This Week In 1986: June 29, 1986
What would the '80s have been without one-hit wonders? Some of the decade's best songs - and some of the worst - came from acts that only visited the top 50 once. This week in 1986, three of the new entries on the ARIA single chart were the only hits for the artists concerned.
One of the songs was a novelty pop track that reached the top 10 (and is thereforeincluded in my list of ultimate '80s one-hit wonders), another was a song by a married duothat just fell short of the top 10 and the third track was a solo hit by a singer who'd also reached the top 50 once as a member of a band.
A man who not only had more than one hit but more than one number 1 single was on top of the chart this week in 1986. "Addicted To Love" by Robert Palmer dethroned Cliff Richard & The Young Ones for the first of a two-week run at number 1.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 79
The fourth track on the new age instrumentalist's Rendez-Vous album - the others were called "First Rendez-Vous", "Second Rendez-Vous", etc. - was his final ARIA chart visit.
Peak: number 60
Back in April, we saw his former band return to the top 50 with "Far Side Of Crazy", but ex-Wall Of Voodoo vocalist Stan Ridgway didn't have as much luck with his solo offerings. "Drive, She Said" was the first - and biggest - of three singles to make the ARIA top 100 from Stan's debut album, The Big Heat.
Peak: number 57
A number 1 single is often followed by continued chart success, but in the wake of "Up Where We Belong", Joe Cocker couldn't quite manage to get back into the top 50 - with this lead single from the Cocker album faring no better than "Civilized Man" and "Edge Of A Dream". The good news for Joe was that Cocker contained a couple of singles that would change all that, including one that would become one of his signature tunes.
Number 50 "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry
Peak: number 4
Here's our first one-hit wonder - a tongue-in-cheek pop ditty about the appeals of life on the wild frontier. With its spoken vocal, synthpop sound and camp music video, it can only have come out during the '80s and, naturally, was a big hit - at least in Australia and the US. Despite being the sort of record you'd think would do quite well in the UK, where Boys Don't Cry were actually from, "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" surprisingly failed to chart there. With a novelty hit like this on their hands, the band found it impossible to follow its success with any more chart action and quickly faded into obscurity, only to surface a decade later to take legal action against this remix of Paula Cole's "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?".
Peak: number 49
With "Say Goodbye" having finally given Hunters & Collectors their first real hit single, it made sense for the band to have another crack at turning this song into a chart success. Initially released in 1984, "Throw Your Arms Around Me" had completely missed the top 100. Could this re-recorded version, which was included on the recently released Human Frailty album, do better? Well, it did make the top 50 - just - but its number 49 peak is still shockingly low when you consider how much of an Aussie classic it has become. As we saw earlier this year, not even a 1990 remix improved the song's chart fortunes that much and it remains one of those tunes that has become massively popular without ever having sold very many copies.
Number 48 "Bop" by Dan Seals
Peak: number 41
As I write these posts, every so often a former top 50 entry crops up of which I have no memory. Here's a case in point, although it's not that surprising I've never heard "Bop" before since a) it wasn't that big a hit and b) it's a country song. Formerly one half of England Dan & John Ford Coley (biggest hit: "I'd Really Like To See You Tonight", number 25 in 1976), Dan Seals is also the brother of Jim Seals from Seals & Croft (biggest hit: "Summer Breeze", number 16 in 1973). The second of nine consecutive number 1s on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, "Bop" was the only one poppy enough to crossover to the mainstream Hot 100 there. Similarly, the cheery little tune gave Dan his only solo success in Australia (although a peak of number 41 doesn't really qualify him as a one-hit wonder).
Peak: number 34
So far, only the less weighty singles ("Lonely Ol' Night", "R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.") from Scarecrow had found their way into the top 50, but that changed with the song that gave the album its title - and John Cougar Mellencamp's sociopolitical message couldn't have been clearer on "Rain On The Scarecrow". Written about the financial hardships faced by American farmers at the time, the track's more serious subject matter and sombre sound didn't deter the Australian public from sending it into the top 40. The issue was one of some importance to JCM, who appeared at the first five Farm Aid benefit concerts (and several more over the years since then).
Number 41 "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz
Peak: number 11
Back to the one-hit wonders with this freestyle classic from husband-and-wife team John Smith and Valerie Day. First released as their debut single in 1985, it was the remixed version of "I Can't Wait" that became a top 10 hit for Nu Shooz in the US and the UK, and just missed the ARIA top 10. Despite two more top 50 hits in America - "Point Of No Return" and "Should I Say Yes" - this was the only time the duo charted in Australia.
Number 39 "Miss This Tonight" by Matt Moffitt
Peak: number 27
When I talk about one-hit wonders, I'm usually referring to an act that reached the top 10 (or, in the case of Nu Shooz, practically did), but I'm going to bestow honorary 1HW status on Matt Moffitt in his guise as a solo artist since "Miss This Tonight" really should have been a much bigger hit (and is one of my favourite songs from 1986). Already established as the vocalist of Matt Finish (who themselves only paid one visit to the top 50 with 1981's "Short Note"), Matt released his solo album, As Little As I Look, and "Miss This Tonight" as its lead single in 1986. Despite what I seem to recall as being high rotation airplay, "Miss This Tonight" stalled just inside the top 30 and, as we'll see in coming months, the follow-up missed the top 50.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:
Next week: another male solo artist with a should've-been-bigger song from 1986 returns with the follow-up, one of Australia's best synthpop bands moves on to their second album and the theory of relativity inspires a chart hit.