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.
In the Spring of 1981, a song played on my radio like no other I had ever heard – “Double Dutch Bus” by Philadelphia-born Frankie Smith, who incorporated a form of slang, where “iz” is placed in the middle of a word. From “Double Dutch Bus”: “Hizzey, gizzirls! Yizzall hizzave t’ mizzove izzout the wizzay sizzo Izzi cizzan gizzet pizzast…”
Snoop Dogg, among other rappers like Tone Lōc and Ice Cube, were inspired by Frankie Smith’s “iz” slang, and started to incorporated it into their songs and that of other Hip-Hop songs. Even my third-favorite show, SCRUBS, used the slang frequently. Fo’ shizzle. So, if you ever wanted to know where that Hip-Hop slang was popularized, you can thank Frankie Smith.
“Double Dutch Bus” (from Frankie’s only album, CHILDREN OF TOMORROW) was released in late February 1981, and took awhile to motor along the radio dial and in record stores. It finally found its way to the BILLBOARD Hot 100 about 3 months later, in mid-May 1981, debuting at No. 86. It spent a week at No. 30 in mid-August 1981, and 19 total weeks on the chart (not bad for a song that stopped at No. 30; some No. 1 songs didn’t even stick around that long). Despite releasing several singles through 1985, “Double Dutch Bus” was Frankie’s only Hot 100 hit.
Over on BILLBOARD’s R&B Chart, “Double Dutch Bus” spent 4 weeks at No. 1 in July and August 1981, and the song’s legacy continues today. Even Madonna sampled it on her 2008 Sticky & Sweet Tour, during her performance of “Into The Groove.”
There’s actually a connection between “Double Dutch Bus” and “Into The Groove.” The 12” single versions for both songs were certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). That was an extreme rarity. (“Into The Groove” (from Madonna’s breakout film, DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN) was the flip side of her third hit from LIKE A VIRGIN, “Angel.”)
Even more of a rarity is that “Double Dutch Bus” was certified Gold by the RIAA for BOTH the 7” single AND the 12” single. Despite its No. 30 placing on the Hot 100, people really dug that song. I still do. You should too…
“C’mon, get on, the Double Dutch Bus!”