One and Done Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S2: Welcome to Hit Parade, a podcast of pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I’m Chris Mowafi, chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why Is This Song No. One series on today’s show? Some of the biggest hits in Billboard Hot 100 history were tough act to follow, such as the 80s New Wave classic you’re listening to right now, British techno pop duo Soft Softshell with their cover of the Gloria Jones single Tainted Love. Soft sells tainted love peaked at number eight in the summer of 1982, and it was a huge sleeper hit, spending 43 weeks on the hot 100 to that date, an all time longevity record.

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S3: But unless you’re a die hard, soft sell fan, you probably don’t recall their next U.S. single.

S4: A song called What? What bubbled under the hot 100 peaking at number 101 in the fall of 82, it was off of Billboard’s bubbling under chart even before tainted love fell off the hot 100 after what flopped soft sell never returned to the U.S. singles charts again.

S3: There’s a need for this chart phenomenon, a label we give to acts like soft sell, you’re probably thinking it right now, even before I say the words one hit wonder. And there have been one hit wonders just as long as there’s been a hot 100. Acts like Domenico Modugno, whose Italian pop hit Vilardi topped the hot 100 one week after the chart, launched in August 1958, spent five weeks on top, even won Grammys for record and Song of the year. And then Dominico Modugno never came near the top of the Hot 100 again. When you hear the term one hit wonder, your head probably fills with all sorts of flashes in the pan acts that were huge for a hot second with a smash hit, they couldn’t follow your mission and you would send someone to do lonely looking for love in all the wrong places.

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S5: No one knows just how ugly faces from frustration. First, information is to become a but that’s how tough should we be on these ads.

S3: What if these short lived hit makers did come back to the hot 100, maybe even the top 40, but their follow up just isn’t all that well enough to know, because that would be the people to look at me. And I said, I know it’s the principles. Few artists want to go down in history as a one hit wonder, and some of the acts you might guess are one hit wonders, really hard time and there was a problem go out for me to get a look of these days before. Conversely, a few music legends, including some acts in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, may not leap to mind as one hitters, but they actually are.

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S6: And I guess she had the crash value would have helped that first, said he be take a walk on the wild side.

S3: And then there are some acts that charge followers will debate, debunk and defend endlessly, are they one hit wonders or is that moniker just totally gone?

S2: One day we will get to all of these marginal cases because one hit wonder status really is a point of contention for US chart geeks, the general public tends to think a one hit wonder is kind of like what the Supreme Court said about pornography. You know it when you see it or hear Barbie, let’s go party. But for billboard nerds like me, we want guidelines, terms, rules for one hit wonder dumb, and I’m just the man to provide those rules. Today on the hit parade, I will not only teach the controversy over what it means to be a one hit wonder. I will offer the parameters that I use as a chart analyst to determine when an artist qualifies for and escapes that renowned but ignominious term. It’s not an exact science science.

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S3: But we can come pretty close and of course, there are some one hit wonders that really do fit the term like this hit, which at least one list loving TV channel ranked as the biggest one hit wonder of all time when they call me in and they say their name.

S2: And that’s where your hit parade marches today, the week ending September 21st, 1996, 24 years ago this week when Macarena by Los del Rio was halfway through its gob smacking three month run at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100. It was the only song this Spanish duo would ever take into our top 40, making them a pretty clear one hit wonder. But there’s even a footnote on that chart factoid.

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S3: Join me as we take a nerdy tour through the curve of some fleeting hit makers and try to suss out just who deserves to be called a one hit wonder with. About a month ago, Billboard magazine published a short interview with Scottish singer songwriter Lewis Capaldi right after this 20-20 hit reached the top 10 on the hot 100. So before you go.

S2: Before you go, is these latest hit the week that billboard published their article, the song had edged up one spot from number 11 to number 10, barely making America’s top 10. The headline on the Billboard article read, quote, Here’s how Lewis Capaldi feels about no longer being a one hit wonder.

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S7: So.

S3: Before you go, to be fair, Billboard was taking its cues from Capaldi himself the year before, he called himself jokingly a one hit wonder when he topped the Hot 100 with this song.

S8: I guess you know all the people you know the day is in Sunday for.

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S3: That’s someone you loved. A number one hit from the fall of 2019, even as the song rode the top 10 for about six months, it wasn’t a stretch to assume Lewis Capaldi could be a one hit wonder. But hang on a minute. In February of 2020, while someone you loved was still sitting in Billboard’s top five, Capaldi s second U.S. hit Before You Go debuted on the Hot 100. Didn’t that mean he was no longer a one hit wonder? Well, maybe it didn’t count because before you go debuted at a lowly number 85, that second hit wasn’t much of a hit. OK, so what about in May of this year when before you go rose to number 37, Capaldi second hit had now cracked the top 40. If Casey Kasem were still alive, he could have counted down before. I’m. Now let’s start our countdown of the 40 most popular hits in America. Number 40 leading off is the latest hit. So it’s now had Capaldi escaped the curse at that point, someone you loved was still higher on the chart. Most Americans, if they knew Capaldi, probably still only knew him for that first kiss.

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S8: I need somebody to know somebody soon.

S3: But it wasn’t until August, months after Before You Go first debuted on the Hot 100, that billboard was trumpeting the fact that Capaldi was no longer a one hit wonder. But what if, before you go had stopped it, number 37 or number 11, wouldn’t that have been enough to remove Capaldi from one hit?

S7: Wonder status permanently was never the right time. Whenever you called win little by little by little. And Zulu is nothing new.

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S3: Or if you’re a chart follower like me, these are not academic questions. If you’re a recording artist, they’re even more critical. Artists bristle when they are called. One hit wonders even when they make peace with the term they know it’s meant to be an insult.

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S2: Well, I can totally understand the term one hit wonder being a derogatory. But on the other hand, it’s kind of an.

S3: The label one hit wonder, maybe one is better than none, but to hear those clips are from a VH1 one Hit Wonders special. We’ll come back in a few minutes to VH1, the music related TV channel that really loves that term. In fact, a lot of people love the term one hit wonder. It’s been used in sports.

