Two Hit Wonders?

There are plenty of stories and TV shows celebrating the 1-hit wonders like Wild Cherry, Modern English, Primitive Radio Gods. (3 of my favorites from each of the last 3 decades) Well, how about the artists who have doubled that output.  The six I have listed have had other good songs, but only 2 would hit the charts.  I’m sure there are others I’m missing; so feel free to list them in the comments section.  Remember, only classic rock selections. 

Gerry Rafferty- Is there a better saxophone solo on a classic rock song than “Baker Street”? The mellow sounds of “Right Down the Line” are almost as good. 

Stealer’s Wheel- Ok, this is kind of cheating, as the voice and main writer of this band is Gerry Rafferty, but the band does have a different sound.  “Stuck in the Middle with You” is my favorite song of all-time and I felt this way before I heard it played while Michael Madsen slices an ear in Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”.  The other song that charted by this band is an overlooked gem entitled “Star”, which is as good as anything Badfinger or the Rasberries did in emulating The Beatles.

Gary Wright*- Now what says the 70’s better than Dream Weaver? It practically shines a strobe light on the decade. Off of the same album, came a white funky gem entitled “Love is Alive”, which matches anything Steve Winwood did during his solo career. 

Al Stewart- Sure Al is no Rod Stewart, but I would match his 2 best tunes with anything bleach-blonde streaked Rod the Mod ever put out.  Has there been any singer sound like a bigger British poofter than Al Stewart?  I say listen to “Year of the Cat” or “Time Passages” and then try to tell me that the current band Keane wasn’t heavily influenced by his singing style. 

Golden Earring- “I’ve been drivin’ all night, my hands wet on the wheel”.  Now name me a song that kicks ass driving at night more than “Radar Love”?  You can’t do it.  8 years later, this Dutch band came back with an equally unique rocker “Twilight Zone”.  Actually they have a couple other good songs like “Clear Night, Moonlight” and “Devil Made Me Do It”, but the 2 that charted stand out above all the rest of their work.

10CC- How a band can come up with 2 incredibly great songs like “I’m Not in Love” and “Things We Do for Love”, but not have anything else on their greatest hits release that is even listenable is a complete mystery.  Band members Godley and Crème broke off and had a minor hit “Cry”, which was played a lot on MTV because of it being the first video to morph human faces. (The same effect was used later by Godley in the video he directed of Michael Jackson’s “Black and White” video.)

****** PLEASE LOOK AT THIS DEFINITION OF CLASSIC ROCK.******

I’m sure there’s more out there. Name ’em in comments.

39 thoughts on “Two Hit Wonders?

  1. 1.  Kim Wilde
    1* Kids in America
    (when she had more of a harder sound that I liken closer to a Benatar-type sound

    2* Keep Me Hangin’ On
    (VERY lame remake – she now had a Minogue-like sound and became unlistenable IMO despite the popularity of this song)

  2. 2.  “Gerry Rafferty- Is there a better saxophone solo on a classic rock song than “Baker Street”?”

    uhh…The Valentines break on “Woo-Woo Train” blows it away…but I guess that ain’t really horrid “classic rock”.

  3. 3.  They suck, but perhaps the Knack with My Sharona and Good Girls Don’t.

    Kiki Dee. Did that pretty-great summer song type single with Elton John….then some awful song called I Got the Music in Me and then totally disappeared as I recall.

    I don’t know how you define “charting” since there are so many charts – another great two hit wonder band would be the Romantics. It’s hard to deny What I Like About You and Talking in Your Sleep. I’d guess everybody knows those two and almost nobody knows of anything else they ever did.

    Maybe this is cheating because neither of the two songs went real high up the charts, but Marshall Crenshaw had two hits in two years and since then nothing in 20. And the guy quite often just plain rules. Someday Someway, Whenever You’re On My Mind.

  4. 4.  This song really was two-in-one, but the band claims it’s two songs: The Kings “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide” was pretty groovy for its time (at least to my 12 year old ears.

  5. 5.  Another good one: Blue Oyster Cult. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and “Burnin’ For You.” There was a chance that”Godzilla” made the top 40, but a cursary google didn’t bring up[ anything.

    I have long been a BOC fan…first real concert I ever went to was BOC/Cheap Trick…Illinois State Fair 1985 (or ’86).

  6. 6.  Probably The Band: The Weight and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Depending, you could add Up On Cripple Creek, but for some reason I remember it being made famous by another band.

  7. 7.  BOC and the Band don’t count – they were album artists. And Up On Cripple Creek was only the Band.

    Marshall Crenshaw is the reason that radio sucks. He should rule.

    The first side of Get The Knack rules!

    Don’t forget Candy’s Going Bad by Golden Earring.

    How about – Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts by Haircut 100. Or True and Gold by Spandau Ballet?

  8. 8.  As for “a better saxophone solo on a classic rock song,” I will always be partially to Sonny Rollins’ blowing on the Stones’ “I’m Just Waiting for a Friend.” Near the end he turns it into one of his calypsos, and you get the sense that he played for another seven minutes after the song fades out.

  9. 9.  What about the Tubes? “Talk to ya Later” and “She’s a Beauty” –

    Crowded House – “Something So Strong” and “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

    Don McLean – “American Pie” and “Vincent”

    The Motels: “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer”

    Some love for 10cc, “Art for Arts Sake (Money for God’s Sake)” and “Life is a Minestrone” are pretty good little ditties…

  10. 10.  Uh, I meant partial, not partially.

    And since I had to fix that, how about Thomas Dolby as a two-hit wonder (“She Blinded Me with Science” and “One of Our Submarines”), both from the same debut album, even?

    The danger of these conversations is determining what hit means, and what it means to have one. After all, Lou Reed, even adding in his VU time, is a one-hit wonder (“Walk on the Wild Side”), Los Lobos is a one-hit wonder (“La Bamba”) for a nostalgic cover on a soundtrack, and the Ramones are no-hit wonders, unless having your songs’ chords power lots of advertising counts.

  11. 11.  Tubes!

    And whoever said The Knack sucks is banned. “My Sharona” may be the best rock n’ roll song ever. Yes, I’m serious.

    Dolby also had “Hyperactive,” a song I loved back in my ol’ Walkman days.

    I do think Don McLean deserves some sort of award here. He’s the clear two-hit wonder champ.

  12. 12.  Godley didnt direct the “Black or White” video. John Landis did. Landis was also responsible for the video for Thriller.

  13. 13.  1 correction…Gary Stewart = Gary Wright

    Glad you nailed Al Stewart though, my all-time favorite 2 hitter.

    A couple more after a spin through the cheesy section of my mp3 collection:

    Yvonne Elleman – If I Can’t Have You, Hello Stranger

    Todd Rundgren – I Saw the Light, Hello, It’s Me

    Human League – Fascination, Don’t You Want Me

    Julian Lennon – Much Too Late, Valotte

    Flock of Seagulls – I Ran, Space Age Love Song

  14. 14.  Please tell me someone didn’t put The Band into this discussion…

    My vote: Human League.

  15. 15.  TFD,

    I’m certain that the Band only got mentioned because of their lack of ‘hits’. I mentioned BOC and I still listen to them at least monthly. Watched “The Last Waltz” yesterday, nice.

  16. 16.  Wang Chung: Dance Hall Days/Wang Chung Tonight

    Shannon: Let The Music Play/Give Me Tonight

    Bonnie Tyler had more than two hits, but only two with Jim Steinman, which have come to define her: Total Eclipse of the Heart/Holding Out For A Hero

    Ton Loc: Wild Thing/Funky Cold Medina
    Young MC: Bust A Move/Principal’s Office
    Biz Markie: Just A Friend/Spring Again

    That’s what spilled out off the top of my head, there have to be a billion of ’em.

    Props to Crowded House (though they also had that Chocolate Cake song), Motels, A Flock of Seagulls, Human League mentions.

  17. 18.  Devo – Whip It! and Beautiful World …
    Christopher Cross (ugh) – Sailing and “Theme from ‘Arthur’

  18. 20.  A few things to comment on. First, thanks Brian, as I had a brain cramp writing Gary Stewart (actual one-hit wonder) instead of Gary Wright. Krildog, thanks for the correcting me on the video direction. Godley was a successful video director and I figured that he did that video, since it was his concept that he started. Landis hacked it.

    Now everyone, Please hit wikipedia link which explains true classic rock, as almost everyone’s posted suggestions would not be classified as classic rock. Most of the suggestions like Human League, Kim Wilde, Thomas Dolby are new wave, not classic rock. I will do one for that in the future, though.

    Crowded House had more than 2 songs that were played on radio. (I freaking love Crowded House.) Marshall Crenshaw is another favorite and he’s not classic rock, more in the Costello/Joe Jackson mold of Alternative music. Devo had more than 2, including covers of Satisfaction and Working in a Coal Mine. The Band had more than 2. Todd Rundgren had a lot more than 2 and should have had others that never hit the radio. Only the band and Rundgren would be classic rock possibilities.

    Now for the close ones. Blue Oyster Cult was the one I considered that did not make the list, but I didn’t include because Godzilla was played a lot in the 70’s. I could accept an argument in their favor, though. The Tubes are hard to rate, as they are kind of between classic rock and new wave, plus they did have a couple other songs which were played some on AOR stations.
    Once again, I could accept them. Julian Lennon releases were after the classic rock age, but they have the sound to fit, so I could rate him there, also.

