Category Archives: 1985

One Hit Wonders: John Parr

St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr

by Robert Mishou

This is not the only One Hit Wonder from a soundtrack to a film, but it might be the best one. No need to mention (but I will) that this song was featured on the soundtrack to the film St. Elmo’s Fire, the classic ‘80s film with that mega- cast (Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson). This song reached #1 on the AT 40 for two weeks in September of 1985. One of my favorite bands in the ‘80s is Toto – I love their sound and musicianship. Toto began as studio musicians who played on other artist’s albums and several members of Toto play on this song: Steve Porcaro and David Paisch on keyboards with Steve Lukather on guitars (Lukather also played most of the guitars on Michael Jackson’s Thriller). Quick note that Richard Marx is one of the backing vocalists on this song as well. While the lyrics may fit the film, they are more importantly directed at Rick Hansen who was on an important journey, taking himself in his wheelchair around the work in an effort to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries. Hansen himself became paralyzed at the age of fifteen due to a car accident. Now the song takes on an inspirational twist, which makes sense with:

Play the game, you know you can’t quit until it’s won
Soldier on, only you can do what must be done
You know in some ways you’re a lot like me
You’re just a prisoner, and you’re trying to break free
The song hits inspirational heights in the memorable chorus:
I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky
I’ll be where the eagles flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion
All I need it a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lying: St. Elmo’s Fire

This anthemic song becomes one of pushing yourself to succeed and to never let anything get in your way. I love the movie, but I love this song more. It is a true testament to the power and inspiration a simple song can have. “I can climb the highest mountain, cross the proudest sea / I can feel St. Elmo’s Fire burning in me.”

One Hit Wonders: ‘Til Tuesday

Voices Carry by ‘Til Tuesday

by Robert Mishou

The lyrics to this somewhat chilling song were written by lead singer Aimee Mann and depict an unfortunate and domineering relationship. The woman in this song is looking at her relationship with her boyfriend and coming to the realization that he is emotionally abusive. She says that she is falling in love with him, but she is unsure of his thoughts because he is not forthcoming and his thoughts scare her a bit:

I’m in the dark, I’d like to read his mind
But I’m frightened of the things I might find
Oh, there must be something he’s thinking of
To tear him away
When I tell him that I’m falling in love
Why does he say

His response to her revealing her feelings is the song’s chorus, “Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry.” Is he embarrassed about being with her? Or is he emotionally unavailable? The next verse gives the listener a partial answer – and it is not a positive one:

I try so hard not to get upset
Because I know all the trouble I’ll get
Oh, he tells me tears are something to hide
And something to fear
And I try so hard to keep it inside
So no one can hear

He wants her to behave as she is told – be seen and not heard. This possible dangerous situation is reaching a breaking points as she is coming to the realization that this is not the best situation. She must admit to herself that, “He wants me only part of the time / He wants me if he can keep me in line.” In the video, the actor playing her love interest does an excellent job in being a jerk, but he has to because this is the essence of the song. This is ‘Til Tuesday’s first single and it reached #8, but like everyone else in this series, the great start fizzled and they quietly faded into the background of ‘80s music.

One Hit Wonders: Sly Fox

Hi Everybody! Robert is back this week with some one-hit wonders of the ’80s. Every decade has had their share of one-hit wonders. I may be a little partial, but I think the ’80s had the best of the best! This week we will feature one song a day. Take it away, Robert!

What draws us to songs by bands who appear, have a great song, and then disappear? Encarta Dictionary defines One Hit Wonder as, “A musical performer, group, or composer who produces one hit song and then has no further success.” This phenomena of the One Hit Wonder is firmly entrenched in ‘80s music lore. The decade is riddled with songs that reached peak positions on all sorts of charts and received hours and hours of radio airplay. Some of those songs still surface on a variety of stations – AND WE LOVE THEM! I have no good explanation for what draws us to these songs, but we are drawn – and we sing (and sometimes dance) to them at the top of our lungs, enjoying every note as we are transported back to the heyday of our youth.

