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.
Prolly the biggest band to come out of New Zealand was Split Enz, the Tim and Neil Finn-led Rock / New Wave band from Auckland. Split Enz was formed in 1972. Despite several lineup changes over the years, the band managed to release 9 albums between 1975 and 1984, and it was a song from the band’s fifth album, TRUE COLOURS, that brought Split Enz international attention outside of New Zealand and Australia – “I Got You.”
“I Got You” was released in January 1980, and instantly got rave reviews. Back in 1980, Australian music magazine (or “music paper” as it was called), ROADRUNNER (not to be confused with today’s RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel magazine), said the song “positively drips with appeal that only philistines could fail to appreciate – it deserves to be a hit.” The publication even encouraged readers to purchase a copy, as they were strongly convinced it was going to be big. And they were right. “I Got You” spent 3 weeks at No. 1 in New Zealand, 8 weeks at No. 1 in Australia, reached No. 5 in Canada, and No. 12 on the U.K. singles chart.
Here in the U.S., “I Got You” made its debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late August 1980, and found a home at No. 53 for a week in early October 1980. It would be the only Hot 100 hit the band would have in America, but not by much. Split Enz just missed the Hot 100 two more times, in 1981 with “One Step Ahead” (from 1980’s WAIATA) and in 1982 with “Six Months In A Leaky Boat” (from TIME AND TIDE).
Neil Finn and two of his fellow Split Enz band mates – Eddie Rayner and Paul Hester – fared much better in the second half of the 80s as Crowded House, reaching the Hot 100 five times between 1987 and 1991, reaching No. 2 in 1987 with “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and No. 7 with “Something So Strong.”
In 2001, “I Got You” was voted as the 11th best New Zealand song of all time, and in 2005, the band was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) music awards hall of fame, just four months after Split Enz and Crowded House drummer Paul Hester sadly committed suicide.
Neil and Tim and the band have done reunion shows over the years, but the status of both bands has been pretty quiet as of late. Of course, it’d be awesome to see them live (in whatever configuration), but for now, I’ve got their music, and that’s all I want…