True story: one of my favorite songs of all time is a one-hit-wonder and it’s “What’s Up” by the Four Non-Blondes. I love that song! And believe it or not, some of the most iconic songs in rock and pop history are one-hit-wonders. If you grew up in the 1980s, you probably know more of them than you realize because it was such a rich time for music. Every decade has its own popular songs that, despite becoming ubiquitous, don’t turn the artists into megastars, even though the songs have a life of their own. What’s even more awesome is that these songs actually made some of their artists wealthy.
For example, I Googled the net worth of the lead singer of Tommy Tutone, the singer of one-hit-wonder 867-5309 and he’s worth $6 million. So hey, it paid off. I told my husband, we just need ONE hit, baby…one hit. Ha. Let’s check out some of our favorite 1980s one-hit wonders.
1. “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners
This one is unique because it begins with a Celtic-style fiddle, which is really cool. However, the band’s frontman is Kevin Rowland and said he no longer wants to sing the song because he doesn’t like to “live in the past.”
2. “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby
Musician Thomas Dolby admitted in an interview once that this epic anthem is probably the most “frivolous song” he’s ever written. He wrote the song so that he could create a video about a home for “deranged scientists.” And the video is awesome. Watch it below.
3. “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell
Did you know that Michael Jackson sang backup on this song? That’s why it became so popular, but we also love poor Rockwell.
4. “99 Luftballons” by Nena
This whimsical-sounding song is the first and only hit from Nena, a German artist. It’s supposedly about post-World War II nuclear paranoia that was common in Germany and describes an incident where a bunch of red balloons was mistaken for a military aircraft.
5. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
It’s hard to believe that this epic song is a one-hit wonder! It has such a timeless vibe. Apparently, Soft Cell was looking for a “throwaway cover song” and this is what they ended up with. It was a cover of the same song that was released by Gloria Jones in 1964.