was trying to train me for a "rewarding career, moneymaking career in waterless cookware sales." I took an internship at KOLR to get out of that mess.

9. Tennessee Bird Walk - Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan (#23-#1C&W-1970): At one time, I kind of liked this song. That was when Dr. Demento might play it about three times a year or Dick Bartley would play it once a year. However, since I've worked in radio, producing a nostalgia radio program, I've come to hate this because of the number of request for it. I should mention that Jack & Misty probably shouldn't be here, since they had a handful of hits on the country chart, including the beautiful "Somewhere In Virginia in the Rain." Other than that song, the rest of their hits ("Humprey The Camel" & "Legendary Chicken Fairy") all sound the same as "Tennessee Bird Walk."

10. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners(#1-1983): I never did like this song. Many people of my age think I'm crazy, but it is my belief that BANJOS SHOULD NOT BE IN A ROCK BAND. This group was from Great Britain, which is known for producing some of the coolest, cutting edge bands ever (The Beatles, The Who, etc. etc.). This is not just musically, but fashion wise as well. This group wore overalls, bandannas and PLAYED THE BANJO! THEY LOOKED LIKE HILLBILLIES! UGH!

11. The Futures So Bright, I've Got To Wear Shades - Timbuk 3 (#19-1996): Great title, but a stupid song that was on the radio way too much for my liking.

12. 19 - Paul Hardcastle (#15-#1D-1985): I probably shouldn't list Paul Hardcastle since he has had a few hits on the Smooth Jazz charts, but I thought this song was annoying when it was popular. I was surprised to see it was #1 on the dance chart. It is awful hard to dance to a documentary on the Vietnam War.

13. What's Up - 4 Non Blondes (#14-1993): When I first heard this I thought it was the Wilson sisters from Heart having really bad PMS to the point they were incoherent. Now when I hear this song I PRAY-OMIGOD DO I PRAY-THAT THIS SONG WILL SOON BE OVER! HEY-YAY-YAY-YAY!

14. Lullaby - Shawn Mullins (#7-1999): When you work in radio, you frequently receive calls from people trying to remember the name of a song. I've had several people ask, "What was the name of that song a few years ago that Bono sang on and Jack Nicholson talked about a girl that Dennis Hopper knew?" Well, it wasn't Bono, although it did kinda sound like him singing. It also wasn't Jack Nicholson talking, although it did sound like him. It was Shawn Mullins. When an artist or group sounds too much like another group they frequently don't have another hit. Mullins fits that in a strange way in that Jack Nicholson really didn't have too many big Top 40 hits.

15. Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites (#2-1987): Listening to a song about redneck/hillbilly courting rituals induce vomiting in me. It is even worse is when it is extremely popular with people. This song was popular with the guys who beat me up in high school to impress the girls. They usually had confederate flags in the back window of their pick-up.

16. Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm - Crash Test Dummies (#4-1994): I always found it a coincidence that the lyrics of this song include the word "lurch" and the lead singer sounded like Lurch from the Addams Family singing. I'm not the only one who doesn't like this song about the common childhood problems of multiple birthmarks, premature grey hair and Pentecostal parents. It is ranked as 15th on both Rolling Stone's 20 Most Annoying Songs list and VH1's Most Awesomely Bad Songs. Blender ranked it as 31 on the 50 Worst Songs Ever and AOL placed it on the list of 100 Worst Songs Ever.

17. Oh Babe, What Would You Say - Hurricane Smith (#3-1973): Norman "Hurricane" Smith was the engineer on the early Beatles records. He then became the producer for Pink Floyd and the Pretty Things. Then he recorded several cheesy, nostalgia-lace pop records, where he sang - if you would call it that. Hurricane Smith sounds like he had been gargling Liquid Plumber. This record also features a saxophone or a toy horn pretending to be a saxophone.

