The rule for inclusion is simple: one (1) Top 40 Pop Hit. No Alternative hits, no Adult Contemporary charts, no Country, no Jazz, no R&B, no Anglo-Saxon Hardcore, no Canadian charts. No #67 hit single, which is essentially "Big In Japan." No hits with five other supergroups where you stood in the background and made faces for the camera.
I also don't care if you've had ten albums hit #1 on the Album Charts. That's a different level of success.
Most importantly? No second Top 40 hit that cancels out your One-Hit Wonder Status!
25) Fiona Apple -- Criminal: Remember that weird 'Is it an American Apparel ad or a sex-trade video' she made for this song, where she looked too young for us to be watching her sitting around in her underwear? It still looks like porn without the porn. Or is it just my imagination?
24) Beck -- Loser: The Voice of a Generation or the Voice Inside His Head? You decide!
23) Big Audio Dynamite -- Rush: The Clash managed two hits -- "Train In Vain" and "Rock The Casbah" -- while the Mick Jones who wasn't in Foreigner managed one solid top 40 hit with Big Audio Dynamite, who will always be remembered as long as Sony, Inc. owns the rights to release their stuff, since it's easier to repackage old albums than to bother breaking new artists everyone will just download illegally!
22) Black Oak Arkansas -- Jim Dandy: While looking this up, I saw BOA had something like 223 members come and go. Was there anyone else left in town? Jim Dandy was also the name of the band's lead singer, Jim "Dandy" Mangrum, who many people still swear is David Lee Roth. The song had been a 1957 hit for LaVern Baker, who by all accounts was never a member of the band.
21) Garth Brooks -- Lost In You: Oh, he was part of some horrific various artists thing called "Voices That Care" but it wasn't billed as Garth Brooks and neither is his only pop hit "Lost In You," which is credited to none other than Chris Gaines! Country music may have worshipped the ground this d.a.d. (dull-assed-dude) walked on, but sane people waited until he got weird.
20) Desmond Child -- Love On A Rooftop: Des has written songs for everyone (just ask Kiss fans!), but it took a 1991 solo album to bring out his only top 40 hit credited only to himself.
19) Butthole Surfers -- Pepper: Alright, the Buttonhole Surfers! Times were such that you often couldn't say the band's name on the air. Of all the ludicrous junk that's gone over the airwaves and yet you weren't allowed to discuss a common type of entertainment among young people everywhere? Why you radio Motherfeelers must kiss a lot of act, so you know what? Forget you!
18) J.J. Cale -- Crazy Mama: Eric Clapton took "Cocaine" and "After Midnight." Lynyrd Skynyrd borrowed "Call Me The Breeze." And the Rolling Stones a few years after wrote a better song called "Crazy Mama." As one commentator wrote, "Damn, this is boring."
17) Kate Bush -- Running Up That Hill: Why Americans routinely hate music that came along with the punk and new wave era is one of life's mysteries. I guess we're all just J.J. Cale fans at heart and half of us still think Elvis Costello is punk. Who would want to watch an annoyingly beautiful woman such as Kate Bush when you could pull down a few brewskis with Foreigner, Boston and Kansas! I get rejecting soccer but I don't get ignoring this!
16) Richie Havens -- Here Comes The Sun: Richie Havens might be the luckiest guy on Earth or at least among musicians. Sure, he was gifted with a fantastic voice, but because he went out and entertained the crowds at Woodstock, as overrated a three-day festival as they come, Havens still commands big $$$ on the dinner theatre circuit where successful ex-hippies come watch him strum his open-tuned guitar and sing covers like this one by the Beatles. Who says all the money is in publishing?
15) Feist -- 1-2-3-4: Canadian musicians always have an unfair advantage, since their government forces its citizens to purchase their music or else be subject to community service. Feist saw her sales go through the Canadian equivalent of a roof when her song got picked up for an iPod nano commercial. So, without government and corporate assistance, she might be as popular as her American singing counterparts. Buy USA!!!!
14) Aldo Nova -- Fantasy: Despite having a couple hits on something made up called the "Mainstream Rock Tracks" chart, Canadian Aldo Nova moved away from performing and into the far more insidious task of writing songs for others. Among the evil he has spread are songs for Celine Dion, Jon Bon Jovi and Clay Aiken. We can't build that wall between the U.S. and Canada fast enough!
