List of one-hit wonders in the United States

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A one-hit wonder is a Top 40 phenomenon; the combination of artist and song that scores huge in the music industry with one single, but is unable to repeat the achievement. The term can refer to the artist, the song, or both together.


Music journalist Wayne Jancik, whose book, The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, defines a one-hit wonder rather conservatively, as "an act that has won a position on Billboard's national, pop, Top 40 just once." He therefore includes influential performers such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix solely on the basis of their Top 40 performance on the Billboard Hot 100 (the criteria thus ignores competing charts such as those published by Mediabase and the now defunct Cash Box and Radio & Records). In his definition of an "act", Jancik distinguishes between a solo performer and any group he or she may have performed in; thus Roger Daltrey is distinguished from The Who, Joplin is distinguished from Big Brother and the Holding Company and Ted Nugent is distinguished from The Amboy Dukes. He restricts his reporting time to the period from the start of the "rock-and-roll era" (defined by the author as 1 January 1955) to 31 December 1992. The latter date was picked to allow a five-year "lag time" before publication for a listed one-hit wonder to produce a second hit; this unfortunately does not allow for a longer hiatus between hits for a particular performer. For example, Lenny Kravitz is listed for "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" (No. 2, August 1991);[1] the book therefore misses subsequent hits, such as "Fly Away" (which hit number 12 on the Hot 100) and "Dig In" (which hit number 31 on the Hot 100).

Jancik's The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, because of the publisher's limitation on size, only includes the top twenty One-Hit Wonders, or roughly half of the one-hit wonders that made the Top 40 from 1955 through 1992. The author has published a website "One-Hit Wonders," The Book, which now includes all the one-hit wonders profiles he had originally written for the book.

Fred Bronson, a journalist and former writer for Billboard magazine, in his book Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits, uses the criterion that if an artist has another song hitting the Billboard Hot 100, is ineligible to be considered a one-hit wonder.[2]

Songs by decade[edit]

Each decade of one-hit wonders has a corresponding entry:

One-hit wonders from other media[edit]

Actor Steve Martin scored one Top 40 hit with the song "King Tut", which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978.
Comedian/radio personality Rick Dees scored one Top 40 hit with the song "Disco Duck", which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976.

The list of Billboard one-hit wonders also features artists better known for talents other than pop vocals:

Muppeteer Jim Henson hit the Billboard Top 40 twice: as Ernie with "Rubber Duckie" (No. 16, September 1970),[28] and Kermit the Frog with "The Rainbow Connection" (No. 25, November 1979)[16]

Multiple one-hit wonders[edit]

Singer Tony Burrows recorded songs with five different one-hit wonder groups.

A number of artists have also been multiple one-hit wonders, having a hit both with a group and solo or as a member of two (or more) different groups.

Members of two one-hit acts[edit]

Members of three or more one-hit acts[edit]

Joey Levine charted under three different names: "Run Run Run" as The Third Rail, "Quick Joey Small" as the Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, and "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" as Reunion. All three were session "groups" in name only. Levine also recorded with The Ohio Express and had multiple hits under that brand.

J. D. Souther charted exactly once as part of at least three acts: "You're Only Lonely" as a solo artist (No. 7, November 1979), "Fallin' in Love" with Souther–Hillman–Furay Band (No. 27, 1974) and "Her Town Too" as a duet with James Taylor (No. 11, 1981).

Richie Furay charted exactly ones as part of three acts: "Fallin' in Love" with Souther–Hillman–Furay Band, "I Still Have Dreams" as a solo artist (No. 39, December 1979) and "For What It's Worth" with Buffalo Springfield (No. 7, 1967).

Rupert Holmes, in addition to three top-40 hits under his own name, was also a member of three one-hit wonder studio groups: The Cuff Links, The Street People ("Jennifer Tomkins," No. 36 in March 1970) and The Buoys ("Timothy," No. 17, July 1971).

British singer Tony Burrows may be the most prolific "one-hit wonder" — he sang lead vocals on five singular hits for five groups in the United States:

Solo career one-hit wonders[edit]

Singer Roger Daltrey of music group The Who became a one-hit wonder with his solo hit "Without Your Love", which peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.
Singer Nick Lachey of music group 98 Degrees became a one-hit wonder with his solo hit "What's Left of Me", which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006.

A number of members of successful bands became one-hit wonders when they went solo:

Re-recordings of songs by one-hit wonders[edit]

Some songs have been solitary hits for different acts, in some cases almost simultaneously on the charts, due to an artist or label trying to "cash in" on the popularity of a particular song.[52] In other cases, a song may be rerecorded as a cover much later, providing a second artist with the same solo hit.

See also[edit]


  • Jancik, Wayne (1998). The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7622-9
  • Whitburn, Joel (2000). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7690-3


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