    Christopher Cross had more than 2 hits, plus he’s more adult contemporary and he sucks, which is why I wouldn’t put him on my list. Bonnie Tyler is closer, as she falls somewhere between Rod Stewart and Kim Wilde, but overall I don’t put her on as I don’t think those songs are good.

  19. 22.  Julian Lennon had a third hit – “Stick Around” hit #1 in airplay on “Mainstream Rock Tracks” and was top 40. They played the crap out of that video on MTV.

    Classic rock can’t be defined, though. I disagree with anyone trying to ‘define’ music. It is what it is. Your genre ain’t my genre.

    Let it all hang out – all the two hit wonders!

  20. 23.  Bonnie Tyler — It’s a Heartache. Scratch her off.

    I can’t believe no one’s mentioned Joe Walsh though. He’s only had two solo hits — Rocky Mountain Way, and Life’s Been Good. (For that matter, so did the James Gang — Funk #49, and Walk Away.)

    As for Lou Reed’s solo career, I think Dirty Boulevard (off New York, his best album) barely charted high enough to get him consideration. That’s always the tough call though, when one hit so overshadows the rest. Laura Branigan charted with Self Control, after all, but does it really matter?

    Classic rock or not, though, the greatest two hit wonder of all deserves her props — Irene Cara. Fame, then Flashdance (What a Feeling), then… ?

  21. 24.  Couple things –

    Hard for me to think of 10CC as “Classic Rock” – top 40 was where their stuff got its play – you never heard “Things We Do For Love” on any AOR station to which I ever listened. Hence perhaps some confusion on that.

    The Knack? I’m banned for dissing the Knack??? You have got to be kidding me. I love the misogynistic Stones and I don’t spend much time getting too worked up over the juvenile mindset of Rock in general, but the Knack’s prepubescent leering/girl-hating worldview was just plain offensive intellectually and otherwise. They are crap. Reasonable minds may differ but the idea that I would be even jokingly banned for hating these dorks boggles the mind.

    Hard to really think of the Band, Lou Reed, etc as one or two hit wonders – they just hit in a different format. And it goes back to the def’n of “hit”. Walk on the Wild Side was a real hit. But “I Love You Suzanne” got lots of AOR airplay when it came out, though it didn’t have legs. If you accept these as part of the conversation, The Clash is probably a perfect two hit wonder. Train in Vain and Rock the Casbah. Nothing else of theirs ever hit at all in the US.

    Garland Jeffries hit with “96 Tears” and “R-O-C-K Rock” and nothing else. He deserved better. Mystery Kids was a cool song that should have been a hit single if you lop off the Doors-like 4 minute I-don’t-know-when-to-stop ending. Actually Jeffries did that alot.

  22. 25.  I’ve got to disagree on the definition of Classic Rock. Ask a music writer or DJ what classic rock is and they would give you pretty much the same definition I linked.
    I do agree that 10CC is a close one, as both songs were played much more on top 40 than Classic Rock stations, so that’s a legit argument.

    I think the James Gang and Joe Walsh examples are good ones, kind of like BOC, as Walsh had other songs played regularly by AOR stations, but these 2 in James Gang and solo career are the 2 standouts and probably the only 2 respectively that continue to be on Classic Rock rotation.

    The Clash example might be the best one. Their music is not classic rock, but some of the stations played them on it and it’s true that these are the only 2 songs Clash tunes which were played until only recently.

    Lou Reed is a decent example, but I would argue that he has little in common with Classic Rock and only “Walk on the Wild Side” was played with any regularity on these stations. Dirty Blvd., etc. were played more on adult alternative stations in the 80’s, as I never heard it on a Classic Rock station.

    I like Garland Jeffries, also, but I can’t say I ever heard him on any classic rock stations in the midwest.

    Irene Cara is a classic 2 hit wonder, but not a Classic rock 2 hit wonder. I will do a new wave 80’s 2 hit wonder post in the future, which has more opportunites to catch my mistakes. Hey, this is fun, Will and I need to start doing more music posts again.

  23. 26.  I’ve got to disagree on the definition of Classic Rock. Ask a music writer or DJ what classic rock is and they would give you pretty much the same definition I linked.
    I do agree that 10CC is a close one, as both songs were played much more on top 40 than Classic Rock stations, so that’s a legit argument.

    I think the James Gang and Joe Walsh examples are good ones, kind of like BOC, as Walsh had other songs played regularly by AOR stations, but these 2 in James Gang and solo career are the 2 standouts and probably the only 2 respectively that continue to be on Classic Rock rotation.

