One Hit Wondering – Deep Blue Something

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. 

As we were ringing in the new year in 1996, an Audrey Hepburn film from 1961 was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. This is because Texas foursome Deep Blue Something were rocketing up the chart with their hit “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

The power pop song, which found a sweet spot between not being too poppy, and not being too aggressive, had a memorable chorus that featured a man attempting to show a woman that they do, in fact, have something in common.

One thing seemingly everyone had in common was a love of the song, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, hit #1 in the UK, and reached the Top 10 in eight other countries.

Interestingly, a different Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday, actually inspired the song, but songwriter Todd Pipes didn’t think that made for a good lyric, so he swapped it out for Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I think it’s safe to say he made the right decision. “I say, what about, Roman Holiday” wouldn’t have been nearly as catchy.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was on two Deep Blue Something albums, as it was originally on their 1993 indie debut, 11th Song, and was later re-recorded for their 1995 album Home, which received a major label release. The popularity of the hit drove sales of Home to gold status (500k units sold).

Before they had a hit, or a gold record, Deep Blue Something were college students in Texas just looking to form a band.

Consisting of brothers Todd and Toby Pipes, drummer John Kirtland, and guitarist Clay Bergus, Deep Blue Something formed in 1991, and were originally known as Leper Messiah, a reference to a lyric from David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”

Much like with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the name change turned out to be a pretty good idea.

Bergus would leave the band before they recorded anything, and was replaced by Kirk Tatom, but in an interesting twist, late in 1995 Tatom left the band, and Bergus returned to his original role.

This was also when Deep Blue Something recorded their third album, Byzantium. Interscope, however, shelved the album. They would eventually release it in 1998, but only in Japan, and some European countries. The band managed to get the rights to release it themselves in the U.S.

Byzantium was followed by a self-titled album in 2001, but by then there was nothing left for Deep Blue Something, and the band members all went on to do other projects, and dive into different aspects of the industry.

Todd and Toby opened Bass Propulsion Laboratories in Dallas, where they’ve produced songs for a plethora of bands, including Drowning Pool (bet you didn’t imagine that connection!). The most interesting story, however, is that of their drummer, John Kirtland.

Tami Thomsen and John Kirkland of Kirtland Records

Kirtland went from manning the drums for Deep Blue Something to working for Trauma Records, an L.A.-based indie record label created in 1993 by Paul Palmer, and Rob Kahane.

Trauma would end up in a joint venture with Interscope, and became known for discovering a number of bands who would go on to define the ‘90s. That’s where things got interesting for Kirtland.

When Kahane found himself in some financial difficulties he asked to borrow money from Kirtland, and offered as collateral the rights to some of the albums from the label’s biggest acts. That collateral would end up being the back catalog of Bush, which included Sixteen Stone, and Razorblade Suitcase, and the royalty rights on the sales of the No Doubt albums Tragic Kingdom, and The Singles 1992-2003.

I don’t know if Kahane was overconfident, or he simply borrowed that much money, but he defaulted on the loan, and Kirkland ended up with a goldmine.

Kirtland immediately sold the royalty rights to the No Doubt albums, but kept the Bush albums, using the clout of owning their back catalog to help score a distribution agreement with RED for his own label, Kirtland Records.

There must have been no hard feelings with Kahane, because he ended up staying on as Bush’s manager for a number of years after all of this happened.

In 2014, Kirtland finally sold Bush’s back catalog to a consortium that included the band’s frontman Gavin Rossdale.

That same year, Deep Blue Something decided to get back together, with a lineup that included both guitarists, and the now five-some signed to Kirtland’s label.

In 2015 they released an EP titled Locust House, and the band is currently back out there touring, having had multiple shows just last month!

Bringing things back to ‘90s, I popped my copy of Home into my CD player, and found three songs, other than “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” that you should here.

“Red Light”


Much like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Red Light” is a relationship song that’s conversational, but unlike “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” it moves at a slightly faster pace. I really think this would’ve been a perfect follow up to their mega hit, as it’s both similar enough, and different enough, to keep the listeners of “Breakfast of Tiffany’s,” while potentially attracting new listeners, as well.

Also, this song has a killer bass line that I absolutely love. It’s tougher to hear on YouTube, but trust me, it’s there, and it’s great.

“Wouldn’t Change a Thing”


When you start me off with an unexpected organ, I’m automatically intrigued (side note – while an unexpected organ can be great in music, it isn’t as appreciated in a woman’s dating profile inbox, so don’t do it fellas). The fact that we go from that unexpected organ, to later hearing a guitar solo, while all the while feeling like the backbone of the song comes from classic Irish music … I know written out that sounds like it shouldn’t work, but with “Wouldn’t Change a Thing” it’s absolutely brilliant.

“A Water Prayer”


I think what I like most about “A Water Prayer” is that it feels like a less aggressive version of a Live song (and I say that as someone who enjoys a number of Live songs). You can almost imagine it performed in a heavier way, and with an Ed Kowalczyk growl, but the fact that the intensity isn’t ratcheted up to that level is what makes it a Deep Blue Something song, and it’s a really good one.

Until next time, here’s to discovering more great music from one hit wonders!