One hit wonder

Playlist: B-day Nostalgia

My music taste has changed over the years. Rappers replaced boy bands and rock bands replaced rappers. There are some throwback songs I still listen to on a regular basis, but there are plenty I’ve forgotten and haven’t paid attention to since I was 12. Since it’s my birthday this month I decided to look back at songs I was obsessed with at one point. These are songs I thought were so amazing I would listen to them forever. Get ready for a wave of nostalgia!

“Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” – Will Smith

If you asked me who my favorite rapper was in the late 90s, my response would most likely be Will Smith. All because of this song. Looking back on it, the whole thing is kind of silly, but I can get why I liked it so much. It’s fun, catchy, and still makes you want to copy Smith’s dance moves (even though they weren’t that great). This single, along with the equally fun “Miami,” is what prompted me to buy the album Big Willie Style. Though I haven’t listened to it in years, I remember thinking it was hella cool. Perhaps I’ll need to revisit it some day…

“All Star” – Smash Mouth

This was my top song for about two years. It was all over the radio and Nickelodeon and I loved every minute of it. I don’t even remember that it appeared on the soundtrack for the mediocre film Mystery Men. All I cared about was that it was catchy, easy to remember, and fun to sing. I don’t think the song is terrible now, but I definitely overdid it.  It makes me nostalgic for a time when Nicktoons ruled the airways and buying the latest Beanie Baby were my only worries, but I don’t listen to it so much anymore.

“Every Morning” – Sugar Ray

Honestly, any song by Sugar Ray would work here, but I think this one was my favorite. This was one of those songs I jammed out to in my mom’s car on the way back from my uncle’s house. No matter how shitty I was feeling, Sugar Ray were there to pick me right back up. There was even a point when I wanted their album (I never got it, btw). Not only were they cool, but frontman Mark MacGrath was hot or at least I thought so at the time. I still love their songs and they still know how to put me in a good mood, but I’ve moved on to better bands.

“No Diggity” – Blackstreet

I have no idea what it was about this song that made me dance and bob my head so much. Something about the intense piano riff and the chorus of “no diggity” stuck in my head. Even now it’s still one of my favorite throwback songs from the 90s. The “Hey-yo” part was infectious and the video with the puppets was just weird. (Why were they puppets?) Of course I had no idea what the song was about at the time and now I have no idea why my mom let me listen to it so much.

“Drive” – Incubus

This was one of my first forays into rock music or at least I thought so at the time. “Drive” was the first song I ever heard by Incubus and I was addicted to it. I just loved singing the chorus as loud as Brandon Boyd did. When I got older, it was this single that convinced me Incubus was worth getting into and I don’t regret it. It’s still one of my favorite Incubus songs and I still sing the chorus as loud as I can. Also, I had a little crush on Boyd. I should’ve expected that since he was shirtless in the video.

“No Scrubs” – TLC

As I revealed in my CrazySexyCool review, TLC were my absolute favorite girl group before the Spice Girls. I loved them even more when they released this snarky, catchy song. When this song hit, all the girls in my class sang on the school playground with the faintest idea of what a scrub actually was. Another reason I loved the song so much was Left Eye’s verse. She was always my favorite in the band, so I sat and practiced her rap to impress everyone at school. It’s still a great song and I’m glad I never got rid of my Fanmail album.

“All Day” – Lisa Loeb

The adorable Lisa Loeb is most remembered for her single “Stay ( I Miss You),” but I’ll always remember her for this song straight from the Rugrats Movie Soundtrack. I can’t remember where I first heard the song, but I went crazy for it. Not only did I buy the soundtrack just for it, I even started wearing my hair in loop braids like she does in the video. I even stole a pair of my mom’s glasses because they looked like hers. I was completely enamored with her and the song. I still think she’s adorable as hell and the song has aged rather well.

“Mambo No 5” – Lou Bega

I’m not even ashamed I liked this song so much. I even recorded it off the radio just to hear it daily. I can’t really explain what it was about it aside from it’s an earworm of a song. Even now it’s still a lot of fun. I remember there being a Disney version with Mickey Mouse, which was just ridiculous and couldn’t top the Bega version. And yes, I did try to fit my name in the song somewhere and it never worked. It’s probably better that I never figured it out.

