Sometimes, my wife thinks that I don’t like her ideas. On occasion she will throw out an idea for one of my lectures or this blog. My typical reaction is never what she wants it to be (wild, unbridled enthusiasm!) Usually it is a lot of “Hmmm” and “I need to think about that.” She thinks I am stalling or trying to avoid saying that I think her idea stinks on ice. But in actuality, I really am thinking about how I can take that idea and flesh it out into a finished product. Many times, it just doesn’t work out (that’s why she is the creative one!) But today, it has worked out! She wanted me to make a post around the idea of “one-hit wonders” and I think I have crafted something good. So if this post is awesome, it was because of my rapidly developing creativity. If it is a huge stink-bomb, its all Susie’s fault!
As described in a previous post, I am a big fan of music. It doesn’t matter what kind of music, as long as it is loud and interesting (and not country!) Despite this love of music, the Grammys are not really my thing. To be honest, I really cannot stand award shows. Too many people posing and preening, trying to show each other how cool and special they are. Especially the Grammys. I feel like they are trying to be the Oscars, only “hipper”.
For the longest time, I thought the Grammys also always got things wrong. They always seemed to glorify that one catchy song from the year and give it all of the awards over some actual good music. Then in retrospect, the big winner heads off into “one-hit wonder” obscurity and the previous year’s Grammys look horribly out of date (kind of like early season of Friends. Nice high waisted jeans Monica. Very hip!)
However, in doing some research for this post (I know you’re surprised I actually do research for this blog!), I found that my assumption was rather incorrect. I always felt that the biggest culprit of this problem was Grammy for Best New Artist. But upon further review, the Grammys on the whole seem to do a good job of getting it right. (I don’t think that anyone would say Robert Goulet, Tom Jones, Sheryl Crow, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Carpenters and some band called The Beatles were flashes in the pan.) Sure there were some clear misses (Paula Cole), but if you want to take a trip down memory lane, peruse the list of nominees and you will be very entertained and notice that the voters did a pretty good job of keeping the award out of the hands of true one-hot wonders. (Years from now, scholars will debate exactly how Rick Astley got jobbed out of the award by Tracy Chapman!)(My favorite random group of nominees is 1998 –> Paula Cole beat out Erykah Badu, Fiona Apple, Puff Daddy and Hanson. I don’t think those five artists have been in the same room together, or even mentioned in the same sentence, until this very moment!)
Despite the actual history of the Grammys picking appropriate artists for Best New Artist ruining a perfectly good lead in to the main point of my post, I will now proceed to talk about some of my favorite all-time “one-hit wonders”. In no particular order:
Sir Mix-a-Lot with “Baby Got Back” – If you were an adolescent in the early 90’s or later, this song is seared into your brain because it is still played at every party, dance and wedding you have ever been to. And why not, it has a pretty good beat and talks about people with big butts. Nothing says “one-hit wonder” more than that. Did you know that he had another song that came out at some point after that called “Put’ Em on the Glass”? Who’d a thought that going to the well one too many times wouldn’t work out? I’m shocked! (Much like Vanilla Ice, he blames his label and MTV for trying to make him a caricature and not the real artist he is inside. Making songs about women’s body parts.)
Crash Test Dummies with “Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm” – the interesting thing about “one-hit wonders” is that they usually have had more than one hit song (more on that in a second) but as is typical of our American-centric ways, only one song was popular in the US, but many others were popular in other countries (Maybe not Hasselhoff in Germany big, but still). These guys apparently had a few big songs in the UK and Canada, but people only remember them for this song that has a mostly acoustic background and a guy with a deep voice who says Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm a lot. (They were one of those one-hit wonders who got blocked from winning Best New Artist. I like Sheryl Crow a bit more now.)