18. I've Come of Age - Billy Storm (#28-1959): Remember in Stan Freberg's "The Old Payola Role Blues," when the sleazy record producer, voiced by Jessie (Lonely Maytag Repair Man) White, gooses teen, rock and roll singer Clyde Ankle (Freberg) with a sharp stick? I belief that gag was inspired by Billy Storm's performance on this song. Matter of fact, I believe Billy Storm may have been getting an exam by a proctologist while he was singing.

19. TIE: Philadelphia USA - The Nu Tornados (#26-1958)/Teasin-Quaker City Boys (#39-1959): Even though these are two different songs, there is tie here because they are almost identical in nature. These are fun 50s rock and roll songs done by string bands from the Mummers Parade, a New Years Day tradition in Philadelphia. As I mentioned in number10, I don't think the banjo should be the dominant instrument in a rock and roll song. These songs go even further on the annoyance meter by using glockenspiels. My guess as to how these songs became hits might point the blame at one of my heroes, Dick Clark. American Bandstand was based in Philadelphia at this time. These songs became hits around Christmas and New Years of 1958-59. Clark may have had the groups on to promote the parade possibly at the request of the Chamber of Commerce. I'm certain that these songs were added to the play list of many bad radio stations because they don't sound like rock and roll and might appeal to the rock and roll hating adults of the day. I should note that in 1955 another Mummer string band, the Ferko String Band, had a hit with the Alabama Jubilee. I didn't lump them in here because that was an instrumental that worked well with the string band style. These two songs have lyrics and music that don't go together.

20. Telephone Man - Mari Wilson (#18-1977): Someone at GRT Records in 1977 said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. We will make a series of records based loosely on those letters to Penthouse and Hustler about public service guys having sex with their customers. Only we will make it kind of cutesy with double-entandres and kind of limerick style verses. We will find a woman with a sexy, giggling voice. It will be great.” Yes, there was a follow up called “Peter The Meter Reader.”

21. Criminal - Fiona Apple (#21-1997): After winning the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, Fiona went into a weird crying jag at the podium and said, "You shouldn't model your life on what we think is cool, and what we're wearing and what we're saying." After that, host Chris Rock ask, "What was wrong with that little white girl?" When this occurred one of the local morning shows praised her for saying this and talked about how awful Chris Rock was for “making fun of her bold statement.” I won’t say what morning show it was but it seems to be favored by cranky parents and they seem to believe that the world is going to Hell in a handbag. They also seem to play “Rocky” by Austin Roberts way too much. Every time I hear this song I think of Chris Rock’s funny comment of “What was wrong with that little white girl?” To me Fiona Apple sounds like she is having some sort of violent stomach trouble. It might be a severe constipation while on the verge of a bought with projectile vomiting.

22. In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry (#3-1970): As I stated earlier in number 10, I hate songs with a prominent banjo in them. I don't like this one not do I like the remake by Shaggy from a few years back. This one also has a herky-jerky rhythm that gets old after a while.

23. New Age Girl - Deadeye Dick (#27-1994-95): Nothing like making fun of a intellectual, ecology-minded, vegetarian woman. Was this woman's name really Mary Moo or was that this jerk's name for her? Contains one of the stupidest lines in any song, "She don't eat meat, but she sure likes to bone." The video to this song is filled with people wearing Jack O' Lanterns on their heads. My guess is they are concealing their identity, because they don't want even want to be associated with this dumb song.

24. Angel Eyes - Jeff Healy Band (#5-1989)/Steelheart (#23-1991): OK, OK, Steelheart's hit is titled "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)," but is the same depressing song that got way too much airplay in this market.

25. Morning Girl - Neon Philharmonic (#17-1969): Almost a good record. Apparently a one shot prog rock group out of all places Nashville. The members were with the Nashville Symphony Orkestry (That town says "opry" instead of "opera," so I assume they call it the the orkestry) and this is one of the earliest Top 40 hits to feature a prominent use of a synthesizer. My problem with this is the smarmy, condescending, borderline sexist tone of the lead singer. What kind of guy tells a heartbroken woman to "read her box of Cheerios."

