One-hit wonders

In 1969, one-hit wonders Zager and Evans were enjoying what would turn out to be a six-week run at the top of the US charts with this cheery number, ‘In The Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)’. It also reached Number One in the UK.

A slightly less-depressing French version was also released in 1969, by Dalida.

You know what I would type at this point if it wasn’t self-explanatory, but the following links might help you decide the best and worst, or just your favourites. If you haven’t started questioning your life’s purpose after listening to all three minutes of Zager and Evans, that is.

One-Hit Wonders (UK)
1960s One-Hit Wonders (USA)

Plenty to choose from the Sixties, I’m sure you’ll agree, where all my favourites come from. Check out ‘Cool Jerk’ by the Capitols, the EasyBeats’ ‘Friday On My Mind’, the Equals’ ‘Baby, Come Back’ and ‘Black Is Black’ by Los Bravos.

They don’t make them like that anymore, do they?

Then there’s the iconic instrumental, ‘Classical Gas’, by Mason Williams…

Fans of The Simpsons might care to single out Iron Butterfly’s ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, commonly known as ‘In the Garden of Eden’. Great riff.

For best, how about ‘Something In the Air’ by Thunderclap Newman? Failing that, for me, it has to be Bob and Earl with ‘Harlem Shuffle’.

Other notable mentions from other decades: Paul Hardcastle’s unforgettable ’19’, from 1985, and Marc Cohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis’, from 1991 (foolishly overlooked when we were discussing piano songs recently – my bad).

Worst? There are just too many, and that’s without considering all those infuriating novelty hits (I’m thinking Toto Coelo’s ridiculous ‘I Eat Cannibals’), but does Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ actually reassure anyone?

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

61 thoughts on “One-hit wonders”

  1. The 60s was when rock n roll really got started for me anyway.

    My brother played In A Gadda Da Vida until I was sure he was insane. For me, I was stuck on Light My Fire and whenever my parents went out of the house I would turn the stereo on so loud I am sure the whole neighborhood heard it, but I didn’t care.

    Pink Floyd occupied a lot of my time when I got older. 😉

    Patricia

  2. Hahah, ‘I Eat Cannibals’ by Toto Coelo. I actually stumbled across it the other day on YouTube. It was the first time I had seen it. It made me laugh. What a silly song. Not to mention the hair and the garments.

    ’80’s fashion, huh?

    Cheers! Hope all is well.

  3. There are SOOOOO many. VH1 does television specials on one hit wonders all the time and I keep yelling at the TV over the ones they’ve skipped. I probably shouldn’t state that publicly, should I?

    Anyway I’ll give a few which contribute to my deep love of Celtic-flavored rock:

    – C’mon Eileen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners
    – In A Big Country, Big Country (how did they get that sound?)
    – The Whole of the Moon, The Waterboys (I’m not sure that was a hit in the US but boy is it good. Any song that features fiddle and cannon fire… no, it’s a great, great song. I do love fiddle and pipes, though.)

    I have a huge collection of compilations just to get at some of my favorite OHWs simply because the albums they came from are long, long gone. But two of the best non-Celticy types are and will ever be:

    – You Get What You Give, New Radicals
    – My Ever Changing Moods, Style Council

    I haven’t even gotten to the legendary (maybe only in America, I’m not sure) beach music which is not surf music and bubblegum pop.

    These polls always make me go listen to my music collection again if only to give me that “OH, I forgot this one” moment. It’s all good.

    1. I once knew a girl who thought that Pink Floyd did ‘The Whole of the Moon’.

      We never really talked much after that.

  4. Seaside Shuffle by Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs who I didnt realise, until recently, was Jona Lewie.

  5. Fire, Crazy world of Arthur Brown.

    I saw him perform this without any musicians at a festival. It was Weeley 1971, there had been problems all day with the PA system, Arthur Brown came on wearing a giant teddy bear suit and performed Fire without any musical accompaniment… at least I think that’s what happened. 😕 :))

    Fire was great, I loved Fire.

    Cringe, oh no, Sugar Sugar by the Archies. I still feel embarrassed at the memory of some of my friends getting up and dancing to this song. I particularly remember one girl dancing to this whilst a group of us were discussing the fact that Cream had just broken up.

