I like to watch VH1 Classics, and I like to listen to the One Hit Wonders channel on Moontaxi Radio. So I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually hear "Take the Skinheads Bowling" twice in one week. Nevertheless, it's not a song one expects to suddenly drop into common rotation.
The Moontaxi One Hit Wonders channel is fascinating, thanks in no small part to the cheerful insouciance of the programmers display toward their format. One would expect a radio station devoted to one hit wonders to play selections by, you know, one hit wonders, but the fine folks at Moontaxi have elected to adopt a definition of "one hit wonder" that is overwhelmingly broad, allowing themselves a greater degree of latitude than you might expect. For example:
- They accept the best known song of certain bands as hits, regardless of where they placed on the chart or how much airplay they received. "Take the Skinheads Bowling" is a fine example of this; it's arguably Camper Van Beethoven's best-known song, but to my knowledge it never charted anywhere. Other recent selections falling into this category include "Another Girl, Another Planet" by the Only Ones, "Echo Beach" by Martha and the Muffins, and "Doot Doot" by Freur. This policy also allows the programming of such relatively low-charting songs as "Nice Legs, Shame About the Face" by Monks (#19) and "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'n' the Tears (#15).
- They play songs that were hits only overseas, or on US charts other than the Billboard Pop Singles or Hot 100 charts. Earlier today I heard a song called "One Draw" by Rita Marley, which according to the All Music Guide topped the Billboard Club Play Singles chart in 1982. This accounts for my recently having heard "A Good Heart" by Feargal Sharkey (U.K. #1), "Lucky Number" (U.K. #3) "Come Day O' Night" by Bamboo (a "minor hit" in Canada, and one so obscure that AMG lists neither the song nor the band), and "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" by Ian Dury (U.K. top ten).
- They accept one-time collaborations by artists with many individual hits, like "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" by George Michael and Aretha Franklin, "Justified and Ancient" by KLF and Tammy Wynette, and "Burning Down the House" by the Cardigans and Tom Jones. (Not to mention the song playing as I type this.) This might also explain why I've heard them play songs by side projects of different members of Duran Duran: "Some Like It Hot" by Power Station and "Election Day" by Arcadia.
- When all else fails, they just throw out the "one hit" part and play whatever they want. There's no other way to explain my having heard songs on the One Hit Wonder channel by Salt 'n' Pepa, Wilson Phillips, Adam Ant, Madness, and the Charlie Daniels Band.
By far the most inexplicable thing I've ever heard on this channel was "Say Say Say," the 1983 duet featuring Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. Never mind that they have almost fifty number one songs to their credit (that number includes their work with the Beatles and the Jackson 5); under the one-time collaboration exception mentioned above, they would still be eligible. But Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson have collaborated twice. I've been thinking about it for a whole day now, and I'm baffled as to how it got on the air. I suppose you could argue that "Say Say Say" is a Paul McCartney song that featured Michael Jackson, while "The Girl Is Mine" is a Michael Jackson song featuring Paul McCartney. But that's so flimsy a rationale I'm almost embarrassed to mention it.