One Photo Wonders

The Cloisters Museum
Just before Christmas I posted a holiday message on a Facebook page I run for a vocal group I wrote about in an earlier blog . In so doing, I inadvertently said something that gave me an idea for a new post. What I said simply was that one of the reasons I love music is that one song, one album or one group can bring a lifetime of joy and happiness to the world. There is no expiration date on a song. The words just came out of my head but when I reread them I realized that there is a lot of truth to that idea. It carries on, year after year, decade after decade. Timeless.  More than that, a good song that makes us smile, sing a long with or dance to can come from someone still performing today like the Rolling Stones, or from someone who was around for only a shorter period of time, say Otis Redding  for example. It can also come from someone who never recorded another song and eventually faded into obscurity.  A one hit wonder in other words.

As I thought about this I also realized that over time, I have a lot of ‘One Hit Photos’ in my collection. Places that it is highly unlikely I will ever go back to, or some that may not even exist anymore, such as old buildings. In other cases, it may be someplace I go to often but feel like I cannot better a photo taken on a previous trip.  As with most photography, the reason for taking a photograph in the first place is because we see something interesting. We recognize it to be different from our daily life. A different place, new types of architecture, a different climate with new types of plant life. Other times, a photograph may be the result of a happy accident unfolding rapidly before our eyes such as a sunset or a wildlife encounter.  Whatever it is, we want to preserve the moment and the best of them find often find their way into photo albums, picture frames or screen savers on our computers. The rest of them  often get resigned to files on the computer or dusty  boxes filled with old photos, seldom viewed again in relation to those we decide to be our favorites. But we recognize why they stand out.

Which made me think how similar that process is to music in some ways. We all have our favorites, regardless of what style or era it is from. These are the songs we listen to the most, the ones we know by heart, the ones we have good memories of.  We have no trouble remembering what band or singer it is. We pride ourselves on knowing them the instant they come on the radio, instantly recognizable from the first note. On the other side of it are songs we love equally, yet often have to admit knowing very little about. We don’t remember the band names, or who was in the band for that matter. We may not remember what year it was released exactly. We certainly don’t remember the name of the album it appeared on. And we definitely can’t remember a single other thing the singer or group has ever done. Cue the very long list of one hit wonders in popular music. The ones who had massive inescapable air play, TV and press coverage,  music videos playing around the clock yet failed for one reason or another to make a mark past that first hit.

The field of popular music is littered with such artists, going right back to the earliest days of record charts. Though I must admit that some of those hits are very cringe worthy today (Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band comes to mind-yikes!) and have not held up so well with the passage of time.  However many more do, so from Toni Basil singing Mickey, to The Knack with My Sharona  we appreciate them as much as we do our favorite songs by our favorite artists. With every year that passes, those one hit wonders become part of the bigger musical landscape, and that one song  becomes as valuable and meaningful to us as anything by the Rolling Stones, Beatles or Michael Jackson.

The reason for that is because of what I said at the start. The really good songs survive as mementos, or as artifacts in a wider musical archaeological dig. Those one hit wonders may not have the same history compared to bands that survived past the first album do, but does that really matter in the broader scope of things? The point is that someone remembers and enjoys something you did years later. The song did not go bad or ‘expire’ just because fashions and musical trends moved on. Instead it survives, ten, twenty or thirty years later because it is good. What better feeling can there be knowing that something you did is still important to people years later.

For my own one hit wonders for this post, I chose a photo that I thought really stood out. The secluded feel, the shadows of the arches, the cooling appearance of  the marble, and the dash of yellow provided a different sort of feel compared to many of my other photographs. Thinking of photos for this post it was one of the first that came to mind as a ‘One Hit Photo’ because it was so different, yet it slots in nicely with my other work. Rather like those songs that are one hit wonders fitting in with the rest of your favorites.

As to the song for this edition there were many choices to make. My Sharona was definitely a strong possibility, as were Come On Eileen or Funkytown. Going back even further I considered songs like Seasons In The Sun or even Kung Fu Fighting! What I decided on was one that meets all the criteria I mentioned above. I clearly remember watching this video on MTV when I was a teenager. Other than the song title, I never remembered what the name of this group were for the past 30 years. I had no idea what the name of the album was, or who any of the members of the group were. If they released any other music after this song, I’m sure I never heard it. And yet, on the rare occasions I hear this song pop up somewhere, I bop along to it just as readily as I do to a Beatles song. And I smile at the memories!

What are your favorite One Hit Wonders?


