Five fabulous one-hit wonders of the 1980s

When you hear or remember these five great songs, it’s amazing that they were the artists' only single chart hits.
George Rose/GettyImages
3 of 3

Surprisingly these were the only single hits for the two bands

Devo - “Whip It”

Here’s a possibly controversial inclusion on this list. Devo has gold and platinum-ranked albums in the US. They have been nominated several times for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, unsuccessfully so far. Does that sound like a one-hit wonder? Perhaps not, but “Whip It” is the only one of their 28 singles that has been a top 40 hit.

Released in 1980 “Whip It” was one of the first new wave hits in the US. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nonsensical lyrics were backed by a mix of synthesizers with unusual rhythms and a solid drum beat. Not to mention a controversial video at the time. When MTV emerged in 1981 the song had a further boost after it featured heavily on the new channel.  

There were lots of theories at the time on what the song was about. That was largely led by that video and the blatant references to whipping. The video was actually aimed as a satire on the cowboys of the West and right-wing racism. But you can make up your own mind on that.

Next. Overlooked 1980s. Overlooked albums from the 1980s. dark

Lipps Inc. - “Funkytown”

Let’s end the list with a song that matches its name. “Funkytown” was a huge hit around the world reaching number one in 28 countries. It was released in 1980 and ranked as double platinum in the US. 

Lipps Inc. was a band built around singer Cynthia Johnson using various session musicians. That approach was pretty common at the time. So perhaps it's more focused on a one-off hit than an ongoing band. Having said that, four albums and seven singles were released under that name. But none made it near the top 40, although a follow-up single “How Long” did get to number four on the US Dance chart.

At least “Funkytown” got the recognition it deserves. It's a great disco stomp combined with synths again. There’s an enduring beat and those great vocals from Johnson. It may not have a follow-up hit, but it still gets played often and won’t be forgotten.

Read more from AudioPhix