‘One-hit wonders’ and why they’re so wonderful

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Kaitlyn Talenti

Music plays such an important role in any one individual person’s life. Whether you own up to this fact or not, music as an entirety, is the soundtrack of our lives.

Kaitlyn Talenti, Contributing Writer

“Come on Eileen,” I mean seriously. we are dying to know what your secret is. One of the greatest “one-hit wonders” of the ’80s, “Come on Eileen” was a song created by Dexys Midnight Runners in the UK. When you listen to the upbeat, fun, catchy song, you instantly develop a sense of enjoyment. Why? I have no idea.

The song catches you by surprise in a mall, on the radio, or in an elevator and then is embedded in your brain for the remainder of the day – sometimes even the entire week. We obsess over this mindless music that could be decades old and will run on repeat through our minds for days. What do these “one-hit wonders” have in common and why can’t we get them out of our head?

First to be clear- let’s define what makes a “one-hit wonder” and what it really is. When talking about these special songs, the artist or band may not even have realized that they have just created a “one-hit wonder” when releasing a song. It is when a song reaches a certain amount of popularity and often time the group is only known for this “one hit”.

Another common mistake in relation to these songs is the lack of knowledge the listener may have. Just because you don’t know any of the other songs this band or artist has created, really like “one” of their hit songs, does not mean they are subjected to being listed under the bracket a “one-hit wonder”. That term comes into play when they are known in a more general consensus from a much larger pool of people.

Julia Bloom
The song catches you by surprise in a mall, on the radio, or in an elevator and then is embedded in your brain for the remainder of the day- sometimes even the entire week.

It is no accident that you are drawn to these overplayed, century-old, sedentary in-time songs. They hold a great magnitude of nostalgia and memories in our brains. Between the insatiable amounts of dopamine and serotonin that are released, there is a lot of brain activity going on when the “right” song is played; studies shown by Dr. Hal McDonald, professor of literature and linguistics at Mars Hill University. McDonald further goes on to say that the element of surprise is all the most important in relation to these powerful songs of the past. He states, “a spontaneous encounter with one of these songs can be an incredible mood elevator”. Between the element of surprise and all of the racing thoughts that come rushing back from past years, you have created the perfect storm.

There is an incredible range of genres when it comes to music in general, as well as these popular songs of the past. Studies have shown in an online survey done by AYTM, that 42% of people voted the genre “pop” as their favorite. With only 1% trailing behind, 41% had voted in favor of rock music. The rest goes as follows: 15% preferred rap, 11% for country, 10% named R&B, and the remaining 11% said they had no preference.

In that same survey – statistics also were accounted for in preference of their most favorite decade. The 1980’s were voted number 1 for the top decade for “one-hit wonders.” VH1 released an article including 100 of the greatest “one-hit wonders” of the ’80s. Here is a much shorter list of the top 10 songs within that bracket. The number one song of the ’80s was “Come on Eileen”- Dexy Midnight Runners. The rest goes as follows- number 2 “I Ran (So Far Away)” -A Flock of Seagulls, number 3 “Take On Me”- A-Ha, number 4 “867-5309/ Jenny” – Tommy Tutone, number 5 “Tainted Love” -Soft Cell, number 6 “Mickey” -Toni Basil, number 7 “I Melt With You” -Modern English, number 8 “I Want Candy- Bow Wow Wow, number nine “Too Shy” -Kajagoogoo, and lastly number 10, “Relax” -Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

For some of you more well-versed readers in terms of the music industry, I just brought back some serious memories. And for those of you who haven’t heard of any of those songs listed, I recommend checking them out.

Music plays such an important role in any one individual person’s life. Whether you own up to this fact or not, music as an entirety is the soundtrack of our lives. We all have one. Whether it’s the song that was playing when you had your first kiss, a beat you tap to with a pencil on a desk, or even that special song from the past you heard in an elevator that you simply cannot shake. Music is all around us. It plays a profound role in every individual’s life and should be celebrated as such. The next time you hear a song that puts you in an incredible mood, try asking yourself, “why?”