Greatest One-Hit Wonders: 1982

Patrice Rushen [Credit: Bobby Holland]

In 1982, the Commodore 64 home computer hit stores. The Falklands War began with Argentina invading the Falkland Islands. John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan. Actor John Belushi died of a drug overdose. The first episode of Late Night with David Letterman debuted, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial premiered.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller dropped in late November, which would go on to become the best-selling album of all time. Ozzy Osbourne ate a bat on stage. And in perhaps the most significant music news to us at 360°Sound, Sony released the first compact disc player.

The top five Billboard year-end Hot 100 singles of 1982 were “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, and “Centerfold” by J. Geils Band.

Here are eight standout one-hitters from 40 years ago. Like the ’72 list, it’s a wide variety, so there ought to be something for everyone. Enjoy!

Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love”

Songwriters: Adrian Belew, Chris Frantz, Steven Stanley and Tina Weymouth
Genre: Funk
Billboard Hot 100: #31 on April 24

An offshoot of Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club was started by drummer Chris Franz and his wife and bassist Tina Weymouth. They recorded at the famed Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas and released their self-titled debut album on Island Records. The hit “Genius of Love” had a breezy Caribbean sound while also drawing on funk and then-burgeoning hip-hop. Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce,” a #2 R&B hit in 1980, was a direct influence as well as The Godfather of Funk. [“James Brooooowwwn, “James Brooooowwwn” is sung at one point, among the many Black artists name dropped].

While “Genius of Love” was the product of influences, it has itself been a major influence. “Genius of Love” has been sampled by numerous artists, including Mariah Carey, Mark Morrison, and 2Pac. Most recently, rapper Latto borrowed from it heavily for her smash “Big Energy,” which peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 in April 2022.

Vangelis – “Chariots of Fire – Titles”

Songwriter: Vangelis
Genre: Electronic
Hot 100: #1 on May 8

For anyone who has seen Chariots of Fire, the Best Picture winner at the 1982 Oscars, it’s hard to hear this Vangelis song without picturing guys running on the beach in slow motion. A period film set during the 1924 Summer Olympics, it was notable that a modern synth-heavy score was used. But it somehow worked. Vangelis played all instruments on the recording – acoustic piano, percussion, and synthesizers. The Greek composer died in May 2022 at the age of 79.

Patrice Rushen – “Forget Me Nots”

Songwriters: Patrice Rushen, Freddie Washington and Terri McFaddin
Genre: R&B
Hot 100: #23 on July 3

Singer, pianist, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Patrice Rushen had already released three acclaimed jazz albums by the time she pivoted to R&B in the late ‘70s. “Forget Me Nots,” which would become her signature song, peaked at #23 on the Hot 100, #4 on the R&B charts, and #2 on the dance charts. While this was Rushen’s solo Top 40 entry, she released loads of great singles in the ‘70s and ‘80s, many of which charted on the R&B and dance charts. Check out our list of Rushen’s essential singles.

Dazz Band – “Let it Whip”

Songwriters: Reggie Andrews and Leon “Ndugu” Chancler
Genre: Post-disco
Hot 100: #5 on July 17

Formed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976, Dazz Band began their career playing jazz-fusion as Kinsman Dazz. They signed to Motown in 1980, changing their name to Dazz Band (dazz was short for “danceable jazz”). “Let It Whip,” a super-fun dance tune and a high-water mark of the post-disco era, was released in February ’82 as the lead single from their third Motown album, Keep it Live. Produced by Reggie Andrews, the funky groove was created with a Minimoog bassline underneath a bass guitar and a drum machine mixed with live drums. Personally, “Let It Whip” is one of my go-to karaoke jams.

Eye to Eye – “Nice Girls”

Songwriters: Deborah Berg and Julian Marshall
Genre: Synthpop
Hot 100: #37 on July 24

Formed in 1979, Eye to Eye were a duo consisting of American vocalist Deborah Berg and British keyboardist Julian Marshall. The sleek, smooth production is courtesy of Gary Katz, best known for producing all the classic Steely Dan records in the 1970s. In fact, Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen plays keyboard on one track on Eye to Eye’s self-titled debut LP. “Nice Girls” featured Berg’s crisp vocals, guitarist Rick Derringer, formerly of the ‘60s band The McCoys (“Hang on Sloopy”) and Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, among other session aces. It’s a given that any Steely Dan-adjacent project would have top-notch musicians.

Haircut One Hundred – “Love Plus One”

Songwriter: Nick Heyward
Genre: New wave
Hot 100: #37 on August 7

Genre-blending British new wave band Haircut One Hundred, fronted by Nick Heyward, released their stellar debut album, Pelican West, in 1982. The lead single and only Top 40 hit from that record was “Love Plus One.” The hit showed off the preppy group’s catchy and eclectic sound, featuring horns, marimbas, bongos and cha-cha guitar riffs.

Marshall Crenshaw – “Someday, Someway”

Songwriter: Marshall Crenshaw
Genre: Power pop
Hot 100: #36 on August 28

A masterful pop songwriter, Berkley, Michigan native Marshall Crenshaw should’ve had far more hits. It was probably a matter of timing as his catchy pop-rock would have fit in more with the ‘50s and ‘60s rockers that influenced him. In fact, Crenshaw’s break was playing John Lennon in the touring production of the Broadway show Beatlemania in the late ‘70s. He would later star as Buddy Holly in the 1987 film La Bamba. “Someday, Someway” is one of many perfect power pop tunes on his self-titled debut LP (“Mary Anne” and “There She Goes Again” are a couple personal favorites). Crenshaw’s biggest chart success would come in the mid-90s when The Gin Blossoms’ “Til I Hear It From You,” a song Crenshaw co-wrote after they’d both performed at SXSW, hit #9.

Donald Fagen – “I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)”

Songwriter: Donald Fagen
Genre: Jazz-rock
Hot 100: #26 on November 27

The lead track from his classic solo debut, “I.G.Y.” was Donald Fagen’s only pop hit. The Nightfly is Fagen’s semi-autobiographical song cycle about growing up in the New York City suburbs in the 1950s. “I.G.Y.” stands for “International Geophysical Year,” a worldwide systematic study of Earth and its planetary environment that ran from July 1957 to December 1958. Play “I.G.Y.” if you ever need to test out new speakers or headphones.

In addition to his association with aforementioned one-hitters Eye to Eye, Fagen was also loosely connected to a forgotten one-hit wonder called Sneaker, who also had their only hit in ’82 with the ballad “More Than Just the Two of Us” (#34). That band took their name from the 1975 Steely Dan song “Bad Sneakers” and were produced by Dan guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

Beyond these great songs, 1982 had some truly strange one-hit wonders. Notably, Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl” (#32), which features Zappa’s 14-year-old daughter, Moon, talking like a girl from San Fernando Valley – “like totally!” “gag me with a spoon!” – over hard rock music. Pac-Man inspired a novelty rock song, “Pac-Man Fever,” by Buckner & Garcia, which peaked at #9 and sold over a million copies.

Stay tuned to 360°Sound for more, as our series on the best and most interesting one-hit wonders continues. Collect them all!


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