The B List: Early ’80s One-Hit Wonders

1. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.: Sure Ray Parker Jr. stole the main melody from I Want A New Drug to create the theme from the Ghostbusters, but why let a little plagiarism stop us from enjoying one of the best movie themes ever:


This song totally sounds like I Want A New Drug by Huey Lewis and the News

2. In A Big Country – Big Country: When the members of Big Country got together to write this tune, they were probably thinking that if using your band’s name as basis for song worked for Black Sabbath, why can’t it work for us?


This song totally sounds like Are You Ready to Rock? by Wizzard

3. Life In A Northern Town – Dream Academy: When Dream Academy released Life In A Northern Town as their debut single, I totally thought those guys would be the next Talking Heads. Oops!


This song totally sounds like Sloop John B by The Beach Boys

4. Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runner: While Come On Eileen sold pretty well, imagine the success they would have had if they changed the title to Cum On Eileen?


This song totally sounds like A Man Like Me by Jimmy James and the Vagabonds

5. Tainted Love – Soft Cell: Soft Cell made their money by mixing together two old classics with a synth’d out beat. Tainted Love was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, while Where Did Our Love Go? was recorded by The Supremes that same year. Where Did Our Love Go? was the B-side of Tainted Love, but during those heady days of Soft Cell-mania many DJs would play the 12″ version which mixed the two songs together.


This song totally sounds like Where Did Our Love Go by The Supremes

6. Pass The Dutchie – Musical Youth: The Mighty Diamonds’ Pass The Kutchie is an amazing reggae song, with one of the best bass lines of all time. Pass The Kutchie was about smoking pot, a subject that precluded the track from ever getting played on the radio in the US. Musical Youth, a band made up of schoolkids from Birmingham England, covered the songs and altered the offending lyric to Dutchie. While Kutchie is a pot pipe, a Dutchie is a cooking pot. Awful clever of the schoolboys if ya ask me. Pass The Dutchie went on to sell millions of records both in America and abroad. I sure hope The Mighty Diamonds got some of that money!


This song totally sounds like Pass The Kutchie by The Mighty Diamonds

7. Believe It or Not – Joey Scarbury: Could a song really be good if the tune is best remembered for its role in Seinfeld episode? Of course it could! Regardless of the fact that Joey Scarbury didn’t do much with his career, this tune fuckin’ rocks. Mike Post wrote the tune, which explains why it sounds like the themes from Hill Street Blues, Magnum P.I. and Remington Steele that he also wrote.


This song totally sounds like the Theme to Hill Street Blues by Mike Post

8. Turn Up The Radio – Autograph: I have a personal story about this tune. I went on a cruise of the Panama Canal with my parents in 1988. While on that ship there was one cruiser who stuck out like a sore thumb. It was Autograph lead singer Steve Plunkett, who took his mother on the ship. He had extremely high hair, and clearly wanted adulation from the masses. I was 11, and I thought I knew everything about music so I went up to him and asked him about his career. After some small talk I asked him if I may have heard any songs that he had written. He hummed Turn Up The Radio, and I knew exactly what he was talking about. He then went on to sing some other Autograph tunes, and I didn’t know any of them. Turns out they all sucked. But thanks for the autographed Autograph album Steve!


This song totally sounds like The Flame by W.A.S.P.

9.The Warrior – Scandal: Even though The Warrior was Scandal’s only hit, the exposure did wonders for lead singer Patty Smyth. Smyth used her 15 minutes to meet and marry tennis’ bad boy John McEnroe. Since she married Daddy Mac, the best thing she’s written was the theme song to his CNBC talk show.


This song totally sounds like Invincible by Pat Benatar

10. Cars – Gary Numan: We’ve gotta give some credit to Gary Numan, the guy who started nerd rock. Would Thomas Dolby, Falco, or even Max Headroom have made the bigtime without ol’ Gary setting the table? Of course they would have, but Cars is still a sick tune.


This song totally sounds like White Punks On Dope by The Tubes

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6 Responses

  1. Big Country had 17 top-30 singles in Britain. They are about as much of a one-hit wonder as say, U2 (whom they were much better than, BTW)…

  2. I like you Robert. Anyone that has the balls to say Big Country is better than U2 is okay in my book.

  3. Let’s not forget that Believe It Or Not was the theme-song for that awesomest of TV shows… Greatest American Hero.

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