Who Were 1984’s One-Hit Wonders?

Martina Raddatz/Redferns

Nena performing in Germany in the 1980s

So, what was the "Macarena" of 1984? The better question is -- what wasn't? Sexy talk and German anti-war protest songs ruled in the fight to be forgotten. Below, you can hear tracks from lesser-known Jackson siblings and listen to Clint Eastwood in a country song.

A Look Back at 1984: Full Coverage

Click on the gallery below to see the one-hit wonders and where they landed on the Billboard charts. And scroll down to listen to and watch the songs!


Rodney Dangerfield - "Rappin' Rodney"

The Catskills meets mad skillz in Dangerfield’s first (and only) foray into urban contemporary music. His flow needs some work but his obsession with respect prefigures many later hip hop hits.

T.G. Sheppard with Clint Eastwood - "Make My Day"

Long before Bird, Eastwood established his musical bona fides with his cameo in this driving country song where he declaims, rhythmically, his most famous line from Dirty Harry.

Nena - "99 Luftballons"

No one knew what it meant. No one could sing the lyrics. Let alone parse the Cold War political implications. But that bass line and Nena’s alluring voice made it one of the most successful non-English song in American musical history.

Michael Gore - "Terms of Endearment"

The theme from the movie of the same name. Gore, the younger brother of Lesley Gore, won an Academy Award for best original song for "Fame." Because sometimes all you want to do is weep to an instrumental soundtrack and think of Shirley MacLaine.

Shakin' Stevens - "I Cry Just a Little Bit"

Though massive in Cardiff, the Welsh singer Shakin’ Stevens scored only one hit in the U.S. Hot 100. But even this one was eclipsed by the cover version by Sylvia, leaving Shaky, as he was known, to cry...just a little bit.

La Toya Jackson - "Heart Don't Lie"

A reggae duet so catchy, it seemed as though LaToya could have been a successful Jackson.

Karen Kamon - "Loverboy"

Kamon was featured on the 1983 Flashdance soundtrack, singing the hard-driving dance track "Manhunt," produced by Phil Ramone. "Loverboy" is her followup, a three-minute ode to the power of crossfading and the transcendent power of a well-placed “doo-doo-doo.”

Ollie and Jerry - "Breakin' … There's No Stopping Us"

Ollie E. Brown is now a real estate agent and no one knows what happened to Jerry Knight but in '84 the duo's hit, featured in a dance-off film of same name, made them feel unstoppable.

Romeo Void - "A Girl In Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)"

Proto-feminist new wave art-punks from NoCal. Better known for "Never Say Never," but "A Girl In Trouble" is the band's only Hot 100 hit. Genius but only a temporary thing. (They broke up in 1985.)

Evelyn Thomas - "High Energy"

A straightforward club-friendly pioneer in the Hi-NRG genre -- just spell it out, or read the song title.

Apollonia 6 - "Sex Shooter"

As heard in Purple Rain, the epitome of '80s brashness: “I'm a sex shooter / shootin' love in your direction / I'm a sex shooter / come on play with my affections”

Rebbie Jackson - "Centipede"

A big year for the minor league Jacksons with Rebbie, the eldest of the five, releasing this strange piece, inspired by a painting and/or a tiger.

This article first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.



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