VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '80s: Do You Agree?

Dexysmidnightrunners_lThe Music Mix, as you know, is a tiny bit fond of lists. Today, however, VH1 did the work for us by sending out the complete set from their recently rerun countdown of ’80s one-hit wonders, and while nothing beats a hungover Saturday spent in the company of Kajagoogoo, Timbuk 3 and J.J. Fad, we have some… objections.  Click through to the jump to see the full list and our response.

VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the ’80s:

01      Dexys Midnight Runners "Come on Eileen" (pictured)      
02      Flock of Seagulls "I Ran (So Far Away)"
03      A-Ha "Take On Me"      
04      Tommy Tutone "867-5309 / Jenny"
05      Soft Cell "Tainted Love"      
06      Toni Basil "Mickey"   
07      Modern English "I Melt With You"      
08      Bow Wow Wow "I Want Candy"   
09      Kajagoogoo "Too Shy"   
10      Frankie Goes to Hollywood "Relax"      
11      Gary Numan "Cars"      
12      Animotion "Obsesssion"         
13      Thomas Dolby "She Blinded Me With Science"   
14      Big Country "In A Big Country"
15      Devo "Whip It"
16      Nena "99 Luft Balloons"
17      Men Without Hats "The Safety Dance"   
18      Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock "It Takes Two"
19      Dead or Alive "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"      
20      Rockwell "Somebody’s Watching Me      
21      Twisted Sister "We’re Not Gonna Take It"      
22      Michael Sembello "Maniac"      
23      Eddy Grant "Electric Avenue"   
24      Edie Brickell & New Bohemians "What I Am"   
25      Musical Youth "Pass the Dutchie"      
26      Cutting Crew "I Just Died In Your Arms"
27      Stacey Q "Two of Hearts"      
28      John Parr "St. Elmos Fire (Man In Motion)"   
29      Madness "Our House"   
30      The Vapors "Turning Japanese"
31      Bobby McFerrin "Don’t Worry Be Happy"
32      Quarterflash "HardenMy Heart"
33      John Waite "Missing You"      
34      The Waitresses "I Know What Boys Like"
35      Tom Tom Club "Genius of Love"
36      Weather Girls "It’s Raining Men"      
37      Lipps, Inc. "Funkytown"
38      Bruce Willis "Respect Yourself"
39      Matthew Wilder "Break My Stride"      
40      The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star"      
41      Billy Vera "At This Moment"   
42      Timbuk 3 "The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"      
43      Shannon "Let the Music Play"   
44      Wall of Voodoo "Mexican Radio"
45      Robbie Nevil "C’est La Vie"   
46      Georgia Satellites "Keep Your Hands To Yourself"      
47      Pretty Poison "Catch Me I’m Falling"   
48      Yello "Oh Yeah"
49      Philip Bailey (w/ Phil Collins) "Easy Lover"   
50      Neneh Cherry "Buffalo Stance"
51      After the Fire "Der Kommissar"
52      Mary Jane Girls "In My House"
53      Taco "Puttin’ On the Ritz"   
54      Chris DeBurgh "Lady in Red"   
55      Johnny Kemp "Just Got Paid"   
56      Til Tuesday "Voices Carry"   
57      Jermaine Stewart "We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off"      
58      Don Johnson "Heartbeat"
59      The Outfield "Your Love"      
60      Nu Shooz "I Can’t Wait"
61      E.U. "Da Butt"
62      XTC "Dear God"
63      Oran "Juice" Jones "The Rain"
64      Robbie Dupree "Steal Away"   
65      Boomtown Rats "I Don’t Like Mondays"   
66      The Jeff Healy Band "Angel Eyes"      
67      Martika "Toy Soldiers"
68      Peter Schilling "Major Tom"   
69      T’Pau "Heart And Soul"
70      Harold Faltermeyer "Axel F"   
71      Jack Wagner "All I Need"      
72      Swing Out Sister "Breakout"   
73      Paul Hardcastle "19"   
74      Information Society / "What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)"      
75      Bertie Higgins "Key Largo"   
76      J.J. Fad "Supersonic"
77      General Public "Tenderness"   
78      Aldo Nova "Fantasy"   
79      Alannah Myles "Black Velvet"   
80      Eddie Murphy "Party All The Time"      
81      Josie Cotton "Johnny Are You Queer?"   
82      Red Rider "Lunatic Fringe"   
83      Paul Lekakis "Boom Boom Boom Let’s Go Back to My Room"
84      The Church "Under The Milky Way"      
85      Ziggy Marley And The Melody Makers "Tomorrow People"   
86      Patrice Rushen "Forget Me Nots"      
87      Vixen "Edge Of A Broken Heart"
88      Nik Kershaw "Wouldn’t it Be Good"      
89      Rodney Dangerfield "Rappin’ Rodney"   
90      Haircut 100 "Love Plus One"   
91      Gloria Loring & Carl Anderson "Friends And Lovers"   
92      Frank Stallone "Far From Over"
93      L.A. Guns "The Ballad of Jayne"
94      Club Nouveau "Lean On Me"      
95      Midnight Oil "Beds are Burning"
96      The Fabulous Thunderbirds "Tuff Enuff"
97      Will To Power "Baby I Love Your Way / Freebird"
98      Buckner & Garcia "Pac-Man Fever"      
99      Michael Damian "Rock On"      
100     Clarence Clemons (and Jackson Browne) "You’re A Friend Of Mine"

First of all, what’s up with all the actor novelty hits?? Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Wagner, Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Frank Frickin’ Stallone. I mean, if there can only be one song called "Heartbeat," don’t go with Mr. No Socks Miami Vice — that honor truly belongs to Taana Gardner, whose 1981 disco hit is the basis for not only Ini Kamoze’s "Here Comes the Hotstepper" (one-hitter: ’90s edition, we salute you!), but has also been sampled by De La Soul, DMX, and KRS One:

Also lookin’ good today, lookin’ good in every way? Neneh Cherry, who is technically a two-hit wonder; 1989’s "Kisses On the Wind" went to no. 8. And that super-stoopid "Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird" medley from Will to Power could surely be replaced by Murray Head’s camp-tacular "One Night in Bangkok," no? Love and Rockets’ no. 3 goth-gasm, "So Alive"? Or perhaps Johnny Hates Jazz’s "Shattered Dreams"? It peaked at no. 5, twice as high as the Lesser Stallone’s Staying Alive theme song. Speaking of Franks, Frank Zappa’s only top-40 hit, "Valley Girl," is sadly absent. Like, whatever.

But you tell me, readers — Anything else on this list you find grody to the max? Or are you down with all 100?

addCredit(“Adrian Boot/Retna Ltd.”)


Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Darryl

    vh1 crossed the line with too many multi-hit artists. Aside from your response, few more with 2 or more top 40 hits in the US incl. A Flock Of Seagulls (Wishing #26), Men Without Hats (top 20 Pop Goes The World anyone?), Madness (It Must Be Love #33), John Waite (he had 3). I dare any of them to experience the pain of spinning General Public’s cover of “I’ll Take You There” (#22) every single hour for six weeks at a top 40 station (like I did). Did they forget that sister MTV played Europe’s “Carrie” (#3) ad nauseum? And XTC? “Dear God” never was a pop hit.

    You’re right about Zappa although vh1 would write that off as a “legend” that doesn’t belong on this list.

  • Abbott

    Im not to sure about a few songs on this list a few of these people or bands had more then 1 well known song i believe, shouldnt I wanna Rock by Twisted sister be on here? other songs here never even heard of, And im a big fan of the 80’s

    • Marcus

      “I Wanna Rock” was only a minor hit for Twisted Sister. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was their big “one hit” if you want to classify it as such. The truth is however with people who listen to heavy metal they were far from a one hit wonder, they have probably ten big hits in that genre.

  • Andrew Boyd

    XTC? How insulting. The powers that be obviously have no clue how great they are/were.

    • Marlys

      and DEVO too. NOT one hit wonders.

      • coasterlover

        what about john parr’s naughty naughty

    • Steve Mac

      No kidding. XTC had hits in the late 70’s. Generals & Majors,1 2 3 4 5 Senses working overtime.

      • Steve Mac

        What about Nowhere Girl by B-Movie or Dancing in Heaven by Q Feel

  • Neal

    Robbie Dupree doesn’t beling on the list for “Steal Away”, he also had a minor hit with “Hot Rod Hearts” so he’s also a two hit wonder.

