Wonderful Songs by “One-Hit-Wonders” in the 1970s


One of my guilty pleasures is varieties of music, and I especially like the “one-hit-wonders.” Here are my top ten list of wonderful songs by “one-hit-wonders,” at least at present for the decade of the 1970s. That was my high school and college years and I listened to a lot of radio, and when MTV came along I watched a lot of videos. It was also a time when some great new musicians emerged, such as Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles, as well as the disco sound, which mostly I did not care for, but it was also the decade when new wave, punk, and heavy metal enjoyed considerable popularity. Mostly this music is not reflected in this list since it is all about “one-hit-wonders” but I hope you like it all the same. Some of the songs are silly, others unusual, and few really good. This list might change tomorrow. I make no apologies for this selection but I understand that others may have other choices. I am listing them in chronological order. I’d love to hear what your favorite might be. Meantime, I hope you enjoy these.

1. Mississippi Queen-Mountain (1970)

2. Here Comes the Sun-Richie Havens (1971)

3. Dueling Banjos-Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell (1973)

4. Rock On-David Essex (1974)

5. Tubular Bells-Mike Oldfield (1974)

6. Magic-Pilot (1975)

7. Afternoon Delight-Starland Vocal Band (1976)

8. Smoke from a Distant Fire-Sanford/Townsend Band (1977)

9. King Tut-Steve Martin (1978)

10. Video Killed the Radio Star-The Buggles (1979)

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6 Responses to Wonderful Songs by “One-Hit-Wonders” in the 1970s

  1. Guillaume says:

    Geoffrey Downs, lately of Asia, plays an instrumental (and now vocal) routine of of his old Buggles song on Asia phoenix tours. (and no, I won’t tell you how I know that) ;-)

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  2. Doug says:

    Excellent top choice of “Mississippi Queen” – that riff never gets old. And “King Tut” just gets better with age – I was humming it on Sunday while touring the misguided new exhibit on the gilded treasures of Cleopatra at the California Science Center here in LA.

    Some others for your consideration: Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” Gary Numan’s eternal “Cars,” The Vapors “Turning Japanese,” and Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy.”

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  3. Paul says:

    “Video Killed the Radio Star” is well known as the first video ever played on MTV.

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  4. Harley says:

    What a pity that you could not make 1969 an “honorary” year of the 1970s. My favorite one-hit wonder has always been The Archies with their . . .um . . . wonderful song “Sugar, Sugar,” one of the biggest-selling records of 1969.

    Of course, The Archies was a fictional band, mainly made up of session musicians, although that shouldn’t disqualify them, I suppose. And 1969 was not one of the great years for pop music.

    And, what? Richie Havens as a one-hit wonder? He has been releasing albums every few years since the 1960s and has been included in a number of tribute concerts. I am not a huge fan, although I have a handful of his records. [iTunes has something like 15 albums of Havens.]

    Anyway, a fun list!

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    • launiusr says:

      We’ll just have to do a sixties one-hit-wonder list as well. The Archies would certainly be on it. But so would “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly and “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley. In terms of Richie Havens, yes he is well-known but technically he is a one-hit wonder because this is the only song that was in the top 40.

      Honorable mentions for my list for the 1970s include: “The Hustle” by Van McCoy (1975); “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry (1976); “Stumblin’ In” by Suzi Quatro (1979); “Rock & Roll, Pt. 2” by Gary Glitter (1972); and “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum (1970). I can’t bring myself to list anywhere
      “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone (1977). Ugh!

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