Monday, May 20, 2019

#1. One-hit Wonders: "Sleeping Satellite" - Tasmin Archer (1992)

More than just my top one-hit wonder, this is easily one of my favourite songs period.

It can be easy to overlook a somewhat low-key pop song from the early 90s, a key high-water mark in music history as multiple genres (grunge, dance, rave, hip hop, Garth Brooks) were all producing memorable tracks. 

But Tasmin Archer's debut single "Sleeping Satellite", from the ironic album title Great Expectations, is nothing short of a pop masterpiece, a special song full of wonder that only comes around every blue moon.

Everything is beautiful about this song: the synth intro, the dreamy melody, Tasmin's inspiring vocals, the subtle guitar, the soaring bridge once the organ kicks in and a great vocal outro. 

"Sleeping Satellite" has both soul and groove, an exquisite slice of hypnotic pop.

And how about the depth of those lyrics. 

Archer talks about relationships using the moon landings as a metaphor. She asks her lover "Did we fly to the moon too soon? and "Have we peaked too soon?" now that both of them are clueless about what to do with their relationship after a great start.

The tune hit #1 on the UK charts, while only peaking at #32 in the US, more evidence that my musical taste is more aligned with the Brits. In fact, the first time I ever heard the single was when I lived in Vancouver enjoying a "UK Chart Attack", a Top 40 program broadcast on a local radio station. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#2. One-hit Wonders: "You Get What You Give" - New Radicals (1998)

Nostalgic. Fun. Satirical. 

Sometimes a band comes out of left field and whacks us over the head with an irresistible pop song. "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals is one such shining example. 

The song is more than just another hit single. It's a really, really, really catchy tune. 

And a juggernaut. 

The frenetic rhythm of the piano melody and frontman Gregg Alexander's soaring falsetto drive the relentless pace. 

Despite some cynical lyrics tearing up the world of celebrity, "You Get What You Give" is also one of the most feel good tunes ever produced. The uplifting "You've got the music in you" lyric is downright spiritual. 

My only beef: the low blow against Beck near the end.   

Why no encore you may ask. Well, the New Radicals didn't break up for any complex reasons; Alexander just really didn't like fame or success. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

#3. One-hit Wonders: "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" - Modjo (2000)

The disco-influenced house hit single "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" by French duo Modjo is a major throwback. Now almost twenty years old, I would consider this track in the timeless category. 

That catchy guitar riff is a Chic sample that impeccably accompanies the bass-fueled groove. 

The nostalgic video featuring various shenanigans of three teenagers perfectly captures the spirit of youth.

Friday, May 17, 2019

#4. One-hit Wonders: "Rapper's Delight" - The Sugarhill Gang (1979)

How lucky were the teens growing up in NYC during the late 1970s? You would have lived first-hand and up close the birth of punk, new wave and the same time! 

The rhythm and rhyme anthem "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang skyrocketed rap into the mainstream. A strong bass line and snappy guitar riffs add a funky vibe to the mix.

Hard to believe the seminal rap track is 40 years old this year. Perhaps a 40 minute freestyle tribute is in order?

Even more hard to believe: the Sugarhill Gang never had another U.S. hit single, though it had multiple European hits.

Fave lyric: "hip-hop-to the hippitty-hop and you don't stop" 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

#5. One-hit Wonders: "Bound for the Floor" - Local H (1996)

Detractors of "Bound for the Floor" by Local H will argue this post-grunge tune aka the copacetic song, is both repetitive and derivative. 

But I think the repetition is deliberate -- it is an anthem celebrating apathy after all.

The almost robotic and stoic delivery of the chorus creates a hypnotic vibe.

"And you just don't get it. You keep it copacetic. You learn to accept it. You know you're so pathetic." 

The intensity builds as the droning vocals become squeals as the guitars crash. Ultimately, it's the sort of tune best enjoyed cranked up. 

The single reached #5 on US Billboard in 1996. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#6. One-hit Wonders: "Cars" - Gary Numan (1979)

Another iconic intro only bested by an even more mesmerizing outro. 

The track is among the most popular new wave anthems that paved the way for the 80s.

Numan's metaphorical lyrics of a car as a personal tank is pop genius. 

Influenced by Kraftwerk and David Bowie, the shiny synth classic "Cars" by Gary Numan sounded like the future in 1979. 

And in 2019 it still sounds like it could have been released last year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#7. One-hit Wonders: "In the Meantime" - Spacehog (1996)

It's not hard to see the Bowie and Queen influences on the glam-grunge anthem "In the Meantime" by Spacehog. 

And what an amazing intro! The instantly likable tune opens with an engaging sixty second instrumental intro, complete with synths, simple bass line and falsetto tones from frontman Royston Langdon. Easily among my favourite top 20 intros of all-time. 

The chorus is memorable, and the track concludes with a nice piano solo. I'll always remember cranking it from the company van during my map sales gig Vancouver in spring 1996. 

Although the music gets a bit repetitive, "In the Meantime" nonetheless remains a powerful and iconic mid-90s track that left me begging for a follow-up that never happened. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

#8. One-hit Wonders: "Your Woman" - White Town (1997)

If you prefer your bass lines on the fat side then you'll love "Your Woman" by White Town.

The tune sounds simultaneously retro and futuristic. A vocal sample from the 1930s along with the black and white video are fused with a hip hop beat and electro. 

The song instantly brings me back to JJ's in Halifax while the song itself could be a prototype of the Gorillaz sound a few years later. 

While only peaking at #23 in the US, the single reached #1 in the UK and #4 in Canada.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

#9. One-hit Wonders: "Magic" - Pilot (1975)

Scottish pop rock band Pilot churned out the instantly catchy and melodic single "Magic" that peaked at #16 in Canada back in 1975. 

The "oh-oh-oh" vocal hook adds some extra shine to this snappy and giddy tune.

During the 90s, the infectious track attracted a new generation of fans thanks to its inclusion on the 1996 Happy Gilmour film soundtrack.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

#10. One-hit Wonders: "I Know" - Dionne Farris (1995)

Was there a decade that produced more high-end one-hit wonders? My vote goes to the 90s. Easily...

"I Know" by Dionne Farris is an irresistible feel-good groove. The highlight is the epic bridge, taking an already solid tune into the stratosphere. Lightning in a bottle.