According to Wikipedia, a one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. I've translated this to my own preferences as any act that scores exactly one hit in my list of 200+ favourite songs (in Artrockometer terms 6/6, "hors concours") and does not have even one song in the next tier (in Artrockometer terms 5/6, "essential"). Here is a first helping. The image above was made with Photofunia.
That ole devil called love (Alison Moyet)
About the artist: Alison Moyet (1961) is a a British singer, songwriter and performer noted for her powerful bluesy contralto voice. She came to prominence as half of the duo Yazoo (also known as Yaz), but has since mainly worked as a solo artist. Her worldwide album sales have reached a certified 23 million, with over 2 million singles sold.
About the song: cross-over attempts can be mindbogglingly awful, but once in a while they produce a real gem. Alison Moyet is a case in point. In the mid eighties, she took a break from her disco style songs and successfully toured England with a jazz band led by John Altman, then topped it off by recording the Billie Holiday classic That ole devil called love for a single release. This became her biggest UK hit to date, reaching number 2 in April of 1985. No doubt about it, she pulled it off big time. Her version is beautiful, and still has enough pop overtones to qualify for this list of pop/rock songs.
About the artist: Anne Murray (1945) is a Canadian singer. Her 32 studio albums consisting primarily of pop, country, and adult contemporary music have sold over 55 million copies worldwide during her 40-year career.
About the song: You needed me is a track from the 1978 album Let's keep it that way. I have always liked this delicate ballad , but since I met my wife Lu, it has taken on a special meaning. It was the first song we sang for each other, first in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, later at karaoke in a Singapore club, and we also played it at our wedding ceremony in 2000.
About the band: BAP are a German rock group formed in 1976. Lead singer Wolfgang Niedecken mostly sang their songs in Kölsch, the dialect of Cologne. They released dozens of albums - with eleven albums reaching the number one in the German record charts, BAP is one of the most successful rock acts in their home country.
About the song: Kristallnaach is the absolute highlight in BAP's repertoire. This track from the 1982 album Vun drinne noh drusse likens the rise of neo-nazism in Germany of that time to the period before the second world war - the song title refers to the night in which the windows of houses and shops of Jewish citizens were thrown in in a fit of nation-wide antisemitism. The images they evoke in their lyrics are unusually strong, and depressing in their continued relevance, almost forty years later. The instrumentation suits the song perfectly, starting with sinister low sounds and ending in a fury of drums.
Give up your guns (The Buoys)
About the band: The Buoys were an American pop/rock band from the early 1970s. Their career was short-lived, they never got to record an album. They are remembered for two singles: the notorious Timothy about cannibalism, and Give up your guns.
About the song: for some reason, Give up your guns from 1971 is appreciated much more in Holland than elsewhere: it featured regularly in the all time top100 organized yearly by a Dutch radio station in the period 1970-2000, peaking at 22 in both 1974 and 1975, and getting a last entry as late as 1996. This story song with its desperado motive ("Shooting here or hanging there - and either way I lose") rather remarkably foreshadows later Eagles songs.
The sound of silence (Disturbed)
About the band: Disturbed are an American heavy metal band, formed in 1994. The band released seven studio albums, five of which have consecutively debuted at number one on the USA charts. They have sold over 17 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful rock bands in the modern era.
About the song: I am reluctant to include cover versions of songs where the original is already in the list, but this is one of the few exceptions. Although Simon and Garfunkel's original remains unsurpassed, the cover version by Disturbed, a track from their 2015 album Immortalized, blew me away when I first heard it in 2019. Paul Simon himself endorsed the power metal ballad version of his masterpiece.
Tears in heaven (Eric Clapton)
About the artist: Eric Clapton (1945) is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He was a prominent member of the Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Derek and the Dominos, Cream, and Blind Faith, but also had a substantial solo career with 23 studio albums. He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
About the song: Tears in heaven is one of the most moving ballads of all time, describing the feelings of a father who has lost his son and wonders whether they will meet again - and recognize each other - in heaven. Clapton recorded this shortly after the death of his own son, and although the lyrics are not his, they might have been. The song first appeared on the 1991 soundtrack for the movie Rush. On a side note, this is also a karaoke favourite of mine - and just be thankful I did not load that version as background music for this site.
Träume (Françoise Hardy)
About the artist: Françoise Hardy (1944) is a French singer-songwriter, model and fashion icon. She is widely considered an icon of French Ye-Ye pop and of the sixties in general. She has released 32 studio albums and is one of France's most sold artists.
About the song: Träume (Dreams) is the title track of her 1970 album, the second of her two albums sung in German. The first time I heard this song was 37 years after its issue. One morning during our 2007 holiday, I was waiting for my wife to be ready, and watched a French movie on TV. In one of the more dramatic scenes they used a German song as background, and it really blew me away. Fortunately, the name and singer were mentioned in the dialogue as well, which allowed me to find the song upon our return. The gorgeous melody is courtesy of the German composer Martin Boettcher, who is best remembered in Europe for his numerous German movie scores, including the Edgar Wallace and Karl May series. Françoise Hardy's sings the German lyrics with a seductive accent, and the end result is simply great.
Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty)
About the artist: Gerry Rafferty (1947 - 2011) was a British rock singer-songwriter, who first was known as the lead singer of the band Stealers Wheel, and then in the mid seventies embarked on a solo career that yielded one huge hit.
About the song: Baker street is a beautiful song from the 1978 album City to city, and became a top 3 hit in the UK and the USA. It helped the album reach platinum status. The lyrics are somewhat depressing, dealing with the evil of drink, the inevitability of night-life loneliness, and the difficulty of getting back on your feet and starting anew. However, this is set off against the phenomenal instrumentation, crowned by the unforgettable saxophone solo by Raphael Ravenscroft, which has been rightfully hailed as rocks greatest sax break in the Guinness Rockopedia.
Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley)
About the artist: Jeff Buckley (1966 - 1997), was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was the son of Tim Buckley, and shared his father's fate of a far too early death - he drowned at the age of 30. Even though he released just one studio album, he is widely remembered and respected.
About the song: his 1994 album Grace, which I only discovered over ten years later, is now widely recognised as a classic, not in the least because of his phenomenal cover of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah. Starting intriguingly with the sound of a candle being blown out, this ballad unfolds magnificently as Buckley makes the most of the brilliant lyrics.
White rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
About the band: Jefferson Airplane were an American rock band, formed in 1965, and one of the pioneering bands of psychedelic rock. Between 1966 and their split up in 1972 they released seven studio albums.
About the song: White rabbit, a track from their 1967 album Surrealistic pillow, is easily the best song from the flower power generation. Grace Slick's voice passionately renders the story of Alice in Wonderland, although the links with the drugs scene of that time are quite obvious, right from the start. "One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small, the hookah smoking caterpillar, you've just had some kind of mushroom and your mind is moving low...". A surprise USA top ten hit, the song remains a popular feature on classic rock stations around the world.
Hurt (Johnny Cash)
About the artist: Johnny Cash (1932 - 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. His genre-spanning songs and sound embraced country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame. He released over sixty studio albums in a recording career that lasted 57 years.
About the song: one of the latest additions to the list. Johnny Cash' music is not exactly my taste, but when in 2019 I first heard his song Hurt, it blew me away, and the more I hear it (and see the amazing video), the more I love it. It is a track from his 2002 album American IV: The Man Comes Around, which mainly consists of covers. Hurt is originally a Nine Inch Nails song, and that band's leader Trent Reznor praised Cash's interpretation of his song for its "sincerity and meaning", going so far as to say "that song isn't mine anymore - it's his now".
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