The Lincoln Center’s Favorite One-Hit Wonders

By Alison Baumgartner

The Lincoln Center’s Favorite One-Hit Wonders

It’s September 25th, which means it’s National One-Hit Wonder Day. To celebrate, we compiled a list of everyone’s favorite one-hit wonders here at the Lincoln Center.



What Is Love? by Haddaway


Whether the mood is ironic or genuine, this song always lifts my spirits and gets me bobbing my head to the beat.


Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners


I STILL LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS SONG!!! Every time this song came on the radio I would literally shriek. (Yes, shriek. Don’t judge. I was 10 and hey, that’s what 10 year old girls do, it’s in the by-laws.) No earthly mortal can resist this song’s sing-along and dance-along power – Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Too-Ra-Loo-Rye-Aye!

BTW – yes, I did rock the hair bandana with belted and rolled up overalls…as soon as I could save up enough allowance to buy them…like a year later.



Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry


It was the spot-on soundtrack for my rural Midwest high school drill team tryout. (I made the team! #runningman)


St Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr


Nothing like a power ballad that has the deeply 80’s undertones mixed with a movie soundtrack headline and title.

I remember hearing this for the first time after plugging a random 8-track into a player we had at home when I was about 7 and I’ve never forgotten it! Still have a copy on my iPhone and I listen to it more often then I’d usually ever admit.


Pump Up the Volume by M/A/R/R/S


M/A/R/R/S’ Pump Up The Volume shouldn’t have ever even happened.  It is literally one of two songs released by two groups who attempted a contentious collaboration.  Its impact on the popular music scene, however, is immeasurable.  This sound collage is made up of a boatload of samples before litigation made this inefficient for the record companies.  That didn’t matter in 1987 though, and brought the groove of house music to the top of the charts.  The samples included the powerhouse funk of James Brown, the Bar-Kays, and The Jimmy Castor Bunch; Kool and the Gang (not the watered down K&tG of Joanna either, but the hard swinging 70’s version); the go-go beats of DC’s Trouble Funk, the early hip-hops sounds of Afrika Bambaataa, Lovebug Starski, and Public Enemy, not to mention the inimitable line that formed the namesake of the tune dropped by Rakim.  Perhaps most importantly, to many Gen Xer’s once you “put the needle on the record (when the drums beat goes like this)”, you were exposed to your first taste world music: the vocal styling of Islamic Lebanese mountain singer Dunya Yunis. This one had it all, except for the Grammy it was nominated for.



I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts


This is my favorite one hit wonder not only because of it being the theme song from my all-time favorite sitcom, but it takes me back to summer days in high school.  Hanging out at the pool and listening to Casey Kasem’s top 40 countdown, check.  Adulting, not so much.


500 Miles (I’m gonna be) by The Proclaimers


I first really noticed it during a Doctor Who special (I’m sure I heard it before then but not paid attention). It was a video made by the cast for the end of the Doctor Who season. The Doctor was David Tennant that year, a Scotsman and die-hard Proclaimers fan. I love Tennant’s enthusiasm, and the bouncy melody and the slightly sarcastic lyrics.


Epic by Faith No More


I’m going to have to say ‘Epic’ by Faith No More.  Part of it was that 1989 was a great year for alt-metal type stuff.  In addition to Faith No More’s ‘The Real Thing’, we also got Ministry’s ‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, ’ and Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Pretty Hate Machine.’  Also, I was 17 when these albums came out and music would never sound that good to me again.


C’est La Vie by Robbie Nevil


Maybe it’s because I learned my sick dance moves from this video, or maybe it’s just because it always puts a bad day into perspective… either way, I could put this song on repeat, and never want to turn it off.


Life in a Northern Town by The Dream Academy


First time I had heard cello and oboe in a pop song!


That Thing You Do by The Wonders


Not only is it catchy, but the original fictional band’s name is “The Oneders”. Need I say more?

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