10 poppy, plastic one-hit wonders from 1986

Hope you love synthesizers.

In some circles, Eighties music gets a bad rap. It's too synthetic and vapid, some protest. Certainly, there was an abundance of keyboards. In the ten songs below, you will hear nothing but the sounds of electronics, computer chips and machines.

But for all the programming, the hits were far more unexpected and surprising than modern pop. Quirky men from Austria and Italy stormed the Top 20. There was a Madonna associate who acted in McGruff the Crime Dog public service announcements. There was the first R&B singer signed to a rap label. There was a bubblegum act featuring a backup singer from Parliament-Funkadelic. There was a former elephant rider for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus who took her stage name from a James Bond character.

They all became one-hit wonders. Funny thing about one-hit wonders: On paper, they seem completely alien to you. Then, you hear the tune and go… that song. Yeah, that song!

Let's zap back to 1986 and check out those songs of the year.

1. Falco - "Rock Me Amadeus"

Peaked: No. 1, March 1986

Hans Hölzel was certainly a patriot. The Vienna-born performer took the stage name Falco and took the world by storm by honoring his homeland's music hero, Mozart. "Rock Me Amadeus" came at a point of renewed Mozart-mania. The film Amadeus had gathered all sort of trophies two years earlier, and those Hooked on Classics compilations from K-Tel transformed classic works into synth-pop for sale on TV. Falco's next single, "Vienna Calling," cracked the Top 20 a few months later, but today he's only remembered for "Amadeus."

2. Stacey Q - "Two of Hearts"

Peaked: No. 3, October 1986

Stacey Swain grew up in Southern California. Her mom bred Corgi dogs for Hollywood films. Studying dancing from a young age, Swain would later put her athleticism to work in Disneyland parades and atop elephants for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. After meeting a record producer, Swain formed a band called Q, named in honor of James Bond's boss. She later went solo and scored with this hit, which millions of people likely mistook for Madonna. "Two. Of. Hearts. Two hearts that beat as one."

3. Jermaine Stewart - "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off"

Peaked: No. 5, August 1986

There was good money to be made sounding like Michael Jackson in the 1980s. Stewart got his start in Chicago, dancing for Soul Train on WCIU-TV, sister network to MeTV. When the show moved to Los Angeles, so did Stewart. He and coworker Jody Watley became dancers for Shalamar, the group put together by Don Cornelius. With the encouragement of a dude in Culture Club, Stewart kicked off a solo career. This smash celebrating good, clean fun came off his second album. 

4. Swing Out Sister - "Breakout"

Peaked: No. 6, November 1986

With bright horns and a jazzy… well, swing… Swing Out Sister stood out in England's Manchester scene, better known for the darker club sound of Joy Division, New Order, etc. 

5. Sly Fox - "Let's Go All the Way"

Peaked: No. 7, April 1986

Not to be confused with Sly Fox, the horse that won the 1898 Preakness Stakes, this band was one of those manufactured acts tailored to the style of the times. Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, who once sang backup for funk giants Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy's Rubber Band, teamed with Michael Camacho to form this clean-cut dup.