Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


C'mon baby, do the Locomotion
April 14, 2003 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Probably the quinesstiential one-hit wonder, Little Eva has died.
posted by timeistight (24 comments total)

 
Just out of curiousity, can anyone be the "quintessential" one-hit wonder? I mean, by definition? I guess if there were a one-hit wonder that was "quintessential", it would be someone like Gary Glitter.

I've often wondered about one-hit wonders: do most of them crash and burn, a la child stars, or do they just end up living a pleasant life out of the limelight? Do they continue their music careers quietly and modestly- even sometimes successfully, as I've seen occasional references to this or that one-hit wonder and seeming has-been being quite successful now as a producer or arranger- or do they wither away and constantly ache inside for what "might have been"?

Do most sock away the cash from the one-hit, and save it well, or do most of them spend like the gravy train will never end? Do most still see residuals from occasional radio play and karaoke bars, or did they sign away the rights long ago? How about one-hit wonders from different decades- it seems the one-hit wonders from the 90's and especially the last few years earn enough to get a swank-ass pad on MTV Cribs (a.k.a. Yo! MTV's 40 acres and a mule). Well, at least till the creditors come a-callin' for that tripped out Lincoln Navigator...
posted by hincandenza at 9:16 AM on April 14, 2003


I suppose you could call Debbie Gibson a one-hit wonder by most regards. She has a successful stage career, and is currently performing in Cabaret at Studio 54.

I would guess its a mix of crash-n-burn / moderate off-limelight success.
posted by benjh at 9:25 AM on April 14, 2003


You can get a Little Eva Locomotion ring tone for your cel phone.
posted by crunchland at 9:47 AM on April 14, 2003


benjh: Would that be the Debbie Gibson with a triple platinum album, a top 5 and a no.1 single in 1986/7 ?

I would have thought that John Otway would have been a better example.

Just asking ;<)
posted by daveg at 9:47 AM on April 14, 2003


Little Eva as a teenager went from being Goffin & King's babysitter to having an international smash hit in one easy step, so I guess that's why I used the word "quintessiential".

Anyway, I've always loved the record and I'm sad to see her gone at such a (to me) early age.
posted by timeistight at 10:09 AM on April 14, 2003


I've often wondered about one-hit wonders: do most of them crash and burn, a la child stars, or do they just end up living a pleasant life out of the limelight? Do they continue their music careers quietly and modestly- even sometimes successfully, as I've seen occasional references to this or that one-hit wonder and seeming has-been being quite successful now as a producer or arranger- or do they wither away and constantly ache inside for what "might have been"?

Well actually one of the more interesting perspectives on this was the VH1 One Hit Wonders series. It seems that they fall into a number handful of categories:

1: Actors who just happen to sing on the side (Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy, Patrick Swayzee).

2: Manufactured bands that were created by a producer, and then self destructed (New Radicals, T'Pau).

3: Novelty Hits (Buster Poindexter's "Hot, hot, hot", Devinyls' "I Touch Myself")

3: Movie music. Possibly the kiss of death unless you happen to be Kenny Loggins or Madonna. ("Maniac" from Flashdance, "Never Ending Story"). This overlaps strongly with category 4.

4: Crossover performers with extended careers in genres that are not pop radio friendly or performers that are not video friendly. So for example, Bobby McFerrin is a composer and conductor for a symphony orchestra, Martha Wash's voice has backed up many dance hits since "It's Raining Men." Cub Koda managed to get admiration from fans and fellow peformers in spite of only one hit with "Smoking in the Boy's Room". The Tom Tom Club still records some pretty darn good new music without David Byrne. And some of the Heavy Metal bands of the 80s maintain a fanbase than permits them to live on perpetual tour.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:33 AM on April 14, 2003


I always figured Matthew Wilder (Break my stride) was the perfect example of a one-hit wonder.

Or maybe Carl Douglas. Did he do anything after Kung-Fu Fighting?
posted by TeamBilly at 11:01 AM on April 14, 2003


The DiVinyls had at least two songs - "In My Life" and "Pleasure and Pain" - that were better than the execrable "I Touch Myself", which was less a one-hit wonder than a surrender to novelty-song sell-out.

Just sayin'.
posted by yhbc at 1:03 PM on April 14, 2003


What about Nelson? They qualify as one-hit wonders, don't they?
posted by starvingartist at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2003


cub koda, brownsville station - click! whir! bzzzt!
damn, kirkjobsluder, you've broken loose an avalanche of memories of a long forgotten evening at the kentwood roll arena circa 1978-1980! (?mileage may vary on the dates?).
brownsville station, unknown band, takes the stage fronted by a wildman wearing big round glasses, a swaddling loincloth, gibson sg, and nothing else. mezmerized by the antics of this prototypical guitar star, i remember only one tune from that evening (well, TWO tunes - they covered 'house of the rising sun' that night, it was several years prior to 'smoking'). it was a majestic instrumental ditty - no lyric - i don't know the name or author, but i seem to remember there is a recorded version somewhere, much slower and lower energy. that tune stuck in my mind and i can hear the roaring guitar chords in my head as i write this. can anybody identify the song and author? i scrutinized the link but the discographies there seem incomplete, nothing there rings a bell... basically the chords go like this:
[DDE... ... DDE... ... DDA... ... DDE... ...]
i will be impossible to live with now until i identify that tune!
posted by quonsar at 1:46 PM on April 14, 2003


jeez i completely blew the dates - this would have been 69-71, somewhere in there.
posted by quonsar at 1:57 PM on April 14, 2003


