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"
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"
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"
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
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"
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"
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"
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"
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"
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"
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.
Rocky's cousin Billy also had a recording career that went nowhere. Billy later joined Fleetwood Mac as a replacement for Lindsay Buckingham.
Your article makes me want to check out the other Gary Numan stuff, though...
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".