March Madness of Music: One-hit wonders

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No musician ever aspires to be a one-hit wonder — the objective is almost always to either maintain a lowkey garage-band vibe or to churn out hit after hit. But predicting which songs will top the charts is a tricky business, and for better or for worse, some musicians inadvertently strike gold (once). That being said, the arts department at The Daily Californian has determined the one hit that’s the most wonderful of them all.

A few iconic tracks surprisingly didn’t even crack the top eight — “Hey There Delilah” from the Plain White T’s, MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz were all taken from us far too soon. Maybe it’s because no one really cares about what it’s like in New York City, or maybe “Dynamite” sounds too much like it was rejected from a Black Eyed Peas album. Whatever the reason, apparently we can touch this. Joining the first round of casualties are “I’m Too Sexy” from Right Said Fred,” “Shake It” from Metro Station and “MMMBop” from Hanson.

With “Replay” by Iyaz and “Glad You Came” by The Wanted also facing early eliminations, you could wonder whether the one-hit wonders of the mid-2000s simply don’t trigger the same level of endearment. But in later seeds we see this theory doesn’t hold any water — with Natasha Bedingfield (who, admittedly, is really more of a two-hit wonder) representing the era’s very best with “Pocketful of Sunshine.” Bedingfield is joined in the top eight by some serious heavy hitters; Fountains of Wayne has got it going on with “Stacy’s Mom” while Vanilla Ice brings us “Under Pressure” — er, we mean “Ice Ice Baby.”

“A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton and “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers round out the top eight. The people have spoken, and they love songs about walking excessively long distances. Maybe that’s why the Plain White T’s were eliminated so quickly — the band members admit that “a thousand miles seems pretty far” and they’d only “walk to you if I had no other way.” Delilah doesn’t play around folks — she needs to see your commitment.

Sadly, walking a distance equivalent to that of Houston to Chicago (1,000 miles) isn’t enough to crack the top four, especially not when you’re up against Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” “Take on Me” by a-ha, Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine” and “Come on Eileen” from Dexys Midnight Runners. With the final four established, the real madness begins. With no clear frontrunner, this would be a battle fought with celtic fiddles, powerful belting, ear-splitting high notes and melodramatic duets.

The road ended there for Bedingfield and a-ha. Perhaps the staying power of “Take on Me” would have been stronger had the band kept the song’s original name — “The Juicy Fruit Song.” But it’s still disappointing to watch all two-and-a-half octaves of the 1984 classic be sent home.

With that, we’ve reached our final two — “Somebody that I Used to Know” and “Come on Eileen.” But one-hit wonders are no better than anyone else in that there can only be one winner. It’s a difficult matchup to say the least. It’s the old versus the modern, the upbeat versus the midtempo, the featured in the movie “Tommy Boy” versus the covered on “Glee.” But ultimately, Gotye fell to Dexys Midnight Runners and “Come on Eileen” claimed the crown.

If they could, the band members would likely thank Eileen for inspiring a song that generated so much success. But according to vocalist Kevin Rowland, Eileen doesn’t exist — rather, she was created “to make a point about Catholic repression.” Who knew?

Contact Shannon O’Hara at [email protected].