Clockwise, from top left: Thomas Dolby, Tony Basil, Eddy Grant, Men Without Hats

80 great '80s one-hit wonders: Because sometimes only "Safety Dance" and "Tainted Love" will do

From Nena to Nenah, Club Nouveau to Classix Nouveaux, "Our House" to "In My House" -- the decade in one-hit magic


Salon Staff
May 20, 2014 3:00AM (UTC)

Nostalgia: So evil, so tempting, so much fun.

We heard Alphaville's "Forever Young" in a store the other day and were immediately swept back to 1985. And it made us mourn so many bands who burned bright and fast, or who had long careers but only that one fleeting moment of massive glory. Then we went to Google, and it was honoring the 40th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube.

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So here's our shot at 80-plus of the best one-hit wonders of the decade of Ronald Reagan and John Hughes. We define "one" and "hit" loosely -- and yes, we could probably do another 80 with some of the ones we left out. Leave your suggestions in the comments.

A Flock of Seagulls, "I Ran"

Alphaville, "Big in Japan"

Animotion, "Obsession"

Arcadia, "Election Day"

The Assembly, "Never Never"

Autograph, "Turn Up the Radio"

Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock, "It Takes Two"

Toni Basil, "Mickey"

Big Country, "In a Big Country"

Breakfast Club, "Right on Track"

Edie Brickell and New Bohemians, "What I Am"

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Bronski Beat, "Small Town Boy"

The Church, "Under the Milky Way"

Classix Nouveaux, "Guilty"

Club Nouveau, "Lean on Me"

Communards, "Don't Leave Me This Way"

Cutting Crew, "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight"

David and David, "Welcome to the Boomtown"

Dexy's Midnight Runners, "Come On Eileen"

Devo, "Whip It"

Thomas Dolby, "She Blinded Me With Science"

Dream Academy, "Life in a Northern Town"

E.U., "Da Butt"

Fabulous Thunderbirds, "Tuff Enuff"

The Firm, "Radioactive"

Frankie Goes to Hollywood, "Relax"

Guadalcanal Diary, "Always Saturday"

Eddy Grant, "Electric Avenue"

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Haircut 100, "Love Plus One"

Murray Head, "One Night in Bangkok"

Hothouse Flowers, "Don't Go"

Icicle Works, "Whisper to a Scream"

Information Society, "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)"

Johnny Hates Jazz, "Shattered Dreams"

Oran "Juice" Jones, "The Rain"

Kajagoogoo, "Too Shy"

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Let's Active, "Every Word Means No"

Love and Rockets, "So Alive"

Madness, "Our House"

Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, "Tomorrow People"

M|A|R|R|S, "Pump Up the Volume"

Martika, "Toy Soldiers"

Mary Jane Girls, "In My House"

Bobby McFerrin, "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

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Men Without Hats, "The Safety Dance"

Midnight Oil, "Beds Are Burning"

Midnight Star, "Operator"

Mighty Lemon Drops, "Inside Out"

Modern English, "I Melt With You"

Musical Youth, "Pass The Dutchie"

Nena, "99 Luftballoons"

Neneh Cherry, "Buffalo Stance"

Nu Shooz, "I Can't Wait"

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Gary Numan, "Cars"

The Outfield, "Your Love"

The Primitives, "Crash"

Pseudo Echo, "Living in a Dream"

Quarterflash, "Harden My Heart"

Red Rockers, "China"

Re-flex, "The Politics of Dancing"

Rockwell, "Somebody's Watching Me"

Michael Sambello, "Maniac"

Peter Schilling, "Major Tom"

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Shannon, "Let the Music Play"

Sisters of Mercy, "This Corrosion"

Soft Cell, "Tainted Love"

Spandau Ballet, "True"

Split Enz, "I Got You"

Stacey Q, "Two of Hearts"

Jermaine Stewart, "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off"

Style Council, "My Ever Changing Moods"

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Sugar Hill Gang, "Rapper's Delight"

T'Pau, "Heart and Soul"

Taco, "Puttin on the Ritz"

Til Tuesday, "Voices Carry"

Timbuk 3, "Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Tom Tom Club, "Genius of Love"

Tommy Tutone, "867-5309/Jenny"

Tracey Ullman, "They Don't Know"

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The Vapors, "Turning Japanese"

Wall of Voodoo, "Mexican Radio"

Moon Zappa, "Valley Girl"


Salon Staff

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