26. Are You Jimmy Ray? - Jimmy Ray (#17-1998): "Are you Link Ray? Are You Johnny Ray?" "Who Wants to Know?" NOT ME! WHAT IS YOUR POINT??? No, he isn't Link Ray or Johnny Ray. They made good records.

27. Poor Boy - The Royaltones (#17-1958): Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the song "Chewing Gum" that little kids play on the piano. It certainly sounds like it.

28. Reach Out Of the Darkness - Friend and Lover (#10-1969) When I was doing my "Psychedelic Limits" segment on the KSMU Midnite Snack, this song was on every 60s music compilation and on every oldies radio station play list. Now it is rarely heard. You can only get the original recording on about one CD. Downloading is the same way. It think the problem with this song is the over use of the word "groovy" dates it and almost makes it a cliche.

29. Modern Day Delilah - Van Stephenson (#22-1984): I remember in high school that there were a lot of people who liked this song. I just couldn't get into a song about an evil beauty operator. Maybe it was just me.

30. Life Is Life - Opus (#32-1986): One of the squarest guys I ever knew, David Smith, said something about this song back in 11th grade (when it was out) that has always stuck with me. He said the song sounded like Bar Mitzvah music. If he thought it was goofy and odd sounding, it must have been. This is probably the only song to feature the phrase "Labadab Dab Dab." This is a song that you could play a drinking game with. Take a shot every time the lead singer says "life." You will be wasted by time the song is over.

31. Motorcycle Mama - Sailcat (#12-1972): If you want music for motorcycle riding, stick with "Born To Be Wild" by Steppenwolf, "Hell Bent for Leather" by Judas Priest or "Blue's Theme" by Dave Allen and the Arrows. This is a dorky country rock song about getting a side car for your pregnant wife.

32. I Wonder Why - Curtis Stigers (#9-1991): This is the kind of boring and lame music many of the local radio station thrust upon us in the 90s. "Forget Nirvana, Ice Cube, 2 Live Crew and Marilyn Manson, let's play Curtis Stigers at least twice every hour."

33. Born To Be Alive - Patrick Hernandez (#16-1979): How many times does he say the word "born" in the course of this song? As with the Opus song, you could get wasted real fast if you took as shot every time he said "born."

34. Holiday - the Other Ones (#29-1987): Hahba-hahba-ho, hahba-hahba-hey! Nuff said.

35. Da Da Da I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha - Trio (#33D-1982/re-r1997): This song is just DA DA DUMB! 
36. 88 Lines about 44 Women - The Nails (#46D-1985): I’ve written about this one before.

37. Love (Can Make You Happy) - Mercy (#2-1969): Considered a classic of sunshine pop, this has to be the most depressing sounding song ever. However, search out either the 45 or look on iTunes for the B-side called “Fireball.” It was recorded for a drag racing film that never got made. It is a wicked piece of psychedelic, proto-heavy metal that makes up for this wimpy hit.

38. Last Kiss - J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers (#2-1964): One of many “teen tragedy” songs of the late 50s & early 60s. What annoys me about this one is the almost happy go-lucky vocalizing by J. Frank Wilson and the fact that many “Good Times and Great Oldies” radio stations played this heavily instead of many of the garage and psychedelic hits of the 60s. Did they consider seeing your girlfriend’s head go through the windshield of your daddy’s car a “good time”?

39. Yogi - the Ivy Three (#8-1960) : These guys are trying to rip off the big hit of the day, "Alley Oop." They also try to play off the connection between Eastern religious mystics and the popular cartoon bear. What we get is an annoying novelty record.

40. Little Black Egg - the Nightcrawlers (#85-1966): Most garage band hits of the 60s were about sexy girls, snooty girls, psychedelic experiences or rebelling against authority. This is about a guy finding a bird egg and hiding it from his friends. Musically, it is pretty good, just wish they could have come up with better lyrics.

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