In an effort to make DOL even more niche, I have to get something off my chest, especially with ESPN trying to steal MY one-hit wonder thunder today.
Why'd you have to get me relied up about the mistreatment of Tim Tebow on a random Wednesday?
There's no way on earth The Wonders from the 1996 musical-dramedy "That Thing You Do" were actual one hit wonders. Allow me to paint a picture for you if you're unfamiliar with the movie.
In the spring of 1964, an unnamed band in Erie, PA was in quite a predicament. Not only were they still putting back to pieces of everyday life after the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (weren't we all?) but band names like The Echoes, The Band You're About To Hear, The Corvettes, The Chordvettes, The Tempos, The Herdsmen and The Big Tippers simply were not cutting it. To make matters worse, on the day of the big talent show at Mercyhurst College (present day Mercyhurst University) their drummer broke his arm in a freak parking meter injury!
The groups' chance at the 100 dollar grand prize ($776 in 2016 dollars) was all but gone.
Luckily, only minutes earlier on that same Saturday morning, members of the band to be named later just so happened to run into an appliance salesman/drummer by the name of Guy Patterson at a local diner.
I vividly remember thinking he was John Mayer when I was in 4th grade.
After flexing (a term not yet coined in 1964) on everybody in the group by picking up their tab, Guy is invited to watch them perform at said talent show by guitarist and back-up vocalist, Lenny Haise. It's clear at this point the two are friends. They used to be in a band together called the Tempos. Lenny then tells Guy there will be girls at the talent show (obviously) despite knowing that Guy has a girlfriend (disgusting!)
Naturally after Chad (the original drummer) breaks his arm we do not see an ambulance or hospital.
Instead Jimmy (lead singer/guitar) and Lenny go straight into Patterson's Appliances to try and get Guy to play with them so they still compete in the talent showing. You know, instead of consoling their ailing friend?
In addition to being a fantastic drummer, Guy is also an incredible salesman. Unfortunately, his forgetfulness with the store sign causes his father to overlook any of his on the floor abilities.
But at least Guy gets paid; unlike his sister.
After essentially extorting two new record needles and a radio out of Jimmy and Lenny to please his father (I get it) Guy agrees to join the band.
Almost immediately we cut to band practice.
This is where things really get rolling. Not only does Guy master the simple beat for the ballad "That Thing You Do"
But when Guy leaves he inadvertently inspires the new name of the band; The Oneders.
That's the "One-ders, NOT "O'needers". Totally not ripping off the Beatles at all. Btw the Beatles exist in this Wonders universe, don't forget that. Write yourself a note if you have to.
At the talent show, Guy pulls an audible and steps up the tempo to the surprise of the rest of the Oneders.
After winning the talent show and splitting $100 four ways (assuming scumbag Jimmy didn't take a bigger cut for himself) the Oneders take the next logical step and perform at a fine dining establishment by the airport: Villipiano's.
Their fan from the talent show requests "Thing That You Do" so he can meet girls and dance. They oblige and the place fucking loses it. I imagine many already pointy to begin with nips were hard as granite in that crowd.
That same fan later asked "where can he get the record?" after the show. That's when a light bulb goes off. The Wonders decide to cut a record.
If it wasn't by some sort of miracle that Guy's uncle (Bob) just so happens to be in the recording business (church music, choirs, favorite sermons, stuff my mom listens to) and is nice enough to allow them one (1) cut of their song "That Thing You Do" in a church.
It should be noted during this scene in the theatrical version Uncle Bob has to run out so quickly that the cymbals don't even stop shaking. Jimmy asks "what about All My Only Dreams?" and that's where the scene ends. Later in the movie he references they only got one take for it which I was confused about because of the way they edited it. The extended versions is essentially an entirely different movie.
They play Villapiano's again, this time to a much larger audience.
With their 45 for sale. (Faye, Jimmy's girlfriend/costume mistress)
That's when this handsome fella, Chris Horace buys one.
