5 One-Hit Wonders Who Deserve Way More Respect
NONE OF THE BANDS ON THIS LIST ARE ONE-HIT WONDERS! That or some variation of it is what thousands of precious souls in the comments section will shout today, and I want every single one of you to know that I wholeheartedly agree with you. I mean, you can die where you stand for just skimming the article to see the names on the list and then immediately filing your complaint without giving me so much as two whole sentences to explain, but still, I agree.
If any of the bands on this list are legitimate one-hit wonders, it's only in the most technical sense possible. Like how the only Springsteen-written single to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts was the Manfred Mann version of "Blinded by the Light," and even then it's only because The Mann changed the word "deuce" to "douche" in their version.
Still, you wouldn't slap a borderline derogatory term like "one-hit wonder" on Springsteen's career. That said, it is a label that's been tossed around a bit too liberally over the past few decades. It's to the point now that any band, no matter how respectable or enduring their body of work may be, is at risk of having that label affixed to their name, at least in some circles, the second they have one freakish bout with huge success.
One-hit wonders who deserve more respect are the topic of discussion on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by Cracked editor Alex Schmidt and comic Jeff May. The first band we discuss is the same one I'll kick this column off with right damn now.
Most of you reading this probably don't even know who Georgia Satellites are. I still barely know shit about them, if I'm being perfectly honest. For the longest time, they were just that band that had a huge hit with that "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" song that you know so well if you've ever attended a wedding in the Midwest ...
... and nothing more. I wasn't particularly fond of that song when it came out, and I hadn't given this band a thought in years. That was until a few weeks ago when I was listening to the Outlaw Country channel on Sirius radio and, naturally, heard a cover of a Ringo Starr song.
Yes, I get that it's actually a Beatles song, but anytime Ringo sings lead, the polite thing to do is tell people and let them do what they wish with the information. Anyway, this cover caught my ear because, to me, it sounds like The Replacements ...
Such a great movie.
... and if you don't like that band ...
... fuck you. It isn't The Replacements, though; it's that band that had that song I didn't really like all those years ago. And with that discovery, I set about checking out the rest of their catalog, which wasn't difficult considering they have only four albums on Spotify, and searching that site is the maximum amount of research I'm willing to do in the name of this particular project. Much to my delight, they are all pretty great.
Hell, even that first single that made them momentarily huge sounds decent now that I've shed the prejudices against Southern rock that weighed me down for almost the entirety of my grade-school years. So, if you've been harboring resentment for more than two decades over the general public's lack of interest in this perfectly respectable band, please know that I'm now firmly on your side.
Also, please know that you're about to disregard everything music-related I've ever said.
You should also know I don't give a single solitary fuck about that. I'm about to talk some goddamn Mandy Moore, and you can just skip ahead and read about the band who recorded the theme song to The O.C. if it makes you feel more indie and hip.
That was fun. Anyway, you remember Mandy Moore, right? I mean, she's still very much around, but do you remember when she was this Mandy Moore?
Let's not mince words here: that's a terrible song, and seeing as how her most high-profile gig these days is making movies, you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe she gave up on music altogether after that fiasco. She didn't -- it's just that, for the longest time, her movies ...
It's on Netflix. Watch it.
... were significantly more entertaining and successful than her albums.
Saved! is better than all of these albums and anyone who's ever heard them combined.
That all changed in 2007 when she released an album called Wild Hope ...
... which I didn't realize until, literally, as I was writing this entry, is now out of print. You can still find it on eBay, and you should, but the fact that you can't just listen to it on your streaming music service of choice or buy it on iTunes seems insane to me, especially when you take into account that it's the only album of hers that isn't available. I'd buy a copy of it right now if someone knocked on my door to sell me one.
She wrote and recorded most of it with an obscure indie duo called The Weepies, and they all adorably recorded different versions ...
... of the same song ...
... and released them on their respective albums and everything. It's just the fucking cutest.
On her next record, Amanda Leigh, she teamed up with Mike Viola, who you almost certainly do not recognize as the guy who wrote most of the songs for the Judd Apatow film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story ...
... and Inara George, who makes up one half of the duo who brought you the greatest goddamn Hall & Oates cover album you will ever hear in your life.
And just like that, my favorite Mandy Moore song ever was born.
The entire album is pretty damn great, actually, and I don't care if you refuse to believe me for the rest of your days.
Apparently, she's writing her next album with her husband, Ryan Adams, which is good news, for me at least, because goddamn do I love everything that guy does.
I will spend actual money on that album when it comes out. That's about as high as praise can get from a music consumer these days.
