Category Archives: Nope

Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder/LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Dan Hill

You might have noticed that the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” parade has slowed down a little since its introductory burst onto the LeBlog scene a couple of years ago. Between Jeff the Wildman and I, we’ve covered more than twenty artists who common perception might have, through forgetfulness or some other whim of fate, inaccurately labeled as one with just a single claim to fame. While I’m hoping we’ll continue to cover these artists as the fancy strikes us, I also want to start up a new series that might help to soften the landing as Lebeau’s long-running analysis of the Golden Raspberries catches up with the current day in just a couple of weeks.

The schadenfreude associated with watching someone aim high (or very low) and somehow end up the target of derision is both personally shameful and undeniably delicious. What I’m hoping to do is to take that same experience, as is often delivered by Razzie winning movies, and apply it to popular music forms. This will manifest itself as “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics,” which will attempt to aim somewhere near that delectable spot that a movie like Mommie Dearest inhabits. A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.”

The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese. This is almost certainly the case with our first case study, an artist who manages to fulfill the requirements to take a place in both the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” and “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics” canons, thereby becoming the ideal introduction to the new series through connection to the prior one. Here comes Dan Hill.
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Nope, Not A 1-Hit Wonder: The Motels

The early 80s were kind of a weird time for pop music. On one hand, you had a ton of post-disco stuff and much AOR (album-oriented rock) like REO Speedwagon and Foreigner. Yet there was also the beginnings of rap and the resurgence of R&B.  And of course post-punk and new wave.

It was the new wave scene that gave birth to the band focused on here: The Motels. Yeah, they were the group led by the talented Martha Davis who scored a big hit in 1982 with “Only The Lonely” only to have no more hits.  Right?

Not quite.

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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Radiohead

Probably one of the most famous songs to barely make it into Billboard’s Top40 singles chart, Radiohead’s mopey generation X anthem “Creep” whined and wailed itself into just the #34 spot in 1993. At the time of its ascendence, the song seemed exactly like the kind of attention-grabbing recording that was designed to make a splash and then leave the band stranded in a particular place and time as a 1-hit wonder. Then something a little unexpected happened. Radiohead became one of the most adored and lauded bands of its generation. But could a group showered with praise and given the “genius” label manage to escape the 1-hit wonder stigma? For a while that was a real question…but you’ve noticed the title of the article, right?
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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: ‘Til Tuesday

‘Til Tuesday’s top 10 hit “Voices Carry” is one of the most iconic songs of the era, stuttering and strutting while expressing sorrow and resentment. Despite delivering a patently lousy performance, even the actor playing Mann’s oppressive boyfriend in the heavy rotation video lives on with me as a symbol of upper class masculine dickery. Oddly enough, Aimee Mann’s first and biggest hit to date was originally written as if she was singing it to another woman. The story of the song’s writing has always been that it was inspired by Mann’s breakup with ‘Til Tuesday bandmate Michael Hausman, so maybe she invented the same sex story in an attempt to make the song less autobiographical. It’s an interesting exercise, however, to listen to the lyrics from the point of view of a lesbian couple of the time. It certainly makes the requests for silence more understandable. Even today in some locales, gay couples are safer if they maintain a low profile. It sure might help them get served in a restaurant in Indiana.

Instead, the band’s record label recognized the commercial potential of the song and insisted that they rewrite it as a woman singing about her relationship with a man. The move paid off, with “Voices Carry” hitting #8 on the Billboard singles chart in May of 1985. Can you think of the band’s other top40 hit? We know there’s another hit here somewhere, because…see the name of this series.
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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Patty Smyth

Bang Bang. Patty Smyth was indeed the warrior for a fourteen year old Daffy Stardust. And when you’re fourteen, love really is a battlefield…wait…wrong 80s power songstress. Anyway, as the above shows, music videos were an art form in their infancy, and people were still trying to figure out exactly what they should be. One approach used by a few artists was the post-apocalyptic dance to the death. Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” (directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Tobe Hooper) comes to mind, as does New Order’s video for “True Faith.” Smyth was initially disappointed in the video for “The Warrior,” complaining that they made her look like Batgirl. And here I thought that was part of the appeal. That and her David Bowie Aladdin Sane-style makeup job. In the end, the video was very popular and was a part of what pushed the song up to #7 on the Billboard singles chart.

