The top 10 one-hit wonder bands from Toronto
One-hit wonders from Toronto share in the age-old tragic tradition in which a glorious rise to the top of the charts gives way to a whimper-filled fall from grace and the public eye in general. Lucky for us, these hits are so conducive to nostalgia that they'll never really fade away — even as their creators have slipped into oblivion. Obviously there's a certain subjectivity to any list like this (there are, after all, more than 10 local bands who've suffered this Roman candle-like trajectory), so please add your nominations to the comments section.
Here are the top 10 one hit wonders from Toronto.
10. Boys Brigade - "Melody"
OK, OK I admit it — if this song wasn't my namesake, I likely wouldn't have included it on this list. It rarely gets radio play and is arguably one of the worst songs ever written, but it occupies a very special place in my heart. The Boys Brigade was a new wave band in the 80s who enlisted the help of Rush's Geddy Lee in the production of the album on which "Melody" appeared. The song was a top 40 hit in Canada before it stole the band's staying power and the Boys Brigade danced away into obscurity. (Note: this band is not to be confused with the Boys' Brigade, the Christian Youth organization that outranks the band according to Google's search results.)
9. Platinum Blonde - "Crying Over You"
So let's start the debates in the comments section with Platinum Blonde's "Crying Over You." Let me first point out that I am in my mid 20s, so to those of you who, like my dad, believe Platinum Blonde has more than a handful of hit songs and should not be included on this list I say, "sorry, you're wrong." Why? Listen to the radio today — if you're going to hear a song by Platinum Blonde, it's going to be "Crying Over You." "Not In Love," on the other hand, is (now) a song by Crystal Castles. Sorry, Dad.
8. The Pursuit of Happiness - "I'm An Adult Now"
So this band is technically from Edmonton but they didn't take off until they moved to Toronto, so they count, OK? Plus, this song is pure gold: "I can sleep in till noon anytime that I want / Though there's not many days that I do / Gotta get up and take on that world / When you're an adult, it's no cliche, it's the truth." In fact, the song was so good it made it to Canadian charts twice: once in 1986 as an independent single, and again in 1989, after the band signed with Chrysalis Records. Although The Pursuit of Happiness never disbanded, they've never again had a hit like "I'm An Adult Now." Most recently, they released a Greatest Hits album. And yes, it included both releases of "I'm An Adult Now."
7. Toronto - "Your Daddy Don't Know"
A Toronto-based band called Toronto? That's cool. The band hit their musical peak in the early 80s with "Your Daddy Don't Know" — a song that was covered by another Canadian band, the New Pornographers, in 2002. The 1982 song was among the top 5 hits on Canadian charts and reached number 77 in the U.S. The band was basically forced to break up in 1985 when their record label Solid Gold Records filed for bankruptcy protection. Solid gold it was not.
6. Love Inc. - "You're A Superstar"
Yes, Love Inc. had a pretty major hit with their first single "Broken Bones" but they reached the highly coveted international one-hit wonder status with "You're A Superstar," which they released in 1998. The song was the band's only hit in the United States and let's face it, a song isn't really a hit unless Americans hear it, right? The Eurodance tune proved that you are indeed a superstar...until you're not. After releasing a few lesser-known songs, the band officially broke up in 2000. Most recently, band member Simone Denny provided vocals for the theme song from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
5. Choclair - "Let's Ride"
Canadian hip hop pioneer Choclair has had more than one hit but I'm sure a simple word association test would result in the pairing of "Choclair" and "Let's Ride." Released in 1995 and produced by Kardinal Offishall, the song earned worldwide respect. Choclair's latest album, Flagship, was released in 2006 but aside from the occasional appearance on Flow 93.5, his music has entered into obscurity.
4. jackSOUL - "Can't Stop"
jackSOUL was an R&B group that peaked in the mid to late 90s with their hit "Can't Stop." The cheery lyrics and dance-friendly beat nearly nabbed a Juno but ultimately lost out to Canadian music princess Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird." Hindsight being 20/20, I think "Can't Stop" was robbed. jackSOUL's fate was troubled, to say the least: after a car accident in 2007 that left him in a coma for weeks, lead singer Haydain Neale made a full recovery. But two years later, in November 2009, he died of lung cancer, just prior to the release of their final album SOULmate.
3. Alannah Myles - "Black Velvet"
On top of inspiring early 90s Canadian fashion, Alannah Myles and her hit "Black Velvet" basically sum up the whole period in pop music. With big hair, tight leather vests, and strong rock ballad vocals, Myles belted out an ode to the King of Rock himself, Elvis Presley (black velvet is a reference to Elvis's hair). The song won a Grammy in 1990 for best female rock vocal performance and topped the U.S. Billboard Top 40 chart for two weeks. Alannah Myles' last album was 2008's, ahem, Black Velvet, which featured an updated version of the classic hit. She continues to tour and will be performing in Hamilton in May.
2. Snow - "Informer"
Can you believe Snow's "Informer" is over 20 years old? Released in 1992, just before Snow spent a year in prison on assault charges, the song spent seven consecutive weeks on the U.S. Billboard Top 40 chart. The album on which it appeared, 12 Inches of Snow, sold over 8 million copies worldwide and "Informer" has been recorded twice in the Guinness Book of World Records as the top-selling reggae single in America. The song was also included on VH1's list of 100 greatest songs of the 90s. Much like those white flakes that fall from the sky, Snow melted and fell off the map (in North America, that is — he was actually pretty big in Japan for a while.)
1. Len - "Steal My Sunshine"
Although Snow offered some pretty steep competition for top spot, the deal breaker comes in the form of Len's Wikipedia page. Quite literally, the page consists of two sentences, including this rather apt knowledge bomb: "They are best known as a one-hit wonder for their 1999 song 'Steal My Sunshine'." Even The Boys Brigade have a longer wikiography! In all seriousness, the music video for "Steal My Sunshine" won the Much Music Video Award. Featuring a Toronto summertime beach scene found only in dreams — also known as Florida — the video, like the song, was made up of sunshine and happiness (although the lyrics, if you can make sense of them, might be a bit sombre).
In October 2012, Len released "It's My Neighbourhood" — with a video set in real-life Toronto — that kind of sounds like Annie's and Jay Z's "Hard Knock Life." Could it be the band is making a comeback? I doubt it. But they did make the #1 spot on this list, which is something....
Got a one-hit wonder to suggest? Let us know in the comments.