A few days ago one of these songs came on the iRadio ‘80s channel while I was doing some school work. Predictably, I stopped the work and sang at an extremely high volume. This sparked my desire to revisit more of these One Hit Wonders. I love these songs because they allow me to break my routine and experiment with genres I usually do give much time to. They allow me to step out of my box and enjoy something a bit different and even a guilty pleasure or two. I have made my list and narrowed it down to twenty (or twenty-five, still a few on the bubble) songs that perfectly represent this much beloved category. Over the next few weeks, I give you some of the best One Hit Wonders of the ‘80s.

“Let’s Go All the Way” by Slyfox

This is the song that was playing on iHeart radio that day and it has served as my Muse for this series of articles. Slyfox is a duo made up of Gary “Mudbone” Cooper and Michael Camacho who released this song in 1986. This song reached #7 on the AT40 and received plenty of airplay at my and my best friends’ house. All of us instantly put this song on any mixtape that we were making for anybody. While there is no official record keeping in existence, I am pretty sure you hold the world record for number of times “Let’s Go All the Way” was played. This song’s beat is infectious! It is impossible to get it out of your head even after just one listen (you’re welcome). The lyrics depict a modern world full of confusion and struggles; a world where just getting by is an ify proposition. The third verse even gets a little bitter and cynical: “Living in New York looks like and apple core / Asphalt jungle, got to be a man of war / California dreamers sinking in the sand / The Hollywood Squares are living in Disneyland.” The video has an antiwar slant to it, but the overall message is a bit muddled. I have listened to the entire Slyfox album and this is the only song of note. This is easily my favorite One Hit Wonder because it is catchy as all get out and it is the duo’s only real hit song – a perfect fit for the definition.

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – Starpoint

“Object of My Desire” by Starpoint

Starpoint was originally formed in 1969 near Annapolis, Maryland. Kayode Adeyemo’s father was a doctor who worked with another doctor, George Phillips, who had four sons: Ernesto, Orlando, Greg, and George, Jr. Kayode Adeyemo was a bass player, and the brothers were multi-instrumentalists. Then afterwards, Renée Diggs came on board as the lead singer, completing the line-up. By the end of the 1970s, the band had scored a recording contract with Chocolate City Records. Renée Diggs and Ernesto Phillips also became romantically involved.

The group released their self-titled debut album in 1980. They would continue to release at least one album every year throughout the first half of the 80s, but could not break through with a major hit. That is until 1985.

They released their album, Restless, and became R&B superstars. And with the song, “Object of My Desire”, they broke through the pop charts, peaking at #25 on December 14, 1985.

They released a few more albums through the rest of the ’80s, but could not dent the pop charts again.

Other band members became involved with songwriting and session work for various other R&B artists. In 1988, Adeyemo was credited with co-writing Milli Vanilli’s hit “Girl You Know It’s True”.

Sadly, on March 25, 2004, Ernesto Phillips died as the result of a stroke. The Ernesto Phillips Scholarship for Talented Youth was established in his memory and as a tribute to his efforts in helping younger children to realize their ambitions of becoming musicians.

Just a week shy of the one-year anniversary of the death of her longtime companion Phillips, Renée Diggs also died (March 18, 2005) at the age of 50, due to a heart condition.

Unfortunately, we will never see this classic lineup again. But at least they left us this gem:

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – Godley & Creme

“Cry” by Godley & Creme

Godley & Creme were a duo composed of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. They had been in the band 10cc (mostly known for their 1975 hit “I’m Not in Love”). After the recording of 10cc’s fourth LP, How Dare You!, Godley and Creme left the band to work on a project they called “The Gizmo”, which was a poorly received concept album. Through the late ’70s and early ’80s, Godley & Creme continued with experimental albums, gradually getting more and more critical acclaim. They had some hits in the U.K., but not in the U.S.

In 1985, they released the album, The History Mix Volume 1, which contained the hit “Cry”, which peaked on the U.S. charts at #16 on October 5, 1985, for their only U.S. hit.

