A Cappella One-Hit Wonders in the '80s

By Bridgette Redman ; Updated September 15, 2017
Two women are singing.

The 1980s may have been characterized by the prominence of electronica, but there were one-hit wonder artists who hit the charts with songs song a cappella. These songs put the emphasis on harmonizing voices with catchy lyrics and melody.

Top in the Nation

The first a cappella song to ever hit No.1 on the Billboard charts was Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy." While it does sound like there are background instruments in the song, McFerrin created all of those sounds by overdubbing with his voice. The song would stay on the top of the charts for two weeks. The title and main lyric chorus was taken from a quote by Indian mystic Meher Baba.

Other Hit Songs

The Nylons, an a cappella group from Toronto, did a cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in 1982. While the song had many forms that had been recorded all over the world for decades, the group covered the Tokens' version. The album on which it appeared went gold and the song was a huge radio hit. A British a cappella group, the Flying Pickets, had a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart in 1983 with its cover of Yazoo's song "Only You."

About the Author

As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.