A one-hit wonder is used when an artist or band is solely remembered for one song, regardless of their success. The list below is a look at 15 great rock songs from the 1980s that were considered one-hit wonders in the United States. Included in a Spotify playlist with the songs highlighted and a few other one-time hits from rock in the 80s.
"867-5309/Jenny" - Tommy Tutone
Written by Alex Call, formerly of the band Clover, and Tommy Tutone co-founder and guitarist Jim Keller, "867-5309/Jenny" is a single that has spanned generations. The song hit No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 and would see No. 1 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. It is still unclear if there was a Jenny or not, but most of the interviews with the band state she was made up. The song's success also created quite a controversy with the use of the phone number, which people, of course, called.
"Harden My Heart" - Quarterflash
This song was written by Marv Ross, guitarist of Quarterflash, and is a million-selling Gold-certified single featured on the album Quarterflash. It would reach No. 3 in the US and charted in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. The song has been featured in the 80s series Knight Rider, Wet Hot American Summer (2001), and Julianne Hough and Mary J. Blige sang it in Rock of Ages (2012).
"Der Kommissar' - After the Fire
After the Fire's version of "Der Kommissar" is a translated version of Austrian singer Falco's (Rock Me Amadeus) 1981 song. The song would peak on the US Top 40 at No. 5 and spend 14 weeks in the top 40. Their success came too late; the band had already announced their intentions to split by this time.
"Come On Eileen" Dexys Midnight Runners
"Come On Eileen" would be the only No. 1 hit for Dexys Midnight Runners in the US and the second in the UK. It was believed that the song was inspired by singer Kevin Rowland's childhood friend turned lover, but he has since stated there was no real Eileen. "In fact, She was composite to make a point about Catholic repression."
"Black Velvet" - Alannah Myles
Canadian rocker Aldo Nova released "Fantasy" on his self-titled debut album. The song would hit No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart and be named 78 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.
"The Warrior" - Scandal
The 1984 song "The Warrior" was performed by Scandal and went to No. 7 in the United States and NO. 1 in Canada. For many, it was a song that represented fighting for something using the warrior within.
"Turn Up The Radio" - Autograph
"Turn Up The Radio" was the first single from the first Autograph album Sign in Please. It received a lot of play on MTV and reached No. 29 on Billboard Hot 100 and 17 on Mainstream Rock Tracks. RCA didn't want to include the song on the album, but the band insisted, and it's a good thing because it is the song that became their only hit.
"Don't You Forget About Me" - Simple Minds
Made popular by the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club, "Don't You Forget About Me" would be the band's only hit in the US. It would reach No. 1 in the US and Canada but only reach No. 7 in the UK. But it was on the UK charts from 1985-1987, one of the longest timespans for a single in the history of that chart.
"(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight" - Cutting Crew
The title of this song came to singer Nick Van Eede while experiencing la petite mort, "the little death" (a metaphor for orgasm). The song would become No. 1 in the United States, Canada, Norway, and Finland and reaching the top five in Germany, Ireland, the UK, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland.
"Beds Are Burning" - Midnight Oil
"Beds Are Burning" is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. As the second release from Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust, the song would reach No. 17 in the US and, in 2001, was named the third Best Australian Song of all time. The song was written to bring light to the conditions of Aboriginal communities and how the populations were forcibly removed from their lands.
"Edge Of A Broken Heart" - Vixen
Considered a power ballad, Vixen's "Edge of a Broken Heart" was written by contemporary pop rock artist Richard Marx and The Tubes lead singer Fee Waybill. Marx, who played keyboards, was featured in the music video, receiving heavy MTV airtime. The song would reach No. 26 on Billboard Hot 100, and even though "Cryin'" hit the Top 40, "Edge of a Broken Heart's" success ranks the band as a one-hit-wonder.
"Ballad of Jayne" - L.A. Guns
Another power ballad from glam metal band L.A. Guns, "Ballad of Jayne," was featured on Cocked & Loaded. Rumors had it that the song was written about Playmate & actress Jayne Mansfield, but guitarist Tracci Guns has stated this isn't true. The song would climb to No. 33 on Billboard and No. 25 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
"So Alive" - Love and Rockets
Released in 1989, "So Alive" by Love and Rockets would hit the Top 30 in the US and be ranked No. 1 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks listing's year-end chart for 1989. This song was compared to the sound of T. Rex, with Billboard stating is is the "best T. Rex tune that Marc Bolan never wrote."
"Don't Close Your Eyes" - Kix
"Don't Close Your Eyes" was Kix's most successful single, climbing to No. 11 on Billboard Hot 100, and is the group's only Top 40 hit. Their fourth studio album, "Blow My Fuse, " included the song." It is an amazing power ballad about a guy trying to talk a girl out of suicide.
"Hold on hold on tight- Kix
I'll make everything all right
Wake up don't go asleep
I'll pray the lord
Your soul to keep"
"Lunatic Fringe" - Red Rider
Canadian band Red Rider had their one-hit wonder with "Lunatic Fringe," which hit No. 11 on Billboard and received the SOCAN Classic award from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada for achieving the 100,000-airplay mark on the radio in Canada. Often thought to be a song about John Lennon's death, guitarist Tom Cochrane has stated he wrote the song regarding concerns of growing anti-Semitism in the '70s.
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