Friday Fun Moment: One Hit Wonders (and a digression)

I saw something in a TV segment while doing some chores in the Steam Pipe Distribution Center about the show hosts’ favorite “One Hit Wonders”.

You know what those are, right?  Some artist has one big hit and is virtually never heard from again.

So… what are yours?

Off the top of my head, I can think of…

And as a runner up, just because I heard it recently when I watched Kung Fu Panda:

Digression on Kung Fu Fighting.  I was once asked me via email what comic book character I most identified with.

Well… since my favorite as a kid was Superman, I’d have to say Superman.  After all, your Earth’s Yellow Sun has been pretty good to me.  But I can also absolve and consecrate. Take THAT, Superman!

That said, even though I didn’t grow up on the Marvel side of things – for the world is divided into Marvel people and DC people – I’d have to go with a combination of Wolverine and Po the Panda.

Wolverine, because someone quipped about me that I am the best at what I do, but what I do sometimes isn’t very nice.  Po, because I need to lose weight, I did Karate for years, I wear black and white, I have a thing for good Chinese food, I screw up massively all the time, the people I beat up aren’t really hurt, and, in the end, things seem to work out okay.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    “Classical Gas” composed and played by Mason Williams. He won three Grammy Awards for it in 1968.

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    A few fun one-hit wonders that come to mind:
    – 500 Miles by The Proclaimers
    – In a Big Country by Big Country
    – Come On, Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners
    – Dominique by the Singing Nun

    Anti-Favorite: – You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone (I’ve long contended that the line “it can’t be wrong when it feels so right” is one of the worst things to have ever been broadcast)

  3. yatzer says:

    Classical Gas was my first thought, but already taken.

    Afternoon Delight by Starlight Vocal Band

  4. Wow…this opens up a wealth of memories, having been a radio DJ from 1974-1981 or so.

    Lots of them in that time period. Lots.

    I’ll pop some corn and see if folks can come up with some arcane ones.

    Here’s a few:
    Last Song – Edward Bear 1973
    My Maria – BW Stevenson 1973
    Billy Don’t Be a Hero – Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods 1974
    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Blue Haze 1972
    Also Sprach Zarathustra – Deodato 1972
    Seasons in the Sun – Terry Jacks 1974
    Eres Tu – Mocedades 1974
    Beach Baby – First Class 1974

    Keep going, folks. Lots of good tunes out there.

    [I don’t think anyone should even be allowed to attempt Smoke Gets In Your Eyes after The Platters.]

  5. And who can forget

    In the Year 2525 – Zager and Evans 1969 (was the Billboard #1 the week Apollo 11 landed).

    [Wow. Good one. That truly is a one hit wonder.]

  6. May I just add that I say the latest Acura commercial with a disgusting rendition of a famous but kind of appalling Sinatra hit, “I did it my way”?

    Ugly ain’t in it, as Preserved Killick would say.

    What was Acura thinking? It is an utter turn off.

    Horrible cacophonous howling. Hell must sound like that.

  7. Elizabeth D says:

    What ever happened to Zuhlio?

    [He’s had more than one! His last MAJOR PLATINUM KRYPTONITE TITANIUM SUPER HIT was HERE]

  8. Luvadoxi says:

    My favorites–Precious and Few, by Climax, and the Bloody Red Baron Snoopy song (don’t remember the exact title).

  9. Luvadoxi says:

    And who can forget (but would like to) Bird is the Word…. [Oh dear… and now I remember it too.]

  10. Netmilsmom says:

    Spirit in the Sky is now really popular because of Awesome Mix Vol 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy! [Ooga Chaka to you too!]

  11. Charles E Flynn says:

    I regret that I do not recall whether it was a reviewer in Gramophone magazine or High Fidelity magazine that called “The Mason Williams Phonograph Record” a “worthless oddball experience”.

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    Too Shy – Kajagoogoo! The bass is NUTS. I don’t know what the heck they’re saying, but someone is too shy.
    Rapper’s Delite – Sugar Hill Gang (Come on, it’s good. I know pretty much every word and bet you do too.)
    Wipeout – The Surfaris (How did that drummers arms not fall off.) [Wow! I remember that.]
    Grazing in the Grass – Hugh Masekela (the cow bells!)
    Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice (You have to give him credit for this one.)
    Fun thread Fr. Z. :) I love Spirit in the Sky as well! It’s hard to believe these people only had one hit.

