1980s One-Hit Wonders You (Probably) Forgot About

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1980s One-Hit Wonders You (Probably) Forgot About

genghis khan
(Image via YouTube)

Some one-hit wonders have lived on and on, their sole big hit earning them decades of fame. Others shine brightly for an instant, then just as quickly disappear from view, their hit fading into obscurity as it gets overlooked by playlist compilers and nostalgia articles. Not anymore! Here are 10 one-hit wonders that landed one big song on the Australian chart during the 1980s and never returned to the top 50 – and have since mostly gone forgotten.

"Moscow” by Genghis Khan

Released: 1980

Peak: number 1

They represented West Germany in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest with their self-titled debut single, “Dschinghis Khan”, but this pop group named after the Mongol leader impressed Australians with their song which shared its title with 1980’s Olympic host city. Thanks to extensive play during Channel 7’s coverage of that year’s games, it spent six weeks at number 1.

"Only For Sheep” by The Bureau

Released: 1981

Peak: number 6

This British band was formed by several former members of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and included future Style Council founder Mick Talbot in their line-up. With its brass-heavy sound, “Only For Sheep” impressed Australian listeners enough to make the top 10, but it’s not a song you ever really hear today.

"Screaming Jets” by Johnny Warman

Released: 1981

Peak: number 9

He’d been releasing music as a solo artist and a member of bands Bearded Lady and 3 Minutes since the mid ’70s, but it wasn’t until 1981 that British singer Johnny Warman landed a hit with this track from his Walking Into Mirrors album. “Screaming Jets” featured background vocals by Peter Gabriel and was released on Elton John’s Rocket label.

"Body And Soul” by Jo Kennedy

Released: 1982

Peak: number 5

Directed by Gillian Armstrong, feature film Starstruck followed two teenagers as they sought success in the music industry. Nineteen-year-old Jo Kennedy played aspiring singer Jackie, and performed this song, written by Tim Finn and previously released by Split Enz (as "She Got Body She Got Soul") on 1979's Frenzy, in the movie. 

"Words” by Missing Persons

Released: 1982

Peak: number 10

The first of two consecutive number 42 hits for the American new wave band on the Billboard Hot 100, “Words” did considerably better in Australia. Missing Persons had been formed at the start of the decade by husband-and-wife Terry and Dale Bozzio, and future Duran Duran guitarist Warren Cuccurullo.

"I.O.U.” by Freeez

Released: 1983

Peak: number 3

The second of two top 10 hits in the UK for the British group – the other was 1981’s “Southern Freeez” – “I.O.U.” was written and produced by Arthur Baker, and tapped into the flourishing electro and breakdance scenes.

"I Should Have Known Better” by Jim Diamond

Released: 1984

Peak: number 1

Scottish singer Jim Diamond was a one-hit-wonder twice over in Australia. The first time was when his former band, PhD, reached number 5 with “I Won’t Let You Down” in 1981. Following the group’s breakup, Jim, who passed away in 2015, went all the way to number 1 for one week with the ballad “I Should Have Known Better”.

"Say I’m Your Number One” by Princess

Released: 1985

Peak: number 8

Born Desiree Heslop, the British soul singer who performed as Princess was one of the many beneficiaries of the hit-making skills of songwriters and producers Stock Aitken Waterman. “Say I’m Your Number One” might not have reached that chart peak, but it was an Australian and UK top 10 hit.

"Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” by Glass Tiger

Released: 1986

Peak: number 9

The first – and biggest – of a string of hits for the Canadian band back home, this sing-along pop/rock tune was Glass Tiger’s only success locally. “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” was co-written and produced by Bryan Adams collaborator Jim Vallance, and features Bryan on backing vocals.

"Talk It Over” by Grayson Hugh

Released: 1989

Peak: number 4

Originally recorded as “Can’t We Talk It Over In Bed” by Olivia Newton-John, this song was released as the second single from her The Rumour album. But it wasn’t until American soul singer Grayson Hugh covered it – and shortened the title – that it became a hit. The song’s music video, which featured Grayson and his backing singers performing in suitcases, sometimes pops up on retro music channels these days.