First off, I must say I am sorry for doing this. You’ll realize why after you read.
Also, one of the one-hit wonders not on this list is my favorite type of one-hit wonder. My favorite kind is like Fred Neil, the singer-songwriter who had a huge hit with the song “Everybody’s Talkin’,” and then left the business entirely to found a dolphin sanctuary in Florida, or Terry Jacks, who scored with “Seasons in the Sun,” and quit music to become a charter boat captain.
So, my personal list of one-hit wonders that come to mind are the following:
1. “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the Baja Men – Everyone knows this one, from movies and television and a seemingly endless number of plays on the radio.
2. “Spirit in the Sky” by Santa Rosa’s own Norman Greenbaum – Even though he’s Jewish, he says he was thinking of TV Westerns when he wrote the song, so it’s about Christian heaven.
3. “My Sharona” by The Knack – This was the first song I ever learned to play on a musical instrument that made me want to keep playing the instrument. This is an interesting one, because the band’s marketing ended up destroying them, with rumors of underage girls enjoying them a little too much, and unwarranted comparisons to the Beatles.
4. “Take On Me” by a-ha – Even though they are Norway’s most successful band, they really never had a lasting hit after this one. This was also one of the first songs that had more video plays than record sales.
5. “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega – Almost nobody knows that this song was an instrumental hit for Cuban bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado in 1949, or that Lou Bega is actually German.
6. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor – When Queen told Sylvester Stallone that he couldn’t use “Another one Bites the Dust” for Rocky III, he specifically asked Survivor to record a song for that purpose. Also, for this one, I’m going to post two clips, because the second one makes the first one even better.
I will laugh at this forever.
7. “Mickey” by Toni Basil – This was actually a song made by a choreographer to showcase how dancing could be used in videos, and for some reason, it used drag kings dressed as cheerleaders to emphasize the point.
8. “99 Luftballons” by Nena – Another song that was really helped along by its video in the US. I had a massive crush on the singer, and this was one of the first times I had heard non-screaming German spoken or sung.
9. “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners – This song is one of those that people remember but can’t get the lyrics right if their life depends on it. Most people will, however, immediately remember that the band was dressed in incongruous overalls and shoes without socks.
And finally, the song that seems to be in every movie or TV show of a certain period during the last century:
10. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and The Waves – This is just an infectiously happy song that could possibly impel you to dance in a potentially embarrassing way…
And now, as promised, I’m going to apologize for the number of ear worm infestations this article may have caused. I can only suggest two possible cures. First, finish off whichever song is stuck in your head until the end. This will sometimes solve the problem. Or secondly, replace one earworm with another. I suggest “Mahna Mahna” from Sesame Street.