Thought Starters

What One Hit Wonders can teach us about integrity

In pop music a hit is a song that has mass appeal or popularity.

What happens when you have a one hit wonder? Typically a pop music group that is only able to produce a single song that gains popularity afterward fading to obscurity. Is it the formula? Is it the way the group is marketed to its audience? Does the music just lack appeal to any target market? It could be all of the above and probably is. It is most likely that all factors come into play; bad song structure, bad marketing, bad timing and no clear target market.

Does that happen in the Blues, Jazz or Classical music genres? While I am not a big fan of Classical music I can understand its appeal to its target market. I am a huge fan of Jazz on the other hand and really cannot think of such a thing as a one hit wonder and by extension and definition it is most certain that one hit wonders do not exist in classical music either. Maybe Bach, Bernstein, Chopin, Gershwin and the like and in their time would have been able to single out the classical composers who did it right once never again to grace the halls after their inaugural performance. Not likely. 

Now why is that?

Why do genres like Blues, Jazz and Classical get a buy from the world of the one hit wonder? Both genres have specific target markets and they have structure that needs to create appeal in order to attract a fan base. Is it that Classical and Jazz fans are not as fickle as the pop fans? No, likely much more discerning. Is it because these genres are somewhat more universal in their nature? No, that’s not it either. Jazz, for example, has many sub-genres that have distinct styles, sounds and feel much akin to the variety of pop music.

Where am I going with all this?

Well, I would like to draw the parallel between today’s pop music and its face paced, quick to the street, anyone can do it, highly commoditised and over saturated market to Jazz or Classical where time, training, practice and deep appreciation for the art seems to be the catalyst for drawing longevity to an artist’s career. Do they do it for the sole purpose of monetization? No, the art comes first and foremost. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of pop music groups that have stood the test of time and are not the burn bright, flash in the pan, come and gone in a New York minute because they follow their dreams of producing their art first. What follows is integrity.

Can we carry this theme to social media? Is there a correlation between one hit wonders or one album wonders and the idea that listening, training, learning and practising your craft will not only build integrity but long term success? Instant hits seem to be where it’s at these days. C’mon, buytwitterfollowers, come on over and I’ll show you how to get more followers, link yourself to everything, everywhere and make sure you post, post, post. Who cares if the content means anything, just get it out there. What is trending? Latch on.

How about the Jazz approach?

  • Listen.
  • Love.
  • Learn.
  • Train.
  • Practice.
  • Rinse and repeat.

So, if that doesn’t make sense to you, here’s another way to describe hits.

 How idiots track status.


About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self


3 thoughts on “What One Hit Wonders can teach us about integrity

  1. I enjoyed your post, and your views on the value of listening, loving, learning, and training. Social media is only valuable when it embodies those qualities.
    Some pop artists have done this, even though their music may sound quite disposable to a lot of people. Lady Gaga comes to mind. While I don’t personally groove on her music, I admire how she has studied the art of making a pop song, how she interacts with her audience in a deeply personal way, how she speaks loudly on behalf of causes that she believes in, and how she has developed a tribe of passionate followers.
    When I first started writing the Brand Like A Rock Star blog (which evolved in the book), one of my early posts was about the difference between “anthems” and “songs”. I think you’ll find the theme similar to what you’re talking about here:

    Posted by Steve Jones | November 8, 2011, 20:33


  1. Pingback: Can Cigars, the Three F’s and a Leprechaun help us with Moderation? « the view from here - February 8, 2012

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