If you listen long enough to pop music and '80s music in particular, you begin to realize that the one-hit wonder tag so dreaded by many musicians and so scoffed at by some music snobs is really not such a bad thing. That's especially true when an accomplished artist manages only one bona fide hit as a solo artist but continues to sustain a successful music career in various other ways following that fleeting chart success. Late singer-songwriter Van Stephenson stands as a prime example of this kind of music biz story, having earned a permanent place in '80s music lore with his lone Top 40 pop hit, the nostalgia-inducing feast for the ears, 1984's "Modern Day Delilah."
Despite being irrevocably tied to its era in ways that could ruin lesser music, this track shines a quarter-century later as a rock guitar confection fueled by a nifty twist on a well-known Biblical allusion. But in the hit's short and long-term aftermath, instead of bemoaning the fact that he was never again able to scale that height as an individual, Stephenson simply went back to a successful career as songwriter for other artists before serving as a vital member of country band BlackHawk for nearly a decade of collective success. Death from melanoma in 2001 at age 47 may have halted Stephenson's life and career far too soon, but "Modern Day Delilah" will last forever as a small but distinct flash of '80s music royalty.
- Listen to "Modern Day Delilah" in its entirety, and watch the music video, here.
- True One-Hit Wonders of the '80s
Album Cover Image Courtesy of MCA Records