One Hit Wondering – Len
One Hit Wondering is a series of columns where I listen to the album of a one hit wonder, and find three songs, other than the hit, that people should hear.
In 1999 Len owned the summer with their insanely addictive pop smash “Steal My Sunshine.”
A gigantic hit that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, the song helped Len enjoy a moment in the sun, although it would be the only time the band charted.
Led by the sibling duo of Marc and Sharon Costanzo, the Toronto-based band actually had two albums already under their belt when “Steal My Sunshine” hit.
The song, which was first featured on the soundtrack to the movie Go, would end up leading off Len’s third album, You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush.
You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush was unique for the band, as it was the first time Len had more than two members, with the group having added D-Rock, DJ Moves, Planet Pea, and Drunkness Monster (don’t do the math, they aren’t all on the cover)
The album also involved more widespread musical experimentation. For many of the songs they took a headfirst dive into hip-hop, but they also had a few rock songs, a chilled out track, and a song entirely in German.
The guest list was insane, as the album featured Moka Only, Buck 65, Biz Markie, Kurtis Blow, and C.C. DeVille (of Poison), among others.
So, with all that said, I popped You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush into my CD player, and gave it another spin.
Are you wondering what else Len had to offer?
Here are three songs, other than “Steal My Sunshine,” that you should check out.
Featuring the late, great Biz Markie, “Beautiful Day” was one of the best ‘80s hip-hop songs released in 1999. Confused? Click play, and you’ll immediately be transported back to the early days of Yo! MTV Raps, and Video Music Box, right down to Biz’s crooning, and storytelling raps.
There’s a ton of sampling on You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush, and “Beautiful Day” embodies portions of John Travolta’s “A Girl Like You,” which was written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati of The Rascals.
Anytime I can connect a ‘90s one-hit-wonder with The Rascals, Biz Markie, and Vinnie Barbarino from Welcome Back, Kotter, it’s truly a “Beautiful Day.”
“Cold Chillin’” has the nostalgic feel of an ‘80s hip-hop party jam – from the song title, to the beat, to the rapping, to the guest appearance from Kurtis Blow, to Sharon’s vocals on the hook. I bet you could slip this song into an ‘80s hip-hop party mix, or throw it on in the middle of an ‘80s hip-hop set, and people would be like, “Wait … I don’t remember this, but it’s DOPE!”
“Cheekybugger” is a song that seemingly comes out of nowhere, because who expects fast-paced punk rock from the band that gave us “Steal My Sunshine”?
You know what? It works!
With You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush, I feel like the modus operandi was, “Expect the unexpected,” with a heaping dose of, “We’re doing whatever we want!” thrown in. Thankfully, it was the tail end of the ‘90s, and that was totally embraced.
Side Note – This song is listed as “Cheekybugger” on the album, as well as on Discogs, and Wikipedia, so I’m not sure why it’s “Cheeky Bugger” on YouTube.
Until next time, here’s to discovering more great music from one hit wonders!