While watching one of Tom Hanks’ seemingly forgotten movies, I began to think upon the novelty of the one hit wonder (the countless musical groups that have the distinction of having one major song and then disappearing into obscurity). That Thing You Do dramatizes one such group: The Wonders (catchy name, eh?). The film follows the group and its manager Mr. White (played by Hanks who also wrote and directed the movie) formed during the 1960s at the onset of the British invasion. The cast also includes Tom Everett Scott (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Hanks) as the drummer Guy, Johnathon Schaech as the moody lead singer Jimmy, and Steve Zahn as the “ladies man” guitarist Lenny. Liv Tyler is also featured as Jimmy’s girlfriend Faye. The band records one catchy tune (fittingly entitled, “That Thing You Do”), tours it on the county fair circuit, and eventually hits the big time on an Ed Sullivan-esque variety show. However, Mr. White also gets the group a gig “appearing” in a low budget beach movie as Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters.
There have been several groups to have one song make a huge splash only to see that group slip into oblivion soon after. How about “Pac-Man Fever” by Buckner and Garcia? Or “Somebody’s Watchin’ Me” by Michael Jackson wannabe Rockwell (who just happened to be the son of Motown founder Barry Gordy, Jr.). “Mickey” by Toni Basil; Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”. OR more recently, “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the marvelous Baha Men. Or “Tubthumping” by that group of groups Chumbawumba. Wow…. the most recent examples I can think of are at least 10 years old. OHOHOHOHOH…. how could I possibly forget “Ice, Ice Baby?” Now THAT is a one-hit wonder (a wonder anyone ever listened to it). Or my personal favorite “Disco Duck” by DJ turned weekly countdown king, Rick Dees. Surely brought a quick death to the Disco craze. And let us not forget the best group ever to lip-sync a note (or not) Milli Vanilli.