13) Liz Phair -- Why Can't I?: Liz tried it all to be our cough-cough "queen." Hipsters overpromised on her greatness and then abandoned her when she ditched them for a wider audience. Except mainstream audiences have their own grading system and it's not the same curve that indie audiences use. Dance moves might've done what words could not.
12) Ted Nugent -- Cat Scratch Fever: According to the pop charts, Ted hasn't been relevant since 1977.
11) Frank Zappa -- Valley Girl: According to the pop charts, Frank Zappa didn't exist until the 1980s when he and daughter Moon Unit worked on this lovely song together. Zappa, however, has a high-standing critical reputation and, more importantly, a loyal cult following that purchase everything he does to keep his estate rolling in the dollars.
10) Grateful Dead -- Touch of Grey: According to the pop charts…OK, you get the idea. The Grateful Dead should never be judged by the amount of catchy singles they have, but by the amount of Volkswagen campers and grilled cheese sandwiches that were sold while they toured the world.
9) Iggy Pop -- Candy (with Kate Pierson): Let's hope the last person who remembers this rock 'n' roll stuff knows about the Stooges more than the solo career. Or else all our efforts to Save the Kids will have gone for naught. We don't want that, do we? (What the hell is naught, anyway?)
8) Public Enemy -- Give It Up: There's an axiom somewhere that says something along the lines of 'No artist of quality to appear post-1977 will ever have a hit with their best work, but with some passable tune that no real fan cares about.' That's a long axiom.
7) Lou Reed -- Walk On the Wild Side: I always enjoy watching non-music people who don't know the background react to Lou Reed. He comes out onstage all serious with his glasses and professorial snottiness while he sings in an awful monotone words that rarely add up to much. Whoo! The Raven! He won't even do his one hit with any enthusiasm, as if to sing with heart is a violation of his oldster status. Maybe I'd be more sympathetic if he didn't load his Greatest Hits albums up with the entire Velvet Underground catalog. Someone owes John Cale an apology. And Mo. And Sterling. Even Doug Yule.
6) Bryan Ferry -- Kiss & Tell: Americans really don't know what to do with British guys not from the original 'Invasion' of the 1960s. Ferry lived on the left of the dial when I was coming up, while a strummer like John Mellencamp held court on the middle of the dial with his brooding tendencies. I don't know. Maybe Ferry should've worn more denim. And driven a truck.
5) Roxy Music -- Love Is The Drug: So, should Mr. Ferry be disallowed because he was also a part of this group of English royalty? I like to think Roxy Music fans are more respectful of their members than, say, the huge masses that turn out for Pink Floyd, Inc. Seriously, Roger Waters has only raised his profile by making his association with The Wall inescapable. However, maybe being in Roxy Music is the handicap. What do I know? I'm just a cabbie.
4) 7 Mary 3 -- Cumbersome: I will forever remember the unfair gang-up on this cheesy but harmless little band. True story: I reviewed the second album for Rolling Stone, the one without this hit on it, and they refused to allow the review to reach three stars. Sure, they were derivative, but so was everyone else. This song, at least, always made me chuckle in horror, which is good for something!
3) Siouxsie and the Banshees -- Kiss Them For Me: It's so hard explaining things to kids brought up in an environment where tattoos are standard TV fare and crazy hair is just a personal choice. I no longer know what gets you beat up or at least harassed these days, but when Siouxsie was in her prime she was sent to college radio with the rest of the freaks and her fans lived on the edge of something we all knew existed.
2) White Stripes -- Icky Thump: To me it's been a surprise that they have any hits at all. Not that they don't deserve this, just that the track record for loud, garage-rock influenced duos isn't great. As a child of the 1980s where any band that made a hard, tough growl was exiled to college radio, well, these things will always surprise me. Rock has been dead as a mainstream concern for most of my life. When it comes to life, I'm amused but puzzled. Why now? Why these folks? Why not more? Why, why, why, why, why?
1) Amy Winehouse -- Rehab: Considering the high profile of her tragedy, it seems the catalog should be far better known, yet commercially this was her high point. Ironic? Or just so perfectly scripted it hurts. Godspeed.
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