  13. ejcmartin says:

    “Sailing” Christopher Cross, a Grammy as well. What about “one album wonders”? Albums like Hootie and the Blowfish or Tracy Chapman for example.

  14. mamajen says:

    Well, Father, I have to thank you for giving my husband and me a good laugh. I ventured over to Wikipedia to refresh my memory, and discovered a one-hit wonder I had never heard of: Lorne Greene with “Ringo”

    Ringo happens to be the name of our schnoodle dog whom we adopted from a puppy mill rescue group.

  15. Bosco says:

    This didn’t hit #1 in 1963 when it was released, but it had a lot of perkiness to it and an early taste of “The Wall of Sound”…The Raindrops – “He’s the kinda boy you can’t forget”

  16. Luvadoxi says:

    Ugh–that Acura commercial is even worse that the first T-Mobile music. I will never buy an Acura.

  17. Volanges says:

    Love the topic. I also thought of Classical Gas and many of the ones listed already but for me it’s Rene y Rene’s “Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero”. I saved my pennies to buy that 45.

    Sorry Fr., different type of 45.

    [Hey I’m flexible. I save my pennies to buy 45’s too. The last one I got was by The Glocks on an album called 30S. 10+1 top hits!]

  18. rcg says:

    The Proclaimers were NOT one hit wonders. They sand “Long Black Veil” by Lefty Frizzel, and by Stephen Foster. They are on the, ‘Sunshine On Leith’ album that has been newly remastered. But I like the beaches on Papa Stronsay, so maybe my tastes are not exactly mainstream.

  19. Winfield says:

    Mr. Trololo. How do you say “hit” in Russian?

  20. bookworm says:

    “the Bloody Red Baron Snoopy song (don’t remember the exact title)”

    It’s called “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen. One of my favorite songs as a kid was their sequel to this tune, “Snoopy’s Christmas”, in which Snoopy is captured by the Red Baron on Christmas Eve, only to be greeted with a Christmas toast and sent off on his way, “each knowing they’d meet on some other day”. My parents had a 45 rpm recording of that song which I played to death, any time of the year (not just Christmas).

  21. Bosco says:

    How about Al Kent’s circa 1966 instrumental “You Gotta Pay The Price”?

  22. Volanges says:

    When my kids were little, in the 80s, I acquired the Royal Guardsmen album “Merry Snoopy’s Christmas” which had the three Red Baron songs:
    The Story Of Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron
    The Story Of The Return Of The Red Baron
    The Story Of Snoopy’s Christmas – which still brings a lump to my throat and is one of my favorite seasonal songs (as opposed to hymns). Those bells usually leave me with goose bumps.

    Who would have thought that 30 years later I would stumble upon another song, very different but with the same theme, which also brought me to tears. Check out Celtic Thunder’s “Christmas 1916”

    Merry Snoopy’s Christmas also included the songs “Sopwith Camel Time” and “Airplane Time (My Airplane)” and “Down Behind the Lines”, all of which I still enjoy. It may have been a gimmick for the group but that album still keeps this 60 year old entertained.

  23. Bosco says:

    How’s about Davy Allan and The Arrows 1967 song “Theme from The Wild Angels”?

  24. theomalleys says:

    My Sharona by The Knack

    I can’t believe I’m the first one with this!

  25. chris1 says:

    Mrs. Chris1 says Christopher Cross isn’t a one-hit wonder – Ride Like the Wind, Arthur’s Theme come to mind.

    The Left Banke actually had a handful of hits in addition to Walk Away Renee: Pretty Ballerina, Desiree, Shadows Breaking Over my Head, and a few others.

    Soo…my contribution: Morning Girl by the Neon Philharmonic. Anyone heard of that one?

  26. vox borealis says:

    “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians

  27. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I wish people wouldn’t knock Debby Boone. Do they know anything about her very solidly Christian upbringing and life? And she didn’t write YLUML but sang it as a prayer to God.

  28. Polycarpio says:

    Getting my age ticket stamped. “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth. I’d been in the U.S. for a couple of years and thought I’d just about learned English (I was born and raised in El Salvador). Heard this song and decided I didn’t understand the language after all. I still don’t know what this song is about! But the kids are cute.

  29. Andreas says:

    Well, here’s a give-away to my Age: TELSTAR by The Tornados. Wasn’t there also a one-off Japanese song that became a hit in US during the late 60s as well (Sukiyaki)?

  30. Ellen says:

    How about Desiderata by Les Crane. I truly loathe that song but my boss thinks it’s Deep and Meaningful (she’s a Unitarian/Universalist)

  31. Mike says:

    “Soulful Strut” by Young-Hunt Unlimited:

    Tunes like this, as well as NBC Radio’s weekend Monitor program, are probably among the only reasons my mother didn’t throw out the radio around 1970.

  32. Mike says:

    Oops, Young-Holt Unlimited. I have never got the name of that group right.

  33. RafqasRoad says:

    Though they may wel have had one or two other ‘hits’, absolutely nothing surpasses the Alan parsons Project Eye in the Sky (extended play version)
    Brilliant!! Fr. Z., this version is a must through good quality headphones; you might like to reprise your maestro’s role and come up with an equally brilliant cover, though I think the words stand well enough in their own right.

    For a laugh, Joe Dulce’s ‘Shutupayaface’ is in a class all of its own
    This made it to No. 1 in Australia and stayed there for something like 12 weeks back in 1980!!

    And one more; ‘Ant Music’ by Adam and the Ants

    Oh, and this!! ‘Stop the Cavalry’. yes, it was a Christmas hit in the early 1980’s here in Australia.
    Even now, I’m rather fond of it.

    Most folk think of Vangelis as a ‘one hit wonder’ with his theme music for Chariots of fire. He is however a musical genius whose career has spanned nearly 50 years. I think Fr. Z. will enjoy this…again, through good quality headphones in a quieter moment;
    ‘Albedo 0.39’

    for my money’s worth, I do think our esteemed Fr. Z. lives up to the Alan Parsons Project verbiage, though he will most certainly not ‘cheat you blind’, but will inspire, challenge, educate and even make one smile. .

    PPS: if there are too many links to post this, do have a listen to the APP and Vangelis links. I can also recommend Vangelis ‘Himalaya’ from his ‘China’ album as wonderful.

  34. Mike says:

    What about Paul Revere and the Raiders?

    Wow. Per Wiki: “Indian Reservation” became Columbia’s biggest-selling single for almost a decade, clearing over six million units.

  35. lsclerkin says:

    This is fun. :)

    Here’s one:
    Those Were the Days, My Friend
    Mary Hopkin, 1968

  36. Kerry says:

    Rolf Harris, ‘Tie Me Kangeroo Down’. Heh.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Luvadoxi says:

    And who can forget (but would like to) Bird is the Word

    Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen.

    About the same time was the dance classic Louie Louie by the Kingsmen.

  38. robtbrown says:

    Tighten up by Archie Bell & the Drells

    Our Winter Love by Bill Pursell (Hello, Beverly Hayes, wherever you are)

  39. Andreas says:

    I forgot to mention above the one-hit wonder, Eduard Khil (otherwise known as Mr. ‘Trololo’). Whilst popular in the USSR during the 1960s, his one triumphal hit in the US was “I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home”. Some searching revels that this singular work of Soviet art (I don’t believe that he was known for anything else in the US) can be found on the internet. As an avowed Star Trek fan, might I direct you to this interesting mix of both; one quite ephemeral and the other still going strong after many decades.

  40. wanda says:

    Not sure about one hit – but how about Minnie Ripperton? Loving You. Have you ever heard anyone sing higher notes since?

  41. If you want to have some fun, Father…there is a linkage between OHWs and other groups who covered a song of theirs BEFORE they hit with their one hit.

