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  • Gavin Scott

One-Hit Wonders On The Australian Chart: The 1980s

Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2020.


It's an endless source of frustration to me when music channels air "one-hit wonder" specials or compilations called Best Of One-Hit Wonders (or something) are released and artists like MC Hammer, The Proclaimers, Bros and a-ha are included. Even under the very loosest definition of what constitutes a one-hit wonder, there's no way those acts qualify.


Nena: bona fide one-hit wonder, at least in Australia

So what is a one-hit wonder? In the strictest sense, it's an artist who scores a number 1 hit and then never returns to the top 50. A more lenient definition would be an artist who has one major hit single (a top 10 hit would do) and that's it no further top 50 positions.


To set the record straight once and for all, I'm going to list the ultimate one-hit wonders from the Australian charts in the 1980s and then recap artists who qualify under the broader definition.


I'll eventually work my way through the '90s and '00s, and even throw in a list of two-hit wonders as well (hello, Feargal Sharkey). But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Ultimate One-Hit Wonders: one number 1 and no further hits

To start us off here are the acts who topped the Australian singles chart in the '80s and never troubled the top 50 (or, in some cases, the top 100) again. Not included on this list: one-off charity ensembles Band Aid and USA For Africa, and The Young Ones (although chart-topper "Living Doll" was their only hit as a group, Neil had a solo hit and the comedy collaboration was one of many successes for Cliff Richard).


"Turning Japanese" by The Vapors

Entered the Australian chart: April 28, 1980

Weeks at number 1: Two

No other top 100 entries

It's one of the most misinterpreted songs of all time and the band has since set the record straight about what the song is actually about. It's apparently not about masturbation (as many theorised), but about going crazy (or "turning Japanese") after a failed relationship. I'm not sure you'd get away with a song like this anymore, but in the politically incorrect '80s, you could be vaguely racist without anyone kicking up too much of a stink.

More on "Turning Japanese" here.



"Moscow" by Genghis Khan

Entered the Australian chart: August 4, 1980

Weeks at number 1: Six

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Genghis Khan", number 86 in 1979

Apparently, this song by the West German group that'd formed to enter 1979's Eurovision Song Contest did cause a bit of a stir at the time in Russia. In Australia, however, we embraced "Moscow" and it became one of 1980's biggest hits, thanks in no small part to Channel 7's use of the song in coverage of that year's Moscow Olympics.

More on "Moscow" here.



"Shaddap You Face" by Joe Dolce Music Theatre

Entered the Australian chart: November 3, 1980

Weeks at number 1: Eight

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "If You Want To Be Happy", number 61 in 1981

It was really all about racial stereotyping in the early '80s, wasn't it? At least Joe had the Italian heritage that made it OK for him to perform this track which was massive not only in Australia but globally, with reported sales of over six million copies. The joke wore thin before long with 1982's "You Toucha My Car I Breaka You Face" completely failing to chart.



"Trouble" by Lindsey Buckingham

Entered the Australian chart: December 14, 1981

Weeks at number 1: Three

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "It Was I", number 74 in 1982

Of course, Lindsey had several hits before and after this solo single as a member of Fleetwood Mac, but "Trouble" was the only song he put his own name to that really connected with record buyers in Australia.



"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell

Entered the Australian chart: November 30, 1981

Weeks at number 1: Three

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Torch", number 68 in 1982

Back in the UK, Marc Almond and Dave Ball scored five consecutive top 5 hits and three top 10 albums in a row, but in Australia, only this cover of Gloria Jones' northern soul track made a mark. Both went on to successful solo careers at home, but again, each had limited success on the ARIA chart away from Soft Cell  Marc, with his UK chart-topping duet with Gene Pitney, "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" and a guest spot on Bronski Beat's "I Feel Love (medley)", and Dave, with '90s dance act The Grid's "Swamp Thing".



"Mickey" by Toni Basil

Entered the Australian chart: March 22, 1982

Weeks at number 1: Two

No other top 100 entries

As I've mentioned elsewhere, "Mickey" started life as "Kitty", a track by Racey (who scored two number 1 hits in Australia in 1979). Toni was the Paula Abdul of her day a singer/choreography with a healthy dose of crazy who turned the song into a cheerleading chant that became so big, she was never able to outdo it.



"I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene

Entered the Australian chart: May 24, 1982

Weeks at number 1: Six

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Used To Be" (with Stevie Wonder), number 71 in 1982

Originally released in 1977 by not only American singer Charlene Oliver but a handful of other artists as well  it took five years for this song to become a hit, by which point Charlene had quit the music industry and had to be re-signed to her label. Her success was short-lived, but the song gained another burst of popularity following its use in The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert in 1994.



"Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor

Entered the Australian chart: August 23, 1982

Weeks at number 1: Six

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Burning Heart", number 55 in 1986

1982 was really a huge year for one-hit wonders in Australia (Soft Cell and Lindsey Buckingham charted mostly in '82 as well)  and this song from the Rocky III soundtrack ended up as the year's number 1 single overall. Even though the band didn't have another track anywhere near as big (despite trying to repeat the formula with Rocky IV's "Burning Heart"), "Eye Of The Tiger" continues to sell well today as a download, so at least the royalties would still be coming in from that.



