8 one-hit wonders from 1984 that we all had on our mix tapes

Put on your leg warmers, slip on your jelly shoes, and put these songs in your Walkman!

The phrase "one-hit wonder" always raises some debate. And we want to be clear: just because something is a one-hit wonder doesn't mean they're bad musicians! There's a reason these tracks have stuck around for forty years.

For this list, we're using the US Hot 100 charts. Some of them, as we will note, had significant success in other countries or on more specific charts. 

Now pop the cassette in your favorite boombox and enjoy the blast from the past. How many of these songs did you rock out to?

Missing You - John Waite

 

Remember how we said that not having another hit at the same level doesn't mean a musician isn't successful? While John Waite as a solo artist never had another hit that rivaled "Missing You", which hit #1 and earned him the #11 spot on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart, he had plenty else to brag about. Before "Missing You", he was the vocalist for the British group The Babys, which had two singles reach #13, and afterwards he became a founding member of Bad English, which went #1 with their 1989 hit "When I See You Smile". Later he would go on to tour with Ringo Starr. 

Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder

 

Technically this song came out in 1983, but it didn't peak on the charts until 1984, where it landed at #27 in the Year-End Hot 100. Wilder's follow-up single, "The Kid's American", peaked at #33 in the Top 40, and didn't have the same sticking power.

Wilder pivoted to working behind the mic, and wrote and produced for the likes of No Doubt, Kelly Clarkson, and Christina Aguilera. He co-wrote the songs for the 1998 Disney film Mulan (and provided the singing voice of Ling), which earned him an Annie Award and an Oscar nomination.

99 Luftballons - Nena

 

Move over K-Pop fans - people have been jamming out to songs in other languages for decades. Case in point, "99 Luftballoons" from the German group Nena. The guitarist had been at a concert in West Berlin when balloons were released and had observed that in a group, they looked like a spacecraft. He speculated what would happen if they drifted over the Berlin Wall, and the song was born from those musings.

An English-language version was released, but the band disapproved, partially because the new lyrics changed the meaning. The English version was not successful, unlike the original, which finished at #28 on the Year-End Hot 100.

The Warrior - Scandal

 

If there was ever a song made to be scream-sang in a car with the windows down, it might be this one. This music video got played heavily in the early days of MTV, but after "The Warrior", Scandal disbanded (though they reunited in 2004 and released a handful of new songs.)

The lead singer, Patty Smyth, had another hit when she released "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" with Don Henley of The Eagles in 1992. Her song "Look What Love Has Done" from the 1994 movie Junior snagged her Grammy and Academy Award nominations.

Almost Paradise - Mike Reno & Ann Wilson

 

To be fair to both of these talented musicians, Reno (Loverboy) and Wilson (Heart) never intended to release another song, making this a one-hit wonder by design. 

1984 was all about Footloose. The movie was the seventh-highest grossing film of the year and launched Kevin Bacon into stardom. This love ballad reached #59 on the Year-End Hot 100, while two other songs from the soundtrack also appeared in higher positions ("Footloose" by Kenny Loggins at #4 and "Let's Hear It for the Boy" by Deniece Williams at #13.)

They Don't Know - Tracey Ullman

 

When you think of Tracey Ullman, you probably think of her comedy first. That makes sense; she's considered one of the comedy greats of Britain. She has seven Emmys, two BAFTAs, a SAG award, and it was her own show that launched The Simpsons. She even starred alongside Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress and worked with Mel Brooks.

However, in the 80s she also dabbled in pop music. Her cover of Kirsty MacColl's "They Don't Know" landed at #71 in the Year-End charts. After her second album, Ullman left music to focus on her acting career.

Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us - Ollie & Jerry

 

Now here's a real time capsule of a song. "Breakin'" was the hit single off the soundtrack of the movie, Breakin', about a breakdancing troupe in California. The song peaked at #9 and turned up on the Year-End charts at #80.

Ollie & Jerry released another song, "Electric Boogaloo", for the film's sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, but the single didn't chart. In 1985, the duo called it quits.

Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell

 

Rockwell, the son of the Motown record label founder and CEO, secured his record deal without his father's knowledge to avoid the appearance of nepotism. "Somebody's Watching Me", the spooky yet funky track, was off his debut album and featured Michael Jackson as a guest vocalist in the chorus.

The song was a hit and ended at #26 on the Year-End charts. Subsequent records didn't have the same success, and his final album was released in 1986.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

76 Comments

Coles 5 months ago
I was a teen in the 80s, so this was my decade! I know all these songs, but I have no idea what that break dancing song is, lol!
mugens 5 months ago
99 Luftballons was not an American friendly tune in its native German which is most likely why the band didn't like the American version. I was stationed in Europe at the time, Air Force and we all pretty much knew what it was really about.
cperrynaples mugens 5 months ago
Fun Fact: Gary Del'Abate claims he brought the record to America when he was a record store clerk!
ETristanBooth 5 months ago
I remember four of them from the title alone, but the rest I would need to hear again. The only one I remember liking was Tracey Ullman, but I also watched her show.
jimmyvici 5 months ago
All good tracks except for the Tracy Ullman.
MtnGirl1998 5 months ago
The BEST 1 hit wonder ever was You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive!!!! I can listen to that one all day long. Same with I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers!!

