4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2002
Tony Hawks, loveable author of the superb "Round Ireland with a Fridge" is back again, after beating the Moldovans at Tennis.
This time, you have to worry about his sanity, as he's made a bet with someone at a dinner party that he'll get another top 20 record back in the charts, after his debut with "Morris Minor and the Majors". However, the person at the dinner party really doesn't seem bothered about the whole thing, and you have to wonder whether Tony just saw another opportunity to throw together a lightweight bestseller.
To give him credit, he certainly goes the distance, experimenting with World Music remixes, East-European duets and flying to Amsterdam dressed as a Pixie. It's not until the surreal combination of Tim Rice and Norman Wisdom enters the frame that he has a chance of success.
Tony's humour, sense of adventure and madcap optimism makes this a very fun read. I got the feeling that the whole thing was a little strained though - did anyone but Tony really care about the bet this time ? Perhaps this pervades his adventures a bit, too, as he seems to have real difficulty getting people in to the spirit this time.
Of course, it doesn't stop this being extremely funny in parts, but it's all getting a little formulaic. If you're a fan of his other books, give it a go !
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2002
As in his previous two books, Hawks stops every couple of pages to remark on how crazy the quest he has embarked on is, and how very very nutty he himself must be. As before, he also has the thinnest imaginable motivation for starting it in the first place, unless you read the glaring message between the lines, which is that he is trying to have a hit so he can write a book about it.
These minor irritations aside, Hawks is an amiable companion, and he scores over others in this field - Bryson, McCarthy et al - because he knows how to write and tell the occasional joke. By far the most enjoyable section is the last, in Albania, and it just about makes up for the faintly disappointing earlier bits in Nashville and the Sudan.
Quite good fun, all in all.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2002
If, as I did, you have read Hawks' first two books and loved them, then you'll find it hard to be disappointed. Tony's new challenge, for once not taken on under the influence of alcohol, but rather an attractive lady, is to have a Top Twenty Hit anywhere in the world, in order prove that as the creator of "The Stutter Rap" , he is no One Hit Wonder. He has two years to do it, but this time round there is no clear-cut forfeit like money, or even dignity! With no tangible forfeit should he lose, you'd be forgiven for wondering if Hawks was undertaking a half-hearted challenge - however, what touchingly emerges as the real prize of success is Hawks' self-belief in his abilities as a songwriter.
Like his previous bets, Tony's new task takes him all over the world. He scours Nashville, Sudan, Holland and finally Albania in his search for a hit, amassing a small but varied catalogue of songs as he goes. As ever, his dry observations of the people and places elicit quite a few chuckles. However, it's the sections covering his time in Sudan and Albania that really stand out. Hawks' primary objective in Sudan is to write on his experiences, in order to raise funds for UNICEF, and as in Moldova, Hawks' writes with touching empathy as he describes the conditions in Sudan and the daily troubles of its people. However, the moving subject matter doesn't drag the lighter moments down, and the introspective moments blend well. The Albanian section however, is a real joy, mainly due to Hawks' ability to wrest every comic ounce out of the ludicrous situation he has found himself in. Hawks recalls that Norman Wisdom is adored and revered in Albania (and readers are left in no doubt as to just how much), so Tony, along with Sir Tim Rice (yes, Sir Tim Rice!), pen a catchy song to this effect. Add to this a backing band, some toy instruments and a tour of Albania with Sir Wisdom himself, and you have a laugh-out-loud funny and upbeat (if slightly surreal) end to the challenge.
If there is a downside to the end of the book, it's the feeling of unfinished business with both the instigator of the bet, and a well known record producer, who Tony met along the way. The book does conclude on an upnote though, and at the reader can at least look forward to the prospect of Hawks' making a certain somebody eat their words (or a large novelty-shaped cake).
I won't reveal whether or not Tony met his challenge, but I'm positive that "One Hit Wonderland" will be a hit in its own right.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2015
In the life and career of Tony Hawks, a couple of periods stand out as being highlights. In recent times, after a career as a comedian, he accepted a couple of stupid bets, firstly to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge and later to play the entire Moldovan football team at tennis. It is not so much these events that were to be the highlights, but that he was able to write a book based on each of them. And very funny and well written books they were, too.
