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The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Ten Great One Hit Wonders

The one-hit wonder - funny how they often linger longer in the subconscious than the multiple-hit bores that frequent day time radio. Here's a selection of ten such wondrous (but nor necessarily wonderful!) moments that, alas, were never to be emulated by the bands involved. All that follows were nominated and written by various visitors to CLUAS.

Chesney Hawkes - 'The one and only'

Stiltskin - 'Inside'

Chesney, the man who will be remembered more for the rather large mole positioned above his lip than for anything else really. To be perfectly honest I can't remember if he ever released an album, not that it matters really. I think his one hit single was just about all I could handle. The song contained the lyrics 'I am the one and only', quite prophetic really considering it fast became his one and only hit song.
Time to swiftly move on I think (submitted by Hot Minx 1999)
Ray Wilson formerly of StiltskinYet another song from a Levis ad that went to number one except that, unlike other efforts (Babylon Zoo spring to mind - see below!), this was actually a good song. The vocals may not have been up to much, well the lead singer is now in Genesis, but this doesn't matter as the tune alone makes this song stand out. Released around the same time as Gun's "Word Up" (also see below!) Stiltskin were destined to be another Scottish one-hit-wonder, and this isn't really that bad as even if they had continued I doubt they would ever be remembered for any other song.
(submitted by Emmet Ryan)

Dee-Lite - 'Groove Is In The Heart'

Trio - 'Da da da'

Deee-Lite's magnificent 1990 cross-over hit fused house, disco and funk over a groovy Bootsy Collin's bass riff and a wonderfully loopy vocal from singer Lady Miss Tier. With an image plucked straight from New York's drag queen community, the song and video have become almost iconic. It is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, even a reluctant bootie-shaker like yours truly has been known to get down and dirty to this timeless exponent of the 'One-Hit-Wonder' master class. Lest we forget, the album the song is culled from - World Clique - is still the best party album. Ever.
(Submitted by Stephen McNulty)
trioTrio. My obsessions with 80's synth pop grow daily, 'da da da' is relentless mind-numbing Teutonic stuff, Kraftwerk lite. Well they were Swiss 'da da da I don't love you / you don't love me da da da'. They had one of those tiny little Casio keyboards that 80's popstars wrote tunes on in hotel bedrooms, but they brought the instrument to the fore. Never heard of again, but also some great tracks like 'Sabine' and 'Toora-a-loora' (seriously).
(Submitted by Jack Murphy)

Gun - 'Word Up'

PhD - 'I won't let you down'

Gun - 'Word up' CD single coverAlthough it was not their own composition (it's a cover of a rather fantastic funk song) their version was very good. Piles of distortion and heavy drums with thick anger on vocals, that led some of us to believe that Gun had the integrity to stick around. And though it made me waste money on the album, which turned out to be very Bon Jovi-ish, their version of the 'Word Up' still reminds of what could've been. However, trying to make it big on a cover rarely works for most bands. Case in point: Orgy who may have gotten noticed through a cover of "Blue Monday" but it will more than likely lead to them fizzling out like Gun. And if they don't, I'll be pleasantly shocked.
(Submitted by Herve)
PhD were Scotman Jim Diamond's original band (you'll remember the subsequent heights his career hit with 'I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I Should've known Better'). Anyway this great song went to number one for a week in May 1982. The band consisted of Jim with keyboard player Tony Hymas and drummer Simon Phillips, both of the Jeff Beck Band. The song? It was fairly melancholic and apologetic song which I admit made a big impression on me at the time (Come on! I was only 11!). The band split up it appears after the next single failed, and so guaranteeing them that much-coveted status of a true 'one hit wonder'.
(submitted by Sean McCormack)

Craig McLachlan - 'Mona'

Babylon Zoo - 'Spaceman'

