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Friday, Oct 9, 2009
One in a long line of one-hit wonders that deserve to be multi-hit wonders.

America has never fully embraced what I like to call frat rock – the blend of pop-punk perfection filled with crunchy hooks, lyrics that combine humor and attitude, and a keg-tapping, booty-chasing college guy mentality – even though some of my favorite songs would fit into that category.


Sure, Deadeye Dick’s “New Age Girl” became a Top 40 hit, peaking at #27 and selling half a million singles in the process. And “Flagpole Sitta” – the Harvey Danger song that ruled the summer of ‘98, at least for me – reached #38 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart (although with lyrics like “put me in the hospital for nerves and then they had to commit me, you told them all I was crazy, they cut off my legs, now I’m an amputee, goddamn you” the song should have been a number one smash).


But Blink-182’s arguably definitive frat rock song “What’s My Age Again?”, which stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for almost five months, never charted higher than #58. The video, featuring Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker streaking through town, was both infamous and iconic, but unfortunately, the US didn’t seem to share their sense of humor. And SR-71’s awesome “Right Now”, which was a number two smash on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, never came close to charting on the mainstream Hot 100.


So it’s not surprising that Bowling for Soup, a pop-rock band from Wichita Falls, Texas, didn’t have much luck with “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”. With a tongue-twisting chorus and hooks that refused to let go for hours or even days, the song should have been one of the bigger hits of 2003. Instead, it barely lasted two months on the chart, peaking at #64.


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Friday, Oct 2, 2009
Sometimes the best hit singles by "one-hit wonders" are the ones that have been forgotten over the years.

In some ways, a one-hit wonder is in the eye of the beholder (or more accurately, the memory). A-Ha peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “The Sun Always Shines on TV”, a great song that spent four months on the chart. But most people only remember “Take on Me” (and the phenomenal video that accompanied it), so A-Ha is mistakenly thought to be a one-hit wonder. Vanilla Ice fared no better. “Play That Funky Music” was on the chart for four months and peaked at #4, but the song was overshadowed by the enormous success of “Ice Ice Baby”, so he too is often labeled a one-hit wonder.


This bothers me. The geek part of me cringes when Katrina and the Waves, for instance, is labeled a one-hit wonder. They actually had three Top 40 hits, “Walking on Sunshine”, “Do You Want Crying”, and “That’s the Way”. And my love for music makes me feel sad that radio stations (and as a result, listeners) have completely forgotten that “Real, Real, Real” was almost as huge a hit as “Right Here, Right Now” for Jesus Jones and was, in fact, a great song too.


So today I want to talk about so-called one-hit wonders who actually had more than one hit. There are literally hundreds of singers and groups who are remembered primarily for the one hit among many that lived on, from the Angels (“My Boyfriend’s Back” was just one of four Top 40 hits for the female pop trio) to Spandau Ballet (“True” peaked at #4, but “Gold” and “Only When You Leave” were also Top 40 hits in the US). I thought it would be interesting to talk about “one-hit wonders” who released successful songs I personally liked more than the hits they’re remembered for.


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Friday, Sep 25, 2009
After taking Arrested Development back to Tennessee, Dionne crafted a musical hit that still resonates today.

In the summer of 1992, Arrested Development had the first of three top ten hits with “Tennessee”, a song as powerful and hypnotic today as it was seventeen years ago. A quest for spiritual enlightenment hindered by the anger and pain of growing up in a world that often makes no sense, the song ended with the strong, pleading voice of Dionne Farris echoing the song’s search for home.


Dionne, who was more one of the “extended family” than an actual member of Arrested Development, got noticed after the song became such a major hit, and Chrysalis (Arrested Development’s record company) offered her a solo contract. Looking for more creative control than the company was willing to give, Dionne turned down the offer. Fortunately, Sony Music heard a demo she made with David Harris, and they offered her a contract that was more flexible.


The result was one of the best albums of the year, Wild Seed, Wild Flower.


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Friday, Sep 18, 2009
The daughter of a legend was also a successful singer in her own right.

Sometimes, three really is the lucky charm.


Despite being the daughter of a musical legend, Rosanne Cash’s first album wasn’t even released in the United States. Three of the tracks from her second album became hits on country radio, but none of them cracked the Top Ten. Then the firstborn daughter of Johnny and Vivian Cash released the title single from her third album, Seven Year Ache, and a major career began.


“There’s plenty of dives to be someone you’re not,” Rosanne sang, “you say you’re looking for something you might’ve forgot. Don’t bother calling to say you’re leaving alone, ‘cause there’s a fool on every corner when you’re trying to get home.”


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Friday, Sep 11, 2009
Almost nine years after racking up nine top ten hits, two members of New Kids on the Block had top ten hits of their own as solo acts.

Both singles from New Kids on the Block’s self-titled debut album, “Be My Girl” and “Stop It Girl”, failed to chart. But on October 8, 1988, their first charting track, “Please Don’t Go Girl” (from their follow-up album, Hangin’ Tough) also became their first top ten hit on Billboard’s Hot 100. In less than two years, they’d have eight more top ten smashes, including three that went all the way to number one (“I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”, “Hangin’ Tough”, and “Step by Step”).


And then it was over. In the next few years, they’d chart three more singles, but none of them would climb higher than #53. Their time had seemingly come and gone.


Then something unusual happened. More than eight years after New Kids on the Block’s last major hit, Joey McIntyre (one of the members of the group) released a single that, like “Please Don’t Go Girl”, peaked at #10. Five weeks later, “Give It to You” by Jordan Knight (another member of the group) also peaked at #10.


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