"Pass The Dutchie" by Musical Youth

Entered the Australian chart: November 1, 1982

Weeks at number 1: Three

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Youth Of Today", number 99 in 1983

Since it wasn't a great idea for a group of kids to sing about passing drugs around (although no doubt such a song would've also become a massive hit), this track, which had started life as "Pass The Kouchie", had its lyrics changed to make the song about a stewing pot instead of a marijuana receptacle. Since it was effectively a cover version, the surviving members of the group recently lost a claim for royalties for continued use of the song.



"99 Luftballons / 99 Red Balloons" by Nena

Entered the Australian chart: March 26, 1984

Weeks at number 1: Five

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Just A Dream", number 71 in 1984

European songs did big business around the world in the mid-80s, with Nena joining the likes of Ryan Paris ("Dolce Vita") and Falco ("Der Kommissar") in the upper reaches of charts in English-speaking countries. In Australia, Nena's tale of balloons being mistaken as missiles and causing nuclear war became a runaway hit, even though most of us had no idea what she was singing about.English version "99 Red Balloons" was included on the flip side of the single, but Australians were just as happy with the German version on the A side. Nena was the name of the group behind the song as well as the stage name of singer Gabriele Kerner, who, despite her one-hit wonder status in other parts of the world, continues to be a big star back home.

More on "99 Luftballons/99 Red Balloons" here.



"I Should Have Known Better" by Jim Diamond

Entered the Australian chart: January 21, 1985

Weeks at number 1: One

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Remember I Love You", number 96 in 1985

This might be his only hit under his own name, but Scottish singer Jim did appear on another top 5 single in Australia and that was also the only hit for the group concerned, so we'll get to it in Part 2. "I Should Have Known Better" is the type of sentimental ballad people either love or hate but it's certainly not the drippiest song on this list. 

More on "I Should Have Known Better" here.



"I Wanna Wake Up With You" by Boris Gardiner

Entered the Australian chart: November 3, 1986

Weeks at number 1: One

No other top 100 entries

Speaking of... arguably the slushiest song to grace the top of the Australian chart in the '80s, "I Wanna Wake Up With You" (or "I Want To Wake Up With You", depending on what single cover you're looking at) became an unexpected smash for the reggae artist who'd been plugging away for decades as a singer and session bass player.

More on "I Wanna Wake Up With You" here.



"Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis

Entered the Australian chart: March 23, 1987

Weeks at number 1: Five

No other top 100 entries

Ah, the '80s, when you could be discovered dancing in a nightclub and turned into a star even if only for a brief time, in the case of model-turned-singer-turned-actor Paul. This high-energy Euro-disco track jumped from the clubs to the singles chart at a time when similarly-styled songs by Michael Bow and Man 2 Man Meets Man Parrish (both of which we'll see below) were doing the same. No music video? It didn't matter the Countdown dancers could take care of that. No hit follow-up? Who needs one when you can just remix your chart-topping song every few years indeed, "Boom Boom" was revisited in 1992, 1997 and 2007, but never as successfully as it originally was.

More on "Boom Boom..." here.



"Slice Of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn with Herbs

Entered the Australian chart: March 30, 1987

Weeks at number 1: Four

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "You Oughta Be In Love", number 63 in 1987

A song that was just made to be an advertising jingle, "Slice Of Heaven" has lived on thanks to its use in ad campaigns for Tourism New Zealand. Originally, it was used in animated film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale, a big-screen adaptation of the comic strip. Dave continued to land hits in his native New Zealand, but he had no further luck in Australia.

More on "Slice Of Heaven" here.



"Perfect" by Fairground Attraction

Entered the Australian chart: June 27, 1988

Weeks at number 1: Three

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Find My Love", number 86 in 1988

Like so many of the songs on this list, "Perfect" is a love it or hate it type of tune and also one of those songs that overshadow everything else an act produces. In the UK, Fairground Attraction and singer Eddi Reader did go on to enjoy some further success, but this perky ditty was the beginning and the end for them in Australia.

More on "Perfect" here.



"Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin

Entered the Australian chart: October 17, 1988

Weeks at number 1: Seven

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest hit: "Good Lovin'", number 76 in 1989

As regular readers of my ARIA chart recaps would know, this song is a hate it and then hate it some more type of song. But, there's no denying its success a Grammy-winning single and one of only a handful of a cappella songs to grace the chart during the '80s.

More on "Don't Worry Be Happy" here.



Almost One-Hit Wonders: one number 1 and a second minor hit

According to the strict definition of one number 1 single and no other top 50 hits, these acts would just fall short of technically being one-hit wonders, but they are worth mentioning here since their second (and only other) hit was pretty minor.


Lipps Inc.

Number 1 single: "Funkytown" (1980)

Next biggest single: "How Long" (number 44, 1980)


The Swingers

Number 1 single: "Counting The Beat" (1981)

Next biggest single: "It Ain't What You Dance It's The Way That You Dance It" (number 43, 1981)



A Flock Of Seagulls

Number 1 single: "I Ran" (1982)

Next biggest single: "Wishing (I Had A Photograph Of You)" (number 46, 1983)


Dexy's Midnight Runners

Number 1 single: "Come On Eileen" (1982)

Next biggest single: "Geno" (number 44, 1980)


Jennifer Rush

Number 1 single: "The Power Of Love" (1985)

Next biggest single: "Flames Of Paradise" (with Elton John) (number 31, 1987)



B-List One-Hit Wonders: one top 10 single and no further hits

Obviously, you don't need to have a number 1 record to have a hit. So let's turn to those performers who hit the Australian top 10 (without reaching the top spot) with one song then were never heard from again on the top 50 (or, in some cases, the top 100). The only song not included on this list came from another charity ensemble: Artists United Against Apartheid's "Sun City" reached number 4 in 1986.


