Flashes in the pan by year, 1984-2009

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I've been trying to come up with a list of acts that were big in the UK one year, and achieved some sort of respect from critics or the music industry before rapidly dwindling away. Brit and Mercury awards and nominations seemed a good starting place. 1984-2009, fairly arbitrarily. Massive UK bias to all this, but I wasn't deliberately ruling out international acts. Maybe the UK is more prone to flashes in the pan than the US anyway.

1984, 1985, 1986 ?
1987 - Terence Trent D’Arby
1988 - Fairground Attraction
1992 - Tasmin Archer
1993 - Apache Indian
1993, 1994, 1995 - ?
1997 - Finley Quaye / Propellerheads
1998 - ?
1999 - Macy Gray / Gomez
2000 - Badly Drawn Boy
2001 - Dido
2002 - ?
2003 - The Darkness
2004 - Keane / Joss Stone
2005 - KT Tunstall
2006 - Corinne Bailey Rae / The Fratellis
2007 - Kate Nash / Mika
2008 - Duffy / MGMT / Glasvegas
2009 - La Roux

I started out in 1984 with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, before deciding they didn't quite fit, perhaps because they were SO big in 1984, and also because I guess Rage Hard wasn't a total flop in 1986.

Can anyone help fill in the blanks, or suggest better ones for the other years? Feel free to step outside the time range too. And would be interested in equivalents in the States or elsewhere too.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:10 (five days ago) Permalink

oops -

I left out 1989, 1990, 1991, plus 1993, 1994, 1995 - ? should be 1994, 1995, 1996 - ?

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:13 (five days ago) Permalink

Dido actually had a pretty decent career in the States during the '00s. And on a similar note, KT Tunstall's two hits are still in pretty regular rotation on our Adult Contemporary Radio (despite the fact neither of them being super huge on the charts upon release).

Would Elastica be a good mid-'90s pick? Or Republica?

to fly across the city and find Aerosmith's car (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:30 (five days ago) Permalink

Yeah, I was a bit unfair on Dido. She had two top 10 hits in the UK in 2003 too. Just felt so omnipresent in 2001 and I guess part of the motivation for this list was just being able to evoke a year with an artist.

Elastica is an interesting one - they felt like an indie act to me, rather than a mini mainstream sensation, but maybe that distinction says more about my blinkered outlook at the time. Tricky knowing which year to put them as, though: 1994 or 1995? Republica is a good shout, but 1997 seems well covered already!

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:44 (five days ago) Permalink

1984 - Nik Kershaw
1985 - King
1989 - Roachford?
1990 - Adamski

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:47 (five days ago) Permalink

Nik Kershaw did have a couple of hits in 1985, but they were off the second of the two albums he released in '84. After that though _________________________

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:50 (five days ago) Permalink

1999 was THE year for flashes in the pan it feels

Shat Parp (dog latin), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 07:38 (five days ago) Permalink

Terrence Trent D'arby has apparently put out about 10 lps under a new name Maitreya something.
There wasan article on him in the Guardian last week or just before that.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:37 (five days ago) Permalink

1989 - Lil Louis

calzino, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:39 (five days ago) Permalink

1996 - Baby Bird

André Ryu (Neil S), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:46 (five days ago) Permalink

2002 - Ms Dynamite

Siegbran, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:52 (five days ago) Permalink

1994 - Crash Test Dummies

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:12 (five days ago) Permalink

1990 - Deee-Lite

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:22 (five days ago) Permalink

1998 - Catatonia

NoTimeBeforeTime, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:31 (five days ago) Permalink

1996 - Mark Morrison

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:32 (five days ago) Permalink

These are some great suggestions. Particularly like Roachford.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:39 (five days ago) Permalink

2002 - The Vines

Gavin, Leeds, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 10:12 (five days ago) Permalink

1985 - Charlie Sexton

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 10:37 (five days ago) Permalink

1993 – Spin Doctors, Stereo MCs. I wouldn't say Apache Indian counts at all – he was more of a one-hit wonder.

1988 – Bros, The Christians. Again, Fairground Attraction had one big single and that was IT.

Eyeball Kicks, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:05 (five days ago) Permalink

1995/1996 – Robson & Jerome

Eyeball Kicks, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:09 (five days ago) Permalink

1987 - Colin Vearncombe aka Black

Only just noticed he died after a car crash last year.

calzino, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:13 (five days ago) Permalink

1988 - Tanita Tikaram

Matt DC, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:17 (five days ago) Permalink

Feel like, to count, you need one mega-selling album that was never really followed up. And on that note...

1998 - The Corrs

Matt DC, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:18 (five days ago) Permalink

2005 - James Blunt

Matt DC, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:21 (five days ago) Permalink

1984 - Dead Or Alive (did have a bunch of hits besides the obvious massive one but down the dumper three years later)
1988 - S Express (done within a couple of years)
1990 - Betty Boo?
1998 - Talvin Singh (although it seems like a disproportionate amount of the UK names that come up are BME artists :( but maybe this is too tied to BRITs/Mercury recognition)
2002 - The Coral and pretty much every charting NME-hyped rock band at the time

nashwan, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:27 (five days ago) Permalink

Some of the Mercury Prize winners here were barely a flash, did Talvin Singh even sell that many records?

Matt DC, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:30 (five days ago) Permalink

Talvin Singh's name still seems to get brought up now and again in my circle for some reason. Is he still releasing music?

Shat Parp (dog latin), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:40 (five days ago) Permalink

Yeah, seemed unfair to say Talvin Singh because that felt like the Mercury judges really striking out on their own. Maybe ditto a bit with Roni Size.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:50 (five days ago) Permalink

it seems like a disproportionate amount of the UK names that come up are BME artists

This has occurred to me too, but it seems like it's a particular kind of BME artist that the record industry gets behind in these flashes, often ones that don't get much traction with BME audiences.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:52 (five days ago) Permalink

Talvin Singh seems like one of those people who stays busy with any number of projects, one or two of which occasionally intersect with the zeitgeist. Less of a flash in the pan than a slow bake.

めんどくさかった (Matt #2), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:55 (five days ago) Permalink

(crap analogy time)

めんどくさかった (Matt #2), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:55 (five days ago) Permalink

In any case I apologise re/to Talvin and will seriously consider listening to his second album 'Ha' someday.

nashwan, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:56 (five days ago) Permalink

Feel like, to count, you need one mega-selling album that was never really followed up.

Not sure if it there has to be a mega-selling album: even a clutch of top 20 singles would work for me. Tanita Tikaram is just the kind of thing in the pre-Britpop era. That kind of respectable artist who weren't cool in the NME's eyes, were probably available in the Britannia Music Club, might be one of the 12 CDs (or cassettes) the ILM proverbial 12 CD-owning person had, you know.

Can't get my head around Tanita Tikaram being only four years older than me.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 12:05 (five days ago) Permalink

I wouldn't say Apache Indian counts at all – he was more of a one-hit wonder

Yeah, you're right. Was swayed by him getting a Brits nomination for Best British Male.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 12:07 (five days ago) Permalink

Someone on Facebook suggested McAlmont and Butler for 1995.

Alba, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 12:09 (five days ago) Permalink

"Some of the Mercury Prize winners here were barely a flash,"

maybe if Gaz Coombes had won it in '15 he wouldn't gone on to have a platinum selling hit album and become the global superstar he is now. Take note alt-J!

calzino, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 12:10 (five days ago) Permalink

Tanita T was in the year above me in my sixth form college; I wish I had some scadalous anecdotes to share but I got nothing

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 12:16 (five days ago) Permalink

iirc The Corrs still play arenas, they're prob more one for the thread that's words to the effect of 'you dgaf about them but they're actually as big as their heyday if not bigger'

thirst trap your hare (DJ Mencap), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:23 (five days ago) Permalink

I guess a lot of them still play to big crowds but on the basis of one album? It's not as if successive Corrs albums have gone top 10 and hung around all year is it?

Matt DC, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:35 (five days ago) Permalink

yeah it is actually

ufo, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:41 (five days ago) Permalink

four of their albums have gone top two in the UK apparently

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:46 (five days ago) Permalink

The follow-up to Talk on Corners had 'Breathless' on it - a big hit!

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:20 (five days ago) Permalink

1984 - Nik Kershaw
1985 - King

Absolutely yes to both of these. Although Kershaw became more of a back-room songwriter (he wrote 'The One and Only' for Chesney Hawkes) and we all know that Paul King became a VJ on MTV Europe...

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:26 (five days ago) Permalink

Corrs have a new single out, their sounds hasn't evolved much in 20 years.

1993 has a trio of Brit soul divas; Des'ree, Dina Caroll and Shara Nelson. Most sad that Shara Nelson never capitalised on the success of Massive Attack.

Dan Worsley, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:28 (five days ago) Permalink

1991 - Beverley Craven

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:32 (five days ago) Permalink

1998 Cornershop, maybe?

"Celebration" encourages the listener to celebrate good times. (Dan Peterson), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:34 (five days ago) Permalink

Also 1991 - Shakespears Sister

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:35 (five days ago) Permalink

Des'ree had a hit at the end of the nineties too with 'Life'. Think that album was quite big as well?

plp will eat itself (NickB), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:36 (five days ago) Permalink

1994 - Stiltskin
1996 - Babylon Zoo

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:37 (five days ago) Permalink

Also 1994/1995 - The Outhere Brothers

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:38 (five days ago) Permalink

1988 - Edie Brickell (unless you're Paul Simon)

Lee626, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 21:54 (five days ago) Permalink

franz ferdinand

starving street dogs of punk rock (Odysseus), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:04 (five days ago) Permalink

You could basically put almost every UK indie band who released their debut album from 2004-2008 in this thread, tbh.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:08 (five days ago) Permalink

1998 - Air

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:18 (five days ago) Permalink

2002 - Damien Rice

めんどくさかった (Matt #2), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:23 (five days ago) Permalink

1988 - Edie Brickell (unless you're Paul Simon)

― Lee626, Wednesday, October 11, 2017 9:54 PM (thirty-four minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

They had a couple of hits between 'em in 2014 iirc.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:29 (five days ago) Permalink

1987 - Curiosity Killed the Cat

new noise, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:46 (five days ago) Permalink

2016 - The 1975 (pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease)

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:51 (five days ago) Permalink

1988 - Tracy Chapman
1998 - Asian Dub Foundation

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:05 (five days ago) Permalink

1994 - Stiltskin
1996 - Babylon Zoo

one-hit wonders but never "big"

new noise, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:05 (five days ago) Permalink

i was gonna say damien rice but i guess he had two more albums that did okay? huge uk-usa discrepancies here; let's hear what the mongrels have to say

mookieproof, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:07 (five days ago) Permalink

1996 - Los Del Rio (best selling single ever?)

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:10 (five days ago) Permalink

1984 - Thompson Twins

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:11 (five days ago) Permalink

Tracy Chapman had a #3 hit in 1995.

President Keyes, Thursday, 12 October 2017 02:00 (four days ago) Permalink

I was surprised to find out it only went to #95 the UK. It won the Grammy for Best Rock Song and was nominated for Best Song and Best Record.

LeRooLeRoo, Thursday, 12 October 2017 02:34 (four days ago) Permalink

2000 - Sonique

LeRooLeRoo, Thursday, 12 October 2017 02:36 (four days ago) Permalink

1990 - Alannah Myles

To be fair, she probably is considered a national treasure in Canada.

earlnash, Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:05 (four days ago) Permalink

G'night and good luck next year

calstars, Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:28 (four days ago) Permalink

1998 - B*Witched

I can't claim they got respect from the critics but them achieving four number one singles within 10 months to having it all be over less than a year later makes them one of the ultimate flash in the pan cases.

kitchen person, Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:37 (four days ago) Permalink

1989 - Bonnie Raitt

I'm about to fight you!

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:46 (four days ago) Permalink

1996 - Los Del Rio (best selling single ever?)

Bing's "White Christmas" is still the biggest seller ever, but I think Macarena is somewhere in the top 10 or 20.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:47 (four days ago) Permalink

C&C Music Factory gotta be in here somewhere (was that 90 or 91?)

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:49 (four days ago) Permalink

Seems like there were a few in 1996 (along with the ones already suggested). You could include Fugees here if you forget their solo careers. Robert Miles had three big top 10 singles that year and then had just one other modest sized hit a year later. At one point you could have said Peter Andre, but for some reason the public decided to give him a second chance almost a decade later (he's had eight albums since that revival!). R&B boybands Damage and 3T were pretty big that year too. How about Alisha's Attic? Their album hung around for ages.

2002 - Daniel Beddingfield (his sister would have her own flash in the pan moment two years later), Gareth Gates, Samantha Mumba.

kitchen person, Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:56 (four days ago) Permalink

1996 - Los Del Rio (best selling single ever?)

Bing's "White Christmas" is still the biggest seller ever, but I think Macarena is somewhere in the top 10 or 20.

― Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:47 PM (forty-four minutes ago)

I'm talking global, not the USA.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 12 October 2017 04:32 (four days ago) Permalink

So was I.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Thursday, 12 October 2017 04:33 (four days ago) Permalink

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_singles

I think I actually did a poll of these at some point too...

POLL: The 11 best selling singles ever

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Thursday, 12 October 2017 04:38 (four days ago) Permalink

re list of best selling singles - what a weird collection!

skip, Thursday, 12 October 2017 06:03 (four days ago) Permalink

1990 : EMF - Unbelievable.

surely !?

mark e, Thursday, 12 October 2017 08:50 (four days ago) Permalink

1998 - Air

― kornrulez6969, Wednesday, October 11, 2017 11:18 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

LOL WUT

Shat Parp (dog latin), Thursday, 12 October 2017 09:34 (four days ago) Permalink

The original post is pretty obviously about *album* artists not one-hit-wonders, so I don't like Los Del Rio really counts here. Then again if Asian Dub Foundation (two albums that reached #20) are being mentioned then I'm not sure what's even being discussed any more.

I was completely wrong about the Corrs though, I guess the all-consuming hugeness of Talk On Corners wiped everything else from my memory.

Matt DC, Thursday, 12 October 2017 11:36 (four days ago) Permalink

Yeah, in my head it's definitely about the act's status in that year, rather than being defined specifically by an album, but one-hit-single wonders are probably not fodder for this.

I think it's a whiff of respectability that links them: Brit and Mercury approval is a big indicator, the sense that this is an important new force in the music industry. Not sure EMF really had that.

Alba, Thursday, 12 October 2017 11:45 (four days ago) Permalink

point taken re albums vs singles.
the schubert dip' album was a hit, but didn't really dominate 1991 when it was released.

mark e, Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:02 (four days ago) Permalink

1997 - Natalie Imbruglia

MaresNest, Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:05 (four days ago) Permalink

Speaking of EMF - 1990: Jesus Jones (certainly in the UK, I recall much music press chin-stroking about their sampling and other modern wonders)

めんどくさかった (Matt #2), Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:07 (four days ago) Permalink

Stereo MCs and The Shamen maybe?

starving street dogs of punk rock (Odysseus), Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:09 (four days ago) Permalink

XP - I guess then The Wonder Stuff and PWEI too?

MaresNest, Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:16 (four days ago) Permalink

I wouldn't count PWEI or the Wonderstuff. They were just popular bands who were of their time. They had pretty big followings and released multiple albums and singles over a few years.

It's definitely about that thing where an act is all over the place, all over TV, talked about in ecstatic and revered tones, a huge amount of marketing and possibly a big hit single or album, but forgotten about within months with hardly a glimmer of a comeback.

Shat Parp (dog latin), Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:24 (four days ago) Permalink

in the US how about Hootie & The Blowfish?

starving street dogs of punk rock (Odysseus), Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:25 (four days ago) Permalink

Their flash sustained itself for four years at least, perhaps longer depending on who you ask.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:27 (four days ago) Permalink

Would the KLF had been mentioned already were it not for their late 80s years of relative obscurity? That would rule out several other 90s acts itt tho. Also I guess people tend to think of acts that had some sort of brief mainstream acclaim without being ILM-friendly.

nashwan, Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:28 (four days ago) Permalink

didn't dwindle away so much as forcibly remove themselves from the picture

thirst trap your hare (DJ Mencap), Thursday, 12 October 2017 13:01 (four days ago) Permalink

KLF don't count as their legacy never really went away

Shat Parp (dog latin), Thursday, 12 October 2017 13:31 (four days ago) Permalink

I don't think these one-three hit wonders really hit the bill. Was EMF really promoted as a "career" band, or taken seriously by critics? Some of these are puzzling, like Corinne Bailey Rae, who made great follow up records but was kind of forgotten by the industry, if not by all critics.

President Keyes, Thursday, 12 October 2017 14:02 (four days ago) Permalink

Lisa Stansfield?

Luna Schlosser, Friday, 13 October 2017 23:24 (three days ago) Permalink

I was thinking her, maybe, but her songs still get played all the time on commercial radio where I'm from.
Tracy Chapman? Sinead O'Connor?

Shat Parp (dog latin), Friday, 13 October 2017 23:28 (three days ago) Permalink

I guess this thread throws into question exactly how long the popularity of an act should last. Some acts are just so right for their time and place that they naturally enjoy a short shelf life. Most continue to release a few more albums but they never sell as well as their debut and they never get the press they had at the start

Shat Parp (dog latin), Friday, 13 October 2017 23:30 (three days ago) Permalink

Darius Rucker has a big career in country
I bet most of these "flashes in the pan" can still draw theater crowds that would be the envy of whatever indie rock bands are Pitchfork darlings these days

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 14 October 2017 00:00 (two days ago) Permalink

1984 - Thompson Twins

Their hit-making run started in 1983 in the UK and continued through 1985. They were still big enough in '85 to perform on the US Live Aid stage.

Vast Halo, Saturday, 14 October 2017 16:09 (two days ago) Permalink

Some of these are puzzling, like Corinne Bailey Rae, who made great follow up records

Her husband died a while after the release of her debut, and her career seemed to lose all its momentum while she took time out.

Vast Halo, Saturday, 14 October 2017 16:14 (two days ago) Permalink

I had no idea. Definitely strike her from the list.

Alba, Saturday, 14 October 2017 17:36 (two days ago) Permalink


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