    A good fun topic this one Fed. Very difficult to come up with something without your helpful links. I think Joe Dolce’s, Shaddap You Face is much more likely to make you want to smash up your radio when it comes on than the “ridiculous” one you said.

    I’ve spent far too long looking and listening to all your linked songs Fed, and then wandering off to what else was there!!!

    ash X

  6. foolishly overlooked when we were discussing piano songs recently – my bad

    Your bad, F’ed? I realise I am divorced from “the street” but is this a new and creative form of the language? Or are you suffering from excessive twittering?

  7. One I can think of is Short People by…??? Forgot. :v

    P.S. Thanks Rudders for yesterday!

    1. If you are referring to Short People by Randy Newman you can hardly say he is a one-hit wonder.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  8. Thank you very much for all the links. Fun topic. Never heard of Zager And Evans, but I listened to Dalida’s cover of ‘In The Year Of 2525’ and could understand the lyrics. It’s what we call here ‘une chanson avant-gardiste’.

    ‘Black Is Black’ is well known here, since it has been covered by our national Johnny Hallyday as ‘Noir, c’est Noir’ – of course. 😉

    I had a look at both UK and US lists and I’m sorry, but I know almost none of the songs/artists.

    Except in the UK list: Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus’ and it’s a shame that they entered a ‘One-hit wonders’ list. Serge Gainsbourg was a great artist and had here a lot of hits and sold many quality albums.

    In the US list – where I didn’t know anyone – I chose what I thought to be the funniest name for a band (artist?), it’s Napoleon XIV. :))

    I wasn’t disappointed by their one-hit wonders ‘They’re coming to take me away’ either. Here it is.

    Michèle

    1. God, isn’t it awful?

      By the way, Dalida’s story is a tragic one, isn’t it? Three of the men she loved committed suicide before she took her own life.

      I also read that, in a poll to determine those who have had the greatest impact on French society, she was only beaten by Général de Gaulle.

      I wonder how Jeanne Augier is viewed in France.

    2. Ah yes, Dalida and her personal life filled with much drama and tragedy…

      Well, she had lots of men in her life, so if three of them committed suicide, they don’t represent such a big percentage, eh? 😉

      I know she always claimed that all the men in her life actually exploited her for sex, fame or fortune… Typical, no?

      I don’t know where you found your poll, maybe in a rubbish tabloid, because, sorry, but it’s silly. Can’t be true. I do hope it’s not true. (Dalida, not Général de Gaulle.)

      As for Jeanne Augier, people here are glad that she doesn’t want her Hotel Negresco to go into the hands of big international soulless hotel chains/companies. They generally think it’s a good idea, as she has no descendants, to leave her personal (monstrous) fortune to charity and to help homeless after she dies.

      But I feel personally very uncomfortable when she wants to donate her Hotel Negresco to a foundation whose aim is to help rescue unwanted animals. I think that people are much more important that animals.

    3. I don’t know where you found your poll, maybe in a rubbish tabloid.

      I apologise for sounding rude. (It was not my intention, sorry.)

    4. 😛 It wasn’t rude. Most polls are silly.

      Apparently this one was commissioned by the Encyclopédie Universalis and published in Le Monde – in 1988.

  9. Favorite one hit wonder from the sixties would be Journey To The Center Of The Mind by the Amboy Dukes.

    The seventies it would have to be Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum. Seventies were chock full of one hit wonders.

    Worst would have to be The Hustle by Van McCoy.

    Hoss

  10. On a break from the grind, finding the perfect distraction here at the DG Blog! :))

    The best (I only made it through the ’60s you’ll be happy to know!) using your reference list:

    1960~Stay, Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs
    1961~Take Five, The Dave Brubeck Quartet
    1962~Love Letters, Ketty Lester
    1963~Sally Go ’round The Roses, The Jaynetts
    1964~Funny (How Time Slips Away), Joe Hinton
    1965~(a tie) Land of 1,000 Dances, Cannibal & The Headhunters AND Twine Time, Alvin Cash & the Crawlers (so funky)
    1966~Barefootin’, Robert Parker
    1967~For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
    1968~All Along The Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix
    1969~Get Together, The Youngbloods

    It’s hard to imagine Jimi Hendrix on a ‘One-Hit Wonders’ list, isn’t it?

