Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Cars" by Gary Numan

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  0052
Date:  02/16/1980
Debut:  81
Peak:  9
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Pop, Electronic, Synthpop

**Here is the first One-Hit Wonder of the 80s! Just to be clear, my definition of a One-Hit Wonder is an artist who had a Top 10 hit with their first chart song and then never made another appearance on the Hot 100. Other lists are more liberal and consider just charting in the Top 40 and not hitting the Top 40 again to be the standard, but I'm strict on this!

Pop Bits:  In his native UK, Numan was definitely not a one hit wonder. He had 39 chart hits with six of them Top 10's. Here in the States he is basically only known for the highly influential "Cars" and his severe, mechanical look and performance. The single is from his album "The Pleasure Principle" which was a rock album that had no guitars - keyboards with pedal effects drove the album. Although there were previous chart songs that were synth, moog, or keyboard driven, arguably "Cars" is the first real shot of synthpop to really hit and it set the tone for a lot of 80s pop to come.

ReduxReview:  I remember hearing this on the radio and thinking this was the coolest thing ever. There was nothing like it at the time. Both the song and Numan were creepy too, which was an added bonus. This is a synthpop classic and to me it doesn't sound dated. There are current bands who have learned a thing or two from this and are applying to their own music. Goldfrapp and Metric come to mind. Other groups in the 80s would be more popular with this sound, but Numan really hit it out of the park first.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Numan's distinctive look at the time came about by accident. Plagued with some acne before a TV show appearance, the makeup folks caked him up with a bunch of white makeup to cover it up and then used black for the eyes. Combined with his self-conscious stage presence and glam outfits, it worked with the music and the androgynous look stuck.



  1. Another song that got me interested in something other than blues rock or arena rock. The ethereal keyboards and non-traditional aspect of the lyrics are something that are something other than head-nodding, but altogether enjoyable.

  2. Chart Run: 81 - 72 - 64 - 56 - 51 - 45 - 40 - 36 - 32 - 25 - 22 - 18 - 15 - 12 - 10 - 10 - 9 - 9 - 9 - 14 - 17 - 29 - 37 - 62 - 97