Monday, September 22, 2008

One Hit Wonder Day (The Fallacy)

I am a big fan of One Hit Wonders. This Thursday is One Hit Wonder Day. I thought about doing a tribute to my favorite One Hit Wonders, UNTIL I did a bit more research.

I came across a blog, Paul's Ramblings, with an entry from September 25, 2006. It opened my eyes to another person's view of One Hit Wonders...

The media are talking about today as being "One Hit Wonder Day" and it brings up an issue that bothers me as a former radio man, one who researched and informed my audience of the artists and songs I played during my shows. In every sense of the phrase, One Hit Wonder (in America for the case of my argument) is supposed to mean one charting song, and not just any chart, but Billboards Top 40. So, that is just one hit on the Top 40, and you are never heard from again.

But time and time again, artists who have actually charted, in the Billboard Top 40, are misclassified as being One Hit Wonders. That is because most music directors / programmers don't bother to consult the Billboard / All Music Guides, that list every chart hit since the mid 1950s (readily available in every radio station). Laziness...

Take V-H1's 100 One Hit Wonders, and we can begin to pull apart this travesty. No. 8 out of 100 is A-ha with Take On Me. This song reached number 1, so of course everyone remembers it. It is one of the most well known 80's singles ever. But, they followed it with a second hit single, The Sun Always Shines On TV which reached number 20. That's two hits (even more if you count the club charts, adult contemporary charts, etc) back-to-back using the very same chart system to determine if a group has had one hit or not. Yet, they remain relegated to the One Hit Wonder classification.

Take No. 44, the late Falco with Rock Me Amadeus (which also hit number 1). He followed it up with Vienna Calling, which reached number 18. Once again, relegated to One Hit Wonder land. No. 48, Spandau Ballet with True, which reached number 10. Another famous anthem of the 1980s. Yet, the Spands also had two more top 40 hits with Gold (number 29) and Only When You Leave (number 34). That's three Top 40 singles, how is that a One Hit Wonder act? What about No. 83, Canada's Men Without Hats and the infamous Safety Dance? This went to number 3, then they returned to the Top 40 with Pop Goes The World (number 20). All of these chart stats are easily found. Just go to The All Music Guide, type in an artists, then check the chart stats. Look at the Billboard 100 (the list in which the Top 40 is pulled).

As I've illustrated, just using tracks from the 1980s, and the basic classifications V-H1 and the music industry tends to use (Top 40 singles), audiences and artists are being cheated. Artists with multiple chart hits are classified as being one-hit-wonders, and audiences believe it. Radio programmers use this to pull the "one hit" for rotation, ignoring all the other singles Casey Kasem would tell us about every Sunday. The audiences are cheated will false information and less songs in rotation. How hard is it to check the charts before you start calling artists one-hit-wonders? Don't the musicians deserve some recognition for multiple chart hits?

I have no problem with a group that is best known for a particular hit over all their other songs that charted, but don't force them into one-hit-wonder obscurity for that. Give credit where credit is due. Once on the charts, one hit wonder. More than once on the charts, remove them from that list.....

This just always bothered me, as a DJ, when other on-air hacks never bothered to check the facts or learn anything about what they played. I felt it was my job, not only to play the music, but to give the audience a little background on the music and performers they enjoyed. This was one of the things that my audiences seemed to enjoy the most. Nothing was more rewarding than a call from a listener saying "I never knew that until you mentioned it on the air..." So, for those of you still on the air, take some time to learn a bit more about what you are playing....

Since there is no established standard concerning One Hit Wonders, I think I'll skip One Hit Wonder Day this year. I've got too much other research and homework to finish. Plus, I'm headed back to Wisconsin on Thursday for my 30th High School Reunion at Waukesha North and a weekend of drunken debauchery. Go Northstars!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WOKY Morphs Into AM 920 The Wolf

Starting at 6 am Thursday morning, WOKY in Milwaukee changes formats and shifts from Oldies to Classic Country. Radios all over Milwaukee will be tuned to the AM band as the station belts out Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton. What a change from the rockin' days of the 60's and 70's.

It will be interesting to see how AM 920 The Wolf fares against country-stronghold FM 106.1 WMIL.