7 smooth and synth-heavy one hit wonders from 1987

A TV star… and a band named after Star Trek! You know the tunes, but do you remember the groups?

Image: The Everett Collection

Bruce and Swayze on the Top 10? It could only happen in '87.

Here are more one-hit wonders from the Billboard pop charts. One of them took their name from Star Trek — another was from "M|A|R|R|S."

Let's take a listen!

1. Patrick Swayze - "She's Like the Wind"

Immediately associated with Dirty Dancing, "She's Like the Wind" was written years earlier for another film. Swayze co-wrote the song with Stacy Widelitz for his rather forgotten flick Grandview, U.S.A. The "she" who was "like the wind" was Jamie Lee Curtis' character, not Baby. Sorry to ruin the romance, folks. Swayze's smooth croon took this ballad to the top of the Adult Contemporary chart — and No. 3 on the Hot 100. Fun MeTV fact: Sherwood Schwart'z son-in-law plays guitar on the track. That would be Laurence Juber, who married Hope Schwartz, daughter of the Gilligan's Island and Brady Bunch creator.

2. Bruce Willis - "Respect Yourself"

Willis was on top of the world (if not yet Nakatomi Tower) thanks to his clever romantic mystery series Moonlighting. The show was tied with L.A. Law for No. 12 in the Nielsen Ratings. But here's one thing Corbin Bernsen couldn't do — become a pop-blues sensation. "Respect Yourself" climbed to No. 5 on the Hot 100. Oddly, the American action hero was more successful as a musician in the U.K., where he scored another hit. But we're only counting the States, Bruno.

3. Gregory Abbott - "Shake You Down"

This is one of those tracks where the title and artist make you scratch your head — until you hear it. Right! That one! It's probably better known for working "Eenie Meenie Miny Moe" into the lyrics. This slick slow jam was everywhere in 1987. Especially waiting rooms and grocery stores. 

4. T'Pau - "Heart and Soul"

Someone must have been watching "Amok Time." After all, it is one of the greatest Star Trek episodes of all time. You know, the one where Kirk fights Spock. Overseeing that fight to the death (well, not really) with lirpa was T'Pau, a Vulcan elder. This British act borrowed her name. "Heart and Soul" would be their only song to chart in America, though eight tracks cracked the Top 40 back home. We also love its use in "San Junipero," the best Black Mirror episode.

5. Living in a Box - "Living in a Box"

Here's a rare case of an act with a self-titled hit. Yes, it is indeed from the album Living in a Box. The Manchester group was just really into the whole living in a box thing. The song was, in fact, about living in the cramped quarters of government housing.

6. Pretty Poison - "Catch Me"

Philly ensemble Pretty Poison (no relation to Poison, also huge in 1987) hung around in the Top 40 for 14 weeks with this bouncy dance-pop number. 

7. M|A|R|R|S - "Pump Up the Volume"

And the Jock Jam era officially kicked off. Lots of things were getting "pumped up" in the late '80s — "the volume," "the jam," Reebok sneakers. "Pump Up the Volume" is in some ways the ultimate one-hit wonder because it was the only single ever released by M|A|R|R|S, a collaboration of the indie acts A.R. Kane and Colourbox. It was a milestone in sampling and house music and still gets blasted in sports arenas today.

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CouchPotato19 27 months ago
Does Gregory Abbott look like a white guy spray painted brown??
CouchPotato19 27 months ago
God those drum machine sounds make me sick!
Oldielover 27 months ago
I know all of them but the 6th song...This could have gotten pretty deeper than these lightweights of synth you present...Herbie Hancock's "Rockit"....Steve Winwood in his heyday,along with Genesis,the Pet Shop Boys--....Oh,let's just say the 80's were laden with synth music...I can make a list 5x as long with no problem...Please do more music!
Andy 27 months ago
Then there was "Talk Talk" from the EP "Talk Talk" by the group Talk Talk (also released on the full length LP, "The Party's Over").
musicman37 27 months ago
The only one that's half-way decent is "She's Like the Wind". A white guy singing a black pride anthem? Boy, did Motown mis-step with Bruce Willis' version of "Respect Yourself".
AndreaZ musicman37 18 months ago
We were a lot more free in the 80s. Nobody cared about "cultural appropriation" at all. Which is something made up by a white liberals who live in white suburbs.
chazcov08 AndreaZ 11 months ago
Painting with a very broad brush there, aren't ya?
FlaFeral 27 months ago
3 outta 7.. Pretty Poison and Marrs just because they were all the rage in the Enlisted clubs on base. Patrick swayze..Um...maybe I was a closet fan? ROFL! But I remember it.
Sooner 27 months ago
Man, I don't remember any of these songs. I was phasing out listening to the radio because music was well on its way down the toilet, and these songs prove it. I was in a 70s band, and the 60s and 70s were the acme of the rock music era. It's been hard to listen to much of anything since.
Russ 27 months ago
#3 is a great song.
musicman37 Russ 27 months ago
Are you kidding? I always thought he sounded like a white guy trying to sound black. Horrible.
OldTVfanatic 27 months ago
These tunes make me really feel old. (PS: I’ll be 50 in July.)
Herbert 27 months ago
I remember pretty poison back in the day California curl days rock 1987
Moverfan 27 months ago
Loved She's Like The Wind, loved Respect Yourself, heard Shake You Down a couple of times and never heard of the rest of 'em. Only versions of Heart & Soul I know are the old standard and the one by Huey Lewis & The News.
CLos75 27 months ago
I was 12 in 1987.

I remember #1, 3, 6, and 7. I always thought #3 was associated with sex, that song you play while doing it. #1 helped make Patrick Swayze even more of a heartthrob. (We still miss you, Miss Vida Boheme!)
Zip 27 months ago
My favorite of these is probably the MARRS one. My son likes that one as well.
Deleted 27 months ago
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LoveMETV22 27 months ago
Was it the 1987 Monkees single "Heart and Soul".
pony 27 months ago
Black Sabbath
LoveMETV22 27 months ago
Found an interesting page on Youtube - Top 10's for a number of years, 1987 was one.
Not Billboard or Rolling Stones. As music is individual to taste. However $$ has s lot to do with ratings.

Just curious what 87 songs others like.
15inchBlackandWhite 27 months ago
I can remember cruising through the mountains listening to Heart and Soul on the radio. Good times! I was shocked that we never heard from that band again.

Pump Up the Volume would go on to be featured in a Christian Slater movie three years later. He played a disaffected teen who would bare his soul over a pirate radio station. At the end of the movie they have a dial tuning across dozens of teens who were doing the same thing. It seemed a really stupid ending to me at the time, but in hindsight it was extremely prescient on where we have ended up with social media.
denny 27 months ago
She's Like the Wind and Heart and Soul are good, others not so much. Hated the Bruce Willis cover (although I like him), they played it constantly on MTV.
Peter_Falk_Fan 27 months ago
I know all these songs except Living in a Box's song "Living in a Box". But I do know their song "Blow the House Down". I can't decide which song I like more from this list: "Shake You Down" or "Heart and Soul". Ah, MTV and music videos of the 80s (and early 90s).
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Peter_Falk_Fan 27 months ago
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Ah, The Monkees (sans Michael Nesmith). I just found that video which had typical Monkees comedy, IMHO. Of the 1987 "Heart and Soul" releases, I prefer T'Pau's version. BTW, The Monkees "Heart and Soul" song peaked at.....87 on Billboards Hot 100 chart.
Peter_Falk_Fan 27 months ago
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I like Al Jolson's version, personally.
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