If Madonna was the pop charts’ “It girl” of the mid-80s, then Olivia Newton-John had to have had that role in the late 70s and early 80s.* With the release of Grease, Olivia Newton-John’s fame vaulted into the stratosphere. During that period, her music was found on pretty much every top 40 station and almost every adult contemporary station as well. Some of those hits still get some airplay (particularly the songs from Grease), but others are long forgotten. For example, Ms. Newton-John’s top 20 hit “Deeper Than the Night” hasn’t been heard in terrestrial radio in some time.
As has been said on this page more than once, the late 80s and early 90s were replete with songs which have been left behind by radio. The entire library of songs for some artists are now forgotten, when once they ruled the airwaves on top 40 stations. While that hasn’t quite happened to the artist who went by the stage name Pebbles, some of her hits have hardly been heard on American radio since the 90s. For example, when was the last time you heard a station play “Giving You the Benefit”?
It’s not unheard of for a song to chart for multiple artists at the same time. It happened quite a bit in the early days of rock and roll. By the mid-70s, though, it was not nearly as common. There was one song, though, that charted for two different acts at the same time in 1976. Neither version gets much airplay now, of course, or this song wouldn’t be on this page, but I would imagine many people still remember Diana Ross’s version. But who remembers the 5th Dimension’s version of “Love Hangover”?
It’s not at all uncommon for an artist who is already part of a successful band to start a side project. This page covered one of those fairly recently. Heck, Duran Duran’s members split up between two successful side projects at the same time in 1985. Now, some of these side projects (though probably not Duran Duran’s two) are easily forgotten. Possibly one of the most successful bands formed as a side project, though, was Mike Rutherford’s side project Mike + The Mechanics.
Mike + The Mechanics was so successful that while the band, and several of its songs, are still remembered, other songs which got a fair amount of airplay originally have fallen by the wayside. One of those was the band’s 1986 top 40 hit “Taken In”.
Let’s be honest: 1982 was a weird year for top 40 music. Disco was dead, punk rock was waning, and no one genre dominated the music scene. To add to the constant flux in the top 40 sound, dozens of one-hit wonders appeared on the charts that year, seemingly more than in a usual year. One of the least likely one-hit wonders to chart that year was an act which came out of a recurring skit on a comedy show. But that’s how begins the story of Bob and Doug McKenzie.
When you think of an artist like Natalie Cole, you might think of all sorts of things. You might think of her very famous father or her famous duet with him. Or, perhaps, some of her big hits from the 1970s (“This Will Be” or “I’ve Got Love On My Mind”, for starters) come to mind. Sandwiched between the 70s hits and her duet with her father, though, Natalie Cole had some lean years, but she also had one huge comeback album, which featured one of her biggest hits ever. Remember “Pink Cadillac”?
One of the most prominent, and certainly one of the most recognizable, bands in the 1970s was Kiss. With their onstage makeup, even those who didn’t follow much rock music of the time knew who Kiss was. But who remembers the period when each of the four band members released his own solo album, all at the same time? And who further remembers which of the band members had the biggest hit of the four? Why, Ace Frehley, that’s who.
In the late 80s and early 90s, a lot of new artists came onto the scene, in a lot of cases due to the major upswing in dance music during that time. Some, like Paula Abdul, have endured well into the 21st century, while many, many others have fallen by the wayside. Show of hands: who remembers the short-lived pop career of Kevin Paige?*
Dr. Hook is one of those 1970s groups that a lot of people know by name. I would imagine, though, that most people don’t remember many, if any, of Dr. Hook’s hits (and they had several). It’s interesting, though, that a group which had top 20 hits in five out of ten years of the 70s is so easily forgotten. And, surprisingly enough, one of those forgotten hits was one of the group’s highest charting.
Led Zeppelin, it goes without saying, will never be featured on this site. This is a site for forgotten songs, but a lot of Led Zeppelin songs still get radio airplay.* It was for that reason that so many other bands tried to sound like Led Zeppelin. One of those bands, though, had the added advantage of having the son of a Led Zeppelin member as its founder. Show of hands: who remembers the band Bonham?