Having an article that talks about one-hit wonders always seems to do a disservice to the musical artist. Sure, there are many bands or solo performers that have one song that everyone knows. But you know there is some group somewhere that prefers some song from the artist that was a hidden B-side.
That's the great thing about music, though. What you like is completely your own decision. You might not even know why you like what you like, but you just do.
Most of the musical artists that follow have a decent catalog that you should check out. Some are still making music. But the four songs that follow are probably their best known tracks by a wide margin.
Eddy Grant - "Electric Avenue" (1983)
Eddy Grant was EDM before the term was well-known, only he incorporated lots of musical styles into his sound. "Electric Avenue" is the best example of what Grant was capable of. For those who loved his music, you know that while most of the world might only know this one song, his catalog is pretty impressive overall. Songs like "Walking on Sunshine" and "Living On the Frontline" are winners, too.
Still, "Electric Avenue" was a perfect song for 1983 as synths were king and musical artists were looking for a way to stand out from the other people doing synth-led projects. Grant's song is danceable, singable, and nothing short of fun. And the part of the video where Grant walks into the water is fantastic. The song hit number 2 in the United States and in the UK.
a-ha - "Take On Me" (1985)
"Take On Me" was recorded several different times before the song actually became a hit. In fact, the track also had at least two other titles becoming the title we know now. The original title was "Miss Eerie" and then "Lesson One." But the final version was helped by two important bits.
One is that the song is jaunty as heck with impossibly high lyrics in the chorus that are simply fun to try to sing. The other important part was the groundbreaking video that was made for "Take On Me." Using an art form known as rotoscoping, the band was viewed in a way no other band was seen before in a pencil-sketch animation and live-action combination that was amazing to watch.
a-ha became the first Norwegian musical artist to hit number 1 in the United States. "Take On Me" hit number 2 in the UK.
Eddie Murphy - "Party All the Time" (1985)
Many people likely had an inkling that Eddie Murphy could sing before he decided to put out his first full-length album in 1985. He can be heard somewhat in movies and on Saturday Night Live in the early days of his career where he wasn't so much crooning a full song but in just the snippets he had one could safely assume hearing him sing would not be unpleasant.
Plus, when Eddie Murphy had friends like Rick James around, his transition to recording a record was that much easier. James was, of course, a well-known musical artist himself who also knew how to lay down a beat. "Party All the Time" is just what is should sound like: Fun and mindless. The song was number 2 in the US for three straight weeks.
Nena - "99 Luftballons" (1983)
The record company that the band Nena had when this song originally came out in 1983 thought they would be smart. The song had already been a huge hit in Europe, but the words are in German because, well...Nena is a German band. So the record company thought re-recording the song in English would make the track huge in the US.
The record company was partially correct. A song about balloons being released into the air at the time of the Berlin Wall that caused, in the song, at least, the military to try to shoot the balloons down did do well in the US. But not in the English-language version but instead in the original German. The German-language version hit number 2 on Billboard in the US and number 1 in many countries around the world, while the English-language version did not chart.