"Space Invaders" by Player (1)

Entered the Australian chart: February 4, 1980

Peak: number 3

No other top 100 entries

Hot on the heels of Mi-Sex's "Computer Games" came this similarly themed (but inferior) track by Australians Russell Dunlop and Bruce Brown, who'd go on to produce for Machinations.

More on "Space Invaders" here.



"Day Trip To Bangor (Didn't We Have A Lovely Time)" by Fiddler's Dram

Entered the Australian chart: February 25, 1980

Peak: number 8

No other top 100 entries

Well, it's not my definition of a lovely time, that's for sure. The British folk group broke through to the mainstream both here and in the UK with this dirge. Bangor's in North Wales.

More on "Day Trip To Bangor..." here.



"There Ain't No Age For Rock 'N' Roll" by The Veterans

Entered the Australian chart: May 12, 1980

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

What the hell was going on in early 1980? This song by duo Gus Roan and Marc Malyster oom-pah-pahed all the way from their homeland of Belgium to Australia. More on "There Ain't No Age For Rock 'N' Roll" here.



"Love At First Night" by Kim Hart

Entered the Australian chart: May 26, 1980

Peak: number 6

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "You're The One" (number 89 in 1980)

This is more like it. Along with Australia's Christie Allen, flash-in-the-pan New Zealand singer Kim Hart blended pop and disco to great effect. Bit of a mistake to follow this up with a ballad in hindsight.

More on "Love At First Night" here.



"I Only Want To Be With You" by The Tourists

Entered the Australian chart: June 6, 1980

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

Two of the band members (Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox) would go on to much greater success, but for this five-piece British group, a New Wave-ish version of the Dusty Springfield classic was as good as it got.

More on "I Only Want To Be With You" here.



"Echo Beach" by Martha & The Muffins

Entered the Australian chart: July 7, 1980

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

Featuring not one, but two Marthas in the line-up, the Canadian group had fans reaching for their atlases but the Echo Beach in the song wasn't a real place. These days it is, with Toronto's Echo Beach concert venue named after the track.

More on "Echo Beach" here.



"Que Sera Mi Vida" by Gibson Brothers

Entered the Australian chart: December 29, 1980

Peak: number 9

No other top 100 entries

No one told these French siblings that disco was dead or that the outfits they wore in this clip were hideous. The song itself (which translates to "what would be of my life") is fantastic and would pop up 18 years later sampled in Smash 'n' Grab's "Drive Me Crazy".



"Fade To Grey" by Visage

Entered the Australian chart: April 6, 1981

Peak: number 6

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "The Damned Don't Cry" (number 94 in 1982)

Featuring Steve Strange on vocals and future Ultravox member/Band Aid co-writer Midge Ure in its line-up, Visage were everything the New Romantic scene was about: synths, make-up and artistic pretensions. Genius.



"They Won't Let My Girlfriend Talk To Me" by Jimmy & The Boys

Entered the Australian chart: April 27, 1981

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" (number 57 in 1979)

Australia's very own Rocky Horror Show frontman Ignatius Jones (later of Pardon Me Boys) and drag queen sidekick Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth owe their biggest hit to Tim Finn, who wrote this '50s-sounding tune.



"Precious To Me" by Phil Seymour

Entered the Australian chart: May 25, 1981

Peak: number 6

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Let Her Dance" (number 69 in 1981)

One of those songs that sounds instantly familiar, although I'm not certain I've ever heard it before (I was only six at the time). Phil was half of The Dwight Twilley Band but struck out solo with this debut single. He passed away in 1993, age 41.



"Only For Sheep" by The Bureau

Entered the Australian chart: June 22, 1981

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

Featuring several former members of Dexy's Midnight Runners (including a pre-Style Council Mick Talbot), The Bureau achieved here what they couldn't in the UK (a chart hit) but only lasted the one album.



"I Won't Let You Down" by Ph.D

Entered the Australian chart: August 10, 1981

Peak: number 5

No other top 100 entries

Earlier, I mentioned that chart-topper Jim Diamond would pop up again with his former group... and here he is. Jim was the D in Ph.D with band-mates Simon Phillips and Tony Hymas providing the other letters.



"Hooked On Classics" by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Entered the Australian chart: September 28, 1981

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Hooked On Australia" (number 87 in 1984)

Medleys were massive in the early '80s (and the late '80s, but we'll get to Jive Bunny in the two-hit wonders list) and some bright spark came up with the idea of Stars On 45-ing the works of Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Beethoven, to name a few. Three albums hit the top 20, but this was the only hit single spawned by the project.



"Screaming Jets" by Johnny Warman

Entered the Australian chart: October 5, 1981

Peak: number 9

No other top 100 entries

Johnny had some big-name friends helping him out, with Peter Gabriel providing background vocals on this track, which was released on Elton John's Rocket Records. Nice to see some more high-tech computers in the clip, too.



