12 tubular one (and two) hit wonders from 1985
When Saturday Night Live cast members and Norwegian icons crashed then charts.
Top image: RCA Records / YouTube
Most one-hit wonders are never truly one-hit wonders. History just makes it seem that way. Because when a musical act scores a smash, there's typically a little carry-over to the follow-up single.
So, below you will find a dozen beloved songs that rocketed up the charts in 1985. Today, three decades later, they are seen as one-hit wonders. But most of them had another hit. And many of the musicians were massively successful under names — or in other fields of entertainment. Let's take a look and listen!
1. A-ha - "Take on Me"
No. 1 in October
Europeans would laugh at the notion of A-ha being a one-hit wonder. The Norwegian group has ten chart-topping albums to its credit, and handfuls of hits. But in America, we checked out after the synth-poppers' debut, Hunting High and Low. Thanks to its revolutionary music video and imitable keyboard riff, "Take on Me" became an emblem of '80s pop. With three-quarters of a billion YouTube views, it still resonates. The Scandinavians made a sequel video for "The Sun Always Shines on TV," which climbed to No. 20 a few months later.
2. Ready for the World - "Oh Sheila"
No. 1 in October
Often mistaken for Prince — not just for its sound, but for its reference to a woman named "Sheila," as in Sheila E. — Ready for the World is included in one-hit wonder compilations. But the Michigan synth-funk act did break into the Top 10 again the following year with the slow jam "Love You Down."
3. Eddie Murphy - "Party All the Time"
No. 2 in December
Rick James had the magic touch in 1985, though perhaps more of the credit should go to Saturday Night Live. The comedian showed off his solid falsetto with this frivolous party jam. This novelty number (rightfully) overshadows his other minor hit, er, "Put Your Mouth on Me," which went to No. 27 in 1989.
4. The Honeydrippers - "Sea of Love"
No. 3 in January
Considering he's the frontman of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant is a far cry from a one-hit wonder. But his follow-up act was a flash in the pan. The rocker's plastic take on retro sounds peaked with a cover of Phil Phillips' 1959 classic "Sea of Love." Another throwback, "Rockin' at Midnight," went to No. 25 in February. The band only recorded a single EP.
5. Mary Jane Girls - "In My House"
No. 7 in June
With Rick James as their svengali, this L.A. girl-group boogied into the Top 10 with this jam off its second album. Two subsequent singles, "Walk Like a Man" and "Wild and Crazy Love," fell just short of breaking into the Top 40.
6. 'Til Tuesday - "Voices Carry"
No. 8 in July
Thanks to her solo songs in the film Magnolia, frontwoman Aimee Mann later became an indie darling. She became such a folkie figure that the Grammy-winner's early career — her "platinum mullet phase," if you will — often goes overlooked. "Voices Carry" remains a classic, despite its creepy-in-hindsight video. "What About Love" hairsprayed its way to No. 26 in November.
7. Katrina and the Waves - "Walking on Sunshine"
No. 9 in June
Used in countless movies, commercials and trailers, "Sunshine" remains a timeless slice of summer joy, blending the sounds of the '60s and '80s. A later single, "That's the Way," went to No. 16 in 1989, but, frankly, we had a hard time remembering it.
8. Paul Hardcastle - "19"
No. 15 in June
History lessons make for unlikely pop hits, but this British synthpop composer flew to No. 15 with "19." Perhaps the first techno song to go mainstream, this didactic dance cut reminded people of the average age of the soldiers in Vietnam (n-n-n-n-nineteen).
9. Godley & Creme - "Cry"
No. 16 in October
This duo formerly belonged to the band quirky, cult pop band 10cc, a sort of British Steely Dan, if you will. Thanks to prominent usage in Miami Vice (a common theme on this list), not to mention a brilliantly simple video with faces fading into one another, "Cry" became a global smash. Kevin Godley would go to a significant career in directing music videos, even somewhat ripping off his own "Cry" concept in clips for U2's "Numb" and Elbow's "Gentle Storm."
10. Autograph - "Turn up the Radio"
No. 29 in March
Straight outta Pasadena, Autograph crafted a Disney-fied version of hair metal. We bet you don't remember that the video for this big hit was essentially a commercial for Paper Mate mechanical pencils. With androids. Pushing school supplies may not be that rock 'n' roll, but we love it.
11. Billy Crystal - "You Look Marvelous"
No. 58 in August
The comic became a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live in the show's tenth season, 1984-85. His most popular recurring character, Fernando Lamas scored a novelty hit with this goofy dance cut.
12. Menudo - "Hold Me"
No. 62 in June
Our first introduction to Ricky Martin came via this pioneering Latino boy band, which spanned two decades from 1977–97, through numerous lineup changes. Their peak in the mainstream came in summer '85, with 13-year-old Ricky, in this fluffy tune of puppy love.