Stuck In The Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
This track was originally meant to be Bob Dylan tribute – parodying the artist’s notorious paranoia. Or at least that what Gerry Rafferty, the songwriter behind Stealers Wheel claimed. It was supposed to be a joke, so when the song skyrocketed to the top of the charts and the record sold over a million copies, Rafferty was put into a state of shock and disbelief, but to be fair, it is a pretty catchy track with one heck of a hook-line.
Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
This one’s probably one of the most famed songs about a sailor not being able to commit to a relationship – although, despite the rumors going around at the day, the lyrics weren’t referencing any real-life romance.
There’s an old fable that claims that there is a grave somewhere in New Jersey etched with the name ‘Mary Ellis’ who was supposedly an unfortunate damsel who waited all her life waiting for he beloved sailor lover to come back into her arms after years at sea, but Elliot Lurie, the songwriter for Looking Glass, admitted that the whole tale was a bunch of malarky. He had made it all up and the Brandy in question was based upon his high school sweetheart Randy. He had changed the name to invoke a better sense of feminine allure.
Dancing In The Moonlight – King Harvest
This one-hit-wonder is an upbeat and jovial offering that draws from rather gloomy source material. Sherman Kelly, lead keyboardist and songwriter for King Harvest wrote the track after getting the dirt kicked out of him by a menacing street gang when he was on vacation in the Caribbean Islands.
When he was hospitalized for days on end recovering from the incident, he conjured up in his mind an alternate reality where he was celebrating the joys of life in an ecstatic state of peace. That’s one way to cope with a traumatic experience – but definitely not what we expected when we danced to the song at our high school prom back in the day.
Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band
Skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight! If you don’t know what that’s all about then you’re simply not paying attention. One of the greatest anthems to ever pay homage to a little bit of mid-day lovemaking also won two Grammy awards and was even named one of the sexiest songs of all time by music magazine Billboard.
That being said, the band was incapable of following up there overnight success with anything substantial.
I love The Nightlife (Disco Round) – Alicia Bridges
Along with her co-writer Susan Hutcheson, Alicia Bridges penned one of the finest disco tracks of the generation about ditching your man to go to the club. Interestingly, the two weren’t really into disco when they wrote the memorable track.
Bridges had noticed that so many hits featured in Billboard had ‘disco’ in their name, so she thought that she might be able to snag a little piece of the pie and dish out her own take on the genre hoping to give her struggling musical career a little boost – and low and behold, it worked!.
The song was an instantaneous sensation and sat on the top of the charts for weeks. Bridges was never quite able to repeat the success but at least she was able to get a taste of fame for a bit – although some might say that she was a bit of a disco phony seeing how she didn’t even care for the style of music she was harping on about.
Kung-Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
Few songs from the 70s were as fun to sing along with as Douglas’s Kung-Fu inspired one-hit-wonder.
The lyrical content wasn’t exactly anything to write home about, but who can forget how those kicks were fast as lightning. And yeah, it wasn’t the most poetically substantial song of the decade, but who didn’t unleash a few clunky karate chops when the jukebox started playing this earworm of a song.
The Hustle – Van McCoy And The Soul City Symphony
McCoy might have been able to follow this one-hit-wonder up with a suitable follow-up if it weren’t for the fact that he died of a heart attack when he was just 39 years old. Even still, his legacy is one that endures to this day. McCoy and company won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for this song and it has been a staple of wedding party and rollerskating rink DJ playlists ever since.
The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
The band initially didn’t even care for the classic track that Rolling Stone put on its top 500 songs of all-time list. They were planning on scrapping the track or releasing it as only a B-Side for their Jailbreak album but the bands manager at the time saw its potential and insisted that the song be released as a single – and the rest is history.
We don’t mean to get too side-tracked, but if you’re enjoying this video so far, make sure you hit like and subscribe to our channel. Stay tuned to see why an Eric Clapton song made its way on to our list. He’s certainly not a one-hit-wonder artist, is he?
O-o-h Child – Five Stairsteps
Five Stairsteps had miner success recording in Chicago with Curtis Mayfield back in the 60s but nothing compared to the success they found after they dropped O-o-h Child. The song rose as high as #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1970 and has since been featured in Grand Theft Auto V and 2014’s Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy. The latter exposed the song to a whole new generation of listeners that were likely previously unfamiliar with the soft-soul classic.
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
We all have that one drunk uncle that thinks they can steal the stage on Karaoke night with this song. The band’s name was inspired by a box of cough drops that songwriter Rob Parissi saw while at the hospital on an overnight visit. The song itself traces its origins to a show that the band played where a disgruntled audience member unsatisfied with the band’s hard rock sound yelled ‘play some funky music, white boy’.
Rob knew the second he heard it that that line would make for a perfect hook for a hit song and he was correct in that assumption – as history tells us, it would also be Wild Cherry’s one and only hit single.
You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone
Arguably one of the most romantic songs to ever hit the charts, Debby Boone’s biggest – and only – hit rose to the top the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at the top position for 10 weeks straight. Mark my words, next time you’re at a wedding, you are almost guaranteed to hear this song played at least once.
Rock The Boat – The Hues Corporation
Well technically, the band had one previous miner hit back in 1974 with their song Stallion which charted at number 63 on the Hot 100, but Rock the Boat is the only song from the Disco-soul trio that you probably remember.
It was initially considered a flop as well. For months, the song had received zero radio play and sold no records but when it became a favorite of the New York disco scene it started charting. Notably, Rock the Boat is considered to be the first disco song to ever hit number one on the Hot 100. Eventually, the track went gold and still receives heavy airplay to this day on oldie stations all though out the world.
How Long – Ace
At first listen you might assume that this song is about a lover that was caught messing around with somebody else but that’s not what it’s about at all.
In truth, this one-hit-wonder is about Terry Comer, Ace’s bass player, whom the rest of the band discovered was playing with other bands in his downtime. They were furious about it and wanted to know ‘how long’ this had been going on. So they did what any band would have done when they felt cheated on by one of their own and wrote a song about it. Half a century later, and Comer is still being shamed for his musical unfaithfulness through Ace’s lone hit.
Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Suede
Ooga Chaka Ooga Ooga
Although this pop song was originally written in 1968 by Mark James and performed by B.J. Thomas, it reached number 1 when Blue Swede covered it in 1974
Frontman Bjorn Skifs made the song’s racially insensitive intro famous although British musician Jonathan King was the first one to make use of it in his 1971 cover of the song. He described the ooga-chaka as a reggae rhythm of sorts.
Blue Swede modified the original lyrics which included a drug reference to not stir up any controversy.
Yet again, Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy made the song popular when it was included in the films soundtrack – exposing the hit to a whole new generation of listeners.
Layla – Derek And The Dominos
This one is going to close out our list of one-hit-wonders. Eric Clapton certainly can’t be lumped into a list of one-and-done hit artists. Not by a long shot, but this love ballad about George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, was the only hit song from Clapton’s supergroup.
Doused in scandal owing to to the fact that Clapton and George were pretty close at the time, this hit single was ranked at number 27 of Rolling Stones list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and the ‘unplugged’ acoustic version won a Grammy in 1993 for best rock song.
Well, that’s about all the one-hit-wonders we can pack into this video. Which one was your favorite? Are you still Kung-Fu fighting to this day or is Hooked On A Feeling perpetually stuck in your head? Let us know in the comments section.
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