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.
O Lord! Earlier this week, Rangeley, Maine – located in the mountains of Western Maine (about 2 hours NW of where I’m writing this in Central Maine) – picked up 2 inches of snow. They didn’t see any snow today; they were expected to have a high temperature of 84 degrees. In contrast, Miami, Florida was expected to have a high temperature of 85 degrees today. Back here in Central Maine, the temperature rose up to the low 90s, which is the hottest it’s been here in a long while, and I think the earliest 90-degree reading in history. There are some summers Maine doesn’t even see 90 degrees!
In 1987, Buster Poindexter, the alter-ego of David Johansen, singer / songwriter for 70s Glam Punk Rockers, New York Dolls, also thought it was hot. Then ten years removed from the New York Dolls, David recorded the first of four albums under the pseudonym of Buster Poindexter. For his self-titled debut album, he was joined by his Banshees Of Blue, which was the pseudonym for The Uptown Horns. Together, they played a mix of Jazz, Calypso and other novelty-related songs.
One of the album’s songs, “Hot Hot Hot,” was released as a single. It was a cover version of a song originally recorded by the late Calypso and Soca musician out of Montserrat, West Indies, with the stage name Arrow, who released the song in 1984.
Nearly six months after the release of the single, “Hot Hot Hot” finally debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 a couple of weeks before Christmas 1987, at No. 95. In mid-February 1988, it just missed reaching the Top 40, spending a week at No. 45. It would be his only time on the Hot 100, either as Buster Poindexter, or with the New York Dolls.
NERDY CHART FACT: On the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart dated March 5, 1988, the last week on the chart for Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot,” The Cure debuted with their own (unrelated) “Hot Hot Hot!!!” (from their excellent double album, KISS ME, KISS ME, KISS ME). Also “hot” on the chart that week, “Hot Thing” by Prince (from the brilliant SIGN “O” THE TIMES). A remix of Buster’s “Hot Hot Hot” would reach No. 11 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.
NERDY SONG FACT: In that 12” remix of “Hot Hot Hot,” Buster Poindexter says the word “hot” 137 times. Are YOU feeling hot, hot, hot? Zoinks yo.
For years, “Hot Hot Hot” was, well, a hot, hot, hot song to play at wedding receptions (I should know, I was DJing wedding receptions on a regular basis during that time), and at karaoke bars.
The song’s popular music video (nominated for an MTV Video Music Award) features Buster talking about his work with the New York Dolls, showing off their albums, and promptly tossing them away while he goes off on the “really outrageous clothes” he wore while with the Dolls, and how he became interested in this “refined and dignified kind of situation.
“I’m playing music that’s so soft and sweet, I mean, you can sit by the fireplace and listen to it, have a little glass of wine, maybe you could even have dinner to this music. I’ll show ya.” And then he goes into the song. You’ll find Bill Murray in the video, and you’ll find David Johansen returning the favor, by appearing in the fun 1988 Bill Murray film, SCROOGED, in which David plays the Ghost Of Christmas Past.
The legacy of “Hot Hot Hot” has continued on over the past 30 years, and the song has appeared in several films and TV shows, most recently appearing in the 2015 film, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP. And both the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs National Hockey League teams have used the song at their games as well.
I bet if he had to do it all over again, David Johansen prolly wouldn’t. In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), he once called “Hot Hot Hot” “the bane of my existence.” He seemed to be having fun, fun, fun, though in the video at least. Well, while the weather here in Maine was cold, cold, cold when “Hot Hot Hot” was popular on the Hot 100, it took a day like today for me to think about it this fun gem again. I can hear him now… “Olé Olé – Olé Olé…” Cue the music…and the ice cold beverage…and the fan.