6 Amazing Post-Fame Careers Of One-Hit Wonders
Being a one-hit wonder is a trivia-night badge of honor. You can always take solace in knowing that, somewhere, a drunk 24-year-old is saying, "'Take On Me' by A-Ha!" and scoring a point for his team. But aside from that, not a lot comes from having the descriptor "They did one big thing and nothing else of note" attached to you.
But sometimes you rise above having a three-minute section in VH1's I'm Just OK With The '80s. Sometimes, you do what these six people did and rise above every expectation that was ever set for you after you and your annoying song fades from the limelight.
Gerardo Is Responsible For Some Of The Biggest Hits From The 2000s
Describing the appeal of Gerardo to people is impossible.
He's a bunch of adjectives and jackets that have been blended together and told to embarrass their back-up dancers' movements, no matter what. "Rico Suave" is a baffling exercise in entertainment, meant to engage a demographic that had decided that the keys to attracting a woman's interest were bandanas ...
... and father-slapping.
As trumpets yell what must be "Help!" in trumpet language, Gerardo shifts from side to side and foot to foot, creepily rapping about not doing drugs and "eating [women] raw like sushi." No part of that phrase sounds appetizing, which if you're making a reference to cunnilingus, should be a top priority. If I had heard that as a child, my first response would've been, "Well, I guess I'm done with women and/or basic human interaction, then." Every English line in "Rico Suave" could be followed with "And I keep 'em in my basement!" and nothing would sound out of place. Try it if you're bored or Gerardo sometime.
What Came Next:
He signed Enrique Iglesias and Bubba Sparxxx and gave them their first major doses of attention. As an A&R executive for Interscope Records, he was the one to discover these two powerhouses. And I use the word "powerhouses" in a deadly serious fashion. I once watched a girl choke on her Jello shot because she was more interested in yelling "WHOO!" than getting oxygen when "I Like It" started playing in a crowded bar. And Sparxxx's "Ms. New Booty" was basically the anthem of my North Carolina high school in junior year. You can argue about whether or not Enrique is actually a good entertainer or just vice president of Pitbull's Fan Club all you want, but Gerardo helped bring us "Bailamos," a song that's the tl;dr of this part of the entry. Nothing else needs to be said.
Now, Gerardo makes his living as a church youth pastor. And that's awesome, as long as he opens his Sunday school with a prayer meant to slowly absolve the world of "Rico Suave." Forgive music, for it knew not what it did.
Edward Bazalgette Now Makes Your Favorite Doctor Who Episodes
"Turning Japanese," like "Rico Suave," is a song that seems to have been dropped from another dimension to represent an entire career in one swoop. I know that it's nice and fair to give people a second chance, but when you make "Turning Japanese" or "Rico Suave," trust me, I feel like I have a good idea of what's coming next.
Edward Bazalgette was the lead guitarist of The Vapors, and I hope I'm not offending him when I say that I listened to half of The Vapors' first album before going back to "Turning Japanese" six more times in a row. The other stuff is not bad, but when you release a song like "Turning Japanese," you're basically standing naked in your lawn to show off your house's new paint job. I'm sure it's a nice new shade, but everyone is gonna be looking at your dong. Forever. Plus, what he did after The Vapors is so much cooler.
What Came Next:
Edward Bazalgette went on to become a director and producer. He did stuff like a killer documentary on Genghis Khan and episodes of EastEnders and Poldark. But his greatest accomplishments came with three recent episodes of Doctor Who. You may have heard of it.
Now, a lot of former musicians make the transition into doing TV or film work. It's only natural, when you fail utterly, to decide, "Man, what about getting into movies?" And I don't mean to sound completely negative, but these endeavors usually end with the musician describing their "vision" and the critics describing how their bowel movements relate to said "vision."
"Compare me to your poop, internet. I dare you."
For Bazalgette to get near universal acclaim for his Doctor Who episodes is commendable and rare. And he didn't just receive acclaim in a way that's usually reserved for people who are relative outsiders to TV. He didn't get the padded gloves approach where pop culture writers tip-toe around their usual critical points and talk about the musician-turned-director as if they're a blind dog whose final wish was to make an episode of television. He's praised for his abilities in nearly all areas, which you never would've guessed had you simply stopped paying attention at the sixth go-round of "Turning Japanese."
