“Lookin’ For Love” was part of the soundtrack to the 1980 John Travolta movie, Urban Cowboy. The song was performed by Country singer Johnny Lee, who worked 10 years with Mickey Gilley both on tour and at Gilley’s Club in Pasadena, Texas. Not only was “Lookin’ For Love” a huge hit on the Country charts, but it was also a hit on the Pop charts, as peaked at #5 on September 20, 1980. The song made Johhny Lee famous, but he did not have another hit on the Pop charts. He did have some success on the Country charts in the early to mid ’80s. These days, Johnny Lee performs in Branson, Missouri and also goes on tour.
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:
This is one of the signature songs of the ’80s. New Wave band, Devo, went heavy on the synthesizer on this one. The awesome beat to this song, Devo’s look with their famous Energy Dome headgear, and heavy rotation on MTV propelled “Whip It” to be a huge hit. It peaked at #14 on November 15, 1980. “Whip It” may have been Devo’s only hit, but they do have a cult following.
Here is “Whip It”, which has been ranked #62 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s as well as #15 on the same channel’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the ’80s:
This song may have made Benny Mardones a one-hit wonder, but it has the distinction of being a hit twice – both times in the ’80s – 1980 and 1989.
Benny Mardones originally released “Into the Night” in June 1980. The song peaked at #11 on September 6, 1980. In 1989, a Where Are They Now? Arizona radio segment aired, with the most popular question being, “Whatever happened to the guy who sang ‘Into the Night’?” Scott Shannon, then program director for Pirate Radio in Los Angeles, added “Into the Night” to its playlist. Radio stations across the country followed suit and “Into the Night” was once again a hit.
Benny Mardones is still around. He has a blog and website. He still plays music but, here is his huge hit:
Although Gary Numan had one hit in the U.S., he is considered a pioneer of electronic music. “Cars” peaked at #9 on June 7, 1980. The song reached #1 in the U.K. and Canada.
Gary Numan may have been a one-hit wonder in the U.S., but he had several more hits in the U.K. – “We Are Glass”, “I Die: You Die” and “This Wreckage” reached #5, #6 and #20, respectively. Numan has been a huge influence on artists such as Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters and Nirvana), Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), and Marilyn Manson.
Gary Numan continues to make music today. He has a new album, called Dead Son Rising, coming out this September 15.
But for most of us, we know Gary Numan from this smash hit:
I think I hear a thunderous cheer of people screaming “Finally a song I’ve heard of!”
Never mind 1980. This is probably one of the most well known one-hit wonders of all the ’80s.
Lipps Inc. released their debut album Mouth to Mouth in late 1979. The second single from this album, “Funkytown”, spent four weeks at number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts in the US, and went Platinum.
The Minneapolis, Minnesota band Lipps Inc. was founded by Steven Greenberg. He recruited lead vocalist Cynthia Johnson, the 1976 Miss Black Minnesota winner. After “Funkytown”, the Lipps Inc. did not achieve further success. Cynthia Johnson left the band in 1983. By the time Lipps Inc. threw in the towel, though, they’d begun to open things up on the Minneapolis music scene, not to mention giving valuable early experience to several future members of Prince’s band the Revolution. Greenberg eventually moved into web design, and owns a profitable company, called Designstein, which is based in Minneapolis.
Charlie Dore is a singer-songwriter from England. She started out in theater, then she joined a band that played bluegrass, western swing and hillbilly music. In 1978, she was spotted by Island Records and signed to a solo recording and publishing deal. She recorded an album, Where To Now, and the record company thought it was “too country”. So, they brought in UK producers Alan Tarney and Bruce Welch to re-record several tracks, one of which was her hit “Pilot of the Airwaves”.
After that, she left Island Records for Chrysalis. She recorded her second album, Listen, and again, the record company had her re-record the entire album. Although she re-recorded the album with Toto as the studio band, the album produced no hits.
Dore then got into acting again. While she was acting, she also wrote songs for other artists – one of her mot popular was “Strut” which was performed by Sheena Easton. She continues to write songs today, and every once in a while, comes out with a solo album.
But, her only hit was “Pilot of the Airwaves” which peaked at #13 on May 3, 1980:
Felix Cavaliere was
a member of the ’60s group, The Young Rascals (“Groovin'”). The band broke up in the early ’70s.
Cavaliere went on to release several solo albums during the 1970s.
His lone hit single was “Only A Lonely Heart Sees”, which peaked at #36 on April 19, 1980.
After appearing at Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration on May 14, 1988, the Rascals reunited, and went on a brief tour. Then the group split up into two factions – The New Rascals, and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals. During 1995 Cavaliere was a touring member of Ringo Starr’s third All-Starr Band. The (Young) Rascals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on May 6, 1997. Today, Felix Cavaliere still tours as Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals.
Here is Felix Cavaliere’s solo hit, “Only a Lonely Heart Sees”:
Teri Desario is a singer/songwriter from Miami, Florida. She was a classmate of Harry Wayne Casey (KC of KC and the Sunshine Band). Casey liked the original 1965 version of “Yes, I’m Ready” (by Barbara Mason) and wanted to re-record it. He was producing Teri DeSario’s album, Moonlight Madness, and had an idea to record the song as a duet. It was the first single released from the album in late 1979, and peaked at #2 on March 1, 1980. It was #2 for 2 weeks, and was kept from being #1 by Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.
Unfortunately for DeSario, she came around when Disco was in it’s dying days. She never had another U.S. hit. She recorded a couple of Contemporary Christian albums in the mid-80s.
More recently, she has just been a part of some production teams. Here she is in her heyday. And for the record, I didn’t recognize the song just by it’s title. But, it’s one of those songs, that as soon as I heard it, I remembered it: