My final one-hit wonder is a band that probably doesn’t deserve the designation. Yes, Katrina and the Waves are known first and foremost for ‘Walking on Sunshine,’ but their catalog boasts a few other songs that can legitimately be described as hits.
Those songs include ‘Do You Want Crying?,’ which appeared on the same 1985 self-titled album as ‘Sunshine,’ and ‘Is That It?,’ which appeared on the follow-up album, Waves. It also includes 1997’s ‘Love Shine a Light,’ which beat ‘Sunshine’ on the charts in five countries (including the UK) and won that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Here’s the rare case where a one-hit wonder’s second-biggest hit came before their breakthrough.
Power pop band Tommy Tutone is known for the 1981 hit ‘867-5309/Jenny,’ a song I remember fondly from my own childhood. I think I was one of the thousands of people who tried dialing the number to ask for Jenny. The press at the time was filled with accounts of homes and businesses having to change their numbers due to the influx of calls.
I’m jumping from new wave to disco for my next one-hit wonder, but staying in 1979. That’s when former schoolteacher Anita Ward topped the charts in the U.S. and the UK with ‘Ring My Bell.’
The song was initially written about teenagers chatting over the telephone, but the lyrics were spiced up for Ward’s recording, with the title phrase taking on a suggestive metaphorical meaning.
Another day, another 80s New Wave one-hit wonder. This time it’s The Buggles, whose ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ topped the charts in five countries and made it to #40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song’s profile was boosted two years later, when MTV chose its video as the first ever on the fledgling channel. Nineteen years after that, in 2000, it became the one millionth video aired on MTV.
Continuing my look at the second biggest hits of one-hit wonders…
In 1969, the Jewish singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum had a smash hit name-dropping Jesus in a rocking gospel song called ‘Spirit in the Sky.’ The song reached the top five in 11 countries, and spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #3.
‘Spirit in the Sky’ makes Greenbaum the definition of a one-hit wonder, but he did a have a follow-up single that made a tiny splash on the charts.