The ’70s may have spawned dozens of iconic stars like David Bowie and Elton John, but it also produced a huge number of one-hit wonders whose time at the top was over almost before it began. But even if you don’t recall the name of the band, you’ll have no trouble singing along with any of these 10 awesome one-hit wonder songs of the 70s.
10. Girl of My Dreams – Bram Tchaikovsky
After leaving the UK punk-rock band The Motors, Bram Tchaikovsky formed… well, Bram Tchaikovsky, an eponymous power pop band competed by Mickey Broadbent on bass and keyboards and Keith Boyce on drums. Despite releasing three well-received albums, the group’s commercial fortunes failed to match up to their critical success, with the result that their only song to reach the charts was Girl of My Dreams, a shimmering nugget of power pop with jangly guitars, soaring melodies, and enough heartbreak in the lyrics to bring a grown man to tears.
9. Play that Funky Music – Wild Cherry
When Wild Cherry started out, they were a hard rock cover band… which would have been fine, had it not been the mid-70s. Their manager warned them that if they wanted to get gigs, they’d need to start doing disco, a recommendation they ignored until a member of the predominantly black audience at a gig at the 2001 Club on the North Side of Pittsburgh asked them, “Are you going to play some funky music, white boys?” Never one’s to look a gift horse in the mouth, the band promptly wrote Play that Funky Music – their one and only top 40 hit.
8. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – Edison Lighthouse
The first UK number one of the 1970s was held by Edison Lighthouse with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes), which spent 5 weeks at the top of the UK charts and reached the top 5 in the US and various other countries. The band seemed to be on the brink of major success, but when lead vocalist Tony Burrows left shortly after releasing Love Grows, their career soon fizzled out.
7. Pop Muzik – M
In 1979, M, a short-lived project created by English musician Robin Scott, hit the charts with Pop Muzik, a new wave/ synthpop extravaganza with a memorable video and an even more memorable hook. The song hit number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Australian ARIA Singles Chart, and number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. U2 later revived it as part of their PopMart tour, but Pop Muzik proved the first and last we’d ever see of M.
6. Kung-Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
Who knew martial arts disco tunes could be quite so catchy? Carl Douglas’ Kung-Fu Fighting has to be one of the silliest, goofiest songs to come out of the ’70s… until you get down to the numbers, which are less silly than they are jaw-dropping. Since its release in 1974, it’s sold a staggering eleven million records worldwide to become one of the best-selling singles of all time. Understandably, Douglas was never able to top it, spending most of the rest of his career making cameos on other people’s versions of the hit.
5. Warm Leatherette/T.V.O.D. – The Normal
As udiscovermusic.com notes, the Normal’s Warm Leatherette/T.V.O.D might well be one of the most memorable synth-pop hits ever, full of sexual perversity on the one side (the project’s founder, Danny Miller, used the hugely controversial 1973 film Crash as his inspiration) and droll commentary on the other. Miller didn’t expect much from the single, but something about its stark sound and dark subject matter caught on, with the result that it ended up selling over thirty thousand copies. The Normal never released another record, but Miller himself went on to enjoy huge success as the founder of Mute Records.
4. Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest
Writing about his inspiration for Dancing in the Moonlight on his official bio, King Harvest’s Sherman Kelly revealed: “On a trip to St. Croix in 1969, I was the first victim of a vicious St. Croix gang who eventually murdered 8 American tourists. At that time, I suffered multiple facial fractures and wounds and was left for dead. While I was recovering, I wrote “Dancin In The Moonlight” in which I envisioned an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life.” The song went on to become a massive worldwide hit. King Harvest, on the other hand, could never match its success, officially calling it a day in 1976.
3. Video Killed the Radio Star – The Bugles
In late 1979, new wave group the Bugles topped 16 intentional charts with Video Killed the Radio Star. Two years later, it became the first video ever shown on MTV Classic in the UK… which just so happened to be the same year the Bugles broke up after failing to repeat its success.
2. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
For years, legend had it that Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) was inspired by a real life spinster named Mary Ellis who spent her entire life waiting in vain for her sailor lover to come back to her. Then songwriter Elliot Lurie spoilt it all by saying the song was named after a high school girlfriend and that the story was completely made up. Made up or not, it still managed to give Looking Glass their one and only major hit.
1. Ring My Bell – Anita Ward
In 1979, Anta Ward rocketed to number one in the UK and on the US R&B, Dance and Billboard Hot 100 charts with the million-selling disco hit Ring My Bell. Despite the song’s mammoth success, Ward had the misfortune of being cast as a disco divo just as disco was breathing its last gasp. A few more singles followed, but none managed to make it into the top 40.