“Bring it All” – Blaque

It seems back in the 90s I was a sucker for girl groups. I even had the terrible Dream album; I don’t even want to go there. But this was another one of those groups where I rushed to get the album. They had a good number of hit songs, like “808,” but this is the one I still love. And yes, it is because it features JC Chasez AKA my favorite member of Nsync. Honestly, he’s the best part of the song, which is why it’s a shame the video doesn’t feature him singing the verse. Similar to TLC, rapper Natasha was my favorite from the band and oddly enough Left Eye was her mentor. Unfortunately, she passed away also. Kind of weird.

“Heartbreaker” – Mariah Carey

Since my mom had all her albums at the time, I was a bit of a Mariah Carey fan back in the day. I was amazed she could hit those high notes and even asked my mom “How does she do that?!” There’s no doubt about the amount of number one hits she has, but this one captivated my young heart. The video was funny, Mariah sounded great, and the song was fun to dance to. This was another one of those times I begged my mom to get me the Rainbow album just so I could listen to this on repeat. In case you were wondering, no, I never got it. And just for the record, I don’t think Ariana Grande is the next Mariah Carey.

“Ride Wit Me” – Nelly

In the early 2000s as the boy band phase disintegrated, I got more into rap and Nelly was at the forefront. I actually followed his career up until Sweat/Suit. Though I don’t listen to him anymore this will remain my favorite song of his. This is another one I can’t explain aside from I thought Nelly was cool at the time. Plus, it was fun to yell “Ay, must be the money” during long car rides. Of course since I was used to the clean version of the song, I was in for a shock when I got the unedited album. Oops.

“Party Up (Up in Here)” – DMX

Before he got in trouble repeatedly for petty crimes, DMX gave us one of the best songs of the 2000’s. The song is just so damn infectious, especially with the memorable chorus of “Y’all gon make me lose my mind/up in here/up in here.” It’s funny the song became so popular since the clean version was made up of random sound effects, like DMX barking and for some reason I loved it. Every time it came on the radio, I cranked it up slightly annoying everyone in the car. It’s this song that made DMX one of my favorite rappers at the time, even though I didn’t really like his other songs. Listening to it now, it’s still a great track and one I won’t hesitate to turn the volume up.

“If I Ever Fall in Love” – Shai

I realize I was way too young to really understand what the song was about, but when I was 11 this song blew me away. I loved the harmonies, the singing, and the fact it was acapella. At the time, I didn’t know many groups who did that and thought Shai was pretty special. I still think it sounds good as hell years later, but as someone who was into bubblegum pop at the time, I don’t understand how this song became one of my favorites.

“Candy Rain” – Soul For Real

I think I first heard this song on Nickelodeon when they played the video between shows and it was too damn catchy not to fall in love with. Sure, they had dumb dance moves, weren’t the best singers, and seemed to be going for a Jackson 5 thing, but for a small time in the 90s, it was the best thing I ever heard. Since it was released in 1994 it foreshadowed my love of Nsync and BSB that would come later in the decade. Guess I’m a sucker for five guys harmonizing.

“Jump” – Kriss Kross

No matter what decade it is, the media is always floored by kids who can rap. In comes Kriss Kross, two boys who decided wearing their pants backwards was hella fly. This is another song I’m not really sure how I got into. Maybe it was the simple command of “jump jump” I found so intoxicating. It’s easy to follow and something I knew how to do. I’m sure part of the reason I liked the song was the duo made a cameo in Michael Jackson’s “Jam” video. If Michael Jackson thought they were okay, then they were okay in my book too. Now, the song reminds me of the loss of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, who died in 2013. R.I.P. Kelly.