S1: Perhaps the most amazing thing about Rick Wilkins, one hit wonder of a season is the fact that he got to 30 home runs in the first place.

S3: He never got on Wall Street. It’s still above its IPO price, but the jury is still out here. Does it become one of those one hit wonder type stocks? But. Right. And even in politics that.

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S1: But when in crisis, the war on women is Hillary’s one hit wonder. It’s Ice, Ice, baby, what this vanilla ice of candidates must play at fairgrounds so they’ll remember her.

S3: By the way, among the things that that 2015 Fox News commentator is wrong about is Vanilla Ice is one hit wonder status. We’ll get to that anyway. The phrase one hit wonder. According to language website, the phrase finder was not even coined to describe musical artists, and it once connoted success. It dates to the early 20th century. In baseball, a one hit wonder was a pitcher who held the opposing team to a single base hit by the 1970s. A Winnipeg newspaper reporter used it in a story about the Swedish band Abba, who, of course, were not one hit wonders.

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S2: The reporter noted that after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, Abba escaped the curse of being a one hit.

S3: By the 80s, Billboard magazine was using the term in a 1981 edition of the magazine, a radio researcher used the term one hit wonder to refer to an artist whose breakthrough single was at the time only a little over a year old synthpop founding father, Gary Newman, with cars. I car Mr.. My God. Wanted to be fair, that cynical researcher turned out to be right cars was Gary Newman’s only American hit his U.S. follow up single. The two way Army collaboration, Our Friends Electric, which had gone to number one in the U.K., bubbled under the hot 100. At number 105.

S2: Gary Numan would never return to America’s big. Gary Neuman and his fellow British Synthpop Act, Soft Sound are what I like to call pure one hit wonders. Each of them hit the hot 100 just one time, then never again. But that’s actually fairly rare.

S3: Usually if you can hit the upper reaches of the hot 100 once, you can crack the lower rungs at least one more time. For example, let’s stay in the early 80s. Consider Dex’s Midnite.

S2: Not the Dex’s song you were expecting me to play, right? This one is called the Celtic Soul Brothers, and as its name indicates, it comes from the phase of the Kevin Roland led British band where they blended their blue eyed soul with Irish folk in their homeland. Dixie scored to UK number ones and a half dozen other top 20 hits. The Celtic Soul Brothers was not one of their bigger hits, but over here it did reach number 86 on the Hot 100 in the early summer of 1983. Some sharp purists might argue that that lonely chart peak prevents us from calling Dex’s midnight runners a one hit wonder in America.

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S3: But of course, Celtic Soul Brothers is not remotely as famous as its chart topping predecessor.

S2: You probably know that. Come on, Eileen, which was so huge, it kept Michael Jackson out of the number one spot for one week in April 1983, is overwhelmingly the song for which Dex’s is known around the world. Although props to all you fans out there, it would be, well, culturally obtuse to claim that in America, Dex’s midnight runners are anything but a one hit wonder.

S3: After all, Keltic Soul Brothers didn’t come close to our top 40. All right, so let’s up the ante, staying in 1983.

S9: What about this?

S2: Not familiar with that one. This song is called Automatic, Ma’am, and it peaked at number 34 in November 1983. So an actual top 40 hit and it was by Michael Zambello, a singer songwriter and keyboardist who previously played guitar behind Stevie Wonder. And the reason Automatic Man hit the top 40 was that Zambello was coming off a number one hit from two months from. That, of course, is reeling from the smash soundtrack to the movie Flashdance mania. Not only spent a fortnight on top of the Hot 100, Billboard ranked it as the ninth biggest hit of 1983. And by the way, after 1983, Zambello never touched the hot 100 again. So I’ll ask the question, is Michael Zambello a one hit wonder? His immediate follow up single did crack the top 40. But no offense, Mr. Zambello, automatic man is a footnote in pop history compared with many. Struggling, stretching from never stopping. Automatic man was what I call a coat tails hit, riding the chart on the afterburn of its much bigger predecessor, Maniac. Culturally, Michael Zambello reads as a one hit wonder.

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S3: But my fellow chart nerds and maybe even Michael Zambello himself might well object to this ignominious term. This nomenclature problem isn’t going away. Can we come up with a workable definition of one hit wonder that is fair to the artists in question, adheres to cultural perceptions and doesn’t set Billboard follower’s teeth on edge? I speak from personal experience. My molars would be perpetually grinding back in the 2000s whenever I flipped on VH one. The music and pop culture TV channel VH1 compiled several countdown’s of Greatest One hit wonders. As recently as a decade ago, they did Countdowns of one hit wonders from the 80s and the 90s. But VH1 first one hit Wonder Countdown covered multiple decades and it dates all the way back to 2002. It was hosted by none other than William Shatner.

S9: This is Von’s 100 greatest one hit wonder.

S3: I’m William Shatner at Rhino Records in Los Angeles. Hey, not you would think that lists like these compiled by a major media outlet possessed of a research team, would have a solid definition of what exactly a one hit wonder is. Think again. These countdowns were filled with artists that most chart fanatics would not consider. One hit wonders.

S5: True soon took the number four spot, but while the band remained hitmakers in the U.K. throughout the 80s, their follow ups were not as well received in the U.S..

S3: So why am I even bringing up this old VH1 countdown? Because it’s a good argument starter. I’m going to use it as a straw man to do some number crunching. The original 2002 VH1 Countdown has 100 songs, which is a nice big round number. And this first VH1 list covers several decades worth of so-called one hitters, the 60s through the very beginning of the aughts from Question Mark and the Mysterians 1966 chart topper, 96 years that is this year to the Baha Men’s 2000 brain fungus. Who let the dogs out? The dogs, the dogs. I’ve checked the stats on all 100 songs in Vollans Countdown and I’ll use it to help us determine where we should draw the line on what a one hit wonder should be. Depending on how persnickety we are, the results are rather surprising. Let’s start by turning our chart nerd dial up to the max, what if a one hit wonder has to be a pure one hit wonder and act that appears on Billboard’s Hot 100 just once, who then never makes the chart again? If we go by this strictest possible definition, we’d have to eliminate 75 percent of the artists VH1 put on their list. Seriously, only one fourth of the list would qualify under this rule. So Dex’s midnight runners, whom VH1 ranked third on their countdown, they wouldn’t count. Neither would Thomas Dolby, whom I played at the top of our show. His only top 40 hit was his immortal 1983 geek anthem, She Blinded Me with Science, which reached number five on.