  • larrynoel

    where can i buy the cds of these one hit wonders 80s

  • Dave Mon

    Several things to consider here, first, what does the term “one hit wonder” mean in this case? We know what it means literally, that the artist had only one “hit” (define hit for me…Rolling Stone? VH1? MTV? Billboard Top 100? Reader’s Choice? FM Radio Charts?) in their career, yet some of the artists on this list, as a few people have pointed out, have had more than one “hit.” The point is that these choices were made because of the impact the songs had in terms of general popularity and because simply, how they pretty much defined the band in most of our minds. I doubt the list would be as fun and entertaining (it’s sole purpose anyway) if you went all literal critical and left out Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” or DEVO’s “Freedom Of Choice” or Girl You Want.” Besides, I doubt any two people would ever come up with exactly the same list of 100…it’s art (although arguably in some cases), and it’s subjective.

  • zach

    u forgot Bon Jovi man

  • Richie Rich

    What about “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco?

    • Donna J

      Depending upon where all these one hit wonders were supposed to take place, “Rock Me Amadeus” wasn’t the only hit Falco had. “Der Kamersan” (sp) was also a hit sung exactly the same way Falce wrote it and sung it in Vienna by another group. Also, Falco was a HUGE hit in Europe and Japan, he just didn’t want to have his music exploited in the U.S., he said it wasn’t “good for him.”

  • Jax

    Do I assume that this is a list of one hit wonders based on the US charts? Midnight Oil is one of Australia’s most influential rock bands of all time and they had massive commercial success in OZ during the late 70s, 80s and early 90s. It’s extremely disappointing to see Midnight Oil on this list. As a supporter and advocate for OZ Rock, I implore all who read this list to completely disregard Midnight Oils inclusion! The album Blue Sky Mining (1990) reached #1 in Australia, #28 in the UK and #20 in the US. A relatively successful album…Diesel and Dust (1987/1988), the album featuring Beds are Burning, enjoyed international recognition for the singles Beds are Burning and Diesel and Dust along with success in the album charts reaching #1 in Australia, #19 in the UK, #21 in the US. That is two albums recognised internationally.

    Earth And Sun And Moon (1993) rocketed to #1 in Australia and the single Truganini made it to #10 in OZ and # 29 in the UK. Do these not count as top 40 successes?
    Other significant singles include Power and the Passion, Forgotten Years, US Forces, When the Generals Talk and Best of Both Worlds. The albums Species Deceases and Red Sails in the Sunset also rate a mention.

    How can a band spaning three decades, whose music is provocative, innovate and thoughtful and who have enjoyed local and international success be considered a One Hit Wonder?

    Shame on you for your absolute lack of insight!

    • Jax

      Sorry that should read, “shame on you Vh1 for your absolute lack of insight!”

    • simo

      Bang on the money Jax! however we must remember VH1 is american based and the reality is little to no understanding of what happens outside the states. The fact that a lot of the bands posted on this list have had more than one hit is really an indication of the lack of insight, research, possibly the age of the people putting this list together. I reckon leave them to it…may they live out their lives in ignorant bliss.

      • bob

        I figured it was some college intern who made up the list. Half of the bands/musicians on the list had way more than one hit and some of them were huge outside of the USA

  • Jak Goodson


  • Comrad cadavre

    Has anyone here ever been on the internet?
    “never gonna give you up” by rick astly
    it’s the #1 meme on the internet

    • Laura Parrish

      Exactly! I was just thinking the same thing

    • bob

      He had another hit, Together Forever. He doesn’t qualify

  • debbie

    where’s right said fred i’m too sexy

  • debbie

    wheres right said fred

    • avidrocker

      because it was from the 90’s not the 80’s

    • Ethan

      thats 90s

  • Steven

    How about Iam Siam – if they weren’t prototypical one-hit wonders from the 80s, I don”t understand the guidelines.

  • Kevin

    Dexy’s Midnight Runners as #1? No way. Midnight Oil were very successful, same as A Flock of Seagulls (I Ran, Space Age Lovesong, Wishing, even Nightmares and Transfer Affection charted low). The show did remind me of how bad that Free Bird re-do was. Wanted to puke. How about that Kenny “King of the Movie Soundtrack” Loggins clone? Talk about fluff. That was a hilarious comment by Bobby Fletcher.

    • udon’tneed2know

      Come On Eileen is the best song in the history of the world!!! i don’t see how you think somebody else should be better!!

      • JAY


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