The matchups are divided into four brackets: (60-70s), (80s), (90s) and (00s).
Matchups Bracket #1 ("60-70s" Bracket)
1) Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band
The husband/wife duo of Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert made up the core creative team of Starland Vocal Band, which scored a Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 song in 1976 with Afternoon Delight. The Beat supposes the marriage made the behavior more-than-lightly-hinted-at in the song somehow more socially-acceptable. But what do we know? The world knows this song personifies the AM radio, pop harmonies era of popular music. So much so that listing the song's use in popular culture would take the rest of this page.
4) Feelings – Morris Albert
Many one-hit wonders are artists whose one-hit status is bemoaned, as the artist either had other music that many enjoyed or the artist fell into inexplicable obscurity. Such is not the case for Morris Albert, whose melody borrowed from French songwriter Louis Gaste became the Top 5 1974 hit Feelings. Can you imagine a more syrupy, soulless love song? Better to be known for something bad than nothing at all? Perhaps. This song's immortality is due to the fact it was the frequent target of parody and its appearance on worst-song-ever kinds of lists.
2) Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
Carl Douglas' Kung Fu Fighting reached the top spot on the charts in both the U.S. and U.K. in 1974. The song has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide, and received a Grammy Award for "Best Selling Single" in 1974. It is notable in particular for moving even pre-teen boys to dance – if, that is, you consider mimicking martial arts moves to be dancing. Jamaican-born and England-based, Douglas did subsequently score two minor hits in the U.K., but it's Kung Fu Fighting that lives on in our hearts.
3) Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
Norman Greenbaum may have charted a handful of songs on the charts, but his 1969 tune Spirit in the Sky spent 15 weeks in Billboard Magazine's Top 100, topping out at Number 3. The song, while making several references to Jesus (Greenbaum himself is Jewish), is inspired, the writer/performer said, by Westerns in which gunslingers wanted to die with their boots on. The song has itself proven so inspiring that it remains popular for use in television, movies and advertising to this day.Bracket #2 ("80s" Bracket)
1) Come On Eileen – Dexy's Midnight Runners
Quite popular in their native U.K., Dexy's Midnight Runners scored only one hit stateside. Released in 1982, Come On Eileen features Celtic influences and instrumentation, while being wholly of the Brit-pop music of the 1980s. Its popularity was boosted by its prevalence on early MTV, courtesy a Julian Temple-directed video. It's been covered and used in films, but to The Beat, it is most important for being sung to our then-infant daughter, whose middle name is Eileen. Too-Rye-Ay.
4) Turn Up the Radio - Autograph
A list of 80s one-hit wonders wouldn't be complete without a hair band tune, and no other epitomizes the things that made the genre great while at the same time being almost completely disposable than Autograph's 1984 hit Turn Up the Radio. The band's label almost left the song off the album Sign in Please, but the band fought hard for its late submission. Guitarist Steve Lynch won accolades from Guitar Player magazine for his solo work on the song.
2) Mickey – Toni Basil
Toni Basil was a dancer, choreographer and actor, who did all three of those things for the video for her breakout 1982 hit song Mickey. The infectious song (a remake of a 1979 song by British band Racey called Kitty, with cheer/chant added by Basil) topped the charts, but Basil was destined for other things. Dig her film choreography credits, which include: American Graffiti, The Rose, That Thing You Do, My Best Friend's Wedding and Legally Blonde.
3) Turning Japanese – The Vapors
The Vapors' 1980 hit Turning Japanese may be rumored to be about something we don't discuss on a family website, but according to songwriter David Fenton it's about just going through life changes that find you turning out not quite the way you expected. Fenton acknowledged that the song's rumored meaning may have helped propel it to the upper reaches of the Billboard charts. The British new wave band burned out after releasing a second album in 1981.
Bracket #3 ("90s" Bracket)
1) Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something
You're breaking up because you have nothing in common. But then you remember, what about that Audrey Hepburn film? And there you have the making of one of the top one-hit wonders of the 1990s, Deep Blue Something's Breakfast at Tiffany's. The song elicits eye-rolls a-plenty, despite, or perhaps because of, its quintessential catchiness. The song is from the band's 1995 record, Home. You probably didn't know DBS recorded four albums total.
4) Closing Time – Semisonic
Applicable in so many instances, Minneapolis alt-rockers Semisonic's Closing Time is actually about the life changes being experienced by singer Dan Wilson at the time (he was about to become a father for the first time, among other changes). The morose delivery epitomizes a period of 90s musical history, not to mention the guitar sound and overall production. But it's the song's tone and hook that make it memorable, and its television and film credits are considerable. The band is not formally retired.
2) I Touch Myself – The Divinyls
Aussie new-wave/alternative outfit The Divinyls had a much more remarkable career in its homeland than they managed in the U.S., where, in 1991, it scored a Top 5 hit with I Touch Myself. Vocalist Christina Amphlett captured the imagination of millions with the obvious lyric, and the song's pop kitsch boasted just enough alternative sound to give the band some critical credibility as well.
3) I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred
The 90s boasted a host of one-hit wonders with quasi-novelty songs, and choosing from among them was no easy task. The Beat settled on Europop act Right said Fred's I'm Too Sexy, perhaps for its continued application in a variety of media. Did we mention it's probably also the silliest and most irritating? But its danceability and the singer's comic preening score it points as well. Follow-ups scored on the dance charts and in the U.K. but not on the Top 100.Bracket #4 ("00s" Bracket)
1) Bad Day - Daniel Powter
In the way Afternoon Delight personifies the 70s in a less-than-flattering but undeniably-catchy way, and Breakfast at Tiffany's does the same for the 90s, Daniel Powter's Bad Day captures the essence of sensitive-dude singer-songwriter stuff of the 2000s. The song spent five weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005, his only song to reach the Hot 100 – a dubious and notable honor. Even a handful of artists included in our list of Sweetest 16 have scored other low-charting songs (low enough, of course, to still qualify as one-hit wonders). The tune remains ubiquitous. Hey, Powter's probably living the good life in his native Canada.
4) Butterfly – Crazy Town
Ah, rap metal. Somehow, two genres that often find themselves confined to the outskirts of commercial success (from a hit song perspective) combine to make chart magic, and Crazy Town's Butterfly is at the top of the heap. The song reached Number 1 in 15 countries, including the U.S. It's bad and yet somehow inescapable and omnipresent, which is kind of what a one-hit wonder should be. Oh, and there's a Red Hot Chili Peppers sample, too.
2) Who Let the Dogs Out – Baha Men
If you're aiming for a wider audience, you might want to reconsider choosing a regionally popular song by an artist few have heard of outside their native area. But that's just what England's Baha Men, who were plying their trade on Bahamian dance music, did in 2000 by recording Trinidad and Tobago artist Anslem Douglas's Who Let the Dogs Out. Lo and behold, it worked, first to the delight and later the dismay of millions. The tune dented the Billboard charts but was even more successful on the awards circuit, earning a Grammy, Billboard awards and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Space does not permit a list of advertisements, sporting events and movies that have used the song.
3) Stacy's Mom – Fountains of Wayne
Named for a New Jersey lawn ornament store, power-pop quartet Fountains of Wayne staked their shot at success on cheek and charm – and a keen ear for riffs, sort of a modern-day The Cars. Ultimately, the band's success hinged on a song about a friend's, well, hot mom. Stacy's Mom reached Number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2003, reaching even higher in the U.K. Rachel Hunter appears as the song's title character in the accompanying video. The album from which the song is taken, Welcome Interstate Managers, is highly-recommended by more than one Critic Crony.