In the business model of the one hit wonder, the commercially unsuccessful follow-up album is essential to the tag. Had the second album not flopped, the artist would be at least a two-hit wonder. Many folks assume that these artists are only worthy of a single dose of limelight, but some have proven otherwise. Here are the six best sophomore albums by "one hit wonders."
6. Harvey Danger - King James Version "Meeting With Remarkable Men"
Harvey Danger's ultra-hit "Flagpole Sitta" was too catchy for its own good. The Seattle group's study of the tongue-piercing, zine-making, machine-raging Generation X was construed as a definition and celebration of the very culture the band felt excluded from. The band neither dove into the quirk that made its debut Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone, nor made an overtly serious record for its follow up. Rather, King James Version is a straightforward, heretic pop rock album whose opening line is "I had a lovely brunch with Jesus Christ," who later "Had to go and die for my sins and stick my ass with the check." The album is full of expertly crafted songs that make no sense on radio, except maybe "Sad Sweetheart Of The Rodeo," the single that may have charted if KJV wasn't pushed back for a year due to label drama; by its release, "Rodeo" was competing with the likes of Limp Bizkit's "Nookie" for radio attention.
5. The Buggles - Adventures In Modern Recording "Adventures In Modern Recording"
Within a year of The Buggles releasing "Video Killed The Radio Star," singer Trevor Horn was asked to replace Jon Anderson as the frontman for progressive rock juggernaut Yes. You never say no to Yes. Due to rumored tensions between Horn and Buggles co-founder Geoff Downes, Trevor hermitted himself in a studio and made the bizarre Adventures In Modern Recording. As the title and era suggest, the album is a dated attempt at predicting a future made entirely of aural plastic, but Horn makes apparent throughout that he truly believes in what he is doing. The title track is one of those great mockeries of the music industry with a bitterness that can only be achieved by someone who knows the route firsthand.
4. Iron Butterfly - Ball "Real Fright"
Ball is a conceptual turd. Iron Butterfly made the record shortly after the unlikely success of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," and it stretches all the characteristics of the song into an entire album. Drum solos abound, as do Renaissance Fair organs and Doug Ingle's proto-metal voice - all chest hair and sweat. Ball does not suck because the song it is constantly referencing, subconsciously or otherwise, is so bizarre and multifaceted that it can survive the dissection. When it works - like on the surprisingly funky "Soul Experience" and the uptempo/mid-intensity "Real Fright" - Iron Butterfly is making Pink Floyd caliber psychedelic rock. Flops like the misguided pseudo-ballad "Lonely Boy" are at least interesting, if only for being unsettling.
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