Justin Jeffre Ran For Mayor (And Got Put In Jail)
98 Degrees seemed to be a project that was meant not for great music but to show national audiences Nick Lachey's mouth.
His "sexy" face is remarkably similar to both his sneeze face and his
"Look at this imaginary sandwich!" face.
They may not technically fit the one-hit wonder definition, but other than "Because Of You" and "Give Me Just One Night," calling anything created by 98 Degrees a "wonder" in any area is an affront to dictionaries. No one on Earth has ever wondered what NSYNC would sound like if you ripped the joy out of them and replaced every single one of their songs with moaning tributes to bland emotions, so 98 Degrees can exist only as punishment for mankind's misdeeds. Nick Lachey is a prom king super soldier, and the rest of the group simply fills out the frame. By far, the least grating of the boy band was Justin Jeffre, or, as America knew him, Not Nick Lachey #3. And it's apparent why when you see what he did after 98 Degrees split up for a bit.
What Came Next:
Jeffre ran for mayor of Cincinnati, and despite what you'd imagine from a member of 98 Degrees running for office, he kept his composure. A guy from a famous '90s boy band running for office sounds like a side plot from ABC Family's 98 Degrees In December!: Nick Lachey Saves Christmas, but Jeffre manages to appear comfortable and friendly. And at no point does he sway in the background while a guy with spiked hair tries to make his love life seem important. This political venture is already far superior to any other career Jeffre has held.
"I act like I'm thinking about your heart, but deep down, I'm thinking about your vote."
Oh, and he got arrested, too. After an Occupy Cincinnati protest, Jeffre pleaded not guilty to trespassing and said that jail is "the place to be if you are standing up for free speech." You know what? That's nothing compared to if it was discovered that Jeffre had become champion of an underground cell block fighting league during a stay behind bars, but this is a guy from 98 Degrees we're talking about. When you remember that he's associated with that band, that quote gets knocked up from "The Pacifier Vin Diesel" level to the "On Deadly Ground Steven Seagal" level of the badassery scale. Mildly badass, Jeffre. Mildly badass.
Lou Bega Is Destroying Countries (In A Video Game)
Akin to how Frosty the Snowman is brought to life, if you throw a blazer and a fedora onto an old CD player, it will magically transform into Lou Bega. His rendition of "Mambo No. 5" was so big in 1999 that it transcended the man who sang it.
Lou Bega wasn't just Monica, Erica, Sandra, and Rita's boyfriend. He was all of us. Our spirits all existed on certain planes of Lou Bega-ness, and no matter what religion you followed, we were all one in Bega.
What Came Next:
He became a video game dictator. "Mambo No. 5" attained the success of five normal human Top 40 hits combined, but a candle that mambos twice as bright only jumps up and down for half as long. So, in 2001, Bega made a deal that I still don't quite understand.
He allowed one of his songs to be used in the German version of the video game Tropico. In return, he had his likeness put in the game as a playable dictator. And to be honest, it's probably the most natural video game cameo that any celebrity has ever had. Usually, celebrity cameos in games amount to "Hey. Rob Dyrdek is also hanging out in this shitty parking lot. Do a skateboard trick for Rob Dyrdek." But in Tropico, where you play as the leader of a Caribbean island during the Cold War and have to manage it successfully, lest your people try to overthrow you, no mention is made of how weird it is that you are Lou Bega. "Lou Bega" and "tropical dictator" sounds like something you'd only hear before a bad improv scene starts, but Tropico forces this to make sense by providing no explanation or in-joke. You are now Lou Bega, manipulating elections and bribing the heads of factions.
Keep in mind that the only time you'd ever get a hint that something is up is in the German version of the game. If you heard Bega's song while crushing rebellions, you'd probably think, "Oh. It's a marketing thing. A weird, slightly upsetting marketing thing." But the song was deemed "out of place" in the American versions and removed. So instead of comically playing as Totalitarian Lou Bega while a Lou Bega song plays in the background, you're just playing as Alternate Universe Lou Bega who eschewed his former route of preaching the gospel of having a little bit of Mary all night long, and decided that his true passion was trampling the hopes of an entire country.