    Couple to get you started:

    Group Song Author One Hit
    Three Dog Night Shambala BW Stevenson My Maria
    Paper Lace Night Chicago Died Bo Donaldson Billy Don’t be a Hero

    Trivial knowledge, I know. Had to know this stuff, though, as an air jock. Helped fill in air time…

    As for “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”; that 1933 tune was a hit single in every decade from the 30s (covered by everyone from Dorsey to Goodman to Kitt to Nat King Cole through the Platters into the 70s and 80s.) through the 80s somewhere. It’s the one song that has appeared, on various Billboard charts, more times than any other single. ALL are good; certainly the Platters were the most notable, but, I do like the Blue Haze version from 72.

    Don’t Walk Away Renee…the Left Banke is still around playing clubs in NYC; a college roomate (and fellow WFUV-FM alum) is currently playing gigs with them. They still sound great, 40+ years after their single hit.

  42. Pearl says:

    Love is Blue – Paul Mauriat, 1968

    In looking up Paul Mauriat on Wiki, it seems that although he was a one hit wonder in the Pop music arena in the USA, he was a well known orchestra leader and composer in France. So, does this one count? If more modern pop music utilized a full orchestra, I might be tempted to listen more!

  43. Pearl says:


    Hot Butter, Popcorn!

    Bloodrock, D.O.A.

    Sorry about that last one, but when I was very little my older sisters made us listen to it after we were in a fender-bender. I am scarred for life. Older sisters are like that…..

  44. Juergensen says:

    Though he did have another quasi hit (“Vincent”), and did record several albums over the years, Don McLean is, in a sense, a “one hit wonder” for his magnum opus “American Pie”, as he never came even remotely close to composing anything like it again.

  45. gracie says:

    ‘Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
    Dead kings, many things I can’t define
    Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
    Incense and peppermints, the color of time
    Who cares what games we choose
    Little to win but nothing to lose . . .’

    – The Strawberry Alarm Clock, 1967

  46. majuscule says:

    Mungo Jerry In the Summertime … at least in the US.

  47. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Red Rubber Ball by the Cyrkle (but written by Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel).

    FTR I have many Proclaimers songs on my phone, including their great cover of King of the Road.

  48. Legisperitus says:

    Come On Down to My Boat by Every Mother’s Son.

  49. BarefootPilgrim says:

    Which I vote for Master Jack by Four Jacks and a Jill.

  50. StJude says:

    Not to brag but in 1986, Henry Lee Summer.. a one hit wonder singer (wish I had a girl who walked like that)…. was playing at a New Yeas eve bash, he spotted my hat in the crowd… took it from my head and wore it on stage.
    I’ve debated whether or not I should include that on my resume.

  51. anniemw says:

    “Seasons in the Sun” [we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun….] by Terry Jacks.

    blessings, annie

  52. OrthodoxChick says:

    “Getting my age ticket stamped. “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth.”

    Our age tickets seem to resemble one another a bit. Passing the “Dutchie” is slang for passing a joint. There. Now aren’t you glad that you asked??!!!

    Bryan D. Boyle, I like the Brooks and Dunn version of “My Maria” the best. When it comes on the radio, I sing it as a prayer to Our Lady. I heard somewhere that it was originally written as a prayer to her. Not sure if that’s true or not, but I’d like to think it is.

    And now for my contribution to the list of one hit wonders, ready???

    Disco Duck by Rick Dees.

  53. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “Too late to turn back now” – Cornelius Bros and Sister Rose

    “Don’t Pull Your Love” – Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

    “Shannon” – Henry Gross

  54. Mike says:

    Three more for Saturday night reminiscing…
    “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest:
    “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse:
    “The Hustle” by Van McCoy:

  55. Matins says:

    A polite correction to Winfield above. Mr. Eduard Khil’s place in Soviet music is approximately the same as that held by Bing Crosby in the USA. Both brought a distinctive voice and style to many popular songs. It is hard to measure “Hit” records when there is a state monopoly on the production of records. Suffice it to say that Khil was one of the most popular performers of his time, and performed the most popular versions of at many songs, and the definitive versions of at least half a dozen.

  56. acricketchirps says:

    Does Pachelbel’s Canon count as a OHW?

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