10 one-hit wonders from 1980 that range from funny to funky

Let's drive our "Cars" back to "Funkytown."

The year 1980 was the dawn of a new era, and it sounded like it on the radio. The top hits of the time perfectly reflected the transition from the Seventies to the Eighties. The lingering vestiges of disco and soft-rock mingled with synth-pop. Old-wave crashed against new-wave. Some of the tunes sounded like science-fiction.

The list of one-hit wonders from 1980 ranges from true one-and-done artists to beloved cult acts who still perform today. The tag of "one-hit wonder" is no judgment of quality, merely a cold fact of Billboard chart records. These performers had one huge Top 40 hit and the American public knows them best by these songs.

It's hard to believe it's been 40 years. Which is your favorite?

1. Lipps, Inc. - "Funkytown"


No. 1

We start with one of the ultimate one-hit wonders in all of one-hit-wonder-dom. In some regards, Lipps Inc. is the epitome of the one-hit-wonder. The Minneapolis funk act went to No. 1 in 28 countries around the globe with this electro groove. It kept disco alive while foreshadowing the coming onslaught of electronic pop. And it still fills a wedding dance floor like few other jams.

2. Teri DeSario - "Yes I'm Ready"


No.2

DeSario found minor success in the 1970s with her single "Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me from You," but she broke big with this buttery ballad. The Miami native teamed with KC of KC and The Sunshine Band to croon this love song. Even discotheques need a slow-dance number. Roller rinks especially need them.

3. Rocky Burnette - "Tired of Toein' the Line"


No. 8

With its fuzzy guitar riff and retro jukebox shuffle, this foot-stomper sounded like an audition tape to join the Traveling Wilburys. The blue-collar sentiments and echoing vocals probably fooled some into thinking the song was by Bruce Springsteen. It was not. Rocky was from Memphis, not New Jersey.

4. Gary Numan - Cars


No. 9

The new-wave pioneer was — and remains — massive in the U.K. Here? Not so much. Oddly, "Cars" would be Numan's only song to make the Billboard Hot 100 in the States. That makes sense. Americans do really love their cars. Meanwhile, in England, Numan scored seven Top 10 singles around that time.

5. Benny Mardone - "Into the Night"


No. 11

Mardones is a member of an unlikely club that includes Chubby Checker, Neil Sedaka, the Righteous Brothers, and Queen. What do all these acts have in common? They are folk who can claim to have had a hit single chart twice, in two different times. This power ballad charted in 1980… and again in 1989, when it climbed back up to No. 20. So, basically, it was "The Twist" of the Eighties?

6. Charlie Dore - "Pilot of the Airwaves"


No. 13

As you can see by the above compilation artwork, Dore released this golden-hued tune at the close of the 1970s. It would peak in 1980, however, going on to become the No. 77 song of the year, climbing as high at No. 13. Some listeners clearly wanted to keep the spirit of Captain & Tennille and the Carpenters alive in their station wagons.

7. Devo - "Whip It"


No. 14

Look, we love Devo. Considering many of you watch MeTV's Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night, we're guessing you dig Devo, too. Their first four albums are classics. That being said, to the general public, the Ohio oddballs are known only for "Whip It" and those red conical hats. Thanks to a brilliant video that helped usher in the MTV age, "Whip It" would become the band's only Top 40 hit. (See the band's Billboard chart history for proof.)

8. The Korgis - "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime"


No. 18

This is one of our personal favorite one-hit-wonders, an underrated breakup song built upon melancholy keyboards. A lovely cover by Beck for the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind revived the tune in 2004.

9. The Vapors - "Turning Japanese"


No. 36

Perhaps it's better to not understand the meaning of this quirky, nervy rock song. The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, the visionary behind the film Highlander.

10. Burt Reynolds - "Let's Do Something Cheap and Superficial"


No. 88

Yes, it was a minor, minor hit, sputtering out at No. 88 (it did reach No. 51 on the Country charts… and No. 33 on the Canadian Country charts!), but how could we not include Gunsmoke's own Burt Reynolds? The mighty mustache belted out this tune for the Smokey and the Bandit 2 soundtrack. In case you were wondering, no, this was not Burt's only musical endeavor. In 1973, he released an entire album, Ask Me What I Am.

 
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kevopilis 5 months ago
Devo is better than that. What about Jocko Homo? I'd love to see those guys a 3rd time.
JDnHuntsvilleAL 5 months ago
1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s36eQwgPNSE
2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbVA6vcas1o
5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq_AEy8nh3I
WordsmithWorks 5 months ago
I think Gary Numan found success in the UK. Some moderate chart movement for "Can't Get No Satisfaction)" and "Working in a Coalmine" would seemingly allow Devo to escape the one-hot wonder tag.
Supercat58 5 months ago
Some of those songs I don’t remember, but I loved “Into the Night” and “Tired of Toein’ the Line.”
Moonpie 5 months ago
Rocky Burnette - "Tired of Toein' the Line" Great tune!
DerekBird 16 months ago
Rocky Burnette - "Tired of Toein' the Line" from his album called The Son of Rock n' Roll. It was called that because he is the son of Rockabilly pioneer Johnny Burnette. Rocky Burnette (born Jonathan Burnette, 12 June 1953) is an American rock and roll singer/musician and the son of rock and roll musician Johnny Burnette. He is best known for his 1980 hit single "Tired of Toein' the Line" which he co-wrote with Ron Coleman, who formerly wrote, recorded and performed with the Brothers Grim and The Everly Brothers.
MarkSpeck DerekBird 5 months ago
He's also the nephew of Dorsey Burnette, whose career paralleled Johnny's, in that they both went from rockabilly to being briefly successful as teen idol pop singers (Johnny had a few hits like "You're Sixteen", "Dreamin'" and "Little Boy Sad" in his sadly all-too-brief career, and Dorsey hit with "Tall Oak Tree", but not much of anything else, eventually switching from pop to country in the '70s).