"Homosapien" by Pete Shelley

Entered the Australian chart: January 18, 1982

Peak: number 4

No other top 100 entries

The former singer for punk legends Buzzcocks (who landed zero hits in Australia), Pete launched his solo career with this synth-based track, which was banned in the BBC for its gay sex references. Unlike the situation a couple of years later with Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax", the ban didn't turn "Homosapien" into a hit in the UK and Pete had to be satisfied with this Down Under attention (ooh-er!).



"Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash

Entered the Australian chart: February 8, 1982

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

They landed three top 20 hits at home in the States, but this debut single was the band's only success in Australia. The song had previously been released in 1980 by Seafood Mama (who morphed into Quarterflash).



"Believe It Or Not" by Joey Scarbury

Entered the Australian chart: February 15, 1982

Peak: number 2

No other top 100 entries

This theme to superhero sitcom The Greatest American Hero was co-written by Mike Post, who hit the Australian top 50 in his own right later in 1982 with "The Theme From Hill Street Blues".



"Body And Soul" by Jo Kennedy

Entered the Australian chart: March 22, 1982

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Monkey In Me" (number 76 in 1982)

Another soundtrack hit, this time from Australian film Starstruck and another top 10 single written by Tim Finn (and previously recorded by Split Enz) performed in this case by the star of the movie, Jo Kennedy.



"Key Largo" by Bertie Higgins

Entered the Australian chart: April 12, 1982

Peak: number 2

No other top 100 entries

The beard, the shirt, the silky smooth vocals... it can only be the seductive stylings of Florida resident Mr Bertie Higgins. The adult contemporary classic name-checks Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall, the stars of the 1948 film of the same name.



"Love Plus One" by Haircut 100

Entered the Australian chart: May 10, 1982

Peak: number 10

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Fantastic Day" (number 85 in 1982)

The second of four top 10 hits for the group in the UK, "Love Plus One" was the only Australian hit for Haircut 100. The band ditched lead singer Nick Heyward at the end of the year before self-destructing in 1984.



"Radio" by The Members

Entered the Australian chart: June 28, 1982

Peak: number 5

No other top 100 entries

Punk was more or less a thing of the past, but this lot, who'd seen some UK chart action in 1979, came out of nowhere to hit the Australian top 5. Better late than never and it may well have been never were it not for this hit since the band split the following year.



"Words" by Missing Persons

Entered the Australian chart: August 9, 1982

Peak: number 10

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Destination Unknown" (number 89 in 1983)

Like Berlin, just without the soundtrack megahit to their name, Missing Persons were a female-fronted new wave band from America. In the line-up were husband and wife Terry and Dale Bozzio, and future Duran Duran member Warren Cuccurullo.



"Da Da Da (I Don't Love You, You Don't Love Me, Aha Aha Aha)" by Trio

Entered the Australian chart: August 23, 1982

Peak: number 4

No other top 100 entries

I always used to confuse this song with The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" which had been released the previous year. Like the Nena track featured above, this came in an English version as well as the original German version, while Toss got in on the act with a remake for the French market.



"I Know There's Something Going On" by Frida

Entered the Australian chart: September 20, 1982

Peak: number 5

No other top 100 entries

It seems odd calling Frida a one-hit wonder you might have heard of her previous group, ABBA but she did only have one hit single as a solo artist so here she is. "I Know..." was produced by Phil Collins, who also brought his drums along for the day.



"When You Were Sweet Sixteen" by The Fureys

Entered the Australian chart: October 4, 1982

Peak: number 9

No other top 100 entries

Here's another golden oldie given an update this time it's a song that dates back as far as 1898 and the remake was by Irish sibling folk group The Fureys, a version of which continues to perform today.



"I Could Be So Good For You" by Dennis Waterman

Re-entered the Australian chart: October 25, 1982

Peak: number 9

No other top 100 entries

This theme from TV series Minder charted in the lower reaches of the top 100 for a handful of weeks in December 1980, but really took off in late '82/early '83 when the show would've return to Australian screens with new season three episodes. It's sung, of course, by the star of the long-running series.



"Zoom" by Fat Larry's Band

Entered the Australian chart: December 13, 1982

Peak: number 10

No other top 100 entries

If you're thinking, "The singer doesn't look that fat to me", that's because he's not Larry. Fronted by vocalist Darryl Grant, the band gets its name from drummer/singer Larry James. "Zoom" was a big Australian and UK hit for the group, who never hit the Billboard Hot 100 in their decade-plus career.



"Living On The Ceiling" by Blancmange

Entered the Australian chart: February 14, 1983

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Waves" (number 99 in 1983)

Fun fact: new wave duo Blancmange had to change the lyrics of this, their biggest single, from "up the bloody tree" to "up the cuckoo tree" at the insistence of the BBC (yep, them again). Talk about prudish.



"Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo

Entered the Australian chart: March 21, 1983

Peak: number 6

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Ooh To Be Ah" (number 68 in 1983)

With a debut single this big, the only way was down even in the UK, where the band with the silly name registered a couple more top 10 hits. Incidentally, original lead singer Limahl doesn't feature on this list since he managed to land two singles within the Australian top 50 as a solo artist.



"Always Something There To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes

Entered the Australian chart: April 4, 1983

Peak: number 7

No other top 100 entries

Another UK pop group with more international hits than Australian ones but if any song was going to be a success it was this classic Bacharach and David composition, also a top 50 hit in Australia for Sandie Shaw and R.B. Greaves.



