10 one-hit wonders from 1981 that you probably have never even heard

If you know more than three of these songs, you might be the biggest music nerd in town.

There's a one-hit wonder from 1981 that you have undoubtedly heard. Countless times, on your television. On Christmas Day, 1981, "WKRP in Cincinnati" peaked at No. 65 on the Billboard charts. Steve Carlisle sang the theme song to the popular sitcom. It barely bothered the Hot 100, like most of the songs you will find below, but it had the benefit of playing each week during the opening credits, not to mention all the reruns.

The 10 tunes below were likewise on the outer reaches of the Hot 100, but they did chart. Some performed even better on the Rock, Dance or R&B charts.

And we would bet you have not heard many of them. Even if you remember 1981. 

Well, let's listen and see.

1. The Afternoon Delights - "General Hospi-Tale"


No. 33

Talk about self-aware novelty. You know you are destined for one-hit-wonderdom when you name your act the Afternoon Delights, after "Afternoon Delight," the ultimate Seventies one-hit wonder by Starland Vocal Band. Also, it was a disco song about a soap opera, rapped in the style of Debbie Harry's "Rapture" bars. Disco was on life support by 1981, and it's a wonder this was even a hit, really.


2. Diesel - "Sausolito Summernight"


No. 25

It was a title and tune that the Doobies might have come up with. Diesel took the breezy radio rock of the Seventies and applied a glossy synthesizer sheen, giving it the polish of a freshly waxed Chevy.


3. Get Wet - "Just So Lonely"


No. 39

A mish-mash of nostalgia, "Just So Lonely" touched on the teen pop of the early 1960s, the cheeriness of Happy Days, with a dab of disco. Singer Sherri Beachfront sounded like a young Osmond doing doo-wop. Somehow, it felt quite Eighties. Barely cracking the Top 40, that was enough to get them on Solid Gold and American Bandstand.


4. Hawks - "Right Away"


No. 63

Because it was still the early part of the new decade, many of these tracks sound like the last vestiges of the Seventies. Hawks came from Iowa (as the Iowa Hawkeyes album colors and band name hinted at) but could have passed for British, like many power-pop bands obsessed with the Beatles. These guys, in particular, followed the template of George Harrison's solo stuff, with its slide guitar stylings.


5. Lakeside - "Fantastic Voyage"


No. 55

Seventies disco and funk never died, it just went niche. Okay, you've undoubtedly heard this hook. But perhaps only as a sample/cover, in 1994, when it became the foundation for a No. 3 hit by Coolio. The original was a No. 1 on R&B chart back in 1981, proving that a good groove always has market.


6. Shamus M'Cool - "American Memories"


No. 80

Hands down, the most fascinating track on this list, "American Memories," a kind of Billy-Joel-meets-Don-McLean nostalgia trip, might not have ever actually received much if any airplay. Exposing the flaws in the old-school charting system, Shamus M'Cool pressed the record himself (only 10 are said to exist) and dropped them off at L.A. radio stations, where disc jockeys reportedly scribbled the song onto their playlists. Today, the 45 can fetch thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars.


7. John O'Banion - "Love You Like I Never Loved Before"


No. 24

If you played Toto at 3/4 the speed, it might sound like this, an obscure yacht-rock cut for those who felt Boz Scaggs and Kenny Loggins were not producing enough content.


8. Rockpile - "Teacher Teacher"


No. 51

Music geeks like us will be familiar with this retro gem. Even if the band name is unfamiliar, the two principal players and singers in the group remain legends of melodic new-wave rock — Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Rockpile was the men's outlet for throwback rock 'n' roll. "Teacher Teacher" was penned by two guys from the great Sixties garage rock band the Creation.


9. Streek - "One More Night"


No. 47

Another song that sounds like a leftover from the late Seventies, "One More Night" raised lighters as a power ballad. The sax solo was hot, straight out of E Street, even if the band was on cruise control in a rented REO Speedwagon.


10. Tight Fit - "Back to the '60s"


No. 89

The jungle aerobics get-ups may scream "EIGHTIES!" but this English trio were pure nostalgia, much like Sha Na Na. Their "Back to the '60s" medley was a trip down memory lane for those with short attention spans, as it took a tour through the Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, Tommy James, Martha and the Vandellas, and many more.


Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Olivia_Reed 35 months ago
I was 18 in 1981. It was one of the worst years of my life, and many of the songs that year, especially in summer, were simply awful. (Every time I heard the first notes of "Bette Davis Eyes," I flung myself at the radio to turn it off.) The only "song" on this list that I even vaguely remember is "Back to the Sixties." There were several of these song compilations, all with a disco-clap beat behind the tunes. HATED them. Strange: when I turned 19 later that year, the music got better, my mood improved, and life was good again. 1982 was a great year for music. I'd love to see a list of one-hit wonders from 1982. I'll get you started: "Work So Hard" by Matthew Wilder. Terrific song that I heard only in October 1982, but never forgot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi7jFkv8eMg
Flash4001 35 months ago
Alot of these One Hit Wonder groups have more songs that are good on their album. Just like "Head East". The only song you hear on the radio is "Never Been Any Reason". But the whole album "Flat As A Pancake", All the songs are good. Just one got to the radio.
Flash4001 35 months ago
Rockpile is NOT a One Hit Wonder group. They put out songs in The 70s.
AndreaZ 36 months ago
I remember the Hawks but feel like they're most "recognizable" song would be "It's alright, it's OK" which definitely sounds more 80s New Wave. In fact they remind if of the band Squeeze.

Check out the song here:

Displaypiece 36 months ago
I was actually listening to Rockpile's "Teacher Teacher" earlier today. What are the odds?
lmboone 36 months ago
Lakeside was not one hit wonders. They had many more hits than just fantastic voyage!
Deleted 36 months ago
This comment has been removed.
lynngdance 36 months ago
I got the vaccine and I’m not dead! (Unless you think I’m lying about being alive Lol) But seriously, vaccines are safe and it’s the only way to end this pandemic!! I really don’t like to get involved but these kind of lies are incredibly dangerous. I don’t care what strange political views you have, but STOP telling lies about the Covid-19 vaccines!! They don’t kill people, they save lives!! And with this new Delta Variant hanging around it’s even more important for people to get the vaccine!! PLEASE stop.

#GetTheVaccine #VaccinesAreHowWeGetBackToNormal
Flash4001 35 months ago
What's this got to do with The Topic?
lynngdance 35 months ago
If you read the comment the guy put that was deleted, it would make sense. He said that vaccines would kill you, and a lot of other crazy stuff, so that’s why I said those things.
tootsieg 36 months ago
I only know Afternoon Delight. Never heard of the others.
MichaelSkaggs tootsieg 36 months ago
That's one more than I've heard of!
bdettlingmetv 36 months ago
Nick Lowe was a favorite of AOR stations, I heard "Teacher Teacher" quite a bit during it's tenure. I also heard "Sausalito Breakdown" enough to recognize it here. The rest? Well......
Patsy 36 months ago
I knew them all except the last one.
donalda756 36 months ago
Know and loved Fantastic Voyage. As you noted, it was very popular on the R&B charts. It is still used today as the theme for Tom Joyner’s fundraiser scholarship cruise.
retro6 donalda756 36 months ago
Indeed! Surprised to see that in here. Very popular R&B song and remember Lakeside in the early 80’s as I finished high school and started college. Many college dances were danced to this tune!! Warm fuzzies! Shout out to Tom Joyner and the TJMS! Loved listening to the fly jock!!
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 36 months ago
I remember "General Hospi-Tale" and "Sausalito Summer Nights" very well, and I first heard of "Fantastic Voyage" when Coolio's version came out, then later discovered Lakeside's version. The rest I never heard of.
ccsings 36 months ago
Dang! I thought I was going to get my geek status solidified. I'm right on the cusp; I knew two of them: #s 1 and 5. I seem to remember the group name of Streek - the cover looks familiar. Get Wet and O'Banion sounds vaguely familiar. I Love the 80's!!!!
retro6 ccsings 36 months ago
I knew that, 60’s one, General Hospitale one and surprised that Fantastic Voyage was on here as that one was popular! Clueless on the others and it’s should have been when I knew music - late high school early college days for me!
jtrain 36 months ago
The only one I remember was Diesel, saw them in concert!
Thomas0263 36 months ago
I graduated HS in 1981. No. 2 I remember well. No 10 I recall as yet another bad pop medley. The rest I must have suppressed, for good reason.
retro6 Thomas0263 36 months ago
Same! Graduated high school in 81 and thought I would know more of them! Remembered the medley one general hospitale and fantastic voyage - which I don’t think should have been on this list. It was popular.
kkvegas Thomas0263 36 months ago
I graduated in 1981 also and thought I'd remember most of them, but General Hospi-Tale was the only one I'd ever heard of.
ScottLeopold 36 months ago
Being from Dayton, I've absolutely heard Lakeside's "Fantastic Voyage." One of our favorite local coffee shops serves a drink called the Fantastic Voyage, and I'll be buying one for my daughter later this morning.
OldTVfanatic 36 months ago
I vaguely remember “Just So Lonely” but never had the chance to fully enjoy it, as it was in the midst of REO Speedwagon’s ride to glory.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?