Rocky's cousin Billy also had a recording career that went nowhere. Billy later joined Fleetwood Mac as a replacement for Lindsay Buckingham.
AlF 17 months ago
That Korgis tune, though. Always one of my favorites. I like to show my kids the video with the violinist and the cats. Shame the band never really offered anything else listenable...

Your article makes me want to check out the other Gary Numan stuff, though...
MaryAnn 17 months ago
My teenage girls heard Into the Night awhile back and got all creeped out because it’s about a 16 year old girl, yet today we have 17 year old Billie Eilish rolling around on the floor singing about seducing your dad! 🤷‍♀️ I miss the 80s music...
sandman 17 months ago
It’s official. I’m old 😫
Kim 17 months ago
Devo, The Vapors, and Gary Numan. My teen years. I still blast these tunes at home and in the car. Good times then and now in my 50's. Music brings people together and soothes the savage beast.
RobCertSDSCascap Kim 17 months ago
Gary Numan. Gentlemen (and ladies), start your Moogs!
What a great time to play keyboards
daDoctah 17 months ago
Back when "Pilot of the Airwaves" was still on the chart, I remember one DJ playing it and pointing out that Charlie Dore both looked and sounded a great deal like Joni Mitchell.

The title song on her first album turned up a couple of years ago in an unusual place. George Harrison's widow Olivia released to the world an unfinished demo of George accompanying himself on "Fear of Flying".
DaleOverturf 17 months ago
Devo had more than one song on the Billboard charts top 40, https://www.billboard.com/music/devo/chart-history/dance-club-play-songs.
Yeah, I didn't understand how Devo made this list.
RadioDon DaleOverturf 17 months ago
Billboard's dance charts are different than the Hot 100, from which the Top 40 is derived. "Whip It" was the only Devo song to crack that barrier. They had only two other songs make the Hot 100 -- "Working In The Coal Mine" and "Theme From Doctor Detroit".
bnichols23 JDnHuntsvilleAL 17 months ago
Pretty simple, actually. As noted in the narrative, " to the general public, the Ohio oddballs are known only for "Whip It." Z troo trufe. To music freaks, no, but to the public at large, definitely.
Cyn_Finnegan 17 months ago
Gary Numan (born Gary Webb) MIGHT be considered a "one hit wonder" here in the US, but in his native England, he's anything but. Since 1979, Gary has released 42 studio albums, five live albums, and three greatest hits albums. His most recent hit, "My Name Is Ruin," was released in the US in 2017.
Cyn_Finnegan Cyn_Finnegan 17 months ago
Oh, the angelic girl in this video is Gary's daughter, Persia.
AlF Cyn_Finnegan 17 months ago
Good stuff! Amazing photography.
AlF Cyn_Finnegan 17 months ago
Now I AM wondering if Gary Numan is related to Jason Bourne, though...
FrankCollins 17 months ago
I vote for funkytown. This is not one of your better lists.
bnichols23 FrankCollins 17 months ago
Charlie Dore for me. Agreed 100% on the second point.
AgingDisgracefully 17 months ago
From 1983, I nominate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ7vX7xX0G8
TCKirkham 17 months ago
Gotta say, these are all classics, well, except for Burt's single, cute but BAAAD...The Korgis deserved so much better than they got - their album is INCREDIBLE. "Funkytown" was the only Top 40 hit for Lipps Inc, but they did have several other minor hits on both the Hot 100 and the disco chart, enough that they did a second album "Pucker Up" in 1981 which contains a classic powerballad, "There They Are" all about the price of fame. And I'm not sure comparing Charlie Dore's "Pilot Of the Airwaves" a GREAT Song about radio, to Carpenters and Captain and Tennille is accurate - she had more of a Starland Vocal Band sound than the other two. In fact, SVB had a radio-scented song, "Late NIght Radio", a cover of a John Denver album track, about 18 months earlier. Another great one hit wonder not mentioned here, probably because he actually peaked in late 1979 - anyone else remember Roger Voudouris? His track "Get Used To It" was a classic. He produced four fantastic albums between 1977 and 1981, all sorely underrated in the US but huge in Japan...they're all worth finding if you're into that sort of thing...
AlF TCKirkham 17 months ago
I loved that tune! Seems like all these songs are hiding in the shadows and around corners, waiting to be rediscovered...
Barry22 17 months ago
Never heard of the Dore or Korgi songs. But I did love that Vapors song.
DaleOverturf Barry22 17 months ago
I came here to say just that! This was my generation and I never heard those 2 songs nor The Burt Reynolds one on the radio!
RadioDon DaleOverturf 17 months ago
I heard most of them that year. Our local top 40 station played them all, except the Burt Reynolds song.
boogerdogger Barry22 17 months ago
There's a reason why you never heard those songs!
RobCertSDSCascap 17 months ago
#!- How about Pseudo Echo's 1986 cover?
A one hit wonder's one hit wonder!
BrittReid 17 months ago
Gary Numan -Cars was released in 1979.
bnichols23 BrittReid 17 months ago
Released, yes, but didn't chart in the US till March of '80.
Joe 17 months ago
WOW…… FORTY YEARS! I remember everyone of them, except the Korgis and Burt Reynolds songs. And a lot of them were lip synced to by the artists or danced to by the dancers on Solid Gold. I hated those annoying dancers! :)
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