Vitamin C Is Creating The Next Wave Of Pop Music
Vitamin C, aka Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick, is best known for "Graduation (Friends Forever)." It's a song that deals with promising to maintain friendships with beloved people after graduation, totally ignoring the fact that you won't see these people for 14 years and then you'll bump into them as they scream at their kids in a local Pizza Hut.
It's a song that deserves to have three minutes shaved off of it, because, as Vitamin C proves repeatedly, there are only so many ways (two) to say "I'm excited about life, but I'm going to miss my buds." If you asked your valedictorian to wetly fart out their graduation speech, you'd get the chorus of this song.
What Came Next:
After writing songs for young pop stars like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and a pre-American Horror Story Emma Roberts, she became the VP of music at Nickelodeon, where she helps manage the careers of teen singers that belong to Nick Records. This means aiding young people in that weird transition from "People like to listen to me sing! Can you believe it?" to "Everyone in the world knows what I look like, and adults blame me for the downfall of good music." This includes singers like Ariana Grande, who can now give us things like "Focus" without us constantly remarking, "Wasn't she on that Nickelodeon show? What a talentless fraud! Leave the singing to the actual singers! #idontwannagrande #realmusic."
"She's ruining all of music!" -People who listen to one specific kind of music.
Vitamin C helps new entertainers move into a world where they can expand their skills and build a name for themselves. In short, she helps them "graduate" into the big leagues from just being 7-year-old quip machines on kids' shows about wizards and/or high schools where everyone is musically inclined. And when you're going into the music world after a life of only singing the theme song of the show you star in, sometimes a little tutoring is necessary.
Mike Patton Is Doing Whatever He Wants
Faith No More, despite being worshiped as titans of rock music, only had one Top 10 hit in America during their entire time together, and even then, it charted at only No. 9.
Technically a part of a one-hit wonder group, lead singer Mike Patton has done a lot of fantastic things, though none have been "Rico Suave" enough to embed themselves in the unwilling brains of millions. But, however awesome all of his rock music accomplishments are, what Mike did when Faith No More broke up for a while in the late '90s (they've since gotten back together on an on-and-off basis) is even better.
What Came Next:
Mike Patton is a big video game fan. Most of the time, whenever I hear that a celebrity is a "big video game fan," I utter a groan of such disappointed sadness that Nick Lachey instinctively begins to hump in my direction. Listening to a famous person talk about why they love "the Mario Kart" and "the Zelda Legend," just like listening to an actor in a superhero film talk about being a fan of comics that they probably haven't read, is like your dad calling you "bro." It's pandering nonsense. Just do your job. Watching you mumble your way through an explanation of what a Super Nintendo is isn't going to sell me on your career choices as much as your actual career-related talents will.
And when I saw that Mike Patton had been a voice in The Darkness, a game where you eviscerate people with shadow snakes, I expected a ton of "I'm Mike Patton, and when I first played Sonic on the SegaStation, I knew that video games were gonna be blurrrrggghhhhhhppphhbbhh."
Little did I know that I'd find stuff like this. Look at him go!
Like celebrity cameos in games, the voice acting done by celebrities in games are typically droll affairs, and they may as well be switched with audio of the actor talking to a bank teller about cashing in their check. So it's motherfucking pleasant to see a guy turn his vocal cords into the shape of a slinky and release whatever sounds come out as they unfurl.
And to counter that, here's him talking about The Darkness II, without a single hint of him trying to prove to all those hip, young gamer kids how cool he is:
Along with also doing voices for Metalocalypse and other games like Portal and Left 4 Dead, Patton performs with orchestras, most notably for a kickass album that covers Italian pop music from the '50s and '60s. He may not be changing the world, but he is making one huge, Scrooge McDuck-esque dive into a pile of his own interests. And when you compare that to the many musicians that spend their whole lives trying to replicate their biggest hits, that's about as good as it gets.
Daniel has a blog. You can read it.
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