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S9: She collided with some.

S3: But even Dolby was able to return to the hot 100 twice, actually his late 1983 hit Europa and the Pirate Twins reached number 67 and in 1984, hyperactive reached number 62. The fact is, even the most flashy flash in the pan can usually manage a low charting follow up. For example, Carl Douglas followed his deathless 1974 number one smash, Kung Fu Fighting. Everybody was fighting with a number 48 single called Dance the Kung Fu. Norman Greenbaum followed up his immortal 1970 number three hit Spirit in the sprawling.

S10: With the number 46 here, can the. You don’t mind when he goes?

S2: Faith No More never came close to the top 40 again after their number nine hit epic in 1990. But they’re catching follow up single falling to pieces did manage to creep to number 92.

S11: Somebody needs to gather even the Baha Men.

S3: Don’t worry, I’m not going to play who let the dogs out again. But yeah, even they were able to follow their 2000 top 40 hit about unleashed canines with a 2001 single called You All Dead. But, Wolf, the Bahamians follow up only reached number 90 by. If you’re curious, there were only 25 artists from the VH1 list who would qualify as pure one hit wonders. That relatively short list includes Softshell and Gary Numan, whom I played earlier, as well as Biz Markie with his comical but heartfelt rap classic Just a Friend, a No.9 hit in 1990. Grunge era L.A. band Blind Melon with their Jammey 1993 number 20 hit that made the big girl famous, no rain.

S12: I want you to to.

S2: Scottish postpunk and former orange juice leader Edwyn Collins, with his groovy 1995 number 32, hit a green light.

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S3: Elmer Proteau, new wave of Robin Scott, who went by the moniker M. on his 1979 number one hit pop music pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop up Berlin new wave rockers Nina, who took their improbable all German nuclear war dance jam 99 loved balloons to number two in 1984.

S2: The new radicals, the band named for singer songwriter Greg Alexander, who took his pugnacious pop classic, you get what you give to number 36 in Don’t Give Up.

S3: Scottish brother duo The Proclaimers, whose 1988 ditty I’m Going To Be 500 Miles, became an unlikely top five hit in 1993 after appearing in the Johnny Depp movie Benny and June five. Indonesian born Dutch singer Toco, who took Putin on the Ritz, the Jazz Age standard by Irving Berlin to number four in 1983. So let’s mix with a rock.

S13: Let’s walk with sticks or umbrellas and minutes.

S3: Husband and wife Alt’s Americana singers Tim Buck, three, who reached number 20 in 1986 with their jaunty but secretly apocalyptic ditty The future’s so bright.

S10: I got good grades. So. I’ve got a.

S3: I’ve got to stay another husband and wife team, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads, whose side project, Tom Tom Club reached number 31 with their Proteau hip hop jam Genius of Love and. British pop rockers to pal, who have multiple UK hits but only hit our chart once with the 1987 number four hit Heart and Soul. British pub rockers The Vapors, led by guitarist David Fenton, who reached number 36 in 1980 with the purportedly lewd and politically incorrect turning dropping in Tony. The Verve led by Richard Ashcroft, who reached number 12 in 1998 with Bittersweet Symphony, a bittersweet hit whose royalties all went to the Rolling Stones thanks to an orchestral sample. Symphony. Spunky Ohio new wavers, the waitresses fronted by Chiki singer Patty Donahue with their early MTV staple. I know what boys like, which really should have gone higher.

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S10: The number 60 to.

S3: Guys, I know, like I got thing last night and the vocal powerhouse duo, The Weather Girls who took the Paul Schaefer Paul Jabarah composition, It’s Raining Men, a club smash and gay anthem to number 46 in 1980.

S14: And.

S3: That’s almost all of the pure one hit wonders on one list. Sorry, I just didn’t have the heart to play you four non blondes or Buster Poindexter. Life’s too short. However, I should note one more pure one hit wonder jazz vocalist and a cappella singing sensation Bobby McFerrin, who not only topped the Hot 100 with Don’t worry, be happy in 1980, Bulldog will be happy to be happy that no one jam swept the 1989 Grammy Awards taking record and Song of the Year. Damned if I say it. You can slap me right here. Gongaware, be happy. Oh, and speaking of improbable tropical flavored hits, what about Macarena? The song VH one called The Biggest One hit Wonder of all time. Let’s call it semi pure. To be sure, most Del Rio, a suave pair of middle aged Spaniards in suits only ever charted on the Hot 100 with Macarena.

S2: But technically it charted three times the version Americans know best, the one that topped the Hot 100 for a stunning 14 weeks and was the top song of 1996. That’s the partially English remix produced by a Miami production team who called themselves the Bayside Boys.

S15: And they don’t do the right thing.

S3: The boy, however, lost Del Rio, also made the top 40 with the all Spanish original version, too. It peaked at number 23 in September 1996, while the Bayside Boys version was still at number one in. And, you know, he’s the U.S. Senate.

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S2: Three months later, Los Del Rio even charted briefly with a seasonal version called Macarena Christmas, which mixed the Latin dance jam with tolling bells and holiday hymns from joy to the world to Jingle Bells. I’ll spare you that one. Suffice it to say, Los del Rio are a defacto one hit. Wonder who three pleaded with the same song, proving, if nothing else, that America was just really obsessed with doing the Macarena in 1996.

S3: It. Even if we count Los del Rio, we’re still stuck with a VH1 list that is mostly not pure. One hit wonders, but maybe that’s not VH one’s fault. Maybe allowing any measly second hot 100 hit to count against one hit wonder status is just way too low a bar. It’s too easy to come back with a cocktail single that makes the bottom half of the chart. So, OK, how about the top 40? What if we require all artists looking to avoid the one hit wonder feat to score a second hit that could have been counting down by the English sextet Haircut 100 debuted last week at number 40 this week and they climb to notches to number thirty eight.