Playlist: One Hit Wonders – Rock Edition

The world of one hit wonders is strange and wonderful. It’s a mystery how an artist can have a song, no matter how good or stupid it is, that captivates the world only to have them seemingly disappear months later. There are too many one hit wonders to cover, so let’s start with with rock artists who found major success with just one song. Some may not consider them one hit wonders, but if they’re known for one major song then they’re fair game.

“No Rain” – Blind Melon

Even if you don’t know the band or even the name of their hit single, you probably know the song. Or at least the album cover. Yes, it’s the one with the bee girl. Blind Melon were a decent enough alt rock band before they gained mainstream attention and fame thanks to this song. Because it was such a success the album reached number three on the Billboard 200. The track is still really popular and is considered one of the biggest songs of the 90s. It’s catchy, has a nice, flowing melody, and low key music that’s relaxing. Though they released “I Wonder” and “Change” as follow up singles, neither one could match the success of this song.

“Butterfly” – Crazy Town

Thanks to Linkin Park and their collaboration with Jay-Z, combining rock with rap was a popular option for bands in the early 2000s. Crazy Town came at the right time with their only hit single “Butterfly.” This song was all over the radio and middle school dances during the time. The idea of the song is pretty much “Wow! These ‘hardcore’ guys are being sensitive” because butterflies equal sensitivity, right? Though the song is on the cheesy side the hook is what gets you and keeps you singing it today.

“Cult of Personality” – Living Colour

Though Living Colour continued to release albums and even have one coming out this year, this song remains their biggest hit. Unless you’re a hardcore fan, you’d be hard pressed to name their other songs. At least the song kicks ass! It shook up airwaves when it was released in 1988. Strong vocals, intricate guitars, and blazing solos are only part of what makes this track so good. Unfortunately, the band faced discrimination since many found it hard to believe they were black. At least they haven’t let it stop them from making music.

“Sex and Candy” – Marcy Playground

This song was everywhere in the 90s. I actually remember hearing it when I was little and thinking it was a super dirty song based on the title. The single became the band’s most notable hit and one of the most popular songs of the era. Surprisingly, the band have continued to release new music with their latest album coming out in 2012, but like most of the artists here, they would never reach the heights they did with this song. Now, you can find their self-titled debut in thrift stores across America.

“Everything About You” – Ugly Kid Joe

This song gained popularity after being featured in Wayne’s World. The lyrics about hating everything along with the upbeat, melodic music make it a pretty catchy song. Listening to the song now, it’s pretty ridiculous. Singer sounds like what would happen if Anthony Kiedis fronted a glam metal band. In fact they look like they were a hair metal band disguised as a grunge band. They released two more albums during the 90s before calling it quits. They reunited in 2010 and are putting out a new record this year. Who asked for that?

“Tubthumping” – Chumbawamba

This is a song that refuses to die. Unlike a lot of the songs on the playlist, this one can still be regularly heard at sporting events and movie trailers that try too hard to be funny. With punchy music and the memorable verse of “I get knocked down/but I get up again/you’re never gonna keep me down” the song is irresistible. Whether you want to sing it or not, you’ll end up doing it anyway. It’s that infectious. The British band released other singles, but none of them match the success of this one. They actually have a lengthy discography that goes back to the 80s. Who knew.

“Headstrong” – Trapt

This is one of those rock songs you listened to in middle school and thought you were a bad ass. Released in 2002, the single was pretty popular and was featured in many films and video games. It even managed to win two Billboard Music Awards. Of course, the band continued making more music, including a new album coming out this year, but they are still remembered for this single.

“Roll to Me” – Del Amitri

By song title alone, you may not recognize it, but as soon as you hear the opening verse you can hear the collective groan of the world. The Scottish alternative rock band released this gem in 1995 and it’s been used in rom-com trailers ever since. It seems to be the go-to song when movies are looking for something playful, upbeat, and bright sounding. It’s been overused so much that TV shows have started poking fun at it. Whereas once you loved the song, now it makes you cringe.