Next, Chris does what all people would do in 1964 when they wanted to talk to somebody. He showed up at Guy's job,,,,,,, unannounced.
After some convincing, Chris gets Guy to come into his office.
Where he tells him that he knows music and "That Thing You Do" is a hit record.
After some stew and brews, the boys eventually sign with Chris to be their manager. Of course Jimmy wasn't on board right away. Like all men who drive their homes, Chris is a man of his word and got their song on the radio. (ftr this is hands down my favorite scene in the movie, it's impossible to not smile. Guy's mom is so funny in the background and has some hilarious deep moments in the movie..her interactions with Mr. Patterson when he's talking about the rival store, Telemart are perfect...also the stamp Faye uses is a JFK one [RIP] I legit just noticed while I was making this blog )
For a brief moment the Oneders face some adversity; their next performance goes very poorly and they're booed off the stage during a matinee.
Only to immediately get signed by Play-Tone Records and join the "Play-Tone Galaxy of Stars"!!!
Bye, bye Chris :(
Hello clone of Brian Epstein, Mr. White.
Of course Jimmy can't just be happy about getting signed. He has to badger their new manager, Mr. White about when they'll record their next record? Mr. White is much more concerned with touring, promotion and thinks their original cut sounds great. I believe our high school English teachers would use the word foreshadowing here.
The excitement of their new deal (s/o FDR) is short lived after bassist, T.B. Player (seriously, that's his name) announces he's leaving the band at the end of August to report for boot camp (notice where he is walking out of when "That Thing You Do" debuts on the radio) as he somehow signed up for Marines during all of this.
The newly named Wonders leave for Columbus (Ohio) to begin the Play-Tone State Fair Tour, but not before Mr. White gives Guy his new signature look.
Talk about thinking outside the box.
A dynamite performance at the Ohio State Fair impresses K.O. Bailey, the 2nd most popular disc jockey in Columbus enough to give "That Thing You Do" serious airplay.
Now in what feels like ten days after a freak injury brought them the new lifeblood of the band, the Wonders have a Billboard Hot 100 hit.
As the State Fair Tour continues, so does That Thing You Do's rapid ascent up the charts. (In fact it becomes the fastest rising single in the history of Play-Tone Records)
After a performance at the Wisconsin State Fair (where we are introduced to their song "Dance With Me Tonight" which may actually be better than Than Thing You Do) the band gets the news that "That Thing You Do" is the #7 song in America. They are to leave the tour immediately and go directly to "the coast". This is the moment they truly realize they have arrived.
They do the entire Cali circuit.
First they HAVE A PERFORMANCE IN A FUCKING MOVIE. That's right, the Wonders are Cap'n Geech & The Shrimp Shack Shooters.
They do the radio circuit.
Clint Howard has face for radio in any time period.
A literal meet and greet with the head of the label.
I know it makes zero sense they are in a movie before releasing a 2nd single, but we aren't there yet.
Before it all comes crashing down, the Wonders have their biggest moment, a performance on the Hollywood Television Showcase. That same day T.B. Player has vanished. Since it's 1964 nobody knows where tf he is. He was already leaving to join the Marines at the end of the summer, but after meeting Marines at the hotel restaurant, he goes to Disney with them and is replaced by a Play-Tone bassist "Wolfman".
A lot of other things have happened too but they don't matter as much when telling this story. Sorry, Del.
During the showcase the Wonders steal the show. Although astronaut Walter White may have something to say about that.
The crowd reaction is designed to mimic the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan, which is also referenced in the movie.
(Speaking of...another plot hole....I totally get the whole "screaming girl" thing that went on during the 60's. Not to suck my own dick but I know music history. A major reason the Beatles stopped touring is because of how much screaming ruined the sound. So I get these literal fangirls went bonkers....but how are you going to freak out that much over a band that only has one hit song at this point??? Doesn't add up!)
While they're performing each member of the band has a nameplate to introduce America to the Wonders.