    Don’t be scared, FEd ~ I promise I won’t go through the remaining decades (four or five? ~ an inside joke for David). 😀

    Peace ‘n’ Love!
    Gabrielle

    1. Your 1967 choice has to be one of the finest songs ever written, in my opinion.

      I’m quite fond of your 1962 selection, too.

    2. Any list that puts Jimi Hendrix in the category of One-Hit Wonders is rubbish. This just shows how you cannot trust a site like Wikipedia all the time even though I do think there is a wealth of information on there.

      If you look up Jimi Hendrix Experience on that site it also states:

      “With the band, Hendrix recorded his five hit singles “Hey Joe”, “Purple Haze”, “The Wind Cries Mary”, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and “All Along the Watchtower”, and his three most successful albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland.”

      So how does a person with five hit singles become a one-hit wonder?

      It’s like saying that Aerosmith is a one-hit wonder because they only have one song that made it to number one on the Billboard charts. That being “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” which I found kinda surprising as well.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  11. Anyone remember Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”?

    The song was “99luft Balons” in German, since Nena was a German artist.

    The song is about, supposedly, a World War II veteran who starts a World War III when he mistakes a weather balloon for an enemy jet, or something of the sort.

    I believe it would be under the “worst” category, but it’s so bubbly and catchy it’s in your head after only listening to it once. 😐

    Ironically, I first heard the song on some VH1 One-Hit-Wonder countdown television show.

  12. I once knew a girl who thought that Pink Floyd did ‘The Whole of the Moon’.

    We never really talked much after that.

    I’d say “You’re kidding”… The Waterboy’s sound doesn’t much evoke Pink Floyd, at least for me… but we live a world in which people have the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” or U2’s “One” played for their first dance with their new spouses at their wedding ’cause they’re such romantic songs.

    People. Seriously, people.

    1. Oh, I hear you, Jill.

      I should hope that her embarrassing mix-up can be explained by pure word association: I guess that most people find the word ‘Moon’ in their minds, even if they know next to nothing factual about Pink Floyd.

    2. I once read a story about a bride to be who asked the elderly Church Organist if she would play the theme to Robin Hood as she came into the church… meaning “Everything I Do, I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams.

      She was met with “Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the Glen”… quality!

      Cheers
      Paul

  13. Iron Butterfly’s ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, commonly known as ‘In the Garden of Eden’. Great riff.

    Such a fantastic tune.

    With the term ‘In the Garden of Eden’ in mind and in connection with ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, I used to think that Pink Floyd’s ‘Ummagumma’ was another word for ‘Armaggedon’ but that was before I heard that the meaning was allegedly Cambridgeshire slang for copulation or Fenland mutant language.

    1. The way I heard the story is that the title of the song was suppose to be called “In A Garden of Eden,” but the lead singer was so drunk at the time that it came out “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita.”

      You can read more about this track here.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  14. Re: ‘In The Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)’

    And I always wondered if the lyrics of this song were inspired by Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’ and H.G. Wells’s ‘Time Machine’. Two great futuristic novels I might add, which, seem relevant to today in some respects.

  15. My favourite from the UK list would be ‘M*A*S*H’ – the theme from, anthough I much prefer the Manics’ version.

    I’m not convinced about the accuracy of that UK chart. I was thinking along the lines of ‘Mr Blobby’ for worst song and it ain’t there (no great loss to mankind, I know).

    I’ll go for Anita Ward’s ‘Ring My Bell’ instead, it was annoying at the time and it hasn’t improved any with age.

  16. I didn’t know Zager And Evans, but I know very well In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and I love it.

    I think I’ve never heard most of the songs in your links, FEd, so I can’t actually choose.

    Two songs I like are “Fire” by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”.

    I’ve also seen Love’s “7 and 7 Is” in the US charts. I don’t like very much that song, but I think “Forever Changes” is a great album with a great 60s cover.