This series is all about dispelling the errant belief that a particular artist only had one hit single, right? So that should mean that Scandal featuring Patty Smyth is not a 1-hit wonder, right? Well, that’s not actually, technically, true. Confused yet?
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Nope, Not A 1-Hit Wonder: C&C Music Factory

In some ways, this was the dance anthem for those of us who were between 8 and 18 in 1991-92. A well put together combination of house and hip-hop that became popular with the dance crowd and went on to enter the cultural zeitgeist to the point that it is still recognized today. Damn shame the group that recorded it had no other hits. Right?

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Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder: a-ha

Sometimes it’s very difficult to imagine that the reality you and everyone around you live inside can be extraordinarily different from that of so many other people. Here in the United States, when it is said that an artist or actor is “big in Japan,” it is almost said derisively, with the suggestion being that, yes that’s nice, but I guess they can’t make it here where it really matters. The American market is indeed huge for artists, but the idea that only success here is valid is not an accurate idea. The U.S. dollar’s value has really taken a plunge over the last fifteen years, and well, our lives here are just as foreign to folks in Norway as theirs are to us.

One great example of this is Norway’s own favorite sons, A-ha. Say the group’s name here and only one image will pop into our minds: the award-winning video for “Take on Me” featured above. In fact, most Americans are not just unaware of the band’s big success in other parts of the globe, but falsely identify A-ha as a 1-hit wonder on our own shores. Not even this is true…
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Nope, Not A 1-Hit Wonder: The Rembrandts

It’s a song that at least a few of us have heard, a theme song to a TV show that at least a few of us have watched. It was kinda big, yet the group that recorded it had no other hits.

Well, not quite.

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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb’s plaintive, but enduring break-up/no break-up song “Stay” caught lightning in a bottle in the spring of 1994, becoming one of the most indelible recordings of the year and sitting atop the Billboard singles chart for three weeks. Anytime somebody says her name, the image of Loeb stalking the interior of her New York City apartment of the time pops to mind, along with those gently percussive acoustic guitar notes. It is an iconic moment in mid-90s pop culture. So simple and honest that it becomes totally engrossing, standing up to repeated viewings and listens. Speaking as a nerdy boy who was in his 20s at the time, her charming cat eye glasses and tiny dress with tights look sure didn’t hurt. Kind of like if Agent 99 from Get Smart became a librarian instead. How the hell could the idiot in the song think of allowing a split?


“Stay” was so huge that it is hard to remember that it wasn’t the only Loeb song to hit the charts. Well it wasn’t.
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Nope, Not a 1-hit wonder: Berlin

Oh so 80s. Listen and get images of flying fighter jets and Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis.

But aside from their contribution to one of the biggest blockbusters of the era, that was it for Berlin right? Not quite.

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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Madness

Okay, before anybody starts jumping up and down and screaming, I am fully aware that Madness was one of the most successful British acts of the early 80s, boasting 29 appearances in the UK top40 charts during their career, including 15 that went into the top 10. Not only that, but they are widely known as Prince Charles’ favorite band. So what qualifies them for a “Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder” article? Well, since I grew up American, my relationship with the group was that they were a goofy British band with horns who had one big hit in the United States with “Our House,” but were otherwise favorites of music fans outside of the American mainstream. If you had asked me about their status as a 1-hit wonder stateside before I looked it up, I wouldn’t have been too sure about it. I definitely would have named a different candidate for an additional hit. Read the rest of this entry

Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Men Without Hats

The Canadian pop band Men Without Hats is most certainly best known for their iconic hit The Safety Dance, which became an international sensation in 1983, hitting the top 10 in twelve different countries around the globe. The video went into heavy rotation on MTV and is seared into the mind of any teenager of the time. The Safety Dance is such a goofy and idiosyncratic expression of Reagan era partying protest, that it is tempting to believe that the band just has to be a 1-hit wonder.

But they’re not.
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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: 10,000 Maniacs

Pop culture memory is a funny thing. Songs and movies and TV shows leave an imprint on our brains that is unique. Our relationships to art are inescapably different from one another, but pop culture is also a shared experience, so there is a tendency for us to believe that our own experience matches that of those around us at least to a degree. Sometimes we are sorely mistaken.

If you had asked me to name the songs of 10,000 Maniacs that had hit the Top40 in the United States without referring to any official source, I would have most likely whiffed at the task big time. For example, I definitely would have guessed that the above song These Are Days was one of their bigger hits. It was featured in MTV commercials at the time of its release that played repeatedly, and my memory says that the actual video also got strong rotation on the video music channel. It’s a wonderful song about the realization that you are living the memories which will become some of the greatest in your life. It is one of the iconic songs of the band’s career.

but it never hit the Top40.
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