To get it straight from the off, it’s not (necessarily) a knock to describe a band or artist as a one hit wonder. With so many wannabe musicians in the world filling the airwaves with their efforts, it’s an incredible achievement to have so much as a single hit. To swing for another just seems greedy.
All the same, the “one hit wonder” label can often come off as pejorative - and yes, sometimes it does mean that the well ran dry after a single tune, that the group or individual couldn’t come up with any further ideas, or that inspiration struck once in an otherwise fruitless and unrewarding career.
Sometimes, though, it simply speaks to the immense quality of that one song - a tune so good that, no matter what you followed it up with, would come to define you for the rest of your career and beyond.
With the music biz booming, the ‘80s were a particularly rich time for flash in the pan acts. While many of these artists would no doubt have liked to spend longer in the spotlight, the songs they left us render them immortal.
10. Biz Markie - "Just A Friend"
‘80s hip hop tends to go one of two ways: it’s either groundbreaking stuff that inspired future generations and stands up well, or it’s lagging behind the quickly evolving trends and sounds a little goofy. Biz Markie’s charmingly slapdash hit single “Just A Friend” is an example of the latter, but endearingly so.
The beat remains cold, with era-defining boom bap drums and a hook built around a sample of Freddie Scott's 1968 song, "(You) Got What I Need" (which in fairness is pretty much wholesale slapped on this track).
Then there’s Biz’s rapping, though. He keeps things simple, remarkably simple, producing something close to a spoof of slow ‘80s emcees in the wake of Run DMC. It works fine, though, for what is essentially a novelty track - no one’s listening to this to marvel at Markie’s technique.
While it’s not necessarily a tune you’d want to get caught listening to by anyone with real musical credentials, “Just A Friend” is a fun, frothy throwback to an era in hip hop when you could get away with this kind of frivolity - before things became so serious.