Godley & Creme released their final album, Goodbye Blue Sky, in 1988. This album abandoned electronic instruments and used harmonicas, organs, and guitars to tell the story of the earth on the brink of nuclear war.

Even though Godley & Creme only had the one hit in “Cry”, they had their greatest success as music video directors. They were very innovative. They directed their own music video for “Cry” which featured faces blended into each other in a similar way that Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video did, 6 years later.

They also created memorable videos for The Police (“Every Breath You Take“, “Synchronicity II“, “Wrapped Around Your Finger“), Duran Duran (“Girls on Film“, “A View to a Kill“), Herbie Hancock (“Rockit“), Sting (“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” “Fields of Gold“), and Wang Chung (“Everybody Have Fun Tonight“).

But let’s take a look at their own video, “Cry”:

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – Paul Hardcastle

“19” by Paul Hardcastle

Well, this is one of the stranger songs I have come across on this list so far. I must have been in the phase where I only listened to hard rock/heavy metal, as this song actually peaked at #15 on the U.S. charts on July 20, 1985, and I had never heard of this song until recently. This is an electronic song, that brought Paul Hardcastle into prominence, which features sampled narration from the documentary Vietnam Requiem. This song has a strong anti-war message, focusing on the effect that it had on soldiers.

The title “19” comes from the documentary’s claim that the average age of an American combat soldier in the war was 19, as compared to the claim of World War II’s 26. This claim has since been disputed.

The success of “19” meant that Hardcastle’s manager Simon Fuller, who had recently left Chrysalis Records to set up on his own, was able to use the funds to continue his business. He named the business 19 Management in acknowledgement and the number 19 has become of great significance to Fuller. Fuller went on to become the most successful British music manager of all time and was behind the success of the Spice Girls and American Idol. Hardcastle has continued his connections to 19 Entertainment and in 2009 created the sound for the end card used at the end of 19’s television shows.

“19” was #73 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – Limahl

“NeverEnding Story” by Limahl

Limahl had been the lead singer of Kajagoogoo, best known for the song “Too Shy”, before tensions rose in the band, and he went off on his own. Christopher Hamill took the stage name Limahl (an anagram of his last name) when he was recruited by the members of Kajagoogoo.

His solo career started off strong, as he recorded “NeverEnding Story” which was the title theme from the film of the same name. There were actually two versions of the song – English and French. The English version was performed by Limahl and Beth Anderson; the French version was performed by Limahl and Ann Calvert. The song was a worldwide hit, reaching No. 1 Norway and Sweden, No. 2 in Austria, Germany and Italy, and No. 4 in the UK. The song peaked at #17 in the U.S. on June 15, 1985.

His debut album, 1984’s Don’t Suppose was not very successful, only reaching #63 in the U.K. Following this, Limahl released two more albums: 1986’s Colour All My Days, and Love Is Blind in 1992, both of which did not sell very well. So Limahl had some hard times for a while.

However, in 2003, VH1 persuaded the band to reform the original 5-piece band for the show, Bands Reunited. As a result of the show, the band received offers to work as their original five piece band. But, their were too many disagreements regarding the terms on which they could work together. But, they put their differences, and in February 2008, Kajagoogoo announced plans to reunite with original members singer Limahl and drummer Jez Strode.

The band has been recording and touring ever since. So, if Limahl ever has another hit, it may be with Kajagoogoo, and not as a solo artist. So, let’s listen to the very cool song, “NeverEnding Story”:

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – Mary Jane Girls

“In My House” by Mary Jane Girls

The Mary Jane Girls were protégées of singer Rick James. The group consisted of Joanne “JoJo” McDuffie (lead/background vocals), Candice “Candi” Ghant, Kimberly “Maxi” Wuletich, and Cheryl Bailey (who used stage name Cheri Wells) and the Water Sisters. The Mary Jane Girls project was to be a solo debut for JoJo, who had sung background for Rick James on tours and recordings. Motown offered James a contract for what it believed was the girl group he wanted to produce and not wanting to lose the deal, James lied and told Motown that the Mary Jane Girls were a group and not JoJo’s solo project.

The four group members took on distinctive character looks with matching personalities:

Joanne “JoJo” McDuffie (lead vocalist) – Sexy and streetwise; a female version of James himself.
Kimberly “Maxi” Wuletich – dominatrix.
Candice “Candi” Ghant – Vamp.
Cheri Wells – Valley girl

Cheri left the group shortly before the release of their second album, Only Four You in 1985 and was replaced by Yvette “Corvette” Marine who took on the role of the Valley Girl/Wild and Trendy Girl in the group.

That album’s lead single from Only Four You, “In My House” became the group’s biggest hit, reaching #3 on the R&B chart and then crossing over to the Hot 100 chart, where it spent 12 weeks in the Top 40, peaking at #7 on June 8, 1985. In 2009, VH1 ranked “In My House” #52 on its program 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.

The group had some songs that did well on the R&B charts, but nothing else crossed over to mainstream with much success. They officially broke up in 1987. In 1995, McDuffie, Ghant, and Wuletich, under the name “MJG,” appeared on the daytime talk show Jenny Jones as the show’s first musical guests, and appeared to be together again, only to split again in 1997.

So let’s Return to the ’80s, and go in the Mary Jane Girls’ house:

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – Harold Faltermeyer

“Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer

“Axel F” was the stereotypical ’80s song, as well as one of the most recognizable. It is the ultimate electronic song, and is synonymous with the first Beverly Hills Cop movie. The song title comes from the film’s main character’s name, Axel Foley (played by Eddie Murphy). You can’t help but recall the scene where Axel shoves the bananas up the tailpipe of the police car, which would cause it to stall, so they could not follow him.

The song became a worldwide hit, reaching #2 on the UK Singles Chart and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on June 1, 1985. The German musician, Harold Faltermeyer, worked on several soundtracks. In addition to Beverly Hills Cop, he also compsed a song from the movie Fletch – “Bit By Bit“, which was performed by Stephanie Mills.

After composing the music for Tango & Cash in 1989, Faltermeyer decided to return to Germany to raise his children. But, he has recently returned to the U.S., and composed the music for the 2010 Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan movie Cop Out.

I don’t know if there will be another instrumental hit in the U.S. But, while we wait and see, let’s Return to the ’80s, and listen to “Axel F”:

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – USA for Africa

“We Are the World” by USA for Africa

Inspired by Bob Geldof’s Band Aid, the charity super-group USA for Africa was formed. They recorded the song “We Are the World”. The idea for the creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from Harry Belafonte, who, along with fundraiser Ken Kragen, was instrumental in bringing the vision to reality. They made a great decision of having Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie write the song. The song was released on March 7, 1985, and peaked at #1 on April 13, 1985. “We Are the World” raised over $63 million.

USA for Africa also held a benefit event, Hands Across America, in which approximately seven million people held hands in a human chain for fifteen minutes along a path across the continental United States. Participants paid ten dollars to stand in line and the money raised was used to fight hunger and homelessness in Africa.

The combined revenues raised from the sales of “We Are the World” and Hands Across America was almost $100 million.

Here is a list of the performers for “We Are the World”:

Conductor Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)

Lionel Richie
Stevie Wonder
Paul Simon
Kenny Rogers
James Ingram
Tina Turner
Billy Joel
Michael Jackson
Diana Ross
Dionne Warwick
Willie Nelson
Al Jarreau
Bruce Springsteen
Kenny Loggins
Steve Perry
Daryl Hall
Huey Lewis
Cyndi Lauper
Kim Carnes
Bob Dylan
Ray Charles


Dan Aykroyd
Harry Belafonte
Lindsey Buckingham
Mario Cipollina
Johnny Colla
Sheila E.
Bob Geldof
Bill Gibson
Chris Hayes
Sean Hopper
Jackie Jackson
La Toya Jackson
Marlon Jackson
Randy Jackson
Tito Jackson
Waylon Jennings
Bette Midler
John Oates
Jeffrey Osborne
Anita Pointer
June Pointer
Ruth Pointer
Smokey Robinson

Here is the memorable video for “We Are the World”: