Take a journey back in time to the early aughts when a fun way to waste an afternoon was to hope these songs would be played on the radio:
A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton
Why Can't I? by Liz Phair
Leave (Get Out) by Jojo
Pieces of Me by Ashlee Simpson
Don't Cha by Pussycat Dolls
Don't Cha Wanna Ride by Joss Stone
Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer
In the classical world there are some composers who had one work that really took off. Sure, they wrote other stuff, but nobody knows what.
Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
Henryk Gorecki: Symphony no. 3 op. 36 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) Fifteen years after it was written, London Sinfonietta released a recording which topped the classical charts and sold over a million copies, exceeding the lifetime sales of any symphonic recording by a 20th century classical composer. This success, however has not generated similar interest in Gorecki's other works.
The 1990s were full of awesome songs by artists who were (mostly) never to be heard from again. Here is a partial list of spectacular one hit wonder songs. And a movie!
Primitive Radio Gods have released seven studio albums, but are only known for their one hit Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand. I have to say, I absolutely love this song. It not only captures an era, but it also captures the essence of what great music can make you feel.
I saw Blind Melon live in 1992 and was smushed up against the stage and high-fived their lead singer Shannon Hoon during their set! True story. Blind Melon is a one hit wonder solely because Shannon Hoon died from a drug overdose before they could continue their brilliant musical career. Mostly remembered for the presence in the video of the "Bee Girl," No Rain stands on its own as a very good song, among all decades that released great music.
Finally, no one hit wonder list would be complete without the inclusion of the film That Thing You Do! Starring Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler, and Charlize Theron, That Thing You Do! tells the story of a band called The Wonders who learn that with sudden fame comes life-changing consequences. This movie is mostly feel-good with some moral underpinnings. And it's a whole lot of fun and the music is great! You can borrow the movie (linked above) and the soundtrack from SCCLD.
These artists all went mainstream with amazing work and then moved back out of the spotlight. I love all these achievements.
Thelma Houston burst onto the music scene like a comet with, "Don't Leave Me This Way" (available on CD and Freegal). In addition to going to the top of the charts, she scored a Grammy award for her work on this song.
The Starland Vocal Band is not a band a lot of people talk about these days but their mega hit, "Afternoon Delight" shot up the charts to number one and their vocal harmonies were enough to secure a 1977 Grammy award as Best New Artist (over Boston among others!!). Their hit is featured on the terrific One-hit Wonders of the 70's with many more great songs.
The late Irene Cara, while not quite just a one hit wonder, disappeared after a relatively brief time of Fame. She rose brilliantly in the late seventies and early eighties, winning acclaim as an actress in Sparkle and Fame in addition to winning the Oscar for Best Original Song for co-writing "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" (available on CD). After these achievements, she slipped into semi-obscurity.
Jaye Davidson won fame and an Oscar nomination for his extraordinary film debut, The Crying Game. But only took one more film role in Stargate before retiring entirely from acting. His work in The Crying Game is definitely worth remembering.
Tom Hulce dazzled and, received an Oscar nomination, as Mozart in Amadeus, but never again attracted as much attention in any of his subsequent roles. His co-star F. Murray Abraham actually won the Oscar for his tour de force work as Salieri but never again has had a leading role of such significance.
At the same Academy Awards, Dr. Haing S. Ngor won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his stunning performance in The Killing Fields. Sadly he passed away before he was able to act much more.
Finally one of my favorite films of all time, The Best Years of Our Lives, (also streaming on Kanopy) contains a performance by first time feature film actor, Harold Russell that actually won him two Oscars. A combat veteran who lost his hands while fighting, he won a special Oscar as a tribute to his bravery and then a competitive Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. Except for some minor roles, he retired from acting afterwards.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
In Lou Bega's 1999 one hit wonder "Mambo No. 5", this is NOT one of the names mentioned in the song.
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Pepa