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.
When the 4-member Swedish pop group ABBA disbanded at the end of 1982 (after 8 studio albums, 4 compilations, more than 40 singles and 2 failed marriages within the group), the male half of ABBA – Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus continued working together for a time, including the 1984 stage musical CHESS, and returned them to the upper realm of the pop charts worldwide, when they co-wrote and co-produced (with Tim Rice) “One Night In Bangkok,” sung by Murray Head. “One Night In Bangkok” was a No. 1 hit in at least 7 countries worldwide, and reached No. 3 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1985.
The female half of ABBA – Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) and Agnetha Fältskog continued on with solo careers. Agnetha had been putting out Swedish albums and singles (and some German singles) for years by the time ABBA got its first big hit with “Waterloo” back in 1974. After ABBA broke up, she released 5 English-language albums between 1983 and 2013.
Frida, meanwhile, had released 2 albums in the 70s and 3 post-ABBA albums between 1982 and 1996. The biggest of those, SOMETHING’S GOING ON, was released in September 1982. Atlantic Records labelmate and Genesis drummer Phil Collins, who had released just 2 solo albums at that point, produced the album, provided backing vocals and played drums as well.
There was something quite special on SOMETHING’S GOING ON, especially the first single released from the album, “I Know There’s Something Going On,” written by Russ Ballard.
If the name Russ Ballard rings a bell, it should – he was the vocalist on the 1972 Argent hit, “Hold Your Head Up.” He also wrote music for Three Dog Night, Hot Chocolate, Roger Daltrey, the 1979 Ace Frehley hit “New York Groove,” the 1981 Santana hit “Winning,” he wrote and produced the 1983 comeback hit for America, “You Can Do Magic,” and even managed a hit of his own with 1980’s “On The Rebound,” and a 1984 MTV hit (and a personal favorite of mine), “Voices.” Russ even wrote a song called “Can’t Shake Loose” by ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog, which was a U.S. Top 30 hit near the end of 1983.
“I Know There’s Something Going On” must have known it was something big in most parts of the globe, reaching No. 1 in Belgium, Costa Rica, France and Switzerland, and the Top 10 in Austria, Australia, Holland, Finland, Germany, Italy, Frida’s homeland of Norway, Poland, South Africa and Sweden.
Here in the U.S., sometimes it takes us awhile before we know there’s something going on with pop music from Europe, at least that was the case with this song. It took more than 3 months to reach the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and eventually spent 3 weeks at No. 13 in March / April 1983, with a total of 29 weeks on the chart. Despite stopping at No. 13, because it spent so much time on the Hot 100, Frida and “I Know There’s Something Going On” finished at No. 20 for all of 1983, beating out No. 1 songs like “Africa” by Toto, “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes, and Toni Basil’s “Mickey.”
Though she had more success with other songs in Europe, “I Know There’s Something Going On” was Frida’s lone Hot 100 hit here in America. But what a hit. I know sometimes folks make fun of Phil Collins, but when he’s producing and hammering on those drums, he can sure put out a winner. And, from the moment I heard this song in 1982 to tonight, I still know there’s something going on with this one; I always will…