The music industry is full of artists with big plans. Hooking up with a label can seem like a dream come true. It takes a lot of hope, hard work and a dash of luck to get signed. People that support the work of artists are just as thrilled as the person chosen for the coveted role and chance to make it big. Stories abound with promises and offers of lucrative contracts. The solo debuts and skyrockets, all is good right? Not always. Even when a new song takes over the charts and publicity flows, things don’t always work out for follow up hits.
One hit wonders share some of the same characteristics. If technology had evolved earlier, allowing for electronic sharing of the most popular songs then perhaps, follow up hits may have received matching or similar success. Before the Internet, music lovers tuned to the radio, waiting on favorite songs to weigh in with disc jockeys. Today, social media is a twenty-four hour opinion spot with on-going polls. Ever consider what it does to the psyche of a person hailed a music wonder, only to be forgotten if, and when the second song drops? Check out the top 10 blasts from the past.
10. Jan Hammer (1985) Miami Vice Theme
Images of hot guys and girls, along with sultry Miami nights, came to mind when this 1985 theme song from Miami Vice TV show hit the scene. A hit show is one way to climb the charts and that’s just what this song did. In addition to television, radio airplay and requests from fans of Hammer, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas locked in the chances for success. The song hit Billboard’s #1 spot and was the last instrumental song to do so before Harlem Shake, in 2013.
9. Vanilla Ice (1990) Ice, Ice Baby
This one is the first single hip-hop song to top Billboard 100 and was written by Vanilla Ice and DJ Earthquake. The duo used the Pressure bass line from Queen and David Bowie, who did not receive royalties until after the song was climbing the charts. Music critics have called the song (which still gets people dancing) the worst of the best, and the best of the worst. The song remains a favorite for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity members, worldwide. Alphas are known to be, “cold-as-ice” and very smooth. The song fits the mode for members of the first African-American Greek letter fraternity, during step-shows where they show off fancy foot and hand work.
8. Bobby McFerrin (1988) Don’t Worry Be Happy
Not as widely received as Pharrell’s ‘Happy,’ Bobby McFerrin didn’t do too badly with his 1988 single. A feel good number that urged people to chill-ax, before it was a popular culture term, picked up quickly. A dreadlocked McFerrin made life seem easy and people everywhere whistled the melody. The New York born soloist is known for making percussive effects by tapping his chest and using his voice. McFerrin’s ability to make unusual sounds and his talents as a jazz singer, producer, conductor and songwriter, helped him earn ten Grammy Awards. In 1988, George H. W. Bush used the tune without authorization from McFerrin as his election campaign song. In response, McFerrin stopped performing the hit during concerts. McFerrin earned the #1 Pop spot on U.S., charts in 1988.
7. Eddy Grant (1982) Electric Avenue
A feel good song, Electric Avenue became a fast dance and club favorite. Eddie Grant used his Guyana and British music influence, kicking out a tune with Caribbean/reggae/R&B flavor, along with finger popping and foot stomping beats. Electric Avenue hit the the #1 spot on VH1 and stayed put at a high #2 on the Billboard top 100 for 5 weeks, in 1983.
6. Hugh Masekela (1968) Grazing in the Grass
South African trumpet man, Hugh Masekela recorded this cool instrumental jazz tune in 1968, hitting billboards #1 spot. It’s as relaxing today as it was back in the day. A favorite you can jam to, along with your parents. Perfect for summer cookouts and good times.
5. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (1987) (I Had) The Time of My Life
Without a doubt, this is a favorite love song for many music lovers. Selected for the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing, the lyrics and sexy beat make it a go-to for lovers. In November of 2007, it topped Billboard 100 for one week, along with a six week stay on the Adult Contemporary chart.
4. The Knack (1979) My Sharona
A head bopper, this debut single by, The Knack hit the airwaves in 1979, with it’s catchy rift, “My, my, my, my, hey!” It became an instant radio and dance favorite. Certified gold, it became the fastest to ever hit the prestigious gold status. It is second, only to The Beatles 1964 classic, “ I want to hold your hand.”
3. Wild Cherry (1976) Play that Funky Music White Boy
One of the coolest songs ever, Wild Cherry took over Billboard charts in 1976. A funky number that is still often enjoyed today, it pulled on funk, rock, R&B and a bit of disco, which was very popular at the time. The song left lovers of funk saying, “Did he say that?” in reference to the songs title. Wild Cherry played and sang the song with heart that could not be mistaken for anything other than what it was; pure dance music that has withstood the test of time.
2. The Weather Girls (1982) It’s Raining Men
What started as a song that expressed copious amounts of joy over the number of available men in one location, quickly morphed into a hot club favorite in 1982. It has lasted over three decades. With the lyrics, “It’s raining men hallelujah It’s raining men, amen”. The Weather Girls featuring, Martha Wash and Izora Armstead sold over 6 million copies worldwide. In 1997, the hot tune was covered by Weather Girl Martha Wash, in a duet with Ru Paul. The song has been been featured in movies and remains a gay club staple, anthem and all around hit. The Weather Girl’s version hit #34 on the US R&B chart and made it to #46 on Billboard Hot 100.
1. Tag Team & 95 South (1993) Whoomp (There it is! ) – Whoot (There it is )
Sporting events and parties haven’t’ been the same since, “Whoomp (There it is!) dropped in 1993. Tag Team, the high energy group out of Miami, was able to capitalize on the Miami Bass sound. One that laid beats over synthesizers utilizing booming bass. They were not alone. A month before Tag Team released their solo, another group from the same town, 95 South dropped, “Whoot There it Is”. Although the song had different lyrics, the strong dance beats placed both groups on the charts with lightening-speed. They caught fire lighting the country, becoming favorites of dance/cheer teams from coast to coast. The catchy refrain(s) even became lingo for many grandmothers and grandpas, while serving as multi-generational music. It worked, as seniors seemed happy enough to return to the “hip set” using a bit of language that united them with teenage grand children. Certified 4x Platinum, Whoomp sold over 400,000,000 copies in the U.S., and enjoyed one week in the #1 spot in, 1993. Both songs hit their highest chart numbers during the same time. Radio stations played both as requested by fans. Whoomp! Peaked on Billboard’s 100 at #2, and Whoot! At #11. Still a club favorite, the song gets people on the dance floor.