There’s a plethora of British music groups from the 80’s who dropped a chart topper before seemingly disappearing forever, but merely a handful where that one-hit wonder truly stands the test of time. In my opinion, Dexys Midnite Runners are one of them.
Come On Eileen is one of the most known and appreciated ditties of the decade and understandably lumped with many one-hit wonder songs from the era. However, unlike most songs, especially those from the “new wave” invasion, Come on Eileen didn’t feature synthesizers but instead a banjo, fiddle, saxophone and accordion.
It worked—big time.
The intro is one of pop music’s most decipherable – a solid lil’ baseline tease, full blown fiddles having you ready to clap and stomp, and of course the trademark “C’mon Eileen!” shout before springing into the first verse.
The song was actually based on a true story. Co-written by lead singer Kevin Rowland, Eileen was a girl Rowland grew up with and had a relationship with by the time they were teenagers. It would soon turn sexual.
As for how the song came together, Rowland said in an interview with Songfacts.com “We wanted a good rhythm and we found one. Lots of records we liked had that rhythm: ‘Concrete and Clay,’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones. Lots of records we liked had that ‘Bomp ba bomp, bomp ba bomp.’ We felt it was a good rhythm. We came up with the chord sequence ourselves and just started singing melodies over it. I remember thinking, ‘We’re really onto something here. I came up with that, ‘Too ra loo ra,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is sounding really good.’ You get a feeling when you’re writing a song. Something happens. And in the end it kind of finished itself.”
As aforementioned, it’s one of the 80s most proverbial songs. However, this isn’t a countdown of tunes fans even with limited knowledge of 80s music can sing along with. Come On Eileen makes this list on the merits of being fantastically cool.
Chart Success: The song shot all the way up to number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and in doing so knocked off Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” from the top spot. It spent 23 weeks on the charts and finished 1983 ranked 13th on the year-end Billboard Hot 100.
Great Lyrics: Johnny Ray was an extremely popular singer in the 1950s who had hit songs like “Cry” in 1951 and “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” in 1952.
“Poor old Johnnie Ray
Sounded sad upon the radio
Moved a million hearts in mono
Our mothers cried, sang along
Who would blame them?”
Fun Facts: Americans weren’t the only music fans in love with Come On Eileen. It also reached the top of the charts in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and of course the United Kingdom.
100. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
99. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgetting
97. The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Does Is Magic
96. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
94. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
93. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
92. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
89. Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
87. Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat
86. Glen Mederios – Nothing’s Going To Change My Love For You
85. John Cougar – Jack and Diane
81. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
79. Shelia E. – The Glamorous Life
77. Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All
76. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say
75. Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
74. Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It
73. Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie
72. The Police – Every Breathe You Take
71. Survivor – The Search Is Over
70. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
67. Kenny Loggins – Meet Me Halfway
66. Irene Cara – Flashdance…What A Feeling
65. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
64. Phil Collins – One More Night
63. Europe – The Final Countdown
62. Patrick Swazye – She’s Like The Wind
61. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
60. Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
59. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
58. Huey Lewis & The News – Power Of Love
55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
53. Olivia Newton John – Physical
49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing
48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man
43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
39. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
38. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
37. Christopher Cross – Sailing
34. Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is
33. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield
32. USA For Africa- We Are The World
30. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)