S5: It’s their first adopting.

S3: This guideline makes Vaughn’s list look a lot less egregious. 74 of the 100 acts on the list would qualify as one hit wonders. All of the acts I mentioned earlier, the twenty five pure acts. Plus Dex’s midnight runners Thomas Dolby, Carl Douglas, Norm Greenbaum, Faith No More and the Baha Men. All of them would count as one hit wonders, as would another. Forty five artists, by the way, spare a moment of pity for Haddaway. Who is Haddaway, you ask? Well, how could you forget the man who asked this question? What is the.

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S2: Tobago born Nestor Haddaway took What Is Love, the club jam that will live on in infamy thanks to Saturday Night Live and a night at the Roxbury to No.11 in 1993.

S3: That’s already slightly heartbreaking for Haddaway. He just missed cracking the top 10 by one slot. But then even more heartbreaking, Hardaway’s immediate follow up hit, which was called Life.

S2: Peaked at number 41. It missed the top 40 by one slot, which means by pretty much any definition except the most exacting purists, Hataway is a one hit wonder. By the way, in the second half of our show, I’ll reveal a rule of mind that would have made Hataway a one hit wonder even if his second single had cracked the top 40. For now, we can easily say Haddaway is a one hitter.

S3: Still, the VH1 list does contain more than two dozen acts who returned to the top 40 with a second single making it harder to call them one hit wonders even if they reach us culturally as flashes in the pan. These artists who might be within their rights objecting to inclusion on Von’s list include L.A. dance pop singer Stacy Cue, who took two of hearts to number three in 1986 to.

S2: But then came back immediately with the number 35 follow up, we connect.

S3: Or Marvin Young, a.k.a. Young emcee, a London born Queens raised rapper who wrote two hits for Tone LOC but then broke as an artist with the immortal 1989 party busted.

S5: You once said she went to dance because he likes the groove to come off that someone just bust the move.

S3: That number seven hit was immediately followed by young emcees, charming high school, tall tale principal’s office, a number thirty three that now everything cool.

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S16: Cool. I have a little bit from the people want to hear the Glee Club saying get to the war.

S2: In 1991, the Ecuadorian American church challenged rapper Gerada took his multilingual hip hop hit Rico Suave to No.7 Rico.

S16: Swaby.

S5: And then Gerardo came back immediately with the number 16 hit, we know you know what we want.

S3: That summer, British dance rock quintet M.F. took their pop friendly take on Madchester rave unbelievable to number one on the hot 100. You’re unbelievable.

S2: And like Gerada, IMF were able to return to the top 20 with their follow up, Lon’s.

S3: She said it was. Again, in theory, all of these artists could maybe escape the one hit wonder. Stacey Kieu Young, emcee Girardeau and M.F. all scored a top 10 hit and a top 40 follow up. But should that second hit count? Think back to Michael Zambello, his big hit maniac and his mostly forgotten follow up automatic man. Does Zambello deserve to escape one hit wonder status on that technicality? Surely all of these folks fit every sensible description of what one hit wonder is supposed to mean. By the way, there’s one last sticky wicket with the VH1 list.

S17: The acts who aren’t on. There must be some kind of way out of here. Like Jimi Hendrix?

S2: Yes, that Jimi Hendrix. Were you aware that the all time guitar God appeared within the top 40 of the Hot 100? Exactly once. That would be his 1968 cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, a number 20 hit in 1969.

S17: No, Bob.

S2: Hendrix only scored the one top 40 hit, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, his label issued five other singles from 1967 to 1971 that did make the hot 100.

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S3: But none of them peaked higher than crosstown traffic, which only got as high as number 52 in 1970.

S2: Or what about the Grateful Dead? I don’t imagine there are too many devoted Deadheads listening to this podcast, but if there are, I know what you’re probably thinking.

S3: The dead weren’t about the top 40 man. Just keep in.

S2: Well, maybe, except over the years, about a half dozen Grateful Dead songs were released as Vinyl 45 that qualified for the Hot 100. Somebody thought they had hit potential. However, for the Dead’s first two decades, none of their singles got higher on the chart, then trucked in at number 64 in 1971. That is until 1986. When the short and catchy touch of brain reached number nine, turning on thousands of new dead fans and pissing off thousands of old Deadheads touch of gray is by far the Grateful Dead biggest pop hit.

S3: And there only one to make the top 40. So Hendrix the dead are these one hit wonders. Why aren’t they included on VH1? S Greatest One Hit Wonders Countdown. I can only speculate, but I’m sure it’s because that would be received by these rockers fans as a huge insult here. The VH1 producers are caving in to rockiest gospel and in a way you can’t blame them. The furious viewer calls they’d have gotten if Jimmy and Jerry Garcia had appeared on their one hit wonders list would have been a nightmare. Even a committed optimist like me acknowledges that Hendrix and the Dead don’t read culturally as one hit wonders. With all of this in mind, I have proposed three rules for one hit wonders, I’ll reveal those rules and who I think qualifies as a one hit wonder in the second part of our show.

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S2: And I’ll also tackle the most debated pop act of all, a band who were demigods around the world, but who in the U.S. only touched the upper reaches of the Hot 100 a couple of times. And it all hinges on this.

S3: I first came up with my one hit Wonder rules eight years ago when I was the online columnist for New York newspaper The Village Voice. Back then, what prompted me to write about the concept was this song, a top 10 hit in September of 2012.

S9: Anywhere I’m in, if you’re down, you get down. It’s always a good time.

S2: That’s a good time, a duet between Adam Young, a Minnesota artist who goes by the name Owl City, and the then new Canadian pop star, Carly Rae Jepsen. This is not the most well remembered hit for either artist three years earlier.

S3: Owl City had his first and only major solo hit the 2009 number one smash Firefly’s, because I get a thousand hugs from 10000 lightning dogs.

S5: His dad tried to teach me how to dance.