"Save Your Love" by Renee & Renato

Entered the Australian chart: April 4, 1983

Peak: number 3

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Just One More Kiss" (number 55 in 1983)

Hilary & Renato just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? But, Hilary Lester is the real name of Renée, who, together with Italian-born Renato Pagliari, took out the UK Christmas number 1 for 1982 and scored one of the top 10 highest-selling singles of 1983 in Australia.



"Shiny Shiny" by Haysi Fantayzee

Entered the Australian chart: July 4, 1983

Peak: number 3

No other top 100 entries

In the UK, debut single "John Wayne Is Big Leggy" charted higher, but Australians knew better than that, sending this quirky track into the top 3. Haysi Fantayzee was comprised of Kate Garner, who's now a multimedia artist, and Jeremy Healy, who went on to be involved in E-Zee Possee and have a successful career as a DJ.

More on "Shiny Shiny" here.



"I.O.U." by Freeez

Entered the Australian chart: August 15, 1983

Peak: number 3

No other top 100 entries

Given this song's use in breakdance film Beat Street,and the fact "I.O.U." was written and produced by in-demand US remixer Arthur Baker, you'd be forgiven for thinking Freez were American. They were actually from London.

More on "I.O.U." here.



"The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

Entered the Australian chart: August 29, 1983

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Pop Goes The World" (number 66 in 1988)

These guys, meanwhile, weren't from Sherwood Forrest as the medieval-themed video clip would suggest but were Canadian. Despite the cold weather in their hometown of Montreal, the Doroschuk brothers who formed the basis for the band "never wore any hats", according to their website.

More on "The Safety Dance" here.



"Puttin' On The Ritz" by Taco

Entered the Australian chart: August 29, 1983

Peak: number 5

No other top 100 entries

Originally featured in the film of the same name in 1930 (after being written by Irving Berlin the previous year), "Puttin' On The Ritz" received a synthpop makeover in 1983 by Dutch singer/actor Taco.

More on "Puttin' On The Ritz" here.



"Cum On Feel The Noize" by Quiet Riot

Entered the Australian chart: December 12, 1983

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" (number 59 in 1984)

The two biggest singles by this American metal band had originally been recorded by Slade but only one remake was a hit. "Cum On Feel The Noize" is one of two songs I bizarrely associate with roller rinks (the other is Iron Maiden's "Run To The Hills"), since I think that was the only place I ever heard it.

More on "Cum On Feel The Noize" here.



"Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder

Entered the Australian chart: January 23, 1984

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

This video is worth watching for the horrible fashion alone. This song by the future No Doubt producer was an even bigger chart hit 12 years later for another one-hit wonder, Austrian dance act Unique II.

More on "Break My Stride" here.



"To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)" by Mel Brooks

Entered the Australian chart: April 23, 1984

Peak: number 3

No other top 100 entries

Speaking of Austria... this novelty hit from the actor/filmmaker behind Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs (to name a few of his movies) was taken from comedy To Be Or Not To Be, which was set during World War II thus the Hitler parody.

More on "To Be Or Not To Be..." here.



"Oh Sherrie" by Steve Perry

Entered the Australian chart: July 2, 1984

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Foolish Heart" (number 52 in 1985)

Australia never really got into Journey ("Don't Stop Believin' peaked at number 100 here), but when it came time for vocalist Steve Perry to put out a solo album, we were on board with that. The song was named after Steve's girlfriend, Sherrie Swafford, who appeared in the clip but has since shunned the spotlight.

More on "Oh Sherrie" here.



"Missing You" by John Waite

Entered the Australian chart: August 27, 1984

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "These Times Are Hard For Lovers" (number 59 in 1987)

This English singer scored his only solo hit in between his stints in groups The Babys (who reached number 1 in Australia in 1978 with "Isn't It Time") and Bad English (who peaked at number 4 with "When I See You Smile" in 1990).

More on "Missing You" here.



"You Think You're A Man" by Divine

Entered the Australian chart: September 17, 1984

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Walk Like A Man" (number 75 in 1985)

The song that put producers Stock Aitken Waterman on the map and took gender benders in the charts to a whole new level, "You Think You're A Man" was the biggest hit for the singer/actor born Harris Milstead.

More on "You Think You're A Man" here.



"The Warrior" by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth

Entered the Australian chart: October 8, 1984

Peak: number 6

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Hands Tied" (number 83 in 1985)

Not to be confused with late-'70s Australian band Scandal, Scandal featuring Patty Smyth (not to be confused with Patti Smith) only managed this one hit as a group. But, here's a conundrum Patty did manage another Australian hit in the '90s with her Don Henley duet, "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough". I'm keeping "The Warrior" on this list since, if I'm including Frida and Lindsey Buckingham as separate entities to ABBA and Fleetwood Mac, then Scandal featuring Patty Smyth the group is a different act from Patty Smyth the solo artist. If you don't like it, tough which leads us to...

More on "The Warrior" here.



"I'm Tuff" by George Smilovici

Entered the Australian chart: November 5, 1984

Peak: number 10

No other top 100 entries

Sorry, that was lame. Perhaps I should leave the comedy to the professionals, like the comic behind this single who started every gag with the words "I'm tuff", which was followed by the audience rejoinder "How tuff?".

