One-Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1980 – The Vapors

“Turning Japanese” by The Vapors

The band knew that “Turning Japanese” would be a hit, so they released it as their second single after “News at Ten“. Oops. “News at Ten” was not a hit in the U.S., but they hit a big hit here with “Turning Japanese”. So, their fears were realized, as they became one-hit wonders after all.

“Turning Japanese” was widely believed to refer to the face someone makes during the act of masturbation. Apparently, we all have dirty minds. This was denied by the band on a VH1 True Spin special, as songwriter/lead singer David Fenton explained: “Turning Japanese is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn’t expect to.”

The Vapors only released two albums – New Clear Days and Magnets. Sales of the second album were poor and the band broke up soon after its release in 1981.

Here is “Turning Japanese” which peaked at #36 in the U.S. on November 29, 1980:

[twitter-follow screen_name=’returntothe80s’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

2 thoughts on “One-Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1980 – The Vapors”

  1. Call me naive, but I never heard of “Turning Japanese” being used in that sense. Always just thought it was a fun bouncy song.

    1. Honestly, I hadn’t heard about that either until I saw an episode of I Love the 80s on VH1, and all the talking head comedians had mentioned it. And it is all over online. It is a fun song. I don’t have it on my iPod yet though.

Leave a Reply