The Vapors

In the rich tapestry of music history, there are artists who briefly shine in the limelight, leaving an indelible mark with a single, unforgettable song. The Vapors, a British new wave band, fall into this category, celebrated primarily for their 1980 hit "Turning Japanese." Though they may be labeled as one-hit wonders, their infectious tune and its lasting impact make them a memorable part of pop culture.

The Birth of The Vapors:

The Vapors originated in Guildford, Surrey, in the late 1970s. The band consisted of David Fenton (vocals/guitar), Ed Bazalgette (lead guitar), Steve Smith (bass), and Howard Smith (drums). They started as a punk rock outfit but later embraced the new wave sound that was gaining traction in the British music scene.

"Turning Japanese" - The Breakout Hit:

In 1980, The Vapors released "Turning Japanese." The song's catchy melody, distinctive guitar riff, and enigmatic lyrics about unrequited love captured the spirit of the era. "Turning Japanese" quickly climbed the charts, reaching No. 3 in the UK and No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

The Impact and Legacy of "Turning Japanese":

"Turning Japanese" was more than just a hit; it became a cultural phenomenon. Its infectious chorus, featuring the memorable line "I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so," entered the lexicon of pop culture. The song's universal theme of heartache and obsession resonated with audiences, making it an enduring classic.

The Aftermath and Subsequent Work:

Despite the massive success of "Turning Japanese," The Vapors struggled to replicate that level of achievement with their subsequent releases. They released two albums, "New Clear Days" (1980) and "Magnets" (1981), but failed to produce another hit of the same magnitude.

The band disbanded in 1982, and its members pursued individual projects. David Fenton continued to make music and released solo albums, while the other members explored different aspects of the music industry.

The Lasting Legacy:

The Vapors' legacy is firmly anchored to "Turning Japanese." While they may be celebrated primarily as a one-hit wonder, that one hit continues to resonate with audiences worldwide. "Turning Japanese" remains a staple on '80s playlists, in films, and on television shows, ensuring its enduring place in pop culture.


The Vapors' journey from obscurity to international fame with "Turning Japanese" is a classic story in the world of music. While they may be remembered primarily as one-hit wonders, that one hit stands as a testament to the power of a catchy, unforgettable melody to capture the spirit of an era and leave an indelible mark on the soundtrack of our lives.