More on "I'm Tuff" here.



"The Sea Of Love" by Honeydrippers

Entered the Australian chart: December 3, 1984

Peak: number 5

No other top 100 entries

A supergroup of sorts comprising Robert Plant and Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers and David Letterman's offsider, Paul Shaffer. "Sea Of Love" was originally a hit in Australia and the US for its co-writer Phil Phillips, and in the UK for Marty (father of Kim) Wilde.

More on "The Sea Of Love" here.



"Love & Pride" by King

Entered the Australian chart: April 1, 1985

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Won't You Hold My Hand Now" (number 86 in 1985)

After his band and then his subsequent solo career ran out of steam, big-haired Paul King ended up on British MTV and VH1 as a VJ. He would've been quite justified keeping himself off any one-hit wonder programs in the UK since King managed more hits than this debut single there although none of them succeeded in Australia. The music video keeps getting yanked off YouTube, so you'll have to make do with this live TV performance.

More on "Love & Pride" here.



"Rhythm Of The Night" by DeBarge

Entered the Australian chart: May 20, 1985

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Who's Holding Donna Now" (number 57 in 1985)

A few years after The Jacksons moved from Motown to CBS, their original label found a new sibling group to add to their roster. Like the Jacksons, DeBarge started off with five siblings and kept a spare waiting in the wings, but a point of difference was sister Bunny in the line-up. "Rhythm Of The Night" was one of the earliest hits for songwriter Diane Warren.

More on "Rhythm Of The Night" here.



"19" by Paul Hardcastle

Entered the Australian chart: May 27, 1985

Peak: number 10

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Don't Waste My Time" (number 66 in 1986)

A decade after the Vietnam War ended, British producer Paul Hardcastle took this topical dance track to the top of the UK chart, into the Australian top 10 and even to number 15 in the US. Also in 1985, parody track "N-N-Nineteen Not Out" by The Commentators hit the UK top 20 and was about an equally significant social issue  the British cricket team's sub-standard performance in the previous year's test series.

More on "19" here.



"Life In A Northern Town" by The Dream Academy

Entered the Australian chart: July 8, 1985

Peak: number 4

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "The Love Parade" (number 76 in 1985)

This British trio managed three albums and contributed a cover of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" to the Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack, but it's this debut single for which they're mostly known. Younger music fans will more likely recall the Dario G track "Sunchyme", which sampled vocals from "Life In A Northern Town" to great effect.

More on "Life In A Northern Town" here.



"Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer

Entered the Australian chart: July 8, 1985

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

Before Crazy Frog got their hands on it, this instrumental track from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack was the ultimate in '80s synthpop brilliance. German producer Harold also supplied a track for the Top Gun soundtrack.

More on "Axel F" here.



"St Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" by John Parr

Entered the Australian chart: September 30, 1985

Peak: number 4

No other top 100 entries

Speaking of soundtracks, songs from '80s films don't get much better than this power ballad by the British (I always thought he was American) singer. Mullet-loving John wrote the track with producer David Foster (who was also behind St Elmo's Fire's instrumental theme). The "Man In Motion" subtitle comes from the inspiration for the song: Canadian paralympian Rick Hansen, who toured the world by wheelchair in 1985. He wasn't in the film.

More on "St Elmo's Fire..." here.



"Say I'm Your Number One" by Princess

Entered the Australian chart: December 2, 1985

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "After The Love Has Gone" (number 57 in 1986)

Desiree Heslop had to settle for number eight instead with her debut single, which was given the Midas touch by Stock Aitken Waterman. Princess was one of a handful of credible British artists produced by the Hit Factory before they turned their attentions to soap stars and gay boy bands towards the end of the decade.

More on "Say I'm Your Number One" here.



"See The Day" by Dee C Lee

Entered the Australian chart: January 13, 1986

Peak: number 5

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Come Hell Or Waters High" (number 69 in 1986)

The future Mrs Paul Weller stepped away from her job as The Style Council's backing singer to release this solo effort, a dramatic ballad covered by Girls Aloud two decades later.

More on "See The Day" here.



"Face The Face" by Pete Townshend

Entered the Australian chart: January 13, 1986

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Give Blood" (number 77 in 1986)

Like Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and ABBA's Frida, Pete was a chart regular as a member of The Who but only struck gold once in his own right on the Australian singles chart.

More on "Face The Face" here.



"You're A Friend Of Mine" by Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne

Entered the Australian chart: February 3, 1986

Peak: number 9

No other top 100 entries

This song's on this list since it was the only hit for E Street (Bruce Springsteen's band, not the Aussie soap) saxophonist Clarence. Jackson had other hits, although none of those featured his then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah, who provided backing vocals and appeared in the clip for "You're A Friend Of Mine". Taken from Clarence's album Hero, it's the type of feel-good track that could only have come out in the '80s. Shortly before his death in 2011, Clarence's instrumental skills were heard on Lady Gaga's "The Edge Of Glory".

More on "You're A Friend Of Mine" here.



"Concrete And Clay" by Martin Plaza

Entered the Australian chart: February 24, 1986

Peak: number 2

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Best Foot Forward" (number 51 in 1986)

Our fourth song in a row from someone better known (and more regularly successful) as part of a group, this remake of the Unit 4+2 British chart-topper from 1965 was the only hit for Mental As Anything co-frontman Martin. Still, it's more hits than Greedy Smith's managed.