I know it's hard to believe, but Jimmy didn't appreciate that message. I kind of forgot to go that deep into character development because the theme of this blog in on the musical legacy side, but Faye is Jimmy's GF but you'd never know that by the way he treats her (like poop) Guy is always a gentlemen to her and there's a big will they or won't they situation the entire film. Basic love-triangle formula.
After the show Jimmy takes out his frustrations Faye as he assumes she's the one who told them to say they're engaged and he's already upset with the direction of the band. Since he hasn't proposed and it seems like he has no intentions on doing so, he is fucking heated! Yelling at her when she's saying this should be a beautiful moment. Not nice! Faye finally stands up for herself and breaks up with Jimmy once the rest of the band and Mr. White enter the room. This is the beginning of the end for the Wonders, née the Oneders.
We cut to the Wonders finally in the studio, ironically for the first time. Jimmy and Mr. White are arguing over what they are going to record. Jimmy says that he will only play his music and Mr. White informs him his contract says otherwise. He wants something peppy, happy, up-tempo...something snappy. Jimmy finally starts singing, only to snap and sing "I quit" and do exactly that. He walks out of the studio.
Lenny's away getting married in Vegas after the Showcase, T.B. is AWOL, and Jimmy just quit. The band is essentially over. Guy and Mr. White are now the only ones left in the studio, where Mr. White informs Guy the Wonders are in breach of contract. Guy is terrified and apologizes repeatedly, Mr. White tells him to relax, nobody is going to prison and says this a very common tale.
There's about 10 more minutes after that but I'm not about to spoil this entire movie.
Before I was memorizing World Series matchups or Daniel Nava stats (.303/.385 in 2013 never forget!) I was obsessed with the VH1 countdown shows as a kid. The 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders was my absolute favorite. I used to be able to recite the entire list. (#3 Come on Elieen, #99 No Rain). I am so fascinated with the concept of one hit wonders and have a great podcast idea but we don't need to dig any deeper there.... it's part of my Barstool pitch...Needless to say That Thing You Do is one of my all time favorite movies. I love Tom Hanks. I had the VHS. I've seen this movie no less than 50 times and have the soundtrack on my phone ("My World Is Over" by Diane Dane is my favorite non-Wonders song).
I know finding plot holes in tv and movies isn't exactly the most groundbreaking blog topic but I have had this thought weighing on my mind for over 15 years and the levys finally broke. With the advent of the internet there's got to be somebody who agrees or has the same thought. Even with their incredibly short run if the Wonders are in fact one hit wonders Play-Tone Records are the biggest ones to blame!
As a student of the game let me example something to you. Not all one-hit wonders are the same. HA! Not even a fuckin-little-bit. There are different levels of one-hit wonderdom.
Some commercially successful artists that don't have a ton of "mainstream" success end up with only one song that charts on the top 40. Famous examples of this are the Grateful Dead (Touch of Grey), Jimi Hendrix (All Along The Watchtower) and Blink 182 (All The Small Things). Nobody would ever dare consider any of them along the likes of "one- hit wonders" like The Mary Jane Girls, Frankie Goes to Hollywood or Nick Glider of the world with their legacies, but all technically are by the letter of the law.
Then there's artists that actually have multiple top 40 hits but one song was just so much more popular than the other that it complete overshadowed it and they are remembered as a one-hit wonder. The Knack, Rupert Holmes, and Vanilla Ice are fantastic examples off the top of my head at 12:30 in the morning (this was a two-day passion project and I'm doing something I almost never do before posting...editing and letting you know that now at 8:01 pm Thursday November 13th..and again at 9:07) thanks to years of VH1 as a kid. These type are crazy to me. Vanilla Ice has two top 5 hits but nobody remembers he covered Play That Funky Music. Only Vanilla Ice could have two top 5 hits and be thought of as a one-hit wonder. I mean I'm sure he doesn't give a fuck anymore but that would drive me insane. It'd be like if you won two super bowls but everybody thought you only had one. Then you show them your two rings and they think you bought one at a pawn shop.