However, well before this, there was Morris Minor and the Majors, who had a Top 5 hit with a song called “Stutter Rap”. Drawing on Hawks’ first loves of music and comedy, he had for fifteen years been little but a “One Hit Wonder” – an artist who has one hit record and is never heard from again. Tony Hawks, however, isn’t happy with being a “One Hit Wonder”, as he feels he has the talent, if not as a singer, then as a songwriter, to hit the charts again. So he takes on another bet – to have a hit record, either as a writer or a performer, within 2 years.
As with his previous books, we follow Tony as he aims to win his bet. This takes him to the heart of country in Nashville, to the Sudan, and all over Europe. We also get to meet all the people Tony meets along the way, from Sir Tim Rice to Simon Cowell, who was just an A+R man at that point, and not the evil “Pop Idol” judge he became famous for being.
The story is told in Hawks’ usual style, with what feels like complete honesty and in a chatty style that’s easy to read. However, this is slightly less so than in his previous works, as he’s relying on a lot more people to assist him in winning his bet than before. This means that a lot more of the time is spent setting up meetings and discussing how to win the bet, rather than going out to win it and so a lot more of the telling is conversations with other people rather than Tony’s recounting of what happened.
This has the effect of making the story seem slower paced than his previous books. Whereas every step he took in his earlier adventures was a step towards the goal, this time around he seems to take a lot of steps that don’t take him forward and many times he ends up more or less back where he started. This gives the book less of a flow, as each section of the book where he’s dealing with a different song and trying to crack a different market feels like a separate story, rather than the whole book being just a single story, as in his previous books.
There’s also a slight difference in his writing style here. Whilst he still writes in a chatty and humorous style, it feels as if he’s actually trying to be funny this time. I feel that this is down to the bet he’s trying to win this time. In his two earlier books, he’s been set completely ridiculous challenges. This time, the challenge seems like less of a challenge and the whole idea isn’t as funny as his earlier ones. It feels as if Hawks is trying to over-compensate for this by using his own humour to lighten the situation, rather than being able to rely on the natural silliness of what he’s trying to do. Having made a living as a comedian for many years, Hawks is a funny man, so there are some very funny moments, possibly even more than in “Round Ireland With a Fridge”. Unfortunately, there are also some points where the humour seems a little too forced and there are some predictable jokes, which hasn’t been true before.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good read. For me personally, this was the most interesting of all his books, purely because it’s the easiest to relate to, in that the things he does are a little more realistic than chasing around playing tennis with strangers or carrying a fridge around Ireland. As a sometime lyricist as well, I felt a little kinship with Tony trying to persuade someone to sing a song of his own writing, even though he’s had a Top 5 single and I just have a lyric file and an unfulfilled dream. This time, he’s writing about something I can envisage myself doing, which I didn’t feel from his first two books.
As before, this is marketed as a travel book, although all Hawks does is recount his own travels, without giving any advice to anyone who may wish to travel where he did. For those aspiring songwriters, he doesn’t give much more information as to how to make it in the industry, either as most of the people he ends up working with are friends of friends and often quite big names in the music industry from several years ago. Not generally the kind of people that you’d be able to start a musical or writing career working with.
Although I found this to be the most accessible of Hawks’ books so far and, in parts, the funniest, it is the weakest of his books. In many ways, the humour seems a little forced and it feels more episodic and piecemeal than his earlier tales. However, for anyone who is already a fan of Tony Hawks writing, it’s well worth a look and for anyone with much interest in music in general, it’s also worth a look as some of the names he drops are pretty impressive indeed. It’s well worth picking up if Hawks’ writing or music are subjects that will interest you, but if you’re new to the amusing travelogue style of writing or to Tony Hawks, I’d recommend “Round Ireland With a Fridge” over “one Hit Wonderland”, but advise you to come back to this one once you’ve decided if the genre is to your taste.
This review may also appear under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The premise of this book is that Tony Hawks, lead singer of 80s one hit wonders 'Morris Minor and the Majors' accepts a wager that he'll never have another top ten hit in his lifetime. Fuelled by this, Mr Hawks goes in search of this elusive follow up in such diverse places as the USA, Africa, Holland and Albania, the latter with Sir Norman Wisdom's help...
It's an enjoyable read, Hawk's wit shines through and it raises a wry smile rather than a guffaw. It's very much one for a bedtime read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
After Round Ireland with a Fridge and Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, I was looking forward to reading the new book, and so took it as my preferred reading on holiday.
