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?
Occasionally, a musical act, even though it is officially a one-hit wonder, can find itself known for multiple reasons. Stranger still, that act may find that, while some of its other non-charting work has endured, its one hit didn’t. That is exactly the case with the short-lived early-80s new wave group The Waitresses.
It isn’t unheard of for the artist credited on a track not to be the one who actually sings on that track. Carlos Santana, for example, made a career of it. But while many Santana tracks are still receiving airplay, one artist whose credited tracks are much more difficult to hear on American radio is famed producer Quincy Jones.
It’s always amazing when songwriters can cram a full story into a three-minute song. Some of these stories have lasted, while some have fallen by the wayside. Some of the more enduring story songs include (to name just a couple) Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” and Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”. Paul Nicholas’s one and only hit song, “Heaven on the 7th Floor”, on the other hand, falls into the latter category.
Rita Coolidge was one of those artists who could have been known for many different things during her career. She had some success with then-husband Kris Kristofferson. Before that, according to multiple accounts, she wrote the piano coda of the Derek and the Dominoes classic “Layla”. But I would imagine most people remember her best for a string of hits in the late 70s, all of which were remakes. Two of those were top ten hits (though even those are not getting much airplay these days), but how many of my readers remember a top 30 hit entitled, simply enough, “You”?