Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers. Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.
If the name Feargal Sharkey doesn’t ring a bell, maybe the 1978 gem “Teenage Kicks” by the Punk / New Wave band, The Undertones, will. The Undertones were from Derry, Northern Ireland, and Feargal Sharkey, also from Derry, was the band’s lead singer from 1975 through 1983. “Teenage Kicks” (from the re-release of their 1979 self-titled debut album) put them on the music map, gave them a U.K. Top 40 hit, and a place in Punk / New Wave history.
“Teenage Kicks” has since been covered by artists like the Buzzcocks, Green Day, Franz Ferdinand, KT Tunstall, Rasputina, The Saw Doctors, the amazing Nouvelle Vague from Paris, and this small Southern Ireland band you may have heard of, U2.
Feargal Sharkey left the band in 1983 to pursue a solo career, and in the Fall of 1985, he scored himself a hugely popular global hit – “A Good Heart.” From his self-titled debut album, “A Good Heart” had a lot of star power behind it – the song was written by Lone Justice’s Maria McKee, featured backing vocals by Culture Club’s Boy George, and was produced by one-half of the Eurythmics, David A. Stewart.
“A Good Heart” spent 2 weeks at No. 1 on both the U.K. and Irish singles charts in November 1985, 2 weeks at No. 1 in Australia, and reached the Top 10 in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland.
Now and then, U.S. radio programmers occasionally get it wrong and don’t promote excellent singles for whatever reason. U.S. radio programmers did not have good tickers towards “A Good Heart.” It stalled at No. 74 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for 2 weeks in April 1986, and was gone from the chart 2 weeks later. Feargal would go on to have 4 more U.K. Top 40 hits (including 1986’s “You Little Thief,” which reached No. 5 there), but he would never again grace the American chart.
Feargal Sharkey released 2 more albums through 1991, and then went to work for the music industry. In 2013, in an interview with BBC Newcastle, he said, “I’ve had an absolutely brilliant career… It’s time to get off the stage and make room for [new artists].” A classy guy for sure, with a good song about a good heart that I, um, heart to this day…