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One Hit Wonders

On LJ's front page every day, they post a "writer's block" question.  Today's is:  Today's National One Hit Wonder Day. Whole albums or entire ouvres can be quite impressive, but more often than not, individual songs have the largest impact on us. Which one hit wonders have played a major role in your life?

Picking one one-hit-wonder that had an impact on me is near impossible.  Instead, I'll give you a collection of five that spark some intense memories..

1.   Jelly Roll by Blue Murder.  It's obscure and I'm not really sure if it counts as a "hit.".  I was turned onto it by my friend Chani, during senior week at Northwestern in 1998.  Every time I hear it, I go back to the last week of college, the last week of freedom before real life set in, driving to the Chicago Botanic Garden, being silly and having a good time.  The song itself is melodramatic and epic in a very Jim Steinman sort of way, filled with the sounds of thunder and that guitar-driven, classic 80s power ballad sound.  It features John Sykes, a guitar genius who was fired from the most commercially successful version of Whitesnake.  I love it.

2.  Informer by Snow.  Oh the suckitude.  Really.  Just absolute crap and drivel and yet, it was a hit.  I bought the cassingle of this one and played it alot for about 3 months.  It was huge in 1993.  I remember seeing the video in constant rotation in MTV, you know, back when they showed music videos on music television.  This one sticks out in my memory because they played it at my Junior Prom.  I was one of the co-chairs of the prom (really, it was all me but we'll let Carla take some credit for the work she didn't do...) and I busted my butt on the whole thing, making our giant auditorium/gym into a fairy tale wonderland.  The DJ we hired was the son of my parents' tax accountant.  He played this song twice at the prom.  The first time everyone danced.  We were having a great time in our poufy dresses and updos.  The second time, every single person that had been filling the dance floor sat down.  All of them.  Like 150 people.  The dance floor cleared.  

3.  99 Luft Balloons by Nena.  The german original version.  It was on an 8-track that my grandmother got from the Columbia House music club that I listened to over and over again.  I learned to sing along with it phonetically and everyone in my family thought it was so freaking cute.  Kind of a dark song to sing along with as a little kid and I had no idea what the song was about other than balloons.  Both versions of the song, the English and the German, are considered protest songs about military leaders mistaking 99 balloons floating in the sky for an attack and they start World War III.  The English version is a little more hardcore in the imagery and accusations of warmongering.  There's a great webpage where you can compare the lyircs side by side.    Huge hit, all over the world, in ironically, 1984.  The single was climbing the charts during a scary period in the Cold War between the US and USSR, right after the US deployed Pershing missiles in West Germany in response to the USSR's deployment of new SS-20 nuclear missiles.

4.  Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce.  In 1981, I was five years old.  My Aunt Anne owned this record.  Yes, I said record.  A 45.  She would play it on the stereo of the apartment she shared with my grandmother and we'd dance around the house and jump on her bed.  I can still remember all the words with the goofy fake Italian accent.  Apparently, it was a huge hit, even as a novelty song.  It was a Number 1 in 15 countriesand there are more than 35 different foreign language cover versions.  The goofy track famously kept Vienna by Ultravox off the number one singles spot in the U.K.

5.  I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers.  My high school's senior class trip to Washington, D.C., put 60 or so 18-year-old girls on a large touring bus for an entire day.  We were lucky, the bus had a VCR and TV screens.  For the trip home, we watched the movie Benny and Joon starring Mary Stuart Masterson and Johnny Depp.  'I'm Gonna Be ' was featured in the movie and at the end of the tape was the music video for the song.  Spontaneously and without coordination the entire bus started to sing along to the song, even breaking into halves for the "bah-dah-duh-dah" parts in the chorus.  It was incredible fun. 

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