One and Done: Jono’s Guide to the Best 80’s Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

Some of the best 80’s songs of all time are those that stayed in the lower decks of the Top 40.  Today our theme is “One and Done” as we take a look at some of the greatest one-and-done hits from the 80’s–songs that debuted into the Top 40 and only lasted for a week or two or maybe more before dropping out.  You may have never heard of these songs before–you have now.  Forget Miley Cyrus.  Forget Justin Bieber.  These are the songs and the stars you need to be listening to.  Thanks to Youtube, I was able to find videos for each of these songs.  So crank up the volume on your PC and prepare to be blessed with these blasts from the past.

Cutting Crew, “One for the Mockingbird” The follow-up to Cutting Crew’s 1986 #1 smash “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight”, this song debuted into the Top 40 in 1987 at No. 38 and was gone the next week.  Cutting Crew would recover with their next single, “I’ve Been in Love Before”; after an inauspicious start it rallied to the #9 position.

Ray Parker Jr., “Girls Are More Fun” Ray “Whoyagonnacall” Parker Jr. had a long and distinguished musical career.  As part of the group Raydio, he was in on the hits “Jack and Jill” (#8, 1978) and “You Can’t Change That” (#9, 1979).  As a solo singer, he had the hits “The Other Woman”, (#4, 1982), “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” (#12, 1983), and “Jamie” (#14, 1984), but was best known for the #1 smash “Ghostbusters” (which, incidentally, got him sued by Huey Lewis for allegedly lifting the bass line from “I Want a New Drug”.  They settled out of court.  In 2001 Ray Parker Jr. sued Huey Lewis for allegedly violating the terms of their settlement.  Gotta love these two).  The follow-up to “Ghostbusters”, this one debuted at #39 in the spring of 1985, crept up to #34, then dropped out.

Device, “Hanging on a Heart Attack” Device was fueled by the musical prowess of Holly Knight, one of the most accomplished female songwriters of the 80’s, with a little help from a couple of her friends.  After a promising start, “Hanging on a Heart Attack” inexplicably bogged down at No. 35, slipped a notch to No. 36, then dropped out the next week.  “Who Says”, the follow-up single, got some MTV play (this was back in the days when MTV actually played music videos) but failed to catch even a whiff of the Top 40.  After Device broke up, Holly Knight released a couple of solo albums in the late 80’s, including her own version of “Love is a Battlefield” which she had written for Pat Benatar back in the day.

The Hooters, “Where Do The Children Go” The Hooters (not to be confused with that sports bar with the scantily clad waitresses–a “hooter” is a sort of keyboard harmonica that features prominently in the sound of this band) got lots of play in the mid 80’s with “And We Danced” (#21, 1985) and “Day By Day” (#18, 1986).  “Where Do The Children Go”, featuring background vocals by Patty Smyth of Scandal, debuted into the Top 40 at No. 38 in the summer of 1986 and was gone the next week.  The Hooters were never seen or heard from again.

Wang Chung, “Hypnotize Me” Wang Chung is best known for their hits “Dance Hall Days” (#16, 1984) and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” (#2, 1986).  This one, from the soundtrack of the movie “Innerspace”, debuted at No. 36 in the summer of 1987, slipped a notch to No. 37, then dropped out the next week.

Club Nouveau, “Why You Treat Me So Bad” In 1986, the group Timex Social Club went to #8 with the hit “Rumors”.  Unfortunately for them, Timex wasn’t too thrilled about this, so they changed their name to “The Social Club”.  This didn’t work out quite so well for them and they broke up shortly thereafter.  A couple of Timex Social Club members went on to form the group Club Nouveau, which went to #1 in 1987 with “Lean On Me”, a remake of Bill Withers’ #1 hit from 1972.  “Why You Treat Me So Bad” was the follow-up.  It debuted at No. 39 in late 1987 and was gone the next week.

Laura Branigan, “Spanish Eddie” Laura Branigan is best known for the hits “Gloria” (#2, 1982) and “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” (#12, 1983, this one was hers before it was ever Michael Bolton’s).  She got some play in late 1984 and early 1985 with “Self Control” (#4) and “The Lucky One” (#20).  “Spanish Eddie” debuted at No. 40 in the fall of 1985, stalled out at No. 40 for a couple of weeks, and then was gone.

Alas, Laura Branigan is no longer with us.  She died in 2004 of a brain aneurysm.

Cock Robin, “When Your Heart is Weak” Cock Robin came originally from California.  They had a great deal of success abroad, but they never did anything here in the U. S.  This was their only U. S. hit; it debuted at No. 37 in the summer of 1985, inched up to No. 35, then dropped out.

Duran Duran, “Skin Trade” Duran Duran was huge in the early 80’s, then went on hiatus in 1985 as the members went on to pursue separate projects.  John Taylor and Andy Taylor joined Robert Palmer to form The Power Station, while Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor recorded an album of their own under the name Arcadia.  When John and Andy Taylor did not rejoin, opting instead to pursue their own solo projects, the remaining three went on and recorded a new album under the name Duran Duran.  This album was called “Notorious”; the title track was a #2 hit in 1987.  “Skin Trade”, the follow-up, debuted at No. 39 in 1987 and dropped out the next week.  [Whoops:  The embedding on this one has been disabled.  The video is still out there, though.  Here’s the link.]

Glass Tiger, “I Will Be There” Glass Tiger is a Canadian band best known for the hits “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” (#2, 1986) and “Someday” (#7, 1986).  “I Will Be There” debuted at No. 40 in 1987, bogged down at No. 34, and then dropped out.  (Notice in the video how the band is performing on the frozen tops of the Canadian Rockies.  Anyone else out there wonder how their instruments would make out under such extreme conditions?  And how were they able to perform up there with no sound equipment except for their instruments?)

David & David, “Welcome to the Boomtown” This one debuted at No. 40 back in 1986, crept up to No. 37, then dropped out.  David & David broke up after this and went on to work with other musicians.  They would collaborate with Sheryl Crow on her debut album “Tuesday Night Music Club”.

Okay, the party’s over.  That’s enough for one day.  Those of you who are looking at this while at work:  You’re not getting paid to look at Youtube.  Get back to work.

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4 thoughts on “One and Done: Jono’s Guide to the Best 80’s Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

  1. “girls are more fun”, “spanish eddie”, “skin trade”, “when your heart is weak”, are all songs i know well. spanish eddie is my favorite laura brannigan song. and i’ve had a crush on ray parker since the raydio days. simon lebon captured my attention in the early 80’s.

  2. forgot to say that i also know the song “welcome to the boomtown” as well. it brings back days of kasey kasum’s top 40 countdown, tho it wasn’t there very long.

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