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.
One of the great movie soundtracks to come out of the 80s was the soundtrack to 1983 film, VALLEY GIRL, starring a young Nicholas Cage in his first lead film role. There was just one problem – despite all of the great music to come out of VALLEY GIRL, like Modern English’s “I Melt With You,” “Johnny Are You Queer?” by Josie Cotton, “Angst In My Pants” by Sparks, “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs and “Who Can It Be Now?” by Men At Work – there was no official soundtrack released.
Well, that changed in 1994 when Rhino Records put together VALLEY GIRL: MUSIC FROM THE SOUNDTRACK, a 15-track CD compilation of songs that appeared in the movie. The soundtrack was so successful, Rhino put out a companion CD in 1995 called VALLEY GIRL: MORE MUSIC FROM THE SOUNDTRACK, which featured songs from Sparks, Thompson Twins, Bananarama, Culture Club, The Jam, “I Eat Cannibals” by Total Coelo, “Mickey” by Toni Basil and much more.
One of the songs featured in the film and on the first soundtrack was “A Million Miles Away,” a song by a Power Pop / Alt-Rock band formed in Paramount, California (just outside of Los Angeles) called The Plimsouls.
Formed in 1978 by singer / songwriter / guitarist Peter Case, The Plimsouls already had an EP and an album to their credit by 1983, when they released their second full-length album, EVERYWHERE AT ONCE. When VALLEY GIRL was released in late April of that year, several songs from the film ended up being minor hits, prolly most notably, “I Melt With You” by Modern English, which reached No. 78 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in 1983, but has lived on in radio ever since.
“A Million Miles Away” also benefited from its use in VALLEY GIRL, and debuted on the Hot 100 in late July 1983 at No. 88. It reached its No. 82 peak the following week, and its stay on the Hot 100 was short-lived, leaving the chart after just three weeks. They wouldn’t reach the Hot 100 again.
The Plimsouls broke up shortly after their minor success, and Peter Case has gone on to have a successful solo career, releasing 16 albums and compilations between 1986 and 2015, including one of my favorite album titles of the 80s, THE MAN WITH THE BLUE POST-MODERN FRAGMENTED NEO-TRADITIONALIST GUITAR (or BLUE GUITAR for short; from 1989).
The band has reunited a number of times since 1995, including a stint featuring Blondie’s Clem Burke. They have also put out three live albums, the latest of which was released in 2012.
But, it was their 1983 Alt-Rock gem from a small movie with a future big actor and Academy Award winner and a kick-ass soundtrack that has thankfully endured much longer than its Hot 100 chart life, and never seems like a million miles away any time I revisit it…