EW Staff
November 09, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

After years of practicing your stage act, you have a major hit record. You become a star, a media sensation. You’re sure many more smashes will follow — and then nothing happens. Try as you might, you never capture lightning in a bottle again. You reconcile yourself to becoming a lifetime member of an elite but lovable club — one-time stars now known only as fleeting memories on oldies radio or as answers to questions in Trivial Pursuit.

The Champs
”Tequila” (1958)
Why does this brassy number stop for screams of ”Tequila”? Your guess is as good as ours.

Sheb Wooley
”Purple People Eater” (1958)
A countrified novelty. You had to be there

Phil Phillips
”Sea of Love” (1959)
Grinding, overwrought, and riveting R&B.

The Singing Nun
”Dominique” (1963)
A nun with an acoustic guitar singing in French. Of course it was a hit.

Barry McGuire
”Eve of Destruction” (1965)
The end of the world as we know it, with a harmonica.

Standells
”Dirty Water” (1966)
The shape of garage bands to come.

The Knickerbockers
”Lies” (1966)
Not the Beatles, but an amazing simulation.

Mason Williams
”Classical Gas” (1968)
Classical schlock, courtesy of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Merrilee Rush
”Angel of the Morning” (1968)
Wake us when it’s over.

Steam
”Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (1969)
Tribal stomps didn’t get the cavemen very far, either.

Hot Butter
”Popcorn” (1972)
Untouched by human hands.

Carl Douglas
”Kung Fu Fighting” (1974)
Exposed David Carradine for the sham he was.

Morris Albert
”Feelings” (1975)
Staggering mush that later led to a plagiarism suit.

Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony
”The Hustle” (1975)
At least people remember the dance step.

Starland Vocal Band
”Afternoon Delight” (1976)
John Denver associates try to out-bland the maestro — and succeed.

Debby Boone
”You Light Up My Life” (1977)
No. 1 for over two straight months. No wonder punk was born.

Lipps, Inc.
”Funkytown” (1980)
A guitar lick and rhythm to die for — or at least dance to.

Vapors
”Turning Japanese” (1980)
Catchiest ode to masturbation ever to hit the charts.

Nena
”99 Luftballons” (1984)
Arguably the best-ever antinuclear hit sung in German. Big mistake: rerecording it in English.

Will to Power
”Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” (1988)
An easy-listening medley of Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd hits — need we say more?

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