More on "Concrete And Clay" here.



"Eloise" by The Damned

Entered the Australian chart: March 31, 1986

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Is It A Dream" (number 69 in 1985)

Time for another update of a 1960s hit, this time a 1968 single by Barry Ryan (a number 1 in Australia) which gave goth rockers The Damned their first major hit since forming a decade earlier. Singer Dave Vanian was a former gravedigger who dressed as a vampire.

More on "Eloise" here.



"I Wanna Be A Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry

Entered the Australian chart: June 16, 1986

Peak: number 4

No other top 100 entries

The singles chart was a pretty camp place in the mid-'80s, what with all the gender benders, innuendo-loaded lyrics and Wham!'s short shorts so this Western-themed dance track fit right in. Surprisingly, it was a complete flop back home in the UK.

More on "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" here.



"Spirit In The Sky" by Doctor And The Medics

Entered the Australian chart: June 30, 1986

Peak: number 3

No other top 100 entries

There really were a lot of cover versions in the '80s, weren't there? An update of the 1970 Australian and UK number 1 by Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit In The Sky" briefly thrust The Doctor (aka Clive Jackson) and his psychedelic-loving friends into the spotlight. Even a later cover of ABBA's "Waterloo" couldn't sustain the public's interest.

More on "Spirit In The Sky" here.



"(I Just) Died In Your Arms" by Cutting Crew

Entered the Australian chart: October 6, 1986

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "One For The Mockingbird" (number 96 in 1987)

Hands up if you thought Cutting Crew were American? Yep, me too but the group led by singer Nick van Eede hailed from the UK. They did enjoy their greatest success in the States, however, with this debut single hitting number 1 and another single, "I've Been In Love Before", reaching the top 10 in 1987.

More on "(I Just) Died In Your Arms" here.



"Emotion In Motion" by Ric Ocasek

Entered the Australian chart: October 13, 1986

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "True To You" (number 100 in 1987)

Yep, it's time for another round of "But my band had plenty of hits!" and it's another singer who shared lead vocal duties with a band-mate. Ric might've only had one hit in Australia, but that's one more than The Cars' other vocalist, Benjamin Orr, who also released a solo album in 1986 featuring US top 30 single "Stay The Night".

More on "Emotion In Motion" here.



"Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" by Glass Tiger

Entered the Australian chart: October 27, 1986

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Thin Red Line" (number 91 in 1987)

Canadian music is a bit like Australian music locally, there's a thriving scene and every once in a while a band will break internationally. In 1986, that band was Glass Tiger, who roped in the other famous Canadian of the time, Bryan Adams, for backing vocals on this debut single. More on "Don't Forget Me..." here.



"Word Up!" by Cameo

Entered the Australian chart: December 22, 1986

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

Codpiece. OK, now I've got that out of the way, the other comment to make about Cameo's biggest hit is how often it's been covered and in a variety of genres. Gun and Korn have taken it in a rock direction, while Mel G (Mel B's brief foray into married initialdom) and Little Mix have given it a pop twist. 

More on "Word Up!" here.



"Male Stripper" Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish

Entered the Australian chart: March 23, 1987

Peak: number 3

No other top 100 entries

Remember what I was saying about how camp the '80s were? Here's another case in point  a collaboration between high energy group Man 2 Man and remixer Man Parrish on this ode to a ladies' night Adonis, a modern day Jack, a jock with an act. Apparently built like a truck.

More on "Male Stripper" here.



"Lean On Me" by Club Nouveau

Entered the Australian chart: April 20, 1987

Peak: number 5

No other top 100 entries

One of the most covered songs of all time and that's just in American Idol auditions. Originally recorded by Bill Withers in 1972, "Lean On Me" was given a funky makeover by Club Nouveau, who actually release five studio albums. Original members Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy only stuck around for one before going on to launch En Vogue.

More on "Lean On Me" here.



"Ship Of Fools" by World Party

Entered the Australian chart: April 20, 1987

Peak: number 4

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Is It Like Today?" (number 62 in 1993)

It wasn't much of a party, actually. Former Waterboys member Karl Wallinger is the only member of this act, who were actually more successful in Australia than the UK although a World Party song, "She's The One", would be taken to the top spot of the British chart by Robbie Williams in 1999.

More on "Ship Of Fools" here.



"Love And Devotion" by Michael Bow

Entered the Australian chart: May 11, 1987

Peak: number 9

No other top 100 entries

Eurodisco flooded the chart in early 1987, with Michael Bow joining Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish and Paul Lekakis in the Australian top 10 despite no one knowing a single thing about any one of them. Michael remains a bit of a mystery, but if you do a bit of internet searching, you'll discover that "Love And Devotion" wasn't his only single

More on "Love And Devotion" here.



"Right On Track" by Breakfast Club

Entered the Australian chart: May 25, 1987

Peak: number 4

No other top 100 entries

Here's the band that featured a former boyfriend of Madonna's as well as one of her main songwriting partners and at one time included Ms Ciccone in its line-up as drummer. Great song, great video, end of story.

More on "Right On Track" here.



"(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy" by Shona Laing

Entered the Australian chart: May 25, 1987

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Drive Baby Drive" (number 65 in 1987)

She'd been famous in her native New Zealand for a decade and a half before anyone this side of the Tasman took any notice and only then because of this tune about one of the world's most ill-fated families.

