Six brilliant one-hit wonders from the 1980s

It’s hard to believe all of these great songs were the only top chart hits for these artists
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The Vapors - "Turning Japanese"

The Vapors were an English band with a connection to UK punk and mod rockers The Jam. Initially spotted playing in a UK pub by The Jam bass player Bruce Foxton, they ended up being managed by him and John Weller, father of The Jam lead man Paul Weller. An early success for The Vapors CV was supporting the Jam on their 1979 tour. 

Success was limited for the band though despite that connection and other attempts at hit singles. The Vapors were pretty confident about “Turning Japanese” but also wary of being labeled as one-hit wonders, oops, sorry lads! The band held back the song and released ”Prisoners” as a single late in 1979. It was a miss, but they were right about their next song. 

“Turning Japanese” did do as well, if not better, than they had expected and perhaps hoped. Number three spot in the UK charts and up to 36 in the US, it also reached number one in Australia and was a top-ten across Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. It even scored a minor success in Japan. This was their only single hit despite their attempts. 

“Turning Japanese” is a neat punk or power pop song, with similarities to the Jam, especially with the powerful bass line. Although the title and the promo video clearly linked in Japan, there wasn't really any connection with the country. Various rumours circulated at the time about the meaning behind the song, but band frontman Dave Fenton halted those. 

Fenton explained it was about the youthful angst of a broken relationship and being tormented by only having a photograph left to remember it by. He reckoned it could as easily have been Portuguese or another country in the title.  Maybe so but the oriental sounding guitar riff worked like a dream!