“Mississippi Queen” – Mountain

If you’re like me, you first learned about this song from Rock Band. With blazing guitar licks and plenty of cowbell, the song is a sleazy, dirty track to jam out to. It appeared on the band’s debut album Climbing! and reached the 21 spot on the Billboard charts. Surprisingly, the band never had another hit as big as that one. They seem like one of those groups that should have a ton of hits based on the awesomeness of this single. They were releasing albums up until 2007. The song has been covered by the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Ministry, and W.A.S.P.

“Stacy’s Mom” – Fountains of Wayne

The sad thing about this hit single is it took Fountains of Wayne 10 years to reach mainstream audiences. The band formed in 1996 and already released two albums prior to this 2003 hit. Written as a tribute to The Cars’ “Just What I Needed,” the song is catchy and with a topic about lusting after a friend’s mother, is quirky. The song was so hot that by the end of the year everyone wanted them to shut up about this girl’s mom.

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” – Iron Butterfly

It’s one of the most well known songs in rocks music history. Everyone knows it along with its hilarious origin story. It was even used in a classic Simpsons episode. The psychedelic keys, the weird title, and the wavering vocals make it memorable and the only reason we know of Iron Butterfly. The song was so big it led to their second album of the same name, to sell over three million copies at the end of 1970. They released a few more albums before breaking up in 1973. Oddly enough, like many artists on this list the band is back together and are currently working on a new album.

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve

This one is a weird entry. This popular track that took orchestral samples from “The Last Time” arranged by David Whitaker, ended up being the British band’s only chart topping hit in the States. The video for the song also received major airplay on MTV, mainly because it was Richard Ashcroft walking down the street being a dick to people. It turns out in their native land, The Verve have several hit singles, including “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Lucky Man.” This seems to be the case with a lot of overseas acts.

“Paralyzer” – Finger Eleven

Finger Eleven seemed to crop up out of nowhere thanks to this song, which mixes rock guitars and pop melodies. Even though the song got them mainstream attention in the States it wasn’t their debut single. In fact, the track comes from their fifth album Them vs You vs Me. The band has been active since the mid-90s in Canada, but it took this catchy song to launch their success. We haven’t heard much from them since.

“Face Down” – The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Though the band released their fourth album last year, they are still known for this 2006 hit. Dealing with domestic violence, the song features upbeat, fast guitars and melodic pop inspired vocals. It’s a freaking earworm. No matter how much you may not like it, you still find yourself singing it whenever it plays. The song peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured in several video games, including Saints Row 2. After this song, most forgot about the band.

“The Reason” – Hoobastank

This is another controversial choice for one hit wonder, but unless you’re a fan, it’s hard to name another massive hit from this band. Their debut single “Crawling in the Dark” did well enough, but it was this song that made everyone, including soccer moms, dig the band. Listening to it now, it’s still a pretty good song. It’s sweet, melodic, and mellow. It was so popular it reached # 2 on the charts. Since then, they’ve had some singles that have charted, such as “So Close, so Far” and “The Letter,” but they’ll always be remembered for this hit.

What’s you favorite rock one hit wonder? Is there one I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Nine Cover Songs That Launched Careers

Everyone loves a good cover song and there are countless amazing ones out there that outshine the original. But the thing that makes a cover memorable is when it’s the first song that an artist does or is largely responsible for their new found success. Whether they did it out of pressure from a record company or just because they wanted to put a spin on one of their favorite songs, these are nine artists who got their big break with a cover song. I know there are a lot more I’m missing, but these are the ones that stick out most in my mind.

9. “Wicked Game”- HIM

This hit for Chris Issaks was already hot, but Finnish rock band HIM tossed in some electric guitars and picked up the pace to give it a hard rock edge. It’s not really the song that got them popular in America, but the cover is responsible for the band being discovered in their native homeland. It first appeared on their debut Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 and it went over so well they re-recorded for their second album Razorblade Romance, which was responsible for their popularity in the US. Overtime, it has become one of their well known tracks all because they thought it was a great song.

