The Friday 5×2: 1978 One-Hit Wonders

So, we’re almost at the end of the Seventies. 1978 was the year I graduated from college (BBA, Loyola University Chicago), got married, and started working for a living. In fact, I had two jobs, my first lasting all of six months. I seem to have a better recollection of the music from this year, and there were some iconic songs, and a few that went on to become hits for other artists. Here are ten of them.

  1. Randy Newman, “Short People” We had a bridesmaid in our wedding who was all of 4’11” tall who hated this song. Interesting that Randy Newman is considered a one-hit wonder, considering the number of songs he’s written that were hits for other artists. This was a #1 hit when we got married.
  2. Johnny Paycheck, “Take This Job And Shove It” Jonathon Brandmeier, who was a radio personality in Chicago, had a weekly feature called the “Shove-It Line” on Fridays, where people who were fed up with the week would call in and tell their bosses where they could stick their jobs. Usually the last person was someone who was celebrating their last day on the job. I was tempted to call in for more than a couple of jobs. This was a #1 hit on the Country charts in the US and Canada, his only #1 in a career that started in the Sixties.
  3. Steve Martin & The Toot Uncommon, “King Tut” A real classic. This is the performance from Saturday Night Live that had Mary and I gasping for air, we were laughing so hard. That’s Lou Marini, former saxophonist for Blood, Sweat & Tears and The Blues Brothers Band, emerging from the sarcophagus for his solo. (I’m not sure that’s the “sarcophagus,” but it sounds better than “mummy case.”) Reached #14 on the Hot 100.
  4. Exile, “Kiss You All Over” Exile reached #1 for four weeks in October, their only success on the pop charts. They moved on to country music in the Eighties after two follow-up singles failed to reach the Top 20.
  5. Nick Gilder, “Hot Child In The City” This was Nick Gilder’s only Top 20 hit in the US, though he reached #1 in his native Canada with “Roxy Roller” in 1976. The song was featured in the 1984 movie Angel (“honor student by day – hooker by night!”), one of my guilty pleasures (it was actually pretty good), from which the clips that comprise the video were taken.
  6. John Paul Young, “Love Is In The Air” Scottish-born Australian pop singer Young had his one taste of international success with this, which went to #7 in the US. I think of this video whenever I hear it, because you can hear it starting at 1:15. Worth it to watch if only to see how far we’ve come in computer graphics in the last 35 years.
  7. Alicia Bridges, “I Love The Nightlife” I’m breaking my own “no disco!” rule for this one, mostly because I remember this SCTV sketch (you can hear Eugene Levy-as-Perry Como’s version at 1:00). Alicia reached #2 with this and had further success on the dance chart.
  8. Patti Smith Group, “Because The Night” Reached #17 in June, helping sales of her Easter album and giving her second thoughts about retiring. The song was written by Bruce Springsteen and later covered by 10,000 Maniacs in 1993 for an episode of MTV Unplugged, the version I remenber best.
  9. Walter Egan, “Magnet And Steel” Walter was backed by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on his one Top 20 hit, which spent 22 weeks on the chart and went as high as #8.
  10. LeBlanc & Carr, “Falling” Lenny LeBlanc had been in a band with Pete Carr, who was a producer and session guitarist in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Carr convinced LeBlanc to join him, and they recorded three singles together, including this, which reached #8. They were evidently bumped from the flight that killed several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, after whih LeBlanc became a born-again Christian and started recording Christian-themed music. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember hearing this one.

And that’s your Friday 5×2 for December 29, 2017. Happy New Year!

16 thoughts on “The Friday 5×2: 1978 One-Hit Wonders

  1. I didn’t realize Randy Newman had written short people! I remember that song, of course, but have no special fondness for it. Newman’s theme song for the TV show “Monk” is fun, and well do I know his “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story.” I must have listened to the radio a bit in 1978 because a number of these songs ring a bell.

    Happy New Year to you and Mary!

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  2. I know so many of these! My mom, who was 5’2” at her best, agreed with the lyrics of short people which made me laugh. I love many of these one hit wonders but I don’t recall the last 2 from just the titles. I have to listen to them which I will.

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    1. I have no doubt that all of these were hits nationally (in the US, anyway), but a few of these didn’t reach the top 20 in Chicago, so they didn’t get played as often. Kind of a vicious circle: a song doesn’t get popular unless it gets played,and it doesn’t get played if it isn’t popular. That’s why going to Canada was always a trip: I would hear top 20 hits in Toronto

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      1. During the budget process, we tell the accountants how much we’re going to spend during the year. By the end of the day today, we have to tell them when we’re going to spend it. It’s always a drill, because we might know that we are buying a new server, but it’s hard to say when the best time to do that will be.

        We do that so they can report to the Board in terms of “Planned vs. Actual”

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    1. That last one was a mystery to me, too. It must have been popular in some part of the country, because it was a Top 20 hit nationwide, but Chicago probably didn’t get the memo.

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  3. Those were the good days of Saturday Night Live. I haven’t watched it in years. Love a couple of these songs, but most especially Magnet and Steel since it has my girl Stevie Nicks singing. Thanks for the flashbacks, John.

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  4. “Short People”, not one of my favorite songs mainly because I got tired of hearing it. I had a roommate back then and she was 4’9″ and she hated it. Poor thing was constantly teased. I love the song “I Love the Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges. Excellent walk down memory lane, John.

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