The 15 Biggest Two-Hit Titans of the 80s

by Jason Gross @SockofFleagulls on December 5, 2011

in Music, The 80s

The 1980s are well known for their one hit wonder bands and artists like Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Devo, Soft Cell, Tony Basil, Kajagoogoo, and of course my favorite- Flock Of Seagulls. I’m not ashamed to admit…some of these songs were just plain awful; however, many of them happened to have a catchy hook. In some cases, the first hit just simply set the bar too high for subsequent offerings to top.

While there is no doubt that these artists helped define the music of the decade, their success in the U.S. was short lived. Why is it that we celebrate their fifteen minutes of fame so much?

We all recognize the success of 80s greats like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and U2. But what about those bands that were at least able to follow up their initial success with one more hit record? I think it’s about time we paid some respect to their accomplishments. I proudly give you the Two Hit Titans of the 80s!!

First, let me give you a little explanation of how I classified the following bands. To become a Two Hit Titan of the 80s in my book, the artists must have charted two songs (no more than three) in the top ten of the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. These two hits must be there only songs to chart in the top ten at any point in their career. Also, many of these bands (even the one hit wonders) have had success in other countries, but for our purposes, we will focus on their success in the US.

The first three artists listed, I hold above the others on my list. Mainly because, I believe it is more difficult to achieve follow up success on different albums and in different years.

COREY HART “Sunglasses at Night” #7 in 1984 from his album First Offense & “Never Surrender” #3 in 1985 from his album Boy In The Box. Hart’s success has been far greater in his native Canada than in the US. He has actually released a total of 9 albums, with three #1 hits and five others reaching the Canadian top ten. Although with just these two hits in the US, he made a great impact on that 80s sound we love. My truck’s windshield can testify to the “Never Surrender” wail when Hart comes on the radio.

MIKE & THE MECHANICS “Silent Running” #6 in 1985 & “All I Need Is A Miracle” #5 in 1986 from their album Mike + the Mechanics & “The Living Years” #1 in 1989 from their album The Living Years. Mike Rutherford, while on hiatus from Genesis, released a couple solo albums in the early 80s. After limited success in the UK and none in the US, he thought it best to recruit some other musical talent. Personally, I’m very glad he did! Mike + the Mechanics is one of my favorite albums of the 80s. “Silent Running” has a great intro and ending that always gets cut out on the radio version.

SIMPLY RED “Holding Back The Years” #1 in 1986 from the album Picturebook & “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” #1 in 1989 from the album A New Flame. Simply Red is one of those bands that just didn’t have much success crossing the pond. They have released 10 total albums, all reaching the top ten in the UK. I feel their Greatest Hits album is definitely worth the price of admission. It’s a great mix of pop and jazz that got me through many a paper writing session back in college.


Here are the rest of the Two Hit Titans in alphabetical order:


CROWDED HOUSE “Don’t Dream It’s Over” #2 in 1986 & “Something So Strong” #7 in 1987 from their self-titled album Crowded House. The first is one of my favorite ballads of the 80s. It’s a great tune that just seems to have that nostalgic feel to it.


CUTTING CREW “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” #1 for two weeks in 1986 & “I’ve Been in Love Before” #9 in 1987 from their album Broadcast. “Died in Your Arms” is one of a few 80s songs that I usually have to turn the station when I hear it. I never really connected with it, but on the other hand, “I’ve Been in Love Before” is a great song that’s primed for a mix tape


EUROPE “Final Countdown” #8 in 1986 & “Carrie” #3 in 1987 from their album The Final Countdown. “Final Countdown” will never die, as long as there are professional sports games to be played. And, it’s still good as the day it was released.


FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS “She Drives Me Crazy” #1 for one week in 1989 & “Good Thing” #1 for one week in 1989 from their album The Raw and the Cooked. I loved (LOVED!) the FYC when they hit the music scene. They had a fresh, retro sound and I still have both cassette singles. Two years before they hit it big, they (and their music) were featured in the 1987 movie “Tin Men” with Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito. Highly recommend it!!


HOWARD JONES “Things Can Only Get Better” #5 in 1985 & “No One Is To Blame” #4 in 1985 from his album Dream Into Action. It’s hard to classify him as a THT because he had 7 other top 40 hits in the US.


LISA LISA & CULT JAM “Head To Toe” #1 for one week in 1987 & “Lost In Emotion” #1 for one week in 1987 from their album Spanish Fly. They did have a bit better success on the US R&B charts, but most will say these two songs are their definitive hits.


MR. MISTER “Broken Wings” #1 in 1985 for two weeks & “Kyrie” #1 for two weeks 1986 & “Is It Love” #8 in 1986, all from their album Welcome to the Real World. I was surprised that “Is It Love” made it to the top ten, because you hardly ever it hear it played anymore over the other two hits.


THE POWER STATION “Some Like It Hot” #6 in 1985 & “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” #9 in 1985 from their album The Power Station. This “supergroup” consisted of lead vocalist Robert Palmer, guitarists John & Andy Taylor of Duran Duran, and drummer Tony Thompson of Chic.


TERENCE TRENT D’ARBY “Wishing Well” #1 in 1987 & “Sign Your Name” #4 in 1988 from the album Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby. Although achieving a chart-topping hit and twice platinum album, D’arby’s debut didn’t quite live up to his own hype of surpassing the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album (11x platinum.)


TONE LOC “Wild Thing” #2 in 1988 & “Funky Cold Medina” #3 in 1989 from his album Loc-ed After Dark. I still have the cassette singles of both of these songs as well. Although if you think about it, there really was no reason to buy both as they both sound about the same!


WANG CHUNG “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” #2 in 1986 & “Let’s Go” #9 in 1987 from the album Mosaic. Very close to having a 3rd top ten hit with “Dance Hall Days” reaching #16 in 1984.


WHITESNAKE “Is This Love 87” #1 for one week in 1987 & “Here I Go Again” #2 in 1987 from their album Whitesnake. Power ballad icons greatly benefitted from heavy airplay on MTV. Heavy airplay greatly benefitted from Tawny Kitaen dancing on car hoods.


There are probably more we could classify as Two Hit Titans of the 80s. These are just the ones I have found so far. Would love to hear of any artists that you think should be included and your comments!

Click here for a YouTube Playlist of all of the songs mentioned above, courtesy of Jason Gross.

Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls) is the creator of Rediscover the 80s and loves to subject his two sons to 80s pop culture. He is also the co-creator of Agents of M.A.S.K. and enjoys freelance writing about 80s music & nostalgia.

John January 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

I think just because their second or third single doesn’t hit top 10 shouldn’t disclude a group from being a 2-3 hit wonder. I think your fav A Flock of Seagulls falls into this as Wishing is actually pretty well known by 80’s enthusiasts.

I think Simple Minds should be included into the above list as well.

Jason G January 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I understand. I used the US Billboard chart success just to have some kind of classification, but I agree that there could be more ways to group these and include other bands.

Howard Decker January 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Excellent additions sir!

S February 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Great stuff here.
That Mister Mister song Kyrie opened Doc Hollywood movie.
Enjoyed all these songs during their reign and still like Europe and Whitesnake. Europe had another top 10 just not in this country where “Rock the Night” only got to top 30; in UK, France, Switzerland, Italy it was top 10, top 20 in europe.
That was a great tune and video

Nice post.

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