8. “Torn” – Natalie Imbruglia

This was a hot song for a while during the late 90’s from a then unknown Aussie singer Natalie Imbruglia. This 1995 Endaswap song (I haven’t heard of them either) was covered by the singer for her debut album Left of the Middle. It was a huge success with Imbruglia hitting it big in America. It was catchy, sweet, and Imbrugalia somehow made it adorable. She even received a Grammy nomination for the track. Unfortunately, this was the only hit she had in the states, but the song launched her career and allowed her to keep up her success overseas.

7. “I Fought the Law”- The Clash

Though this song has been covered numerous times from the likes of Green Day and Johnny Cash, the most notable version comes from The Clash. The band was just establishing their career when they recorded the song. It first appeared on their EP The Cost of Living in the UK. When it came time for their debut, which for some reason was their second album in the US, it was added as a track for the states. This small decision helped them cross over to US audiences and helped sealed their place in punk rock history. Aside from the classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go” it’s still one of their most notable songs.

6. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

This English duo would probably be forgotten if it weren’t for their cover of this 1964 Gloria Jones song. By slowing down the pace and adding in irresistible synthesizers the duo really made the song their own. It’s one of those tracks where you’re surprised to learn it’s actually a cover. Soft Cell succeeded in having one of the best and most memorable songs of the 80’s that is still well loved today. Since then it’s been covered numerous times by Marilyn Manson and The Pussycat Dolls, but Soft Cell’s version remains the best.

  1. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

To be honest I had no idea this was a cover until I started this list. This just shows how Lauper successfully made the song her own. The track was originally written and performed by Robert Hazard in 1979. Cyndi wanted to do it for her debut album and with some minor changes to the lyrics, she made the song all about girl power. It’s still one of her most recognizable songs today and is single handily responsible for launching her career in the 80’s. There have been countless covers of this track, but Cyndi does it best. Besides, no one can sound as bubbly as she does while singing “Oh, girls just want to have fun.”

  1. “I Love Rock n Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

When Joan Jett decided to leave punk group The Runaways for a solo career she couldn’t have picked a better song to cover than this one. It has all the attitude and sass you expect from her. It’s like the song was made for her. it was originally performed in 1975 by Arrows before Jett made everyone forget this fact when her version was released in 1982. Even though she already had an established career with The Runaways, this song helped her launch her solo career, which is still going strong to this day.

  1. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Marilyn Manson

Back in 1983, this was a wonderfully, catchy, synth filled song by British duo The Eurythmics fronted by the lovely Annie Lennox. Fast forward to 1995 and suddenly the song was darker, scarier, and an absolute nightmare thanks to Marilyn Manson. Even though it comes from their remix EP Smells Like Children, their creepy take on the tune was enough to get them the recognition of MTV who put the accompanying bizarre video in rotation on the station. Thanks to this, Marilyn Manson soon became a household name and one of the most talked about figures of the 1990’s.

  1. “Love Buzz” – Nirvana

If it wasn’t for their cover of an obscure song from the 60’s, then Nirvana might not be the legendary band they are today. Back in 1988 when they were recording their debut Bleach for indie label Sub Pop, they covered this song originally done by Shocking Blue in 1969. It was then released as part of Sub Pop’s singles club even though the band wanted “Big Cheese” for the A-side. Needless to say, the song was a hit and got rock magazines buzzing, especially overseas. Thanks to this little-known track Nirvana went on to create bigger and better things.

  1. “Twist and Shout” – The Beatles

This Top Notes song is part of the reason why Beatlemania hit the US. The band covered the song for their first UK album Please Please Me. Thanks to its intense vocal performance, it is regarded as one of the best examples of British rock n roll. But it wasn’t until their 1964 Ed Sullivan performance that got the band popular overseas. Since then they are often regarded as one of the best and most important bands in music history.

Honorable Mention:

“Higher Ground” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This wasn’t included in the list because by the time it was released the Red Hot Chili Peppers had an established career with three albums under their belt that were met with moderate success. But it wasn’t until this cover from their fourth album Mother’s Milk that they hit the big time. The psychedelic and funk filled track got the guys MTV recognition, who then constantly played the trippy video. This song allowed their next album Blood Sugar Sex Magik to reach the top of the charts and to have the long history they have today.