Out Of The Vault - One Hit Wonders: the 80’s, January 18, 2014

- January 22, 2014

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Steve Forbert – ROMEO’S TUNE – (Forbert) – # 11, February, 1980.  Even though the sleeve of his second album Jackrabbit Slim stated that "Romeo's Tune" is "dedicated to the memory of Florence Ballard," the song is not really about the Supremes singer who died in 1976. The song was actually written about a girl from Forbert's home town of Meridian, Mississippi, but was dedicated to Ballard because, as Forbert explained, "that seemed like such bad news to me and such sad news. She wasn't really taken care of by the music business, which is not a new story."

Rocky Burnette – TIRED OF TOEIN’ THE LINE – (Burnette) - # 8, July 1980. Son of Johnny Burnette (Rock & Roll Trio).  Cousin to Billy Burnette (Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty).

Devo – WHIP IT – (Casale/Mothersbaugh) - # 14, November, 1980. Devo funded the music video for "Whip It" with $15,000 of their own money. The main visual of the video, Mark Mothersbaugh whipping the clothes off a woman, was inspired by an article in a 1962 issue of "Dude" magazine. In an interview for Songfacts, Casale explains "There was a feature article on a guy who had been an actor and fell on hard times, he wasn't getting parts anymore. He moved with his wife to Arizona, opened a dude ranch and charged people money to come hang out at the ranch. Every day at noon in the corral, for entertainment, he'd whip his wife's clothes off with a 12-foot bullwhip. She sewed the costumes and put them together with Velcro. The story was in the magazine about how good he was and how he never hurt her. We had such a big laugh about it, we said, 'OK, that's the basis for the video. We'll have these cowboys drinking beer and cheering Mark on as he's in the barnyard whipping this pioneer woman's clothes off while the band plays in the corral.'"

Soft Cell – TAINTED LOVE – (Cobb) - # 8, July 1982.  Originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964.

Thomas Dolby – SHE BLINDED MY WITH SCIENCE - (Dolby) - # 5, May, 1983. The song's chorus, "She blinded me with science", plays upon the colloquial British expression "to blind [someone] with science", meaning to deliberately confuse someone by giving the impression of highly complex knowledge.  The song features interjections from the British scientist and TV presenter Magnus Pyke, who repeatedly shouts "Science!" and delivers other lines in a deliberately over-the-top mad scientist voice, such as, "Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto! You're beautiful!" Producer "Mutt" Lange sings the high octave doubling Dolby's chorus vocals.


Nena – 99 RED BALLONS – (Fahrenkrog-Petersen/McAlea) – # 2, March 1984.  A bag's worth of helium balloons are casually released by an anonymous civilian into the sky and are registered as missiles by a faulty East German Early Warning System; mistaken for an attack by NATO, it results in panic and eventually nuclear war.  "99 Red Balloons", the English version, adds a significant and poignant detail — that the song's narrator (along with the presumed listener) released the fateful balloons.

Scandal – THE WARRIOR - (Gilder/Knight) -  # 7, September, 1984.  "The Warrior" is a song by pop rock group Scandal, from the album of the same name. The song was written by Holly Knight ("Love Is a Battlefield") and Nick Gilder ("Hot Child in the City)”.

Chrissy Hynde w/UB40 – I GOT YOU BABE – (Bono) - # 28, September, 1985.  Sonny Bono, a songwriter and record producer for Phil Spector, wrote the lyrics to and composed the music of the song for himself and his then-wife, Cher, late at night in their basement.


The Fabulous Thunderbirds – TUFF ENUFF – (Wilson) - # 10, July, 1986.  Produced by Dave Edmunds, it was the band's first single and has since become the band's most well-known song.

The Georgia Satellites – KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF  - (Baird) - # 2, February, 1987.  "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" is the title of a song by the American southern rock group The Georgia Satellites. The song was written by the group's lead singer, Dan Baird, and was released in 1986 as their debut single.  Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic wrote that the song "rocked as hard as an old Chuck Berry song, as well as being almost as clever."  In the book 99 Red Balloons: And 100 All-Time One-Hit Wonders, Brent Mann wrote that "it's just a timeless, kick-out-the-jambs (sic) rock 'n' roll number. Dan Baird digs into the song's vocals with a no-holds-barred zest straight out of a Texas honky-tonk."

The Barbusters (Joan Jett/Michael J. Fox) – LIGHT OF DAY – (Springsteen) - # 22, April,1987.  "Light of Day" is a powerful guitar-driven, roadhouse-flavored stomper that features Springsteen's usual automotive imagery and includes some of his heartland rock sentiments as well as some of the film's sensibility.  The song's lyrics focus on the quest for happiness amidst life's difficult circumstances, told through the eyes of a person driving and traveling the nation and world in search of something better, only to find that it really existed at home all along.

Midnight Oil – BEDS ARE BURNING --  (Garrett/Gifford/Hirst /Moginie) - # 17, July, 1988.  Beds Are Burning" is a 1987 worldwide hit single by Australian rock band Midnight Oil, the first track from their album Diesel and Dust.


Liz Phair – TURNING JAPANESE – (Fenton) (The Vapors # 36, November 1980). From her EP “Juvenilia”, 1995.


Chart positions shown are from the Billboard Top 40 Chart on the date indicated.  Information provided by "The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders", by Wayne Jancik and Wikipedia.