S3: And three months before good time, Carly Rae Jepsen had scored a number one blockbuster of her own, the 2012 Song of the summer called. These are both higher charting and much better remembered hits than good time, however, the forgettable 2012 duet was statistically important for both Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City. In an installment of his Yahoo! Music column that week in September 2012, longtime Charkh columnist Paul Grine wrote, quote, Good Time is an appropriately positive title for a song that guarantees that neither act can fairly be referred to as a one hit wonder, unquote.

S2: What is good time had only been a top 40 or a top 20 hit, why did crossing into the top 10 ensure that these two artists were no longer one hit wonders?

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S3: This was when I decided that we needed actual parameters. I took it upon myself to come up with three one hit wonder rules. And eight years later, if I do say so myself, I think my rules hold up pretty well. They aren’t perfect. No one hit wonder rules could possibly anticipate all of the quirks and exceptional cases like Los del Rio’s three versions of McKenry.

S2: But my rules, which are based around billboard chart data, attempt to find a middle ground between hidebound parameters and public perception.

S3: I wanted to not only satisfy my fellow chart geeks, but throw a bone to the more casual pop fan who thinks, well, I don’t remember a Geraldo hit after Rico Suave. So Geraldo must be a one hit wonder casual pop follower in this case, I agree with. Rick, before I get to the rules, I have some preliminary stipulations stipulated, my rules are for the American charts, not those of the UK, Australia or any country in Europe or Asia, Latin America or Africa hits in these places won’t help you avoid one hit wonder status here. Not to be xenophobic, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Look, your band may be to use the old cliche, big in Japan, for example. No kidding. San Francisco, a hard rock band. Y.A. scored multiple Japanese hits, but in America they only hit the hot 100 once with 1985 summertime.

S2: So as far as I’m concerned, Y.A. are an American, one hit wonder, second stipulation, and this is important, my rules focus on the Billboard Hot 100, our flagship all encompassing pop chart.

S3: I do not try to tally an artist’s hits that might have appeared on billboards. Many genre specific charts, such as B, hip hop, country dance, adult, contemporary, all flavors of rock or Latin pop, to name just a few. And by the way, Billboard has literally dozens, possibly hundreds of charts and launches new ones all the time. There are good reasons for this hot 100 focus, for one thing, there are so many ways to call yourself a hit maker and we don’t want to set the bar too low. For example, if I may invoke a chart topper, I had to write about that. I really can’t stand. In the summer of 2014, this noxious reggae pop song ruined by Canadian band Magic, spent six weeks at number one on the whole, is no way to be so much of your man. So I think seriously, America anyway, I am happy to report that magic. The band never returned to the Hot 100, not even the charts lowest rungs. In fact, Magic has not returned to most of the charts where RWD made an appearance, not rock airplay, club songs, Latin airplay. However, on adult top 40, a very specific radio format not to be confused with adult contemporary that billboard tracks with its own chart. Magic have come back a few times after RWD. They got as far as number 35 on the adult top 40 chart with Let your hair down.

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S2: Baby, let your hair down and mirror my figures, could yourself do low ranking songs on this small chart mean that Magic are no longer a one hit wonder band?

S3: No, just no on the hot 100 they charted once. That’s enough for me to call them a one hit wonder. And hopefully this is the last time I will have to talk about magic. More seriously, the other reason we must stipulate that these rules only concerned the Hot 100 is it’s important to be respectful to artists who may be big in another home format, R and B, and country fans in particular would be within their rights, objecting to one hit wonder status for favorites in those genres. For example, on the Hot 100, the Texas born country singer Jeannie C. Reilly only cracked the top 40 once, but it was a huge pop hit her 1968 number one smash, Harper Valley PTA.

S18: Well, it happened that the D.A. was going to make that very underdo. And they were just surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini skirt into the.

S3: So it’s tempting to call Jeannie C. Riley a one hit wonder and on the hot 100, technically she was, but I’d be careful about using that term to describe Riley, because on Billboard’s country chart, Riley scored nearly two dozen hits between 1968 and 1976. Harper Valley PTA was her only number one, but she scored several top ten country hits, including the 1971 number for country hit singer oh singer doing a rap singer. The same goes for Sheryl Lynn and Aunt Bee and dance music vocalist who once sang with Toto. And I therefore mentioned her briefly in our Yacht Rock episode to pop fans. Cheryl Lynn is primarily known for one disco era number one hit the rafter raising pride anthem. Got to be on. While this was Lynn’s only top 40 pop hit on Billboard’s RB chart, Lin scored about a dozen hits, got to be real, went to number one on that chart and it wasn’t her only one. 1984 encore, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, also topped the. We could drive ourselves crazy, adding asterisks to all of the artists who have scored hits on genre charts and small radio charts, so let’s just resolve that the one hit Wonder rules I am about to present apply only to hits on the hot 100 with all of that stipulated. Here we go. One hit wonder, rule one, a second hit that makes the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 instantly removes an artist from one hit wonder by.

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S2: This is what Paul Grine meant when he said that good time prevented either Owl City or Carly Rae Jepsen from being called a one hit wonder.

S3: It’s also what Billboard’s editors meant when they affirmed that Lewis capacities before you go. In short, he was no longer a one hitter. If you can break into the pop top 10, just one more time, you deserve to be retired from the one hit list. I don’t midsummer now. So, for example, when Crowded House, one of my favorite bands of the 1980s, scored a number two hit in 1987 with Don’t Dream, It’s Over and then immediately made it back to the top 10 with the number seven hit something so strong. So this song.

S2: That’s guaranteed they were out of contention for one hitter status note, after something so strong, Crowded House never returned to the American top 40, but it didn’t matter.

S3: That second top 10 hit meant they were done. You can’t call Crowded House a one hit wonder. Of course, the real test of a rule like this is not with a band you love, but with an act that most people consider a punch line. So, yeah, let’s talk about Robbie Van Winkle, Jones, the eyepatch, The Ticket, a.k.a. Vanilla Ice, VH1 rankest Ice Ice Baby. His blockbuster 1990 number one hit among its 10 biggest one hit wonders. And look, I get it, Vanilla Ice was a flash in the pan. He positively reeks of one hit Wonder Funk, but I hate to break it to you. It’s really unfair to call him that. He had another hit, a pretty big one.

