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Top 80s One Hit Wonders

by Doug MacGowan

All 80s One Hit Wonders To Reach Billboard #1

In the American music business, a “one-hit wonder” is any song that places in the top twenty (some say top forty) of Billboard magazine’s song charts that is the only song by a musical act (solo, duo, or group) to do so. Subsequent songs, should there be any, never make it anywhere near the top of the charts.

Because the 1980s holds a unique place in popular American music history and introduced many new artists, it is only natural that there is a large amount of one-hit wonders that span the decade. And among that list are eleven performers who eventually soared to the coveted #1 position.


“Funky Town” by Lipps Inc.

The first of these was one of the last gasps of the disco music that had dominated the 1970s. The Minneapolis group Lipps Inc. scored a huge hit with their 1980 song “Funky Town,” which landed in the #1 position in a staggering 28 different countries at the time of its release. The song hit the top American spot in June and stayed at #1 for four weeks. Lipps Inc. was never able to repeat this massive success, and the band eventually broke up in 1985.


“Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis

The second #1 song on the list was the instrumental theme from the movie “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis. It spent one week in the top spot in May of 1982. It was a hit around the world: it stayed on Australia’s popular song chart for 64 weeks.

“Mickey” by Toni Basil

Choreographer and Philadelphia native Toni Basil scored a hit with “Mickey” in December of 1982, partially due to the video that accompanied the song, which was shown often on the newly-created MTV. The song had originally been recorded by an English band named Racey back in 1979. In that earlier version, the subject of the song was a woman named Kitty. Basil switched the gender and created a monster hit.

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“Baby. Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram

Next up was a love song titled “Baby, Come to Me” performed by Patti Austin and James Ingram. It peaked at #1 in February of 1983. Ingram would eventually go on to chart one more #1 hit in 1990, but the song remains Austin’s sole top-40 song.

“Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners

Soon after, in April of the same year, Irish group Dexys Midnight Runners topped the chart with “Come On Eileen.” It proved popular across the globe, earning the top spot in countries ranging from Belgium to New Zealand.


“We are the World” by USA for Africa

It wouldn’t be until 1985 that another one-hit wonder hit #1, although the band — “USA for Africa” — only recorded one song: the smash “We Are the World,” which was a fundraising single to aid the peoples of that continent.

“Miami Vice” by Jan Hammer

That same year, in early November, another instrumental took the top position: the theme to the popular TV show “Miami Vice,” which was composed and performed by Czech native Jan Hammer.


“Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott

The year 1986 didn’t produce any #1 one-hit wonders, but the first month of 1987 saw Gregory Abbott’s “Shake You Down” from his debut album go to the top.

“I’ve Had The Time of My Life” by Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

Singer Jennifer Warnes teamed up with Bill Medley in 1987 for “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from the movie “Dirty Dancing.” Warnes achieved a few top-40 hits during her career, but the song remains Medley’s only song to cross that line into the top of the charts when he was not part of the chart-topping The Righteous Brothers duo.


“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” became a surprise hit and topped the charts in September of 1988. It holds the honor of being the first “a cappella” song to hit #1. It knocked a song by the popular band Guns N’ Roses out of the #1 position.


“When I’m With You” by Sheriff

The decade closed with a re-release of a song by one-hit wonder Canadian band Sheriff titled “When I’m With You,” which reached the #1 position in early February of 1989 — four years after the band had broken up.

And there the list ends. Other popular songs from one-hit wonders of the decade such as Nena’s “99 Luftballons” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” would approach the top spot but would fall short, leaving the 11 artists who held the top spot, even briefly, a quirky club now relegated to musical history.


List of 1980s one-hit wonders in the United States,” Wikipedia, pulled 10/10/17.

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