For some, it's just one hit

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 25, 2012 - 3:35 PM

A single success is more than most musical acts attain.


The British group Chumbawamba had a hit song with "Tubthumping" ("I get knocked down, but I get up again ...") and then -- well -- nothing, as far as the U.S. charts are concerned.

Take a bow, Chumbawamba and the Knack. Go ahead and bask, Edie Brickell and Miley Cyrus' dad, whatever your name is.

Yes, today is One Hit Wonder Day, perhaps the only "Hallmark holiday" in which the honorees are denigrated as much as celebrated, victims of that peculiar human tendency to put folks on a pedestal and relish knocking them down.

As if any of us could make a song -- just one -- embraced by millions.

"It's a huge deal," said Chris Osgood, veteran local musician and music instructor at McNally Smith College of Music. Osgood, who still plays and sings with local punk-rock pioneers the Suicide Commandos, said he has lost count of "all the bands I see and get to know that are touring the country based on one song." He also pointed out that Steven Greenberg has made a cottage industry of "Funkytown," the mega-hit he recorded here with David Z as Lipps, Inc.

Basically, while the song's limelight time might be fleeting, the artist's talent is not (well, OK, there's Vanilla Ice).

"I look at the one-hit wonder as someone whose talent found an outlet for a brief period of time," said Andy Scheiber, chair of the University of St. Thomas' English department and a longtime musician. "The cliché is the overnight sensation who's been playing for 10 years. There is no shortage of talent, just a shortage of venues and channels for that talent.

"You cannot win if you do not play. But those who persist at it day after day, year after year, if they're good at their craft, well, it's amazing how much your luck increases if you go at it every day."

And when talent and pluck meet the right song, the artists have their day. Most, of course, never get there. As Osgood noted, "the difference between zero and one is enormous."

Bill Ward • 612-673-7643



    The Trashmen, "Surfin Bird," 1963

    The Castaways, "Liar Liar," 1965

    Lipps, Inc., "Funkytown," 1980

    Boys Club, "I Remember Holding You," 1988

    The Rembrandts, "I'll Be There for You," 1995

    Jonny Lang, "Lie to Me," 1997

    Semisonic, "Closing Time," 1998

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


question of the day

Poll: Which is your favorite season?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters