In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected as the 42nd President of the United States. The Summer Olympics took place in Barcelona, Spain. Police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King, which sparked riots in Los Angeles. John Gotti, boss of the Gambino crime family, was sentenced to life in prison. Hurricane Andrew struck southern Florida, causing an estimated $30 billion in damage.
Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks, a record at the time. The song was featured in the movie The Bodyguard, in which Houston also starred. “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men was also a huge single. The top-grossing movies of 1992 were Batman Returns, Lethal Weapon 3, and Sister Act. On television, Barney & Friends, The Real World, and Martin premiered.
Following are seven great one-hit wonders from 1992. Remember, to qualify as a 360°Sound one-hitter, an artist must have had only one song chart in the Top 40 of the Hot 100. Enjoy these seven tunes!
Cause & Effect – “You Think You Know Her”
Songwriter: Sean Rowley
Billboard Hot 100: #38 on May 16
Cause & Effect were a Sacramento-based synth-pop duo consisting of Sean Rowley and Robert Rowe. Initially released in 1990, their melodic single “You Think You Know Her” was re-released in 1991, barely making the Top 40 in spring of 1992 and peaking at #8 on the dance charts. I love how ‘80s this track sounds. C&E were very much influenced by Depeche Mode and New Order. Sadly, Rowley died in late 1992 from asthma-related cardiac arrest. Rowe continued on, regrouping C&E with musicians Keith Milo and Richard Shepherd, and releasing the sophomore LP, Trip, in 1994.
Joe Public – “Live and Learn”
Songwriters: Dwight Wyatt, Jake Carter, Joe Sayles, Kevin Scott and Nathan Sayles
Genre: New jack swing
Hot 100: #4 on May 23
A new jack swing group from Buffalo, New York, Joe Public were a four-piece that played instruments and used tons of samples. The name Joe Public referred primarily to the fact that the band originally featured two guys named Joe. Lead singer/bassist Kevin “Kev” Scott told Billboard, “We looked up ‘public’ in the dictionary just to be sure of the meaning. One definition was ‘to serve the people.’ So we were like, hey!”
Featured on the band’s debut release, “Live and Learn” kicks off with a horn squeal sampled from The J.B.’s song “The Grunt,” (the same looped sample that Public Enemy made famous with their banger “Rebel Without A Pause”). The song includes at least five other samples, including Parliament’s “All Your Goodies are Gone” and an expertly placed horn line from Steely Dan’s “Peg.”
Rozalla – “Everybody’s Free”
Songwriters: Nigel Swanston and Tim Cox
Hot 100: #37 on August 1
A native of Zimbabwe, Rozalla first found success as a vocalist for the Band of Gypsies production team (Swanston and Cox). The uplifting “Everybody’s Free” was her debut solo single. It topped the club charts and peaked at #37 on the Hot 100. The “Queen of Rave” made frequent appearances on the dance charts throughout the 1990s, but never again cracked the Hot 100.
The Soup Dragons – “Divine Thing”
Songwriter: Sean Dickson
Genre: Alternative rock
Hot 100: #35 on October 3
The Soup Dragons were a four-piece Scottish band that blended elements of dance, funk and acid house into their brand of alternative rock. “Divine Thing” was their only hit in the States. The video was nominated for the MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Video, but lost to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
k.d. lang – “Constant Craving”
Songwriters: k.d. lang and Ben Mink
Hot 100: #38 on October 10
After releasing several acclaimed country albums, k.d. lang made a play for the pop charts, and it paid off. “Constant Craving,” was featured on her outstanding cabaret-pop album, Ingenue. The track barely cracked the Top 40 at #38 in October 1992. For my part, I think it was a bigger hit than the charts would suggest. I remember it being inescapable through much of the ‘90s. And it did, in fact, peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. Lang won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1993 for “Craving,” as well as an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.
Charles & Eddie – “Would I Lie to You?”
Songwriters: Mick Leeson and Peter Vale
Hot 100: #13 on November 7
“Would I Lie To You?” was the lead single from Charles & Eddie’s debut LP, Duophonic. Charles Pettigrew and Eddie Chacon met on a New York subway in 1990. The 28-year-olds were both collectors of ‘70s soul records. “He was on the subway with a copy of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, an original copy,” Eddie told Music Express. “And I just walked up and started rappin’ with him, and realized we knew some of the same people, and we had done session work with the same people. We became best friends and started hanging out and then we started doing music.” In addition to its one-hit wonder status on Billboard, the track was a worldwide smash, topping the charts in the UK, France, Germany, and New Zealand.
Wreckx-N-Effect – “Rump Shaker”
Songwriters: Aqil Davidson, Teddy Riley, Pharrell Williams, David Wynn, Anton Hollins and Darren Callis
Genre: Hip hop
Hot 100: #2 on December 26
Markell “Miggady Mark” Riley, one-half of Wreckx-N-Effect, was the brother of superproducer and new jack swing inventor Teddy Riley, who co-wrote and produced “Rump Shaker” as well rapping on it. The iconic saxophone sample (played by a bikini-clad babe in the music video) was lifted from Lafayette Afro Rock Band’s 1972 recording “Darkest Light.” It’s a classic example of an obscure ‘70s funk record whose profile was raised by being sampled like crazy, much like 24-Carat Black’s Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth. Another interesting tidbit about “Rump Shaker”: A then-19-year-old Pharrell Williams received a writing credit for penning some of Teddy Riley’s verses. Williams was a protégé of Riley at the time.
“Not all butt songs do good,” said Riley. “You’ve just got to do it the right way.”
Another one-hit wonder butt song crushed the charts in ’92 – Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” at #2. But along with Kris Kross’s “Jump” (#3), I could happily live the rest of my days without ever hearing certain one-hitters again. With the advent of Soundscan barcode technology, hip-hop, country, contemporary Christian and other genres were starting to crash rock and pop’s chart party.
Stay tuned to 360°Sound as we finish up this batch of one-hit wonders with 2002!