S16: Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go.

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S3: No, not Ninja Rap hit single from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the secret of the booze and not his collaboration with supermodel Naomi Campbell.

S5: Cool as ice from his cinematic masterwork of the same.

S9: Face the music, then I’m right behind my and a bucket, but it doesn’t take a lot of time for me.

S3: OK, I’ll stop dunking on Vanilla Ice in a minute. The real reason Ice isn’t a one hit wonder with ice. Ice Baby is the single he dropped immediately afterward. A cover of Wild Cherries 1976. No one hit play that funky music ice was back with a brand new invention and it reached number four in February nineteen ninety one. And what you don’t remember, it’s classic chants. Go white boy, go white boy. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. Face down in whatever you think of this recording play that funky music was a top ten hit top five. Actually that means that by any reasonable standard and contrary to what VH1 says, Vanilla Ice is not a one hit wonder. By the way. Neither is the equally dopey late 90s boy band LIFO, who reached number three in 1999 with Summer Dress, their ode to women who wear Abercrombie and Fitch.

S5: I like Abercrombie and Fitch.

S3: She’s been on since that summer and LIFO followed it with the number ten hit girl on TV, which takes them out of one hit Wonder continued.

S2: Do I ever cross your mind in the warm sunshine she’s for Mark Marky Mark Wahlberg, he can’t be called a one hit wonder.

S19: Come on, come on. Still, it’s still a vibration.

S2: His number one smash with the Funky Bunch, Good Vibrations, featuring Lolita Holloway, was followed immediately by the number 10 hit while suffering in a hail of bullets ripped through the crowd.

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S20: One hit Tiffany instantly. She died innocently on the wild side.

S3: By the way, listen closely to the sample in that second Marky Mark hit. I’m going to point out a small irony in a few minutes. The bottom line of rule one is that any artist who comes back to the top 10 is at the very least, a two hit wonder. That includes acts as goofy as Vanilla Ice, LIFO and Marky Mark and artists as acclaimed as a recent Grammy winner, Lizzo. Trochus needed for the more exciting. It took Lizzo several years to break on the hot 100, her 2017 single Truth Hurts, didn’t top the chart until last year in September 2019. But right after it did, her 2016 single Good as Hell quickly followed Truth Hurts into the top 10, where it peaked at number three. My. So whatever happens to Liz’s career from here, she will never be called a one hit wonder thanks to her pair of top 10 hits. OK, but wasn’t I saying a little while ago that a second top 40 hit should be good enough to eliminate one hit wonder status? Yes, sometimes that’s where rule two comes in. But listen closely because it’s a little complicated. One hit wonder rule to an act that scores a second hit that makes the top 40 on the hot 100 shall not be considered a one hit wonder unless that second hit is scored within six months of the first hit and is never followed by another top 40 hit.

S2: Almost all hip acts, even fleeting ones, are given a honeymoon period where a second hit will be momentarily embraced by U.S. radio and the public, that doesn’t really mean the act has escaped the shadow of its one hit. Let’s go back to your seat.

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S16: I can’t wait to find the girl to pass by to express my feelings.

S3: When Principal’s office reached number 33 in early 1990, about three months after his smash bust, a move it might have seemed that young E.M.S. had escaped one hit wonder status. But Principal’s office was an obvious coattails hit like Michael Zambelli automatic man. It never would have cracked the top 40 if Buster moved hadn’t come first.

S5: Just bust the move after principal’s office.

S3: Young M.C. never returned to the top 40, according to my rule two. Even after that second hit, young M.C. still qualifies as a one hit wonder. If Principal’s office had gone top 10 young M.S. would have escaped the curse, but it didn’t. So he doesn’t. This rule is my biggest concession to the culture camp. Those who sense that certain acts just feel like one hit wonders chart data be damned. It’s hard for us pop geeks with our exacting recall of chart stats to let go of the idea that a hit is a hit and a second chart hit means you’re no longer a one hit wonder, but an understanding of the deeper workings of the charts makes my second rule logical. Radio programmers and record buyers go on autopilot with an act after they have a big hit.

S2: A middling second hit doesn’t mean they’re permanently in love with same gal.

S3: So after the Austrian New Wave singer and rapper reached number one on the Hot 100 in the spring of 1986 with Rock Me Amadeus, Falko reached the top 20.

S2: Just one more time with his immediate follow up. Vienna calling. It peaked at number 18 just three months after Rock Me on the dais.

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S3: Talking about and then Falko never came back to the hot 100 by any reasonable standard, Falko is a one hit wonder and his one real American hit is Rock Me Amadeus. This is why the six months or less gap between hits in my rule number two is important. It’s designed to distinguish follow ups that are coattails hits from those that hit the charts on their own power. For comparison with Falko and young M.C., let’s consider Montreal band Men Without Hats.

S16: We can dance if we want to. We can leave behind because of friends. Don’t let friends of mine say we. Clearly, this is the hit.

S2: They are best known for 1983. Number three, smash the Safety Dance. This lovable but gimmicky hit practically screams one hit wonder.

S3: And indeed VH1 included Men Without Hats on their countdown. But that ignores the group’s second American top 40.

S2: Pop goes, the world reached number 20 on the Hot 100 in February 1988, about four and a half years after the safety dance peaked the catchy pop those of the world, which incidentally doesn’t sound much like the safety dance at all, rose on its own strength. It’s not riding the coattails of their 1983 hit. Essentially in 1987, men without hats rebuilt their pop profile in America from scratch, though they never came back to the top 40. After Pop goes the world, they don’t deserve to be tagged as one hit wonders.

S3: I sometimes informally call rule to the Ahar rule because it answers the conundrum that divides sharp fanatics. Are the Norwegian pop gods behind? Take on me one hit wonder.

S2: Let’s be clear outside of the United States. Aha are decidedly not one hitters, and I don’t just mean in their native Norway, where unsurprisingly they’ve scored 19 top 10 hits, including nine no ones.

