I hate it when someone refers to Soft Cell as “one hit wonders” on the basis of “Tainted Love.” Anyone who knows anything about the group understands that although they had just the one Top 40 hit in America, they had a long successful career. Same with A Flock of Seagulls. The big hit was “I Ran,” but there was also “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You,” “The More You Live, The More You Love” and a few others.
What we need are some proper universal standards for the term–which is exactly what Chris Molanphy tried to do in an article with The Village Voice. Now Salon wants to advance the discussion.
Google the phrase “one-hit wonder,” and you’ll find an abundance of lists detailing band after band that had fleeting chart success, but then disappeared into the ether, never to be heard from again. But more often than not, a cursory glance at these lists also reveals plenty of bands wrongly accused of being a one-and-done phenomenon.The confusion is justified: While some one-hit wonders are obvious, it’s less clear what makes certain borderline songs or artists fall into this category. For example, some bands considered one-hit wonders because of their Billboard Top 100 showing were actually quite popular on other charts; the ’90s had an abundance of groups that were modern rock radio staples but barely crossed over into the mainstream. Does that put them in the same category as true-blue one-hitters such as “Mambo No. 5″ or “The Macarena”? (Answer: Technically, yes.)