  17. Hello Fed. How are you? Are you and the garden doing well? I hope this wicked world isn’t beating you down these days. 😉

    Every time I visit the blog, I get distracted by the videos on the home page and end up watching them and forgetting what I came here for.

    I never get tired of listening to David perform ‘The Blue’. I’ve noticed that anytime I become burdened with the anxieties of life, I find myself listening to it and I always manage to gain a certain level of peace from it.

    Thanks for that, David. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Melissa.

      I’m very pleased with my first real attempt at growing vegetables – thanks again for the tips. My spring onions are ready to pull at long last; my first beetroot and potato harvests were plentiful; the slugs probably claimed as much spinach as I got to eat and there have been some very small, oddly-shaped carrots, but it’s been an enjoyable and rewarding experience on the whole. I’ll definitely be sticking at it.

      Who’d have thought that handing a neighbour a dirty lettuce would feel so good?

  18. How could anyone forget ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus!! Or is that intentional? 😉

    I love that song! I have only ever heard the studio version of this and never seen it performed so seeing this new blog inspired me to see if there was something on YouTube for it. Sure enough, it’s here.

    I do love Nena’s ’99 red Balloons’, and of course ‘In-a-gada-da-vida’ people look at me sideways when I mention that one, I don’t generally meet others that actually like it.

    ‘For What it’s Worth’ is a great tune, my nephew seems to think it’s over-played, and boring. Sad.

    ‘I Eat Cannibals’??? WOW 8| That was hilarious. Never heard of it before. Thanks for the laugh!!

  19. The most annoying one-hit wonder for me has to be Macarena by Los Del Rio. FEd is probably dancing to it right now.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  20. What about 1979 – Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb?

    What happened to those guys?

    Good song though.

    1. Tony Jack? Any relation to Terry Jacks who recorded that other awful one-hit-wonder “Seasons In the Sun?” :))

      What I didn’t know is that the song is actually a translation of a French song, Le Moribond.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  21. Hi FEd,

    Hope all is well with you and the viewers.

    What a fun topic. Two things to say about it. I think In The Year 2525 is absolutely amazing given it’s time and that it’s lyrics predicted so many of the world’s wonders that were yet to come. I listen to the song often.

    A pick for me would have to be Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum. Love them both.

    And speaking of mistaken identities, my sister use to think that Please Don’t Judas Me was by Judas Priest. When I finally informed her she stated that she had told people that for years. Whoops!

    Love to all.

  22. It pains me to see Marc Cohn on a one-hit wonder list. I have all his albums and there isn’t a dog in the lot! 😀

    One that I remember well is 96 Tears (? and the Mysterians).

    I recently ran across Nuggets I and Nuggets II, all one-hit wonders. There are some great ones there, like Baby Please Don’t Go (Amboy Dukes) and Tobacco Road (Blues Magoos).

    I think I’ll go digging in my CDs to see what I can find. Thanks, FEd.

  23. Sorry FEd if I’m off topic, but I thought someone here could be interested.

    I just received an e-mail from Greenpeace with this good news.

    So, their petition worked.

    I have not enough time to check now, sorry, but maybe it was one of the many petitions posted here when we were talking about World Environment Day.

    Anyway, let’s hope they’ll actually do what they promise. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, FEd, it’s very interesting.

      It’s good to see that something is starting to change.

      I only hope Greenpeace will always keep controlling them, because I can’t completely trust their promises.

      Am I too sceptical?

    2. I received another e-mail right now, announcing this.

      It’s a good moment for Greenpeace, I hope it will go on like that.

      Sorry for all these off topics, FEd.

  24. I love the 1967 track “Kites” by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. I love the way they started to create a lush musical soundscape with a mixture of percussive instruments and the orchestral swells on the exciting “new” melotron. I’d never heard anything like it before and it still stands as a landmark in my journey of musical discovery.

    I heard it again for the first time in ages and it brought a myriad of childhood memories flooding back to me.

  25. Flying Lizards’ “Money” is great, an irreverent take on The Beatles’ original.

  26. One thing I always wanted to ask:

    I always thought that “Another Brick in The Wall Part II” is amaaaazing and groovy music. And one thing of concern is: there is something “tricky” and unique about the rhythm guitar in this music (I mean, studio, The Wall version); it’s HARD to imitate.