Brucep MtnGirl1998 5 months ago
Dead or Alive were not a one hit wonder. Brand New Lover was also a Top 20 hit. Give it a spin. You can play it 12 hours and You Spin Me Round the other 12.
Kramden62 Brucep 5 months ago
I have both those 45's, too.

"You Spin Me Around" was first popular in the spring of 1985 and "Brand New Lover" was released exactly two years later.
KaijuKirk Brucep 5 months ago
And there were many more by Dead or Alive, like My Heart Goes Bang, Something in My House, Lover Come Back, Come Home With Me Baby, and more. I was in the clubs back in the day, so I knew them all!
MtnGirl1998 MtnGirl1998 5 months ago
You're all right! I looked them up. Unfortunately, I listened to a few of the songs and honestly don't remember hearing them "back in the day". I remember them playing "You Spin Me Round" the most and even nowadays when they do 80's rewind times, I only hear them play that song, that's why I thought that was the only "top" song they ever made. Thanks for clarifying things for me!!
djfone 5 months ago
Without Michael Jackson contributing 3 words --- "Somebody's watching me!" --- Born-well's dumb song gets zero airplay.
cperrynaples djfone 5 months ago
Actually it was 7 words..."I always feel like somebody's watching me"!
musicman37 5 months ago
Never heard "Breakin'", even though it was a top 10 hit. Never had it, still don't.
Kramden62 musicman37 5 months ago
It's the one that goes, "There's no stoppin' us (no stoppin')....No one does it better...."
Coles Kramden62 5 months ago
I don't recognize that, lol. And I was a teen then, I had the radio on 24/7!🤣
Nostradumbass Coles 5 months ago
You are not crazy. Played that on YouTube, and never heard it in my entire life. Including to this day on the 80's station on Sirius/XM.
KentuckyPhil69 5 months ago
Ahhh 1984 ... What a year... Music like this was on the radio, and I was in love with East German figures skater Katarina Witt... Oh to be 15 again...
Kramden62 5 months ago
I still have the original vinyl singles of #s 2, 3, 7, and 8 (#2 is now locked up inside my 1976 Seeburg Sunstar jukebox).

I also remember in the spring of 1984 we were living in New Jersey and my Dad (may he rest in peace) bought a brand new 1984 Cadillac Coupe deVille. I t didn't have a tape player, but whenever I had "Z-100" or WPLJ, "Power 95" on the car's stereo radio, those songs sounded like they were playing on a jukebox with deep bass (which was so cool)!
Stephen 5 months ago
Great songs that bring back good memories. They didn't mention that Tracy Ullman got Paul McCartney to appear in her video. That didn't hurt.
GNOSTICTRACY 5 months ago
did not have on mix-tape but heard a lot on MTV.
musicman37 GNOSTICTRACY 5 months ago
I still have the other 7 on my iPod.
Rockdog 5 months ago
None of them were on my mixtape I was in hair metal and hard rock
musicman37 Rockdog 5 months ago
And most of that sucked. Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Poison?????? YECCCCCHHHHH!!
retro6 5 months ago
I remember 7 of these so vividly! ☺️
thatmanbolt46 5 months ago
I don’t need stereo jungle jive???
Stormbringer73 5 months ago
most of these werent on my list.but Scandals "goodbye to you" was a great song and great video
rory49 Stormbringer73 5 months ago
Thank you - I KNEW they had another (semi) hit, I just couldn't pull it up from the memory banks!
LalaLucy 5 months ago
Only 3 I am unsure of and I will have to look those up to see if hearing them jogs my memory. Mom had the radio on a lot in that time period. MTV, too, in its early days...
LalaLucy LalaLucy 5 months ago
Just looked the unfamiliar 3 up and yep, remembered the tunes the moment they started.
FAITH24 5 months ago
I totally agree about "Goodbye to You." Patty Smyth also sang with The Hooters on "Where Do the Children Go" and I also read that Van Halen considered choosing her after David Lee Roth left!
cperrynaples FAITH24 5 months ago
Yep, and she did a commercial for Frank's, a popular soda in Philly!
Smorrow33 5 months ago
Scandal also sang Goodbye To You which to me was a better song than The Warrior. Just an opinion.
Randall 5 months ago
Tina Turner did an AWESOME cover of missing you (John Waite) give it a listen! Agree with everything else on the list!
tootsieg 5 months ago
Nice stroll down memory lane. Loved the song and the video for “They Don’t Know”.
musicman37 tootsieg 5 months ago
Her album, "You Broke My Heart in 17 Places" is a camp 80s classic.
musicman37 5 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?