Trivial Music: Amy’s Monthly Mixtape – 50 Years of Billboard (and one-hit wonders)

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by Amy Bugno / through

Halloween for October is just too easy (and how much “Thriller” or Vampire Weekend do you really want?). In The Pursuit of the Trivial author Amy Bugno is back on a campus this month (congrats!) so “Amy’s Monthly Mixtape” features some good ol’ academic research. Apparently the Billboard Top 100 turns 50 this month and to celebrate Amy takes her love for the Oneders and presents her one-hit wonder list.

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Glad to see you came back for round 2 of “Amy’s Monthly Mixtape,” a relatively new feature here on In Pursuit of the Trivial. This month’s mix was indirectly inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100. In the special edition of the magazine,they had a list of the Top 10 One-Hit Wonders of all time. I didn’t really like their list (I know, I know, it’s based on sales figures, but whatever) so I decided to make my own Top 20 mixtape. Why 20 you ask? Well, basically because I couldn’t narrow it down without having almost the entire thing full of songs from one decade. Just be thankful I didn’t leave it at the original 46 I thought up.


How Bizarre – OMC (1996)
Did you know OMC stands for Otara Millionaire’s Club? I sure didn’t. Pretty bizarre band name if you ask me. The song did alright in the US but was a huge hit in the band’s home turf of New Zealand and one of the few songs to top the charts in Australia from a Kiwi band. I’m not really sure what it was about this song but I thought it was hilarious at the time of release. Good luck getting it out of your head now.

Tainted Love – Soft Cell (1981)
Apparently this version (the one that was a big hit) is a cover of Gloria Jones 1964 song of the same name. Something tells me there might’ve been a few new-fangled instruments in Soft Cell’s 1981 version. It’s incredible how many times this song has been recorded. Understandable though. If I ever have a band you betcha we’re covering this epic jam.

I Wish – Skee Lo (1995)
I still rock out to this song 13 years later. It’s not your typical mid-90s rap song. I think Skee Lo might have been tapping into the emo generation well before its time with these words “It’s a shame when you’re living in the city that’s the size of a box and nobody knows your name.” Interesting, eh?

Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles (1979)
Probably the most ironic song of all time (in the video music generation at least). Everyone knows this was the first video played on MTV on August 1, 1981, starting a movement of music videos that lasted a solid 27 years. The Buggles took their song pretty seriously, I suppose, and fizzled out shortly after.

Sex and Candy – Marcy Playground (1997)
What a creepy voice that dude had. When this song came out I was still at that awkward age where you’re afraid to say “sex” in front of your mom. So when it came on in the car, I’d sing along and strategically cough during the chorus. I wonder if she ever caught on…

Jenny (867-5309) – Tommy Tutone (1982)
The song that inspired thousands of prank calls. Glorious.

You Get What You Give – New Radicals (1999)
This video may be one of my favorites of all time. I bought a bucket hat just so I could be cool like the Gregg Alexander and run around the mall doing crazy stuff. OK, so I didn’t really do the cool stuff in the mall but I did wear the hat an awful lot.

Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve (1997)
Who could ever forget that incredible opening string riff? Not me. I always wanted my high school orchestra to perform this song. Classic.

Whoomp (There It Is) – Tag Team (1993)
I knew, scratch that, I KNOW every word to this song because we sang it on the bus every day in second grade. Brain Supreme and Steve Roll’n. Can you get better stage names than that? I don’t think so. This song could still probably get me pumped up to play a sport. Now that’s talent.

Earth Angel – The Penguins (1954)
Ah, finally some 50s lovin’. You’ll probably notice through this series that I have a particular affection for the 1950s and I kind of wish I lived then. Regardless of age though, I think everyone can appreciate this song. If for no other reason than it made for the perfect background music to Marty’s faltering, and then revitalizing guitar performance in Back to the Future during the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor (1990)
Another cover that was better than the original. It’s also worth noting Sinead was clearly ahead of her time with the “2 U” spelling. Maybe she had AOL before the rest of us. Anyway, what a video. What a lady. What an inspiration for Deb of Empire Records fame and one of my favorite movie moments. (“Well Sinead O’Rebellion, shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior.”)

Jump Around – House of Pain (1992)
This song is great for so many reasons. One, it’s the easiest dance ever (and a great workout to boot). Two, it’s played during Christopher’s birthday party in Mrs. Doubtfire. Three, it inspired this before every UNC basketball game of the 07-08 season. (GO HEELS!)

Sh-Boom – The Chords (1954)
I actually studied this song in a class called “Popular Music in 20th Century America” at Carolina. Talk about a one-hit-wonder making an impact.

Lovefool – The Cardigans (1996)
Being on the soundtrack from Romeo & Juliet (the DiCaprio version) really pushed this one to the top of the charts. I really wish this Swedish band did more because I find Nina Persson’s voice heavenly.

Little Star – The Elegants (1958)
This one actually did make Billboard’s list (as it should). Seriously genius, turning a well-known nursery rhyme into a number one hit. My dad used to sing this song a lot and I may have known it better than the real “Twinkle Twinkle.”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Deep Blue Something (1996)
I’ll tell you what, if I ever find a guy that really loves Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I don’t think I’ll really care if we don’t have anything else in common. Even better if he loves this song. I don’t think this one will ever get old. I have yet to groan about “overplaying the song” with this one…I think it’s legendary.

96 Tears – ? and the Mysterians (1966)
Rolling Stone said it was the 210th greatest song of all time. I’d personally rank it a little higher but I’m glad to know it made the cut. If you ever want to hear this song on vinyl, I’ve got the 45. It’s fantastic. According to Wikipedia, author Fred Bronson credits this song with the start of the punk rock movement. I definitely feel the angst.

No Rain – Blind Melon (1992)
Maybe I’ll be the “bee girl” for Halloween this year. I’m surprised that’s never happened before. Anyway if you don’t love this song, I don’t love you. Plain and simple. I even had the first few lines as the voicemail message for my very first cell phone back in 2002! I would say it’s on about 70 percent of the mixtapes I make for people and at least 6 of the 20 odd CDs I keep in my car.

In the Year 2525 – Zager and Evans (1969)
There could probably be an entire music history class devoted to this song. If you don’t know it already, get to listening. The lyrics provide a bleak outlook for the future, as the ideas of robots and test-tube babies come to fruition and man uses up all of the Earth’s resources. In addition to the lyrics that really made a statement in the late 60s, the musical structure of this song is something to gawk at as well. The key changes progressively throughout and there’s no chorus to be found. It’s unbelievable to me that Zager and Evans never had another hit after this one, but I suppose they were of the philosophy to quit while it’s hot.

Barely Breathing – Duncan Sheik (1997)
This is my favorite song of all time. I would’ve told you that 10 years ago and I’ll still you that today. The rest of the album, eh, not so much. But this song, MAN this song is good. The song spent 55 weeks in Billboard’s Top 20, although it never reached the status I thought it deserved.

Today’s Trivial Music is your glimpse into Amy’s musical preferences. If you’re not feeling what the kid spins (even if her selection is limited by the theme-o-the-month) e-mail her.

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