It’s One Hit Wonder day!
Glenn A. Baker defines a One Hit Wonder as having “one hit that goes to #1 and the best that anything thereafter manages is #39 or thereabouts.”
With that in mind, here are just a few of our favourite One Hit Wonders of the 70’s (in no particular order):
Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music
Wild Cherry was a funk rock band who reached the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 with this 1976 tune. It was inspired by an audience member at one of their gigs who yelled to the group, “Play some funky music, white boy.“
Their follow up single “Baby Don’t You Know’ only managed No.43 on the US charts.
Starland Vocal Band – Afternoon Delight
Starland Vocal Band was composed of two married couples (both of which later divorced). Their Debut album gave them the US number one single ‘Afternoon Delight’. It reached No. 6 in Australia, but Adelaide radio station 5KA made it a number one in South Australia.
Consequent singles struggled to reach beyond No. 66 in the US. The band dissolved in 1981, but have reunited for appearances and performances of the single a few times since.
M – Pop Muzik
The song went to No. 1 in many countries including Australia, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Switzerland, the US and Canada, but couldn’t quite hit the top spot in M’s native country, the UK where it peaked at No. 2.
Robin Scott of M describes the concept around the song:
I was looking to make a fusion of various styles which somehow would summarise the last 25 years of pop music. It was a deliberate point I was trying to make. Whereas rock and roll had created a generation gap, disco was bringing people together on an enormous scale. That’s why I really wanted to make a simple, bland statement, which was, ‘All we’re talking about basically (is) pop music
Subsequent singles from M did not enter the US Billboard charts, and had a hard time moving up the charts in the UK.
Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting
Carl Douglas was the first Jamaican-born singer to have a #1 hit in the US.
The song reached No. 1 in more than 12 countries and sold 11 million copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest selling singles in history, and achieving a RIAA Gold certification in 1974.
At the time of its release, Martial Arts movies were extremely popular, allowing the song to be heard more and gain popularity.
In an attempt to capitalise on the success of Kung Fu Fighting, Douglas’ follow up single ‘Dance the Kung Fu’ was also Kung Fu themed. The song only reached No.48 on the US Charts.
The Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star
The Buggles were a new wave band who chose their name ‘The Bugs’ as a pun on The Beatles.
Then Somebody said as a joke that the Bugs would never be as big as the Beatles. So we changed it to the Buggles – Geoffrey Downes.
Video Killed The Radio Star” went to No. 1 in 16 different countries and was Australia’s best-selling record for 27 years. It was also the first music video to air on MTV in the US and on the 27th of February 2000, became the one-millionth video to be aired on the same program.
The band had consequent singles that charted in the UK and their 1982 single ‘On TV’ went Gold in Canada, but never charted again in the US.
Finally, a Two Hit Wonder, because they’re not quite a One Hit Wonder, but close.
The Knack – My Sharona
The Knack lead singer Doug Fieger wrote the song about a girl called Sharona who he met in a clothing store. Both were already in relationships, however that didn’t deter him. After writing the song he confessed his love for her and shortly later, Sharona gave in and their relationship began.
The song went to No. 1 in the US, Australia and Canada and was the best-selling single of 1979 (US). Their follow up single “Good Girls Don’t” peaked at No. 11 in the US, and reached No. 1 in Canada. subsequent singles following this struggled to reach beyond #38.
The band broke up in 1982, but reunited for a string of appearances between 1986 and 2006.
‘My Sharona’ gained notable streams and sales in March 2020, due to the global pandemic and concern over coronavirus, simply due to the fact ‘Sharona’ rhymes with ‘Corona’.
Who’s your favourite One Hit Wonder? Tell us in the comments below.
Some research compiled by Nicole Perez.