"Funkytown," by Lipps, Inc (1980) and Pseudo Echo (1986)
This is the song my friend Jonathan sent me that got me going down this rabbit hole in the first place. Cynthia Johnson, whether her voice is being seriously manipulated or not, sings the hell out of this disco-synth-funk conglomeration. It was the number-one song in the US for a month at the beginning of the Summer, and it still has so many iconic hooks that it has never really gone away. Lipps, Inc. (lip-sync – get it?) had a few more small hits on the dance charts but never again approached mainstream success.
Then, Pseudo Echo, an Australian rock band, decided to record a classic ‘80’s arena-rock version. Somehow, when that bouncy little synth motif sneaks under the big guitars, it all fits together. No – I didn’t think it would work, either. But it does. Singer Brian Canham is definitely not Cynthia Johnson, but he does a credible enough job to once again get us all interested in going to Funkytown.
As with the aforementioned Thin Lizzy, I might be exhibiting some cultural snobbery by calling Spiderbait an OHW. “Funkytown” may have been their only number-one hit in Australia, but they hit the top ten down under plenty of other times. “Funkytown” is just their only flirtation with success in the US, making it all the way to number 6.
There are plenty of honorable mentions that could expand this list. Songs like “Signs,” “One Tin Soldier,” “Break My Stride,” – even the theme from the sitcom “Happy Days.” I’ve tried to figure out if there is something inherent in these particular songs that makes them amenable to being hits for multiple otherwise undecorated bands. So far, I have failed. All I do know is that Bowling for Soup -- regardless of what the charts may say - is not a one-hit wonder.