More on "(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy" here.



"Wild Horses" by Gino Vannelli

Entered the Australian chart: July 13, 1987

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "I Just Wanna Stop" (number 59 in 1978)

Another artist who'd been going since the early '70s, Gino's big 1978 hit (number 1 in Canada, number 4 in the US) didn't do the business in Australia, but "Wild Horses" and the Big Dreamers Never Sleep album made it a case of better late than never.

More on "Wild Horses" here.



"Star Trekkin'" by The Firm

Entered the Australian chart: August 17, 1987

Peak: number 3

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Arthur Daley (E's Alright)" (number 78 in 1982)

One of the things I've realised from doing my weekly look back at the ARIA charts from decades past is just how many novelty hits there were in Australia in the late '80s and here's one of the biggest. It wouldn't be the only sci-fi classic to be turned into a hit record.

More on "Star Trekkin'" here.



"Hold Me Now" by Johnny Logan

Entered the Australian chart: August 24, 1987

Peak: number 4

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "I'm Not In Love" (number 75 in 1988)

He may have triumphed at Eurovision twice, but Australia was only interested in the second of his two winning tunes, 1987's "Hold Me Now". Both it and 1980's "What's Another Year" (a UK number 1) won the competition for Ireland, but Johnny was actually born here.

More on "Hold Me Now" here.



"Pump Up The Volume" by M/A/R/R/S

Entered the Australian chart: December 14, 1987

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

It's not hard to be a one-hit wonder when you only ever release one record, which was the case with this one-off collaboration between groups A.R. Kane and Colourbox (neither of whom had other hits locally). And just like that, house music came to the Australian charts.

More on "Pump Up The Volume" here.



"Don't Tell Me The Time" by Martha Davis

Entered the Australian chart: February 15, 1988

Peak: number 8

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Tell It To The Moon" (number 65 in 1988)

These singers really should stick with their more successful groups, shouldn't they? Here's the vocalist for early '80s soft rock band The Motels with her one and only solo hit, which didn't do anything elsewhere in the world.

More on "Don't Tell Me The Time" here.



"Wonderful Life" by Black

Entered the Australian chart: February 29, 1988

Peak: number 7

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Sweetest Smile" (number 87 in 1987)

Like World Party, Black was the alter ego of a single performer British singer Colin Vearncombe, who was almost a no-hit wonder since this track flopped when first released in 1985. The song was a hit in Australia again in 2005 for Tina Cousins.

More on "Wonderful Life" here.



"She's Like The Wind" by Patrick Swayze

Entered the Australian chart: March 21, 1988

Peak: number 6

No other top 100 entries

Despite the efforts of Don Johnson, Bruce Willis and Michael Damian in the '80s, the Dirty Dancing star proved that not all singles by actors had to be terrible. Australia showed great taste in rewarding Patrick with a top 10 hit and refusing to entertain the notion of the other three as music stars.

More on "She's Like The Wind" here.



"Oh Yeah" by Yello

Entered the Australian chart: August 1, 1988

Peak: number 9

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "The Race" (number 59 in 1988)

Like "Wonderful Life", this quirky synthpop classic had originally been released in 1985, but after the exposure gained through its use in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "Oh Yeah" slowly found its way onto the Australian chart.

More on "Oh Yeah" here.



"Doctorin' The Tardis" by The Timelords

Entered the Australian chart: August 8, 1988

Peak: number 2

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Gary In The Tardis" (number 92 in 1988)

They might have gone on to have a brief string of big singles as The KLF, but this Doctor Who meets Gary Glitter mash-up is the one and only hit by Bill Drummond and Bill Cauty in their guise as The Timelords. And, since they were already recording as The KLF at the time, I'm counting this as a separate entity.

More on "Doctorin' The Tardis" here.



"So Excellent / I Go, I Go" by Kylie Mole

Entered the Australian chart: October 31, 1988

Peak: number 8

No other top 100 entries

The Comedy Company has a lot to answer for when it comes to the invasion of the singles chart by its characters  but this bubblegum pop novelty hit was the lesser of two evils. Far worse was the Con the Fruiterer song.

More on "So Excellent..." here.

"Talk It Over" by Grayson Hugh

Entered the Australian chart: August 7, 1989

Peak: number 4

No other top 50 entries

Next biggest single: "Bring It All Back" (number 88 in 1990)

The only one-hit wonder from 1989 is this track, which had been recorded and released the previous year by Olivia Newton-John. When her version, "Can't We Talk It Over In Bed", flopped, the song's arranger had a go with it and hit the Australian top 10 and US top 20.

More on "Talk It Over" here.

That brings us to the end of the list of '80s one-hit wonders on the Australian singles chart. Sure, there's an argument to be made that an artist with an enduring top 20 single and no other hits could be classed as a one-hit wonder. But, in the same way that I've insisted on the people on this list only having one appearance in the top 50 to their name, you've got to draw the line somewhere and I've drawn it at the top 10.


The term "one-hit wonder" stops meaning anything if you start bandying it around willy-nilly. All it takes is a little bit of research something music channel programmers and compilation compilers could do a bit more of  and it's easily determined whether the terms applies or not. Rant over.


Here's the Spotify playlist containing as many of the songs mentioned above as are available to stream:


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