Craig McLachlan In marketing they have all these life cycles - in one a product is created, launched, gains early users, reaches critical mass and eventually matures, before sliding into a generic, bland imitation of its former self. For an example, look no further than Stock Aitken Waterman's brilliant 1985 invention, the Neighbours' star turned singer - Kylie. She led off with 'Locomotion', but we knew that the lifecycle was short when Jason Donovan was the next one to take up the challenge. Come the time of Craig Maclachlan, we were already heading for the slippery slope. But ah, what a memento of the times. Craig and the boys in the back of a Ute, singing an ode to his beloved Mona (at least it wasn't 'Sheila' - imagine the chorus then?) who in all reality was probably the chick he fancied at High School in some horrible suburb of Sydney, but hey if Craig needed to get it off his chest - who were we to deny him? Though I must point out that the last we saw of our Craig, he was dressed as a woman in The Rocky Horror Stage. Hopefully I'll be writing the same things about Westlife in a few years. PLEASE.
(Submitted by Ian Stalvies)
Babylon ZooFor some bizarre reason, at the mention of the phrase 'one hit wonder' the songs that sits up and growls for my attention is 'Spaceman' by a certain 'Babylon Zoo'. The single was released in 1996 after the song was featured in a TV commercial. Why it became the biggest seller in the UK for the first quarter of that year I will never know. It was a seriously unpleasant little number and quite how it's uncohesive musical mish-mash and whining vocals are still in my head four long years later I have no idea. After the unprecedented success of the single, an album with the unfortunate title of 'The Boy with the X-ray Eyes' was promptly released. It was a dire effort and flopped belly up, with the result that 'Babylon Zoo' disappeared back into obscurity, presumably to some far flung galaxy where their music is used as a torture instrument for aliens.
(Submitted by Niamh Grimes)

Strawberry Switchblade - 'Since Yesterday'

Band Aid 'Do they know it's Christmas?'

Photo of Strawberry Switchblade1985. A time when I would - quite shamelessly - walk into my local newsagent, pick up a copy of Smash Hits (without even first looking over my shoulder), take it to the counter and pay for it (without any self-consciousness or sense of embarrassment). Strange things I can confirm do happen in the flush of adolescence. Anyway I remember back then that one issue of the magazine was bursting with all this mega-hype over a new group called Strawberry Switchblade. It was two Scottish girls who were radical (man) in that they dressed only in, uh, polka dots. And so you might sigh. Anyway, let me risk blowing whatever iota of cool that may remain after the Smash Hits admission, and reveal that my appetite was whetted by all this manipulative press coverage to such a degree that I actually wanted to hear the track. The moment eventually came and what a sugar coated 80s classic it turned out to be! May I even venture that it hit the dot. Strawberry Switchblade - an exercise in how manufactured pop should be. Except nobody else apparently thought so and, pretty soon, their polka dots drifted off the radar of naffness and onto the blotting paper of one-hit wonder-land.
(Submitted by Eoghan O'Neill)
Band aidThat suppressed and oft denied ambition of every successful musician to have a taste of one-hit wonderdom reached an unprecedented height with this ditty of the mid-eighties. A whole bunch of pop stars of the day (united in the common understanding that they had all sold far more records than they ever should have) decided to get together and record a song that would be a sure fire hit. Yip, clever folk that popstars can occasionally be, they conspired to record it with such a huge number of different singers as to render it nigh impossible that they would all ever collectively enter a studio together again. And therein did they seal their one-hit wonder status. And with what style! It turned out to be an A1 tune, one that stormed ever chart known to man, woman and ear wax merchant. What's more it made a wad of cash for famine relief while winning lots of friends by keeping Foreigner's "I wanna know what love is" off the Xmas No.1 spot. The only downer was that it precipitated a new generation of politically conscious pop stars, a movement that reached its peak with Sting appearing on Wogan with that Amazonian chief that whose lower lip had fought with gravity and lost spectacularly. (Submitted by Eoghan O'Neill)

Also make sure you check out the other ten lists:
(bullet) ten great film soundtracks
(bullet) ten great hidden album tracks
(bullet) ten great b-sides
(bullet) ten great debut albums
(bullet) ten great rock & pop instrumentals
(bullet) ten great naff songs of the eighties
(bullet) ten great cover versions
(bullet) ten great album openers
(bullet) ten great Irish singles that time forgot