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S3: No. I mean, around the world, from Austria to Australia and virtually all points in between, AHAR have sold out stadiums in Brazil and gone golds in Japan.

S2: As recently as a decade ago, a single foot of the mountain went top 10 in both Germany and Norway and even made the lower rungs of the British. Speaking of Britain, the key to understanding the one hit wonder debate over Aha is this song which went to number one in the U.K., The sun always comes on TV. It’s AHA’s only British Sharktopus, but they scored eight other UK top 10 hits, so there’s no question in their multi hitter status in that country. No, the issue is in America, where the sun always shines on TV peaked at number 20 in February 1986. That’s just four months after they hit No one on the hot 100 with Take on Me, which to this day remains the only Ahar hit to receive appreciable American help.

S5: Needless to say, said.

S2: This makes the sun always shines on TV, a coat tails hit on the hot 100 and by the way, I never broke the American top 40 again. And so I say unto you. Even though they scored to top 40 hits here and countless hits around the world in America, Ahar are a one hit wonder.

S3: I can hear the fans howling. Now, one of them tweeted at me before this episode even dropped, after I announced that we’d be talking about one hit wonders implying that I’d better not be giving Aha that tag. Listen, I like aha. I think they should have had multiple American hits. The Sun Shines on TV, should have made our top 10 and Cry Wolf a number 50 hit on the hot 100 in 1987. Should have made the top 40 and their theme to the movie The Living Daylights, while not ranked highly by James Bond aficionados, probably should have done better on the charts.

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S2: He didn’t even crack the hot 100. Facts are facts, the sun always shines on TV, clearly only made our top 40 because of its world conquering predecessor, nothing else by Ahar came close and take on me is a pretty great hit to be remembered by, I doubt.

S3: Lead singer Morton Market is losing sleep over his American charts.

S21: That.

S3: Applying this rule on the charts of the last decade, I find it’s still useful. Two years ago, the British R and B singer LMA broke on the American charts with boot up a number five pop hit in July of twenty eighteen.

S22: That put up a fight to death of just.

S2: Three months later, she peaked at number 11 with her follow up hit trip to date, it’s her last top 40 hit on the hot one.

S23: There’s just a way to boost a. M. Chip M. in Sydney’s south.

S3: So is Ellen making a one hit wonder on the pop chart? The jury is still out on the billboard and B chart. May has scored three hits, but her follow up pop hit picked one slot below the top 10 until LMA returns to the pop top 40 with a third hit. She remains arguably a hot 100 one hit wonder, but we’re all rooting for her and got to tell you what to do. One other way LMA could remove herself from the one hit wonder discussion would be to release more albums. What does that have to do with it? You ask. My first two rules cover most one hit wonders on the pop chart. But what about acts like Jimi Hendrix or the Grateful Dead, who score one solitary top 40 hit but just don’t read is one hit wonders for that. We need one last rule. One hit wonder rule three, any act that scores at least three top 10 or platinum albums is removed from one hit wonder consideration the entire.

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S2: There are some acts whose popularity is reflected on the album chart more than the hot 100 for these acts. I offer an escape hatch. Jimi Hendrix, for example, died young in 1970 at age 27.

S3: But both before and after his passing, he scored a slew of hit albums, including three top five albums in the late 60s and more than a dozen gold or platinum albums after 1971. So it doesn’t make much sense to call him a one hit wonder just because All Along the Watchtower was his only top 40 hit.

S2: Not when he has so many hits on the pop album chart.

S17: No reason to.

S3: The same goes for the dead, even though their chart pattern is a bit different. They only have one top 10 album, 1987 in the Dark, which spawned their only top 40 hit Touch of Gray. But they have a half dozen platinum albums, including the double platinum American Beauty, originally released in 1970, which gave us their aforementioned minor hits truck.

S9: You just follow, you know, she the same.

S3: All I can say is this rule might seem like shameless pandering to classic rock fans, but it not only makes sense commercially, it’s also a harder rule to beat than you might think. For example, even with this rule in place, this two time rock and Roll Hall of Famer still counts as a one hit wonder, a hustle here and a hustle there.

S6: New York City is the place where they said, Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.

S3: Former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed famously made the Hot 100 only once with Walk on the Wild Side. His David Bowie and Mick Ronson produced story song about characters from Andy Warhol’s factory scene. The improbably catchy song reached number 16 on the Hot 100 in the spring of 1973, just weeks after David Bowie himself scored his first American top 40 hit Space Oddity. Unlike Bowie, though, Reed never touched the hot 100 again. As legendary as Lou Reed was, the so-called godfather of punk and alternative rock, he was also only a moderate album seller.

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S2: Only one of his LP’s, 1974, as Sally Can’t Dance, cracked the album chart Top 10 and Reed’s best selling LP, The Live Rock and Roll Animal, only went global.

S3: So even with my rule three in place, Lou Reed remains a one hit wonder thanks to Walk on the Wild Side, the song that Marky Mark Wahlberg sampled in 1991 for his top 10 hit Wildside. Yeah, you heard that right, not only did Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch speak higher with that classic bass line than Lou Reed did, Wahlberg’s version also helped him escape one hit wonder status, while Lou Reed only had the one hit as Lou sang A Hustle Here and a hustle there. Reed is not the only Hall of Famer who qualifies as an American. One hit Wonder T-Rex, the 70s band led and embodied by glam rock icon Marc Bolan, are being inducted into the hall this year and in their U.K. homeland, they scored four number one singles From Hot Love to Telegram’s Sam.

S2: But in the States, Mark Bolan and T Rex are largely known for just one song. Their only American Top 40 hit Get It On Bang a gong. It reached number 10 on the hot 100 in 1972 with no top 10 or platinum albums by my rules, T. Rex remain a one hit wonder.

S3: And other rockers who are not saved by rule three and whom VH1 failed to include on any of its one hit wonder lists include rockabilly and reverb revivalist Chris Isaac, who has only two platinum albums and one top five hit 1990 ones.

S2: We can more.

