This past Wednesday was National One-Hit Wonder Day; one of the things that I find interesting about it is that different folks have varying opinions on what constitutes an artist having only one hit. Big media publications often play extremely loose and fast with the term, essentially taking it to mean “someone who had that one song you think of when you hear the artist’s name.” (Those should be ignored.) From there, it’s a matter of how restrictive you choose to be: just one song that made AT40, or should it be the Hot 100? I’m in the former camp, maybe mostly because I’m not enough of a student of the Hot 100 to realize how many of the acts who reached the Top 40 a single time had other, minor hits–I guess I don’t want my mind changed?
Using the more lax definition, I see six one-hit wonders on the 9/30/78 show: Nick Gilder, John Paul Young, Chris Rea, Alicia Bridges, City Boy, and Stonebolt (Exile misses being the seventh by just one position, as “You Thrill Me” spent one week at #40 in early 79). Only City Boy, here with “5-7-0-5,” never made the Hot 100 again; Gilder, Young, Bridges, and Stonebolt all appeared either once or twice more.
That leaves Chris Rea to take this crew’s crown for most successful one-hit wonder. He hit five other times; the closest thing to a second appearance on AT40 was “Diamonds,” which reached #44 in the spring of 79, but I’d guess the one best remembered now is “Working On It,” a #73 song from the first half of 89. “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” was absolutely one of my favorite tunes in the moment, the 45 getting regular spins on my turntable. (I’ve kept the picture sleeve in pretty decent shape, apparently.) It’s at #17 on this week’s show, fresh off a #12 peak.
In the late 80s, Rea re-recorded “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” making it harder to find the original. Music in the Key of E had a nice write-up about this last year. Hmmm…while I’m certain I have a digital copy of the original single on some Time-Life compilation, maybe I should take E’s advice and buy Whatever Happened To Benny Santini? to get the LP version.
(One last thing: as you can tell from its name, National One-Hit Wonder Day is an entirely US-centric exercise. Rea eventually had multiple Top 40 hits in the UK and various countries in Europe.)