Monday, March 29, 2010

Children of the 90s One-Hit Wonder Mash-Up: 1996 Edition

It's about that time again, folks. Time to delve into the magical world of bygone one-time chart topping artists, that is. The one-hit wonder retrospective is always a bit surprising. In some cases, we may have once thought these artists to be poised for greatness and industry longevity, only to have since forgotten about them entirely. Whatever the explanation, these artists hit it big in mainstream markets with an appealing single and failed to deliver on the much-hyped follow-up.

The outlook's not all bad for our one-hit wonder makers, though. If you ever go to the dentist, you're pretty likely to hear their former hit cropping up on the inoffensive LITE FM radio station being piped into your examination room. With enough laughing gas, you can probably even transport yourself right back to where you were when you enjoyed the song the first time around. Really, with enough laughing gas, anything is possible.

Though they may not have stood the public opinion-administered test of sophomore CD success, in 1996 these songs were among the most-played on the airwaves and in Discmans (Discmen?) everywhere. Considering they don't even make Discmans anymore, these songs aren't the only thing that failed to live up to their initial fanfare and promise. Tough break all around.

Peaches (Presidents of the United States of America)

For the record, this is clearly not the video, just the song set to a bunch of peach-related images. It is sort of amusing though, right?

We just can't leave well enough alone in this country, can we? We're so full of repressed latent sexual content that we keep projecting it onto innocent songs. At least that's what PotUSA claim. The song is really just about peaches. Get over it, people. It's offensive music at its best, so please stop trying to assign it some dark deeper meaning.

Counting Blue Cars (Dishwalla)

This is one of those sort of melancholy-tinged songs that can really pull your mood in the general direction of ennui. Most often, this song is referenced for its line, "Tell me all your thoughts on God/'Cause I'd really like to meet her." Yep, her. How out there is Dishwalla? Just imagine what else they could have made quietly gender-bendingly shocking if they'd churned out a few more chart-toppers.

I Love You Always Forever (Donna Lewis)

I distinctly remember listening to an end-of-year 1996 countdown and hearing this song as the year's top chart hit, so imagine my surprise at learning that this is the last well-performing song we saw from Lewis. "I Love You Always Forever" has that light, airy, sticks-in-your-head-for-all-eternity quality to it. It may not be heavy on substance, but the song makes up for it with catchiness. So much catchiness. Be warned before listening: you're going to be singing this one for the rest of the day.

That Thing You Do (The Wonders)

Okay, so this one is sort of cheating. Technically, it's a song from a movie about a band who learns firsthand what it means to be one-hit Wonders (formerly one-hit Oneders-- feel free to mistakenly pronounce it Oh-need-ers. Really, go ahead. I won't tell.) This is a great movie with an undeniably catchy title song, so it's no surprise that the music translated well to the real-life pop charts. Of course, it wasn't quite at the movie's level of Beatlemania-esque hysteria, but it performed pretty well for a song released by a fictional group.

One of Us (Joan Osbourne)

Every once in awhile, the public just yearns for a pop song that dares to ask the tough rhetorical questions. It helps, of course, if the songwriter is articulate enough to include lyrics like, "Yeah, yeah/God is good/yeah, yeah/God is great/yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah." Throw out those old hymnals, people; this girl's a theological poet.

Macarena (Los Del Rio)

I know, I know, how many times can we talk about the Macarena here at Children of the 90s? Apparently the answer is something like bi-weekly, but we'll have to chalk it up to the fact that it was just that infectious. Forget parental warnings: his single needed a CDC warning. After the song enters your ear canal and undergoes a brief incubation period, The Macarena is doomed to be contagious to others for up to a week. We still see flare-ups of spontaneous outbreaks of the dance today. I think you never really get over it; we're all carriers of the dormant Macarena, our bodies poised and waiting for the song to strike so it can break out into well-ordered group line dancing.

Jellyhead (Crush)

Jellyhead is one of those songs that you might still be sort of embarrassed if it came up on your iPod on shuffle in front of other people but that you secretly relish listening to on your own. Its techno-pop dance beat is fun and upbeat, which might sound strange for what is essentially a breakup song. Somehow, though, Crush makes it wok.

Breakfast at At Tiffany's (Deep Blue Something)

It's a sweet song, but the premise is a little thin, don't you think? If you no longer had anything in common with your significant other, would a shared reminiscence about an Audrey Hepburn movie really rekindle your relationship? Especially considering that the band's original idea for the song had featured Hepburn's Roman Holiday instead. I guess, "So I said, what about, Ro-o-man Holiday" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Everything Falls Apart (Dog's Eye View)

This is another one of those deceptively upbeat songs, though to its credit "Everything Falls Apart" has significantly more depth than say, "Jellyhead." The music video is just so 90s, from the overacting antics of the lead singers with the brief vignette cutaways. That lead singer really rocks that grungy button-down left open over a t-shirt, too.

Closer to Free (The BoDeans)

This song was actually released in 1993, but it didn't get any chart action until 1996. It became the theme song for the TV drama Party of Five, assuring the song's quick ascendancy to popularity. The BoDeans also recorded a lesser-known theme for Jennifer Love-Hewitt's short-lived Party of Five spinoff Time of Your Life. Unfortunately, like the new show, it seemed their mass appeal was all tapped out.

Their time at the top may have been brief, but most these songs are memorable enough to spark a little nostalgia. Just because we don't have daily conversations about the rise and fall of Dog's Eye View and Dishwalla doesn't mean they're completely forgotten. If you hear one of these songs on the radio, it's more than enough to jar you back to 1996. Well, you know. Give or take some flannel and stringy hair.


Meghan said...

Umm, hello, sophomore year of HS! I loved these songs, minus the Macarena. And I loved me some Party of Five!!! Scott Wolf was just on "Chelsea Lately" and I was all, sigh.

Shannon said...

HOW did I forget about Closer to Free? Uhh, and Jellyhead? This is why I need you in my life. Thank you.

Andhari said...

Macarena was definitely a fever back in the days.

Melissa said...

That Thing You Do is my favorite movie ever! EVER! So psyched you included it!

Melanie's Randomness said...

I remember each and everyone of these. Woa...I'm going to be doing a lot of downloading when i get home!

Faux Trixie said...

I dispute that Presidents of the United States of America were one hit wonders. Not only did they have "Lump" before "Peaches," they also did the theme song to the Drew Carey show (well, covered it) and a cute song called "some postmen" that was played on the radio in Chicago.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Noooo! I have a bunch of dreadful songs stuck in my head now! :)

The Presidents of the United States of America were definitely one-hit wonders in the UK: I'm pretty sure that was the only song of theirs that charted.

RAY J said...

lawl 6th grade...

that Peaches song is how I got my nickname in jr high and high school, lol...

You forgot POTUSA's first "big" single off the debut though - "Lump" (remember, Weird Al even parodied it into "Gump") so technically they had 2 hits...

Jen said...

Oh jellyhead. That's a guilty pleasure.

Remember Republica? They had two great songs..."Ready to Go" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous".

Also Shampoo's "Trouble". I'm embarrassed to say I only know this song from my little brother insistently playing the Power Rangers soundtrack on cassette, and it was the only song I could stand.

Jamie said...

I was thinking the same about PotUSA.
They definitely weren't one hit wonders here in Australia.
Great to read about them here, though, and remember them.

Heather Taylor said...

I loved The Wonders! Thanks for including it!

Blogger said...

eToro is the best forex broker for new and advanced traders.

Digg This!