    One aspect, of course, is that’s played by David, himself unique. But despite this, all YouTube guys and tutorials can’t convince me (and I can’t convince myself) that they’re doing it right (the right hand rhythm).

    So, how did David do it at recording?

    Fed, sorry if my question is silly, but I had to ask. Was stronger than me. 🙂

    1. It’s one I can’t answer, unfortunately.

      Can anyone else offer any insight? I know there are some talented guitarists reading…

    2. not to say i know how he accomplished that in another brick in the wall… but david gilmour is unique in his use of studio equipment and multilayer tracking. he has access to tools not found in your average garden variety studio. in such a world as his was… excuse me, still is, anything is possible!

      i have recorded parts in multilayer sound using strange techniques such as normally record something then play it back on another system in the corner of a room, slowing down the response and detuning at the same time to give an “odd” stereo signal to the mix.

      so to answer your question!? why not ask david gilmour?

    3. so to answer your question!? why not ask david gilmour?

      If David wanted all his guitar-playing techniques and tricks exposed, I’m sure he’d have answered this by now. Besides, it’s more interesting finding these things out for yourself, isn’t it? There are talented guitarists reading, playing this song in cover bands and videoing themselves for a potentially huge YouTube audience, so how do they do it?

      It’s a fair question.

    4. Yeah, definitely the answer is something like a “groove is in the heart”, and must be found by myself. I just asked because probably someone here could have a better insight than me (especially about the technique, I am not concerned about equips and setups, once the best I’ll reach it’s a sound close from the original, but not identical). I have been trying, and it is really a matter of feeling, I guess. But I had to ask, anyway.

      Thanks for FEd and Duane.

    5. REGIS- YOU’RE RIGHT, IT’S A FAIR QUESTION. I ONLY MEANT WHY NOT GO TO THE SOURCE FOR ANSWERS? EVEN THOUGH HE’S FAMOUS, HE’S STILL SENSITIVE TO FANS’ REQUEST FOR AN ANSWER.

      ANYHOW, HERE’S A GUESS-COULD IT BE AN ANALOG DELAY ANSWERING TWICE AFTER THE ORIGINAL 2 STROKES? REMEMBER HOW ANALOG EFFECTS TEND TO LEND THEMSELVES TO THAT KIND OF SHORT DELAY? WELL, I’M NOT TRYING TO BE SMART. JUST TO HELP, MAYBE SORT IT OUT. KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS AND FINDING OUT WHY THINGS WORK THE WAY THEY DO. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR REPLICATION OF THAT SONG!

      I CAN’T BELEIVE HOW MUCH THEY WANT FOR A DAVID GILMOUR STRATOCASTER! I SAW A PICTURE OF HIM USING AN OLD GOLDTOP LES PAUL RECENTLY. THOSE ARE UNIQUE SOUNDING.

      HAVE A SUCCESSFUL DAY REGIS!

  27. ONE HIT WUNDERS! YES, SAD BUT TRUE, SOME ONLY HAD ONE. AND MANY HAD MATERIAL THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED BUT WERE NOT. MAYBE IT WAS BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

    ANYHOW! HERE ARE TWO FROM THAT CATEGORY WORTH NOTE-

    NORMAN GREENBAUM – SPIRIT IN THE SKY (I LIKED IT)
    FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND – SIGNS (I LIKED IT)
    SUGARLOAF – GREEN EYED LADY (I LIKED IT)

    I LISTED THESE BECAUSE NOTHING ELSE THESE ARTISTS DID THAT I REALLY LIKED.

    OF LITTLE TO NO INTEREST, NORMAN GREENBAUM DID A BACKUP SINGLE CALLED “CANNED HAM”. WHAT HAS CANNED HAM GOT TO DO WITH #@**#$%!! ANYTHING!? NO WONDER HE DIDN’T RELEASE ANYMORE!

    I SAW SUGARLOAF DOING THEIR SET HERE IN CHARLOTTE NC BACK IN THE 70S AT A LOCAL CLUB! THEY WERE GOOD!

    PEACE LOVE AND KEEP ON SMILIN’!

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