    The Clash example might be the best one. Their music is not classic rock, but some of the stations played them on it and it’s true that these are the only 2 songs Clash tunes which were played until only recently.

    Lou Reed is a decent example, but I would argue that he has little in common with Classic Rock and only “Walk on the Wild Side” was played with any regularity on these stations. Dirty Blvd., etc. were played more on adult alternative stations in the 80’s, as I never heard it on a Classic Rock station.

    I like Garland Jeffries, also, but I can’t say I ever heard him on any classic rock stations in the midwest.

    Irene Cara is a classic 2 hit wonder, but not a Classic rock 2 hit wonder. I will do a new wave 80’s 2 hit wonder post in the future, which has more opportunites to catch my mistakes. Hey, this is fun, Will and I need to start doing more music posts again.

  24. 27.  That’s why limiting to classic rock isn’t right. And only judging it by the mediots and morons who play classic rock on the radio isn’t right.

    The James’ Gangs “Funk #48” and “The Bomber” kick the fannies of their ‘hits’ (as well as “Take a Look Around”.)

    Classic rock is a truly asinine radio format. Play good songs!

  25. 28.  The shift in AOR in the mid to late 80’s was really dramatic – I don’t know if that’s when the ClearChannels of the world really started to sink their teeth in, but, at least here in Raleigh, I can list just some of the artists I distinctly remember our main AOR station playing in the late 70s-early 80s – Southside Johnny, Garland Jeffries, Marshall Crenshaw, Michael Stanley (he sucked but he fits on this list), Joan Armitrading, Rossington Collins, The Bus Boys, etc. By the late 80s that kind of airplay (the music equivalent of College Basketball’s midmajors?) was totally non-existent unless your college station could take a long enough break from Soul Asylum to play something more “poppy”.

    Now it’s just classic rock here. Those stations won’t even largely play new stuff even by their artists. Springsteen releases a new album in a week or so, so we’ll hear Glory Days, I promise. Not that his new album will necessarily deserve airplay, but that’s not the point.

    Of course, for me, XM is the answer. Those tunes I used to hear pop up most often on The Loft and/or Deep Tracks.

  26. 29.  I have to disagree with Joe Walsh. ‘Ordinary Average Guy’ still gets a decent bit of airplay.

    Since we are limited to ‘Classic Rock’, here are a couple more as I try to redeem myself for the Yvonne Elleman.

    Marshall Tucker Band – Heard it in a Love Song, Can’t You See

    Marty Balin – Hearts, Miracles

    Donny Iris – Ah! Leah!, Love is Like A Rock

  27. 30.  Those 3 all fit the post. Nice work, Brian. I agree on the Joe Walsh thing, as “The Confessor” was played a lot on AOR also. Donnie Iris was another one I considered, as I happen to really like both of those songs. Much like BOC, I decided not to put them on as Iris’ Sweet Merilee (sp?) was played some when it came out, also. I just don’t care for the top 2 you list, but definitely Balin would fit the category’s list.

  28. 31.  Miracles was the Jefferson Starship – not a Marty Balin song. Balin also brought had a part in “Runaway” and “With Your Love”, some of the original Starships schlockier moments.

    And see, this is where the “Classic Rock” limitation is so wrong. That stuff is pure pop, not ‘rock’ at all.

    Donny Iris also got some airplay for “Do You Compute??”

  29. 32.  I missed the “Classic Rock” criteria also, so
    here’s some other suggestions

    Loverboy: Working for the Weekend, Turn Me Loose
    Eddie Money: Take Me Home Tonight, Two Tickets to Paradise

    (Human League was definitely new wave and they had 4 or 5 “hits”)

  30. 33.  Come on Loogy. Loverboy had many classic rock hits. (See Kid is Hot Tonite all the way up until Notorious. Get Lucky album had 4 AOR hits.) Eddie Money had quite a few, I mean how about Shakin’ for example. What important issues we discuss here at The Juice.

  31. 34.  I guess it all depends on interpretation.

    The only songs I ever here NOW by Loverboy are the two I mentioned, so those are the only songs who made it to “Classic”

    Shakin’? I say Bah! It got airplay, but marginal popularity.

  32. 35.  Eddie Money? Baby Hold On was HUGE! HUGE! And Shakin’ was quite popular here in Central Indiana.

  33. 36.  Again, judging by what we hear on the narrow-minded, philistine, classic rock stations isn’t hoyle.

  34. 37.  One more thing – Gerry Rafferty had another top 20 hit and one more song that hit #21, the year after his two big smashes. So HE doesn’t count, either.

  35. 38.  Am I missing something with the Clash? ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ was their biggest Stateside hit, wasn’t it?

  36. 39.  Ah! I just realized we’re missing an obvious one: Asia, with Heat of the Moment and Only Time Will Tell.

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