Throughout the movie there are multiple live performances. We hear mostly clips of "That Thing You Do", but the Wonders have three other songs that are played at different points throughout the film.
"Dance With Me Tonight"
"All My Only Dreams"; the ballad that Jimmy so desperately wants to release.
And lastly, "Little Wild One".
You may have noticed I've mentioned that this movie takes place in 1964 in a universe where the Beatles exist. There are countless references to the Beatles in this movie between their fucking name, their music, the scene where Faye is mistaken for a fan, the girls reactions to them, Mr. White literally being Brian Epstein, they even show he's gay in the deleted scenes and his boyfriend's name is Lloyd (aka Howie Long) which couldn't help but make me think of Entourage.
Someone asks why don't they have long hair like the Beatles at the meet and greet, the owner of Villipiano calls Guy "Ringo". They get famous after changing drummer and bassist. The point has been made the Beatles exist in this universe.
So in this world, in April 1964 during the peak of the British Invasion, the Beatles accomplished a feat that likely will never happen again in music history unless Beyonce suddenly dies in the next 10 years. The entire top five on the Billboard Hot 100 was one artist; the Beatles.
That's right, on April 4th, 1964 "Can't Buy Me Love" was the number one song in America, "Twist and Shout" was number two, "She Loves You" was three, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was four and lastly, "Please Please Me" rounded out the Top 5.
Then just a few months later Play-Tone Records finds its own piece of teen-pop gold in the Wonders. They have the fastest rising single in the HISTORY OF THE RECORD LABEL and have cameo in a major Hollywood production. Don't you think the execs at Play-Tone would want to strike while the iron's hot? Make some more money that will go to 37 different people before the artists. I know In My Only Dreams fucking sucks but Wild One and Dance with Me are both straight bops. You mean to tell me one of those didn't happen to at least crack the Hot 100? I find that hard to believe!
Now I get it, we've all had boners that lasted longer than the Wonders did so the way the movie played out could be exactly what happened. They were the perfect whirl-wind. I just don't see it that way. More importantly I don't hear it that way because these songs are #actuallygood. I've seen a lot of movies about fake bands and the Wonders are hands down the best. They're getting compared to the Beatles constantly and have the most successful song in the history of Play-Tone! I know Mr. White didn't give a fuck about what Jimmy wanted and did not think they needed to record any new tracks and Play-Tone could've simply not had any master cuts to release but cmon!? Sure 1964 was a much different time, you had to play by the rules of the music industry. There weren't kids going platinum on soundcloud in their bedrooms back then, but how short sighted and idiotic were these people at Play-Tone be to not ride the Wonders wave? How do you not go after Jimmy? That's it? One tantrum and he's gone? Fuck all the money and fame stuff? I know he's a fucking pretentious ass hole, but money talks. It's clear they are teen sensation. They are literally introduced on the Hollywood TV Showcase as "Teen Sensation, the Wonders". I refuse to believe Dance With Me Tonight didn't crack the top 20. There's just no fucking way.
I'm only saying this so I don't start a paragraph with--- because there is a final type of one-hit wonder and while there are different subsets of this breed, the main one I want to focus on is the novelty song. Those 1HW you can see from a mile away.
I knew Who Let The Dogs out would be a one-hit wonder before I could pick out what I wanted to wear. I'm normally pretty good at spotting them. Gotye was so easy.
"Mambo No. 5", "Call Me Maybe" (It's always a good time doesn't count since she wasn't the only artist), "The Macerna"...those are novelty songs. "That Thing You Do" does not fall anywhere close to that category. I was way off with "I Kissed a Girl" but that was like losing a bet on a bullshit call. You still made the right decision even though it didn't work out.
I'm sorry to question everything about your directorial debut, Mr. Hanks but come on, there's no way the Wonders were actually one-hit wonders. Fucking Lil Nas X has two top hits.
P.S. HELLLLL YES. How cool is this?
You look great in red, have I told you that?