S3: And Ultracor Liz Phair, who after her string of acclaimed 90s indie albums signed to the majors in the 2000s and cracked the Top 40 in 2003 with the number 32 hit, why can’t. Still, rule three does rescue quite a few guitar rock acts from the one hit wonder attack from Judas Priest to the White Stripes.

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S2: Bands from the 2000s are especially well served by this rule from Incubus, who have only one top 40 hit No.9 drive, but multiple platinum albums. To Papa Roach, who broke into the Top 40 only once with the number 15 hit Scar’s but have racked up several top 10 out.

S3: Or consider recent Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Radiohead, for the first 15 years of their existence, they only cracked the U.S. Top 40 once with the instant classic creep. It reached number 34 in 1993. The.

S2: Radiohead then went on to be regular hit makers in the U.K., but in the U.S., they were avatars of the avant garde, several of their top 10 hits in England from high and dry to karma, police were too prickly for the American airwaves.

S24: Yet by 2000, Radiohead began topping the U.S. album chart with cutting edge albums like Did a Good Job.

S3: In my estimation, this meant that Radiohead stopped factoring into the one hit wonder debate. They were too well known by too many music consumers to register only as the band that brought you creep. In an unexpected twist, in 2008, the band scored one more Top 40 hit thanks to a Short-Lived special promotion at the iTunes music store. Nood spent a single week on the Hot 100 at number 37.

S25: Something missing.

S3: Still long before nudes, fluke success, would anyone have considered Radiohead a one hit wonder in 1997 when their OK computer album was released? Maybe in 2000 when Kidane debuted at number one on the album chart? Surely not moving into the most recent decade, my rule three has been a bigger help for pop and hip hop acts. Looking to escape one hit wonder status, Australian pop star Troy seven has to date only one U.S. Top 40 hit to his name his 2016 hit Youth, which reached number 16 and got a.

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S2: However, in the last six years, as seven has emerged as a gay icon and pop idol to American audiences, he has cracked the top 10 on the Billboard album chart four times. He doesn’t really read as a one hit wonder anymore.

S9: Oh, my, my, my do.

S3: In the Spotify era, where streams factor into both the Hot 100 and the Billboard 200 album chart, certain rappers may do better on the album chart. This includes Lil Uzi Vert. As a featured artist, he appeared on a number one hit by Mingo’s, their early 2017 Sharktopus, Baton Rouge, La.

S5: What am I holding my flow. What’s in my throat? Like my clothes shooting that gun over lol.

S3: Oh, but through 2017 as a lead artist, Lil Uzi Vert only had one major hit to his name. The number seven hit X 021.

S5: Every time that you leave your spot you’re like, come on all the way that you keep me, you won’t leave me.

S3: I call it the Cassiano I’m losing has thrown dozens of songs off the charts, most of which have not been promoted to radio stations. But his albums are big sellers. He eventually returned to the top 10 with 20 20s baby Pluto, but not before scoring three platinum albums. Effectively, Lil Uzi Vert stopped being a one hit wonder. A couple of years ago I talked to about me opening up a bit more about me. A minute came to that I of the Madison County covers might make him a little less about it. So those are my one hit wonder rules. Maybe you have your own. I admit the six month gap between top 40 hits that I baked into rule two is a bit arbitrary. The album chart rule is certainly debatable, but my goal is to come up with parameters that are fair to the artists and the fans, providing a more fluid but more defensible definition of one hit wonder. My three rules do not grant VH1 the right to call men without hats a one hit wonder or for that matter, Spandau Ballet.

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S2: Hey VH1 producers, did you forget this? Spandau Ballet are known for more than the song. True, this only was their third top 40 hits. Truthfully, the phrase flash in the pan should probably be used more often, Spandau Ballet weren’t a one hit wonder, but in America at least, they were a flash in the pan.

S3: As we enter the 20s, nearly a decade into the streaming era on the charts, you might think few artists are really one hit wonders anymore. Thanks to Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music, rappers and pop stars can now score a dozen or more instant hot 100 hits. The weekend album drops, but even today it’s still possible to score one massive, blazing, outsized hit like this song. Maybe earlier this year, before the covid-19 pandemic took hold. When you were out and about in the world, maybe you heard this wafting through the air, which is balmy days for me, days.

S26: Never seen anybody do that thing.

S3: This is Dance Monkey, and it’s by the quirky Australian singer and songwriter Tony Watson, who goes by the name Tones. And on this, former street busker in Byron Bay, New South Wales, wrote Dance Monkey by herself when it broke into the hot 100 top five in February 2012. It became the first new hit, written entirely by a solo woman in about a decade since a pair of 2010 hits by Taylor Swift and. Frankly, America was a little late on tones and I am late 2019, Dance Monkey was a true global hit. It went to number one in more than 30 countries, including the UK, where it spent a staggering 11 weeks at number one. And in Tony Watson’s Australian homeland, where it spent a record 24 weeks on top on our hot 100 dance monkey eventually peaked at number four. However, while Tony Watson was able to follow her hit with a top 10 or top 40 hit in several countries in the states seven months later, Tony’s and I has yet to appear on the hot 100 again, but not for lack of trying.

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S27: And you think about me left me with the memory of another family now standing in front of my door.

S28: In the spring after the covid-19 lockdown began, Tony Watson recorded this performance live from her bedroom of a single called Bad Child for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Bad child hasn’t made our charts yet, but it’s now been long enough since her one American hit that if this or any other tones and single reaches our top 40, she would cease to be a one hit wonder. Even during the pandemic, one hit wonders are still looking to change their fate.

S29: Like my life is making me feel like everything I now feel like going to the things telling all their friends out the back no more, no less dramatic.

S28: I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit Parade. Our show was written, edited and narrated by Chris Melaniphy. That’s me. My producer for this episode was Benjamin Fresh and we also had help from Rosemary Bellson. June Thomas is the senior managing producer, and Gabriel Roth, the editorial director of Slate podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate Dotcom Slash podcasts. Thanks for listening and I look forward to leading the hit parade back your way. Until then, keep on marching on the one. I’m Chris Mullen.

S27: For me today could leave without me because they were never the same with my.

S30: With my.