Living Under a Rock

I came across this list of the top 100 one hit wonders the other day, and so of course I had to go through it to see how many of them I recognized. (Seriously. I’ve got a problem with lists. I see one, and it’s like I have to stop and see how I rate. If I were ever in an action movie, that would be my secret weakness. “This bomb needs to be defused right this second!” “I know, but there’s this list here of the top 50 most intense bomb-defusing scenes, and I need to know how many of them I’ve watched . . .”)

One hit wonders are sort of supposed to be ubiquitous, in my understanding. They’re just omni-present. You can’t avoid being exposed to them, almost. So I was surprised that there were seven songs on that list that I just kind of stared at blankly, wondering if they were on there as some kind of joke. So that you can laugh at my pop culture music blind spots, here they are:

  • Kiss the Rain
  • Return of the Mack
  • Mexican Radio
  • In a Big Country
  • I’d Love to Change the World
  • Joey
  • Under the Milky Way

I mean, does *anyone* recognize those songs? I’m half-convinced they were put on there just to check if people actually read through the whole list. I’m also kind of happy I haven’t heard some of them. They seemed annoying, which in turn makes me wonder how many of the songs on there I know and like would actually seem annoying if I’d never heard them before.

And the list made me think of another question: Which would you prefer, if you could choose? To have one work of art that became fairly ubiquitous and famous, but to have nothing else that ever really became known at all, or to have years of middle-of-the-road success, with works that are well received but never make any best seller lists or bring you the sort of fame where people line up for your autograph? For the purposes of the hypothetical, let’s assume both avenues end up making you the same amount of money, so it’s not like cash can enter into it.

My first instinct is that the fame would win out, because you’d have to think in today’s world you’d be able to leverage that for further success. But we know from the premise that isn’t the case. The one hit wonder remained just that. So in that case, I think I’d prefer just steady, solid success as opposed to one brief burst of glory. I would think having had the taste once, it would make everything else feel kind of hollow.

What would you go for? And how many of those songs have you never heard before?


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