The tale of Tony trying to prove that he's not just a One Hit Wonder is laugh-out-loud funny in more than a few places. However, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed with the abrupt ending of the book. You feel that it just stops in the middle of the story - that certain threads of the tale weren't tied up. It is almost as if the book was rushed to the publisher, when waiting another couple of months to tie up the loose ends would have made for a better conclusion. Guessing how stories might have concluded can be fun, but not in this case - I wanted to know!
For me, Tony has never bettered Round Ireland with a Fridge, although Playing the Moldovans at Tennis was an entertaining tale too. For me, this book comes a weaker third place.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2007
I really enjoyed this book and rate it alongside the rest of Tony Hawks' books, although I think 'Playing the Moldovans at Tennis' is my favourite. I'm really surprised it has such negative and unpleasant comments from other reviewers. I loved it!
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2002
"Darling, you've done it again!"
Those were the words Noel Coward used to use if ever confronted by the tricky scenario of telling someone close that something they'd done was good when, quite plainly, he thought it wasn't.
Words vague enough to avoid upset but of course, deliver a verdict in Coward's own inimitable style.
And words which comic Tony Hawks also touches upon in his latest book.
But in this instance, I am glad to say that Hawks has indeed done it again.
And that's to come up with a laugh-out-loud, witty, entertaining and thoroughly absorbing tale, and perhaps, his best book yet.
To bring you up to date, Tony is the man who scored chart success with Stutter Rap with Morris Minor and the Majors before trekking round Ireland with a fridge and then beating the entire Moldovan football team at tennis.
And naturally, his latest book is in a similar deranged and surreal vein. This time, he's been given the task of notching up a Top 20 single - anywhere in the world within two years.
If he fails - embarrassment and misery all round. If he does it - Simon Cowell, Pop Idol's Mr Nasty gets to eat a huge hat-shaped cake.
Expect tales of Albania dentists, Sir Tim Rice playing a plastic toy saxophone, Norman Wisdom, hail-sodden Dutch telephone boxes and a Sudanese man desperate to get his hands on Tony's camera.
It's weird, wonderful and excellent stuff with a whole host of dry one-liners which will have you sniggering in public and drawing disapproving looks from others.
He might be a one hit wonder when it comes to music, but Tony Hawks has notched up a fabulous hat-trick with his latest effort.
* Darren Burke
on 11 December 2008
Before I read this book, I was only vaguely aware of Tony Hawks' existence via the BBC programme "Grumpy Old Men", but now he is one of my favourite comic-travel writers. I came across this book when we rented a cottage in Ireland. There it was, just standing on the shelf - and I'm glad I picked it up as it is definitely a terrific book. I was reading it deep into the night - proof of a real page-turner - dying to find out if he would be able to somehow overcome the odds and score a hit single.
In short, Tony had a hit back in 1988 as part of the three-piece band Morris Minor and the Majors, and makes a bet with someone that he can have another hit. It can be anywhere in the world and he can write or perform it.
My favourite part of the book is the chapters set in Nashville. I read this before I became the Country Music fan I am today, and I have to say this segment was not only highly amusing, but also very interesting as we got to see how tough it is for a songwriter outside the music industry to get his song recorded. He meets professional musicians and label executives, participates in a "guitar pull" and also visits the famed songwriters' haunt, The Bluebird Cafe. All the while trying to sell his novelty song "(You Broke My Heart Like a) Bird's Egg".
Tony manages to get Norman Wisdom to record a (different) song and, with Wisdom, plus a small band including Sir Tim Rice (!), promotes it in Albania, a place where the British 1960s comedian actually holds something approaching royal status.
The book takes place within a two-year time frame, with Tony changing the song several times, presumably to make it appropriate to his chosen artist's potential demographic.
One word of warning, however: Don't read the "about the author" section of his books until finishing this one as it reveals the outcome of his quest.
One Hit Wonderland is an entertaining place to be.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2004
I've somehow managed to read Mr Hawkes' book in reverse order, hence this being my introduction to his works (after smiling mildly to 'Stutter Rap' years ago). Perhaps that has made me over react to this offering as I've seen other fans describe this as his weakest.
Nonetheless, I was in stitches at the innocent humour. The writing style and observational views on life are right up my street. And the meeting with a certain Mr Cowell rounded things off superbly.
Any music lover, or comedy fan should seek this one out.