You didn't really skip the entire Mandy Moore entry just to read this one, did you? Because I'm way less confident about this pick, to be totally honest. For one thing, the song they are best and almost exclusively known for is also, as mentioned earlier, the theme song to your all-time favorite television show, The O.C.
Being the band responsible for a TV show theme song is good times in some respects, but it's also a whole lot like turning your song into a commercial for whatever the show in question represents, which in this case is everything the rest of the country assumes they hate about California.
Couple that with the fact that the song in question is literally called "California," and what you have is a perfect confluence of factors that lead to this band being written off as some kind of bullshit novelty. Oh, and the dude from Rushmore is their drummer.
That's the guy!
Well, he was the drummer, and a founding member, but he left during the recording of the band's third album to pursue acting permanently and, with that, Phantom Planet effectively vanished. Yes, they made a few more albums after that and held off on officially breaking up until 2008, but did you already know those things? Only if you're legitimately a fan of Phantom Planet, which you're not. You should be, though, or you should at least consider it, because they were a good band ...
... with a lot of good songs.
Were they the greatest band of all time? No, but they were way better than having a comedic actor on drums and getting famous on the back of the O.C. soundtrack may imply.
Man, how many temporary flirtations with massive fame was the iPod responsible for throughout the 2000s? Feist is a prime example. Unless you live in Canada and, you know, listen to Feist and whatnot, there's a good chance the name means almost nothing to you. For what it's worth, she was the singer in that one iPod commercial ...
... which was basically just the all-sorts-of-fun-to-watch video for her single "1234" displayed on a tiny iPod screen.
That was a long time ago, though, and the world at large hasn't heard much from her in a while. She did have a song on the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack ...
... but it's from an older album of hers that predates that movie by years, so it wasn't much of an event for anyone outside that select group of weirdos who buy movie soundtracks.
This is a mixtape. Just make it yourself.
Again, I accept that a lot of you out there are well aware of who Feist is, but if your only previous exposure to her music was hearing her count to four at the top of a commercial dozens of times each night for the entire year of 2009, there's an excellent chance your interest died somewhere inside that window of time. If that's the case ...
... that is ...
... a goddamn shame. If nothing else, just watch the videos. She's fucking great at them.
Jimmy Eat World
When I told people I was writing this column and ran down the list of bands that would be included, this was the one that stopped the most people in their tracks. "Whoa, Jimmy Eat World is no one-hit wonder -- they had that 'Sweetness' song, too!" Yes, that's very true; "Sweetness" was indeed a single from their third album, which was either called Bleed American or just Jimmy Eat World, depending on the degree to which the terrorists were winning at the point in time in history when you may have purchased the album. It was released in July 2001 as Bleed American, recalled and reissued as a self-titled album after the tragic events of 9/11, and then reissued as Bleed American later once everyone forgot.
Anyway, yes, "Sweetness" was a single ...
... but whereas it peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at a mostly unimpressive No. 75, its vastly more popular counterpart, "The Middle," made it all the way to No. 5, thanks in no small part to a clever-as-shit video that centers around an awkward kid showing up fully clothed to a party full of attractive people in their underwear.
So, yes, in the most technical of terms, those count as two hits, but just barely, and neither of them has shit on the lesser known but far superior first single and title track.
All that said, this is probably a great time to point out that, in some sense of the word, I actually do consider Jimmy Eat World a one-hit wonder. Yes, there are three fucking amazing singles on this album. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the album that spawned those singles is about as close to a perfect album as a band can get. It's just goddamn flawless from beginning to end. Unfortunately, it's also the only Jimmy Eat World album I can listen to from beginning to end.
Fuck almost all y'all!
I mean, it's not that they're a bad band, it's just that they've made one really great album that happens to be surrounded on both sides by relatively average albums. I've tried. I really have. After Bleed American I assumed my next step was to dig into a treasure trove of equally great songs that had just never appeared on my radar before because none of it was accompanied by a video with scantily clad revelers.
Again, great video.
Nope. Just a bunch of albums I will probably never listen to again, with one really great one that I still listen to from time to time over a decade later just floating on top of them all like some kind of reverse garbage barge.
Still, most bands stumble through their careers without ever making a truly great album. That they did it once is impressive enough for me, and if you know them only because of "The Middle" and have never checked out the album in its entirety, I'd highly recommend you do so today. And then, you know, just stop there, I guess.
Please direct all hate mail to Adam on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
For more from Adam, check out The 6 Most Atrocious Uses of Facial Hair in Music History. And then check out 22 Shockingly Dark Lyrics in Otherwise Happy Songs.
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