The Triplets with “You Don’t Have To Go Home Tonight” – oh yeah, I just went there. You didn’t think that I could come up with a “one-hit wonder” that wasn’t over done and over hyped. To be honest, this selection is really a stand in for the countless other girl groups that were popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s. (Stacy Orrico, Gina G., Sheila E, SWV, Jade, Robyn, I could keep going if you want.) (Sorry one more, Roxette.)(Wait, there was a guy in that group?)(Seriously!?) I’m not going to lie, I have a thing for female singers and groups. I’m not sure why, but I do. Sue me. I pretty much enjoyed the music put out by all of those performers for at least a brief period of time. (Except Roxette.) This could easily have also been a male version looking at all of the crappy boy groups that have come out and were not nearly as popular as N’Sync, The Backstreet Boys or (gasp) NKOTB. (Color Me Badd, Kris Kross, LFO, ABC, OTown, Ahhhh! somebody please stop me!)
Timmy T/Stevie B with crappy piano only whining love ballads that were hugely popular when I was in 7th and 8th grade whose exact names I can’t remember and frankly it is much funnier to describe them this way – I will never forget either of these two songs, because they were a very important part of my formative years. They immediately take me back to 7th and 8th grade and the countless dances and boy-girl birthday parties. Once either of these songs came on, it was time to couple up and “dance”. (No one would call this dancing. Scientists now refer to this as more of a swaying or lingering hug. Whatever. We were pre-teens and thought we invented cool.) I only wish Facebook and digital cameras existed back then, because there would be a lot more pictures of me wearing heinous pants causing you to wonder how I ever convinced a girl to dance with me, let alone be seen in public with me.
Veruca Salt with “Seether”/Luscious Jackson with “Naked Eye” – It really pains me to say this because these are probably my two favorite bands in the world. On most of their albums, I still cannot find a song I don’t like. Even though they were popular when I was in high school, I still listen to them. But no matter how awesomely alternative these two bands were, to the rest of the world, they are simply “one-hit wonders.” Veruca Salt gets bonus points for having multiple excellent albums, being from Chicago, for being named after the bratty “Bad Egg” from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory and for me dragging my wife to see them at The Patio in Broad Ripple even though I had a med school final the next day. (Hey, I left before the encore. And I passed!)
Snow with “Informer” – I have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of play that this song gets on XM/Sirius Radio. Nothing says “street cred” like a fast-talking, white, Canadian reggae-rapper from the mean streets of Toronto.
Actually, I do remember (and Wikipedia reminded me) that Snow had a second song which was mildly popular that same summer (“Girl, I’ve Been Hurt”, for those of you keeping score at home.) This leads into the mysterious topic of the “two-hit wonder.” In contrast, to the “one-hit wonder”, the “two-hit wonder” actually would give you the impression that they had some staying power. Clearly something was brewing, but then poof… its all gone and now you spend your days as a bit player on VH1’s I Love the (Your Popular Decade Here).
Digital Underground – If you ever want to be really impressed by my awesomeness, just ask me to rap “The Humpty Dance”. (You better believe that I know all the words. I’m actually not sure how I wake up in the morning under the weight of all this awesomeness.) Digital Underground also had the popular “Kiss You Back” a few years later which got a lot of radio airplay. In the end, I am pretty sure they just couldn’t handle life after Tupac (yes, THAT Tupac) left on his much ballyhooed solo career.
Naughty by Nature – You would think having not one, but two different early 90’s party anthems (O.P.P and Hip Hop Hooray) would be enough to propel you to superstardom, but for some reason these crazy kids just couldn’t get along. Maybe it was the spoof song that they inspired (You down wit MTV? Yeah, you know me!)(Do you remember that song? Yeah, you know me!)
Nelson – Ah yes. Who could forget the long, flowing locks of blond hair whipping around while these brothers rocked out “Love and Affection” followed by “After the Rain”. Nothing says staying power like dreamy hair that is not totally dated at all. This was one of the few tapes that I owned. In fact, I would still own it if it weren’t for the fact that at some point in college, I leant it to a friend who was so excited that someone still owned it.
Alas, just like their hair, that tape is now gone and lost forever.
I could keep doing this all night and making myself laugh, but I have noticed that I with each passing artist, I have less and less to say. That is a good sign it is time to end. But before I go, I would encourage you to leave comments here or on Facebook with your favorite “one” or “two-hit wonder”. I know I didn’t get all of your favorites. Especially you, Susie Victoria (who is one of the few people in this world that I would be afraid to face on “Name That Tune”. She seriously knows the words to every song every written.)(Challenge accepted!)