Just once is enough

antelope lying on grass

Is once not enough? Are we really that short of attention that the first time is not good enough, that it is just the first of what is expected to be a series – each better than the last?

History is littered with the one-hit wonder. People who have created a single thing which has proved popular, useful or contributing to society and not a single thing after. Somehow this gets criticised since being a one-hit wonder is hardly a compliment.

Certainly in the musical sense we are no stranger to the one-hit wonder. Amongst the many that exist, from the 60s there’s Alley-Oop by The Hollywood Argyles, Stranger on the Shore by Mr Acker Bilk, Sukiyaki created by Kyu Sakamoto and even Hugh Masekela’s Grazing in the Grass is considered a one-hit wonder. Oh, by the way that dates back to July of 1968 – feeling old yet?

The 70s list includes Venus by Shocking Blue, The Hustle by Van McCoy (because Disco, baby!) then there’s Seasons in the Sun from Terry Jacks, and M Robert Scott’s Pop Muzik rounded out that decade.

Remember Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire? That was 1982. Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy? 1988 – that is one of my favourite music videos simply because of Robin Williams. What do these two one-hits have in common? Both were made in a decade that ended 30 years ago.

I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred happened in 1992 and do you remember Ini Kamoze? No? What about Here Comes the Hotstepper? Bet you remember now. Even Crazy Town gets into the one-hit act with Butterfly – or maybe you remember it as “Come My Lady”. I could keep going but I’m going to finish off with Hanson’s MMMbop. After all, while it is so easy to get distracted, this isn’t about music, rather one-hit wonders.

Research Trends published an article “Science, music, literature and the one-hit wonder connection” written by Isaiah T. Arkin back in 2011 which, amongst other things found that “71% of the 37,181 publications in Science and 28,004 in Nature were by authors with just a single publication to their credit”. That’s quite the statistic, but the question that should really be asked here is “did they make life better”?

Erno Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube. Edward Craven invented the lava lamp. Percy Shaw invented the Cat’s Eye (those reflectors you see embedded into the road surface). Minecraft, the video game, was invented by Mark Persson. WD-40 is another one-hit wonder originally created to combat rust on US Naval boats by the Rocket Chemical Company they simply stopped making anything else. “To Kill A Mockingbird”? the only novel ever written by Harper Lee.

You remember Kary Mullis? If you know anything at all about the Polymerase Chain Reaction then you’ll know why it is important. If you don’t, then it is enough to know this is now standard procedure in molecular biology labs to amplify small strands of DNA. Mullis … other than seeing a glowing green raccoon outside their cabin, there’s not much else to say.

Edmund Gettier’s “Gettier Problem” is a one-hit wonder that will pop your mind – and I have nowhere near the time to go into detail here. Suffice to say that this three-page philosophical essay, published in 1963, completely popped 2,000 years of agreed philosophy. What makes this particular one-hit hilarious is that Gettier considered this essay so bad he had it translated into Spanish and published in an unknown South America journal – only putting in any effort because it was a course requirement.

Seriously, there are so many “one-hit wonders” across all spheres of life you’ll find the research staggering (if you choose to put in any effort at all). They all have two things in common. First, their creators haven’t done anything of the same import since and … our lives are all better (to varying degrees) because of their efforts.

Perhaps it is time to accept that sometimes one good idea is enough, reaching a pinnacle that one time is all that’s required to be successful. It doesn’t need to be followed up by another creation, discovery or achievement to make it a life well-lived.

What’s your favourite one-hit wonder, be it song, movie, invention, book or creation?

On a final note, when it comes to breakfast, eggs, Greek yoghurt, coffee, oatmeal, chia seeds, berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), nuts, green tea, flax seeds and cream cheese are considered amongst the best choices for breakfast foods? As an alternative for sugar-heavy cereals and other less healthy options, fasting is considered a better option if you aren’t going to eat well.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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