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45 Greatest Forgotten Pop Hits Of The Eighties

Most of these acts were one-hit wonders, but they were the reasons why the '80s rocked.

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1. "Funky Town" by Pseudo Echo (1987)

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From the country that brought us INXS and Men at Work, Pseudo Echo was another Australian New Wave band whose biggest American chart single was this hard-charging rock remake of the '70s classic disco hit from Lipps Inc. Even though its state-of-the-art '80s sound hasn't particularly aged well, this over-the-top version of "Funky Town" went to #6 in America.

2. "Holiday" by the Other Ones (1987)

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Not to be confused with the Grateful Dead offshoot project that later became just the Dead, the Other Ones were an Australian-German group who had their only U.S. hit (#29) in 1987 with the quirky "Holiday."

3. "Let Him Go" by Animotion (1984)

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The West Coast synth-pop band Animotion released one of the decade's most era-defining pop songs in the sexy "Obsession," which reached the Top 10. Its follow-up was the driving rocker "Let Him Go," which wasn't as successful as its predecessor (it peaked at #39), but it's still a great track that deserves a second listen. (The group would score another hit with "Room to Move" in 1989, but with different lead singers). Today, the group still performs.

4. "Breakout" by Swing Out Sister (1987)

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Swing Out Sister was part of the '80s British blue-eyed soul genre that included Everything But the Girl, Basia and Breathe. Led by singer Corinne Drewery and keyboardist Andy Cornell, the group's biggest U.S. hit was the infectious "Breakout," which reached #6 in late 1987. The duo is still active today.

5. "Jungle Boy" by John Eddie (1986)

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Cut from the same musical cloth as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Bryan Adams when it comes to blue-collar rock and roll, John Eddie released a swaggering anti-authority rocker in "Jungle Boy." Unfortunately, the song only peaked at #52 on the Billboard chart, but Eddie still performs to this day.

6. "You Don't Know" by Scarlett and Black (1988)

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The English pop duo Scarlett and Black -- which consisted of Robin Hild and Sue West -- had its first and only Top 40 hit (#20) with the whimsical "You Don't Know." As far as the rest of the band's career, that was all she wrote.

7. "More Than Just the Two of Us" by Sneaker (1981)

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From Los Angeles, the group Sneaker was part of the SoCal smooth rock/yacht rock genre of the late '70s and early '80s that included such alums as Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Pablo Cruise, and Ambrosia. Sung by keyboardist Michael Carey Schneider, this tender love ballad was the band's only charting Top 40 single, peaking at #34.

8. "Soul City" by the Partland Brothers (1987)

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A heartfelt yet sobering look at pleasure-seeking escapism during a decade characterized by greed and excess, the Partland Brothers' anthem-driven rocker "Soul City" should have been a bigger hit in the States beyond its #27 showing. The Canadian brother act of Chris and G.P. Partland still performs today.

9. "Mary's Prayer" by Danny Wilson (1987)

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This Scottish band took its name from the 1952 Frank Sinatra film Meet Danny Wilson and released this wonderful soul-laden ballad that peaked at #23 in 1987. The group split in the early '90s but have since reunited on a few occasions.

10. "Don't Shed a Tear" by Paul Carrack (1987)

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Compared to most of the acts on this list, British singer Paul Carrack isn't a one-hit wonder because of his work with bands such as Ace ("How Long"), Squeeze ("Tempted"), and Mike + the Mechanics ("Silent Running," "The Living Years"). On his own, Carrack scored his biggest hit in 1987 with "Don't Shed a Tear," a dynamic rocker that climbed up to #9 on the American Top 40.

11. "Love Changes (Everything)" by Climie Fisher (1988)

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The members of Climie Fisher had distinct pedigrees -- keyboardist Rob Fisher was a member of the British synth-pop duo Naked Eyes, and singer Simon Climie wrote "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," a #1 hit for Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Climie Fisher scored its only U.S. hit (#23) with the dazzling "Love Changes (Everything)" in 1988. Afterwards, Fisher returned to Naked Eyes; he died in 1999. Climie later became a collaborator with Eric Clapton and produced several of the guitar legend's albums.

12. "Hanging on a Heart Attack" by Device (1986)

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In the vein of Berlin and Animotion, Device's music was sexy synth-driven pop/rock -- the band featured Holly Knight, the hit songwriter for many artists including Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, and Heart. The group's only hit "Hanging on a Heart Attack," which was accompanied by a futuristic-looking video, reached #35 in 1986. Lead singer Paul Engemann would later join a new incarnation of Animotion.

13. "Baby Love" by Regina (1986)

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This dance-pop confection from 1986 could have been tailored-made for Madonna during her True Blue/Who's That Girl phase. Instead, the track, which reached the Top 10, was recorded by Brooklyn singer Regina Richards. Co-written by frequent Madonna collaborator Stephen Bray, "Baby Love" was Regina's first and only hit.

14. "Breakin'...There's No Stopping Us" by Ollie and Jerry (1984)

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The mid '80s gave us a number of breakdancing-influenced movies, and the film Breakin' was no exception. Its soundtrack featured this electronic dance/R&B song by the duo of Ollie Brown and Jerry Knight. Even if you can't imitate the amazing breakdancing moves depicted in the video, you'll automatically feel lifted by the track's beats and 'don't give up' message. "Breakin'...There's No Stopping Us" was the duo's sole hit, placing at #9 in 1984.

15. "Someday" by Glass Tiger (1986)

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The Canadian '80s rock band Glass Tiger isn't a one-hit wonder: it had a huge #2 hit back in 1986 with "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" -- which featured backing vocals by Bryan Adams. The follow-up, the power ballad "Someday," is perhaps not as memorable as "Don't Forget Me," but it did reach the Top 10 in the U.S. at #7.

16. "Strange But True" by Times Two (1988)

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Hailing from Point Reyes. California, Times Two -- the duo of Shanti Jones and Johnny Dollar -- broke through with its only hit, "Strange But True," from the X2 album. It's almost criminal that this insanely catchy track stalled at #21. (Times Two also released a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecillia" that also featured Paul Simon on backing vocals). Both former members are still active in music, with Johnny Dollar (now known as Giovanni Di Morente) leading his own group El Radio Fantastique.

17. "Right on Track" by the Breakfast Club (1987)

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This New York City-based band has nothing to do with the classic 1985 teen film of the same name by John Hughes -- it formed several years before the movie's release. The Breakfast Club is perhaps best known today for its only Top 10 hit, "Right on Track," which featured drummer Stephen Bray, a collaborator on many of Madonna's hits, including "Express Yourself" and "Into the Groove." In fact, Madonna was the Breakfast Club's early drummer.

18. "Dreamtime" by Daryl Hall (1986)

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Taking a break in the mid-'80s following a hugely successful run of hits as one-half of Hall and Oates, singer Daryl Hall released his second solo record Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine in 1986. Co-produced by Eurythmics' David A. Stewart, the album's biggest single was the dramatic and ornate "Dreamtime," which gave Hall his first and only solo Top 10 hit.

19. "Vienna Calling" by Falco (1985)

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The late Austrian pop star Falco earned his place in pop culture history thanks to the #1 smash "Rock Me Amadeus." But casual listeners may have forgotten another song of his, "Vienna Calling," which deserved a better fate than its #18 showing. Ironically, Falco's other famous song, "Der Komissar," never hit the American Top 40, though After the Fire's cover did back in 1983.

20. "Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young" by Fire Inc. (1984)

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The Walter Hill-directed drama Streets of Fire had the misfortune of being released in the same year along with such blockbusters as Purple Rain, Beverly Hills Cop, Gremlins, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The soundtrack of this 'rock and roll fable,' fared slightly better thanks to Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You." Another great song from the movie was the Wagnerian-opus "Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young," penned by Meatloaf collaborator Jim Steinman and recorded by the band Fire Inc.. Unfortunately, the song peaked at #80, but it remains a highlight from an underrated film.

21. "I Know There's Something Going On" by Frida (1982)

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Frida, of course, is singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad of the legendary Swedish pop group ABBA. As the group was winding down its career in the early '80s, Frida went solo with "I Know There's Something Going On," an explosive and driving hard-rock song produced by Phil Collins -- he also played drums and co-wrote two songs on her Something Going On album. It was Frida's only U.S. pop hit, but it landed at a respectable #13 in 1983.

22. "The Captain of Her Heart" by Double (1985)

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Today, a smooth jazz pop song from Europe is very unlikely to hit the American Top 20. But in 1986, Swiss duo Double accomplished that with the romantic and gentle "The Captain of Her Heart," which peaked at #16. Not surprisingly, it was the group's sole U.S. hit.

23. "I Don't Want to Be a Hero" by Johnny Hates Jazz (1988)

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Who said the '80s were all about narcissism? Johnny Hates Jazz, the British trio who scored its first big hit with "Shattered Dreams" in 1988, also released an anti-war/protest song "I Don't Want to Be a Hero." Sadly, it only reached #31 on the Billboard Top 40, but the song's serious message -- albeit dressed up in glossy pop -- still resonates. After a lengthy hiatus, Johnny Hates Jazz reformed a few years ago and released a comeback album, Magnetized, in 2013.

24. "Blue Kiss" by Jane Wiedlin (1985)

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Guitarist and singer Jane Wiedlin is certainly one of the most beloved members of the iconic Go-Go's. A year after she left the band, Wiedlin released her self-titled debut album in 1985. One of its singles was the delightful and dreamy "Blue Kiss," which unfortunately only made it to #77 on the Billboard chart. It would take another three years for Wiedlin to finally make it on to the Top 10 as a solo artist with the upbeat "Rush Hour."

25. "Emotion in Motion" by Ric Ocasek (1986)

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Taking a temporary back seat from his band's mostly New Wave-ish rock, Cars front man Ric Ocasek took a solo turn in 1986 with this sweet and lush ballad from his album This Side of Paradise. Coming from the Cars' main songwriter, "Emotion in Motion" naturally reached the Top 20 at #15, making it Ocasek's only solo hit.

26. "Stay the Night" by Benjamin Orr (1986)

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Ric Ocasek wasn't the only Cars member to go solo during the group's hiatus in the mid '80s. Bassist Benjamin Orr -- who sang lead on such band classics as "Drive," "Good Times Roll," and "Just What I Needed" -- also released his own single with the introspective "Stay the Night" from the album The Lace; it peaked at a respectable #24. It would be his sole solo hit during his lifetime as he died in 2000 from cancer.

27. "When the Heart Rules the Mind" by GTR (1986)

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This British rock band from the mid '80s had the titanic pairing of two legendary prog rock guitarists: Yes' Steve Howe and Genesis' Steve Hackett. This supergroup in the vein of Asia scored its biggest single in 1986 with the stadium-era anthem "When the Heart Rules the Mind," Unfortunately, GTR never followed-up on that success and broke up around 1987.

28. "Love's Got a Line On You" by Scandal (1982)

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Scandal, featuring singer Patty Smyth, is best known for such '80s New Wave hits as "Goodbye to You" and "The Warrior." But the band also released this gem of a single called "Love's Got a Line on You," which peaked at #59 on the Billboard chart in 1983. (An alternate version of the song featured a very young Jon Bon Jovi on guitar before heading to stardom). Patty Smyth went on to fame as a solo artist in the early '90s with "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough."

29. "Promises, Promises" by Naked Eyes (1983)

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This British synth-pop duo Naked Eyes found success across the pond with its remake of the Bacharach-David '60s classic "Always Something There to Remind Me." While it may seem easy to pigeonhole the act as a one-hit wonder, Naked Eyes had three other songs that entered the Top 40, including this powerful track about romantic betrayal in "Promises, Promises," which peaked at #11 in 1983. Keyboardist Rob Fisher, who would later go on to form Climie Fisher, died in 1999; singer Pete Byrne continues to perform as Naked Eyes.

30. "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" by Jermaine Stewart (1986)

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This very sexy and funky R&B track by Jermaine Stewart actually has an underlying message when you listen to it carefully. "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" reached #5 on the U.S. pop chart for the singer from Ohio, followed two years later with "Say It Again" in 1988. Sadly, Stewart died in 1997 at the age of 39.

31. "Motortown" by the Kane Gang (1987)

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Here's a really obscure song from the '80s by the British trio known as the Kane Gang. The soulful and ebullient "Motortown" was the group's first and last U.S. hit, peaking at #36 in 1987.

32. "Do You Want Crying" by Katrina and the Waves (1985)

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"Walking on Sunshine?" Katrina and the Waves, of course. That joyous anthem of the '80s is synonymous with this British-based band -- but the group also put out another great single in 1985, "Do You Want Crying," which peaked at #37 and had been part of the band's repertoire. Singer Katrina recently performed it as a solo artist for the recent Retro Futura tour.

33. "You Take Me Up" by Thompson Twins (1984)

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1984 was a great year for the Thompson Twins, one of the definitive New Wave bands of the era. The trio broke through with the Into the Gap album that yielded two Top 20 hits "Hold Me Now" and "Doctor, Doctor" -- as well as this underrated jewel "You Take Me Up" (#44). Recently singer Tom Bailey performed that song and Thompson Twins material from this past summer's Retro Futura show.

34. "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by Boy Meets Girl (1988)

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George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam may not be household names but they certainly played a pivotal role in the career of the late Whitney Houston during the '80s: they wrote two of the diva's biggest hits, "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)." As Boy Meets Girl, the duo reached the Top Ten (#5) as performers with the romantic "Waiting for a Star to Fall" in late 1988.

35. "Don't Tell Me Lies" by Breathe (1988)

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Breathe was one of a number of British blue-eyed soul bands that were popular in the mid to late '80s. Its first hits in the States were the ballads "Hands to Heaven" and "How Can I Fall" from the All That Jazz album -- both of which reached #2 and #3 respectively. In contrast, "Don't Tell Me Lies," was more upbeat and playful, and it earned the group another Top 10 single when it reached #10 in 1989. But those early successes weren't enough, and by the early '90s, Breathe gave out its last breath.

36. "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard on Me" by Juice Newton (1982)

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Somewhere after Dolly Parton, and before Faith Hill and Taylor Swift, Juice Newton was a successful country music crossover star, thanks to such hits as "Angel of the Morning," "The Sweetest Thing" and "Queen of Hearts." Also part of that string of successes was this yearning single, "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard on Me," which was accompanied by a hilarious, self-deprecating video. The song peaked at #7 in 1982.

37. "Lights Out" by Peter Wolf (1984)

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Peter Wolf has always been identified as the hip and charismatic front man of the J. Geils Band. Fresh off the success of the #1 smash "Centerfold," Wolf left J. Geils in 1983 and scored a #12 solo hit with this pop/dance/hip-hop hybrid. After a period of estrangement, Wolf reunited with the J. Geils Band while still maintaining his solo career.

38. "10-9-8" by Face to Face (1984)

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Another song from the '80s that deserved a better fate, the emotionally-charged "10-9-8," briliantly sung by Laurie Sargent, was this Boston band's only Top 40 hit, reaching #38 in the summer of 1984. Not to be confused with the punk band of the same name, the members of Face to Face also appeared in the cult movie Streets of Fire. Sargent would go on to be a member of Twinemen; guitarist Angelo Petraglia later became a producer for Kings of Leon.

39. "What About Love" by 'Til Tuesday (1986)

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Aimee Mann has come a long way from her days as the lead singer for the Boston-based New Wave band 'Til Tuesday, who was best known for the iconic '80s hit "Voices Carry." The group's underrated music and career were more than just that one song -- and the proof was this aching ballad "What About Love" (#26) from the Welcome Home album.

40. "Dressed for Success" by Roxette (1988)

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From the late '80s to early '90s, the pop duo Roxette was Sweden's biggest musical act since ABBA thanks to the #1 smash hits "The Look" and "Listen to Your Heart." Sandwiched in between was "Dressed for Success," an upbeat catchy rocker that fittingly characterized the latter half of the '80s. It went all the way up to #14 in America in 1989.

41. "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime" by the Korgis (1980)

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The name of the band sounds something like from a sci-fi movie, but the Korgis achieved success with the song "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime," a Top 5 hit in the band's native Britain; it did respectably well in the States, peaking at #18. While this lush song rarely gets played on mainstream American radio these days, it hit has been covered over the years by such artists as Richard Thompson, the Dream Academy, and Beck for the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

42. "Love in Siberia" by Laban (1986)

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The Danish-based synth-pop duo achieved success in their native land but had a very brief flirtation with the American charts with this sweeping infectious dance track (why Laban singer/songwriter Ivan Pedersen chose Siberia in particular for the song's lyrics and title is unknown). Amazingly, "Love in Siberia" only reached #88 on the Billboard chart -- maybe it had to do with the fact that this video was perhaps one of the most awfully-conceived ones in history. Regardless, "Love in Siberia" still heats up nearly 30 years later.

43. "Love Will Show Us How" by Christine McVie

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While her fellow Fleetwood Mac mates Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham scored high-profiled solo music careers in the early '80s, Christine McVie had success on her own with the release of her self-titled album from 1984. Christine McVie contained not only her Top 10 hit "Got a Hold on Me," but also this bouncy pop tun, "Love Will Show Us How," whose video showed a funny side to the singer/keyboardist.

44. "Let's Go All the Way" by Sly Fox (1985)

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This track by Sly Fox -- featuring Gary "Mudbone" Cooper and Michael Camacho -- might be one of the earliest rock/hip-hop hybrid songs. Not only does "Let's Go All the Way" smoke with its mixture of rock guitar and stomping beats, but its socially-conscientious lyrics and video make for a powerful statement. It was the duo's first and last U.S. hit, peaking at #7 in 1986.

45. "Point of No Return" by Nu Shooz

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The electro-pop/dance duo Nu Shooz reached the Top 10 for the first time with "I Can't Wait" in 1986. The husband-and-wife act of Valerie Day and John Smith followed that up with several months later with the freestyle, club-sounding "Point of No Return," which would be Nu Shooz's last hit single when it peaked at #27.

Sources: The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 9th Edition, by Joel Whitburn, 2010; Wikipedia; and All Music Guide.

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