10-9-8- Written By Angelo Petraglia

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle


26 thoughts on “One Photo Wonders

  1. I think you did an excellent job on this piece, Robert. The way you related one hit wonders with pictures is excellent. Music, just like pics, is like a time stamp. When you hear a certain song you havent heard in awhile all of the memories from that time comes flooding back just as if you’re looking at a pic and remember exactly what was going on at that time. I do certainly have a few favorite one hit wonders, but like you, I dont remember the name of the group or song…I just know it when I hear it!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Tasha. You really nailed exactly what I was going after with your reply. It is a time stamp..what a great way of putting it. Those memories do come flooding back in many ways. Thank you very much for your reply as always, but I’m glad my intention came through here. Thanks my friend. If you think of some of those names do please let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jan

    πŸ™‚ I don’t know if this is relevant but for many years a song by Whitney Houston was my one time wonder because I never listened to English songs , while mom was was a fan of Beatles, Abba etc ( I know it’s weird, I still prefer listening only songs in my mother tongue ). So she had cassettes with these songs and I would listen only to ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ by Whitney Houston. Over time I have listened to other songs but this always brings a smile on my face.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Definitely relevant Janani. I was aware when I wrote this and perhaps I should have mentioned I was talking about the U.S. because I am aware it is different everywhere. What a great story though…and a great song as well! Incidentally what is some of the music from home you like? I know some Indian music and am curious! πŸ˜„

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jan

        I love carnatic music, I am actually a performer and have been even part of bands all through college. I am a fan of film music by A R Rahman πŸ™‚ What are the Indian music or musicians you are aware of?

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      2. I have heard carnatic music, I definitely want to hear more about that from you! Well aside from some of the obvious ones I like bits of Ananda Shankar, and Asha Bhosle. There is a great singer called Kiran Ahluwalia, and another one Susheela Raman I quite like. When I used to work at Tower Records a coworker played a lot of Indian music, especially the long ragas. Names escape me now but I heard a lot of stuff. I know for such a big country there are probably hundreds of styles though!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. jan

        Wow! I am impressed.. I only know Asha Bhosle and Susheela. The musicians you mentioned are from North India. There are many styles. Primarily in classical it is Hindustani for north and Carnatic for south. So my ancestors -grandfather and great grandfather were carnatic musicians who performed at royal courts. I am not an expert but I grew up listening to a lot of it πŸ™‚ Would love to discuss more about it with you!

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      4. I can never remember if the ones I like are North or South Indian! Asha Bhosle has a great album with the Kronos Quartet which I am reminded I must get because it is fabulous. I remember my friend describing all of this one day but I still get it muddled. That is fascinating about your ancestors. I love to hear the connections people have to those sorts of roots. Absolutely I want to discuss more of this. Coincidentally I am reading a novel now which part of it takes place in Bhubaneswar. I know that is far from Chennai but it is an interesting read πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That is wonderful Jacqueline. That is how I feel about music. I love being eclectic with my music. It does not matter where or what it is. Everything is valid to me…well, most things anyway lol. I remember things from my parents still all these years later!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Deb

    I listened to a lot of ‘heartbreak music’ when I was younger…I think having older sisters led to this. You know, the ones where the story is about someone having broken your heart? I don’t remember the artists but whenever I hear them it takes me back. Oh yeah…I remembered Careless Whispers. That played on radio a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My Sharona takes me back to high school, when we went bowling on Thursdays for P.E. There was a jukebox, of course, and someone ALWAYS played that song.

    A friend and I have been exchanging YouTube links on a pretty regular basis, to remind each other about our youth {we’re the same age and remember the same music}. Some of the ones that came up were Thunder Island by Jay Ferguson, Harden My Heart by Quarterflash, Hole-Hearted by Extreme, and Lotta Love by Nicolette Larson

    You know I always love your posts because what you write elicits such wonderful “food for thought” which usually results in a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Your post makes people think about the places they’ve visited and songs they’ve heard, as well as trying to recall other One-Hit Wonders…which then triggers other memories {have I told you I’m a big daydreamer?!}. Thank you for that. πŸ™‚

    You couldn’t have written this any better! {hugs}


    1. First, thank you for the support, encouragement and kind words. It really does keep me wanting to keep doing this, to keep writing and find new ways and new avenues to write about. Amazing what one Aha moment can do for a writer! I’m a big daydreamer too and I suppose it helps in times like these!

      I just got some serious memory lane reminders with what you mentioned. Had not thought about, or heard the name Quarterflash for YEARS!. And I loved that Nicolette Larson track, completely forgot about it! I shared this with a friend from Massachusetts this morning who is about my age. I had to chuckle when he said that the band I picked was a wicked good flashback to 1980’s Boston scene. High praise indeed hearing that! Thank you as always Carol!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a cool idea, Robert. Really great. Remember our idea of a museum displaying your pictures? You could have a special display of one-hit-wonders in pictures and music. πŸ™‚

    I also liked your brief description of why you liked this picture in particular. I really don’t have an eye for photography, so it was nice to read your description of what you saw.

    And, as usual, I’ve never heard this song before. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Liza. You are now the second person who suggested making this into some sort of series. Had not planned it but hmmm!!
      I suppose I don’t describe my photos too much. I fear if I do it might come off as pretentious so I usually just present them as is. I don’t suppose too many people know this song but it got heavy rotation on MTV back in the day so if you were around then like me you might lol! Thanks as always

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. Yes, it should be a series. I had even gotten the impression that that was what you were going to do.

        I guess I hadn’t thought of your description as being pretentious, but maybe some people would take it as such. Maybe I’ll just ask you when I want to hear more of your throughs on a particular one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh no…two series plus if all goes well, the start of a music related bit of research I have been mulling for years that I may link to the blog…I might break my mind lol! Ask anytime about the photos. I don’t always say where things were taken or why I took them a certain way so if you want to know do ask!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: True North | Soundtrack Of A Photograph

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