True story: Back in the long ago, misty time of legend known nowadays as the '80s, I was browsing through my school's copy of the Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, when I came across this entry:

"All Along The Watchtower"
Performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

One-hit wonder by their standards, anyways (those being "singles that made the Billboard Top 40"), although I'm sure it's no longer the case since "Foxy Lady" became a hit off the "Wayne's World" soundtrack.
posted by arto at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2003


I GOT IT!!!!

rumble, a link wray surfin' jam, as arranged for loincloth and marshall stack by cub koda! w00t!
posted by quonsar at 3:51 PM on April 14, 2003


I'm wondering if the "one hit wonder" phenom is vanishing now that Billboard has fragmented into dozens of charts? And does anyone ever listen to Dick Clark or Casey Casem roll out the top 40s every weekend (usually a taped program so that the radio staff can lock up and have a day off.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:21 PM on April 14, 2003


quonsy, based on only your description, I was about to tell you that it was Link Wray....great song.
posted by notsnot at 4:38 PM on April 14, 2003


Where is the line drawn, where the general public is supposed to care when a person dies? I mean, people die somewhere on this planet practically every minute of every day, but someone does a sitcom in the 1970s or has a pop hit in the 1960s and they get mentioned on Entertainment Tonight. I mean I'm sure to those who really knew her, she was a very special woman, but they're all special people.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:36 PM on April 14, 2003


I'd say Little Eva was the quintessential one-hit-wonder, because "Locomotion" cracked the Top 40 three times: once with her version, once with Grand Funk Railroad's, once with Kylie Minogue's. Her one hit kept coming and coming, in a chug-a chug-a motion like a railway train now...
posted by Vidiot at 6:53 PM on April 14, 2003


ZachsMind - I think it's more for the nostalgic benefit of the viewer than a tribute to the deceased...
posted by backOfYourMind at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2003


well, if it'll make you feel any better, zach, we promise not to mourn you when you go.
posted by crunchland at 8:12 PM on April 14, 2003


Little Eva was not a one-hit wonder, let alone a quintessential one. "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" was also a Top 40 hit in the US, although much less successful than the Loco-Motion. I'm using the technical definition of a one-hit wonder, which is an artist or group that has a Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts, but then never has another Top 40 Hit. That being said, Little Eva's Loco-Motion was one of the biggest hits of 1962 and I'm glad to see that her memory is honored by somebody.

If you wanted to pick a quintessential one-hit wonder, then I would pick somebody who had a #1 hit, then never hit the Billboard Top 100 charts again. Based on this standard, I think the quintessential one-hit wonder is Zager & Evans, In the Year 2525. Nothing else tops it for the "what the hell were they thinking?" factor. (I mean both the group and the people who bought the record.) Better yet, Zager & Evans broke up within 6 months or so of charting their hit record. From top of the pops to trivia question fodder in less than a year. Now that's a one-hit wonder!
posted by jonp72 at 9:31 PM on April 14, 2003


Okay, you're right about Little eva; I hadn't realized that she'd had other hits. I'd prefer my quintessiential one-hit wonder to be a record I actually liked, though. How about "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts? It was certainly one of the weirdest hits of the period, and it's a very cool record besides.

Lots more nostagia fodder here.
posted by timeistight at 10:43 AM on April 15, 2003


How about "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts?

This song is still fresh after many years, although boring Clear Channel oldies radio stations rarely play it. Better yet, I once heard a college radio DJ play Sally Go Round the Roses with a bunch of Goth records, but Sally Go Round the Roses still sounded spookier. In addition, I believe the Jaynetts never had another Billboard 100 hit, let alone another Billboard Top 40 hit.

As a fan of psychedelic/garage rock, I would also have to uphold the Count Five's Psychotic Reaction as a fave one-hit wonder.
posted by jonp72 at 5:47 PM on April 15, 2003


CrunchLand: "well, if it'll make you feel any better, zach, we promise not to mourn you when you go."

Ya better not! I want people to get drunk and party when I die.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:36 PM on April 15, 2003


Psychotic Reaction: Good pick! I've always found it hilarious that such a blatant Yardbirds ripoff outsold anything the Yardbirds ever did.
posted by timeistight at 8:40 AM on April 16, 2003


« Older Yessir, you're my baby!...  |  It's in the mail.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments