One-hit wonder

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A one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. The term is most commonly used in regard to music performers with only one hit single that overshadows their other work. Sometimes, artists dubbed "one-hit wonders" in a particular country have had great success in other countries. Music artists with subsequent popular albums and hit listings are typically not considered a one-hit wonder. One-hit wonders usually see their popularity decreasing after their hit listing and most often don't ever return to hit listings with other songs or albums.

Music industry[edit]

In The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, music journalist Wayne Jancik defines a one-hit wonder as "an act that has won a position on [the] national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once."

This formal definition can[when?] include acts with greater success outside their lone pop hit and who are not typically considered one-hit wonders,[1] while at the same time excluding acts who have multiple hits which have been overshadowed by one signature song,[2] or those performers who never hit the top 40, but had exactly one song achieve mainstream popularity in some other fashion (that is, a "turntable hit" or a song that was ineligible for the top-40 charts).[3] One-hit wonders are usually exclusive to a specific market, either a country or a genre; a performer may be a one-hit wonder in one such arena, but have multiple hits (or no hits) in another.[citation needed]

"20 to 1: One Hit Wonders"[edit]

In 2006, the Australian series 20 to 1 aired the episode 20 to 1: One Hit Wonders, a list of songs that had been the only one by that artist to have success in Australia.

# Title Performer Year
20 "Tainted Love" Soft Cell 1981
19 "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)" Lou Bega 1999
18 "Venus" Shocking Blue 1969
17 "Achy Breaky Heart" Billy Ray Cyrus 1992
16 "Mickey" Toni Basil 1982
15 "I'll Be Gone" Spectrum 1971
14 "Tubthumping" Chumbawamba 1997
13 "Counting the Beat" The Swingers 1981
12 "Slice of Heaven" Dave Dobbyn and Herbs 1986
11 "Rockin' Robin" Bobby Day 1958
10 "Pass the Dutchie" Musical Youth 1982
9 "Don't Worry, Be Happy" Bobby McFerrin 1988
8 "99 Luftballons" Nena 1983
7 "Spirit in the Sky" Norman Greenbaum 1969
6 "Come on Eileen" Dexys Midnight Runners 1982
5 "Funkytown" Lipps Inc. 1979
4 "Turning Japanese" The Vapors 1980
3 "Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles 1979
2 "Born to Be Alive" Patrick Hernandez 1979
1 "My Sharona" The Knack 1979

C4's UChoose40: One Hit Wonders[edit]

In September 2006, New Zealand's terrestrial music channel, C4, aired an episode dedicated to "One Hit Wonders" on the weekly theme-based chart show, UChoose40, where the chart was ranked entirely by viewer's votes from the website.[4][5]

The top ten ranking are as follows:

# Title Performer Year
1 "Teenage Dirtbag" Wheatus 2000
2 "How Bizarre" OMC 1996
3 "Because I Got High" Afroman 2001
4 "Ice Ice Baby" Vanilla Ice 1990
5 "Eye of the Tiger" Survivor 1982
6 "Tubthumping" Chumbawamba 1997
7 "My Sharona" The Knack 1979
8 "Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles 1979
9 "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Baha Men 2000
10 "I Touch Myself" Divinyls 1991

Lists of one-hit wonders in the United Kingdom[edit]

Note: not to be confused with the The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles list from 1979 to 2001 which lists acts with their only Top 75 charting record being a one number hit.

The Nation's Favourite One Hit Wonders (2016)[edit]

A UK poll of 2,000 music fans compiled by marketing research company OnePoll.[6]

  1. Video Killed the Radio StarBuggles (1979)
  2. It's Raining MenThe Weather Girls (1982)
  3. Spirit in the SkyNorman Greenbaum (1969)
  4. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)The Proclaimers (1988)
  5. Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of)Lou Bega (1999)
  6. Nothing Compares 2 USinead O'Connor (1990)
  7. Ice Ice BabyVanilla Ice (1990)
  8. Don't Leave Me This WayThelma Houston (1976)
  9. Cotton Eye JoeRednex (1995)
  10. MacarenaLos del Rio (1993)
  11. Sugar SugarThe Archies (1969)
  12. Who Let the Dogs OutBaha Men (2000)
  13. Kung Fu FightingCarl Douglas (1974)
  14. Seasons in the SunTerry Jacks (1973)
  15. Saturday NightWhigfield (1995)
  16. There She GoesThe La's (1988)
  17. Achy Breaky HeartBilly Ray Cyrus (1992)
  18. Tell Laura I Love HerRicky Valance (1960)
  19. Me and Mrs JonesBilly Paul (1972)
  20. MickeyToni Basil (1982)
  21. Don't Worry Be HappyBobby McFerrin (1988)
  22. StayShakespears Sister (1992)
  23. Play That Funky MusicWild Cherry (1976)
  24. What Is LoveHaddaway (1993)
  25. 99 Red BalloonsNena (1983)
  26. Jump AroundHouse of Pain (1992)
  27. My SharonaThe Knack (1979)
  28. We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes OffJermaine Stewart (1986)
  29. Turning JapaneseThe Vapors (1980)
  30. MMMBopHanson (1997)
  31. In the Year 2525Zager & Evans (1969)
  32. FunkytownLipps Inc. (1979)
  33. A Girl Like YouEdwyn Collins (1994)
  34. Pass the DutchieMusical Youth (1982)
  35. Rock Me AmadeusFalco (1985)
  36. The HustleVan McCoy (1975)
  37. Witch DoctorRoss Bagdasarian (1958)
  38. TubthumpingChumbawamba (1997)
  39. The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)Las Ketchup (2002)
  40. GrandadClive Dunn (1971)
  41. SpacemanBabylon Zoo (1996)
  42. Groove Is in the HeartDeee-Lite (1990)
  43. Don't Give Up On UsDavid Soul (1976)
  44. BarbadosTypically Tropical (1975)
  45. UnbelievableEMF (1990)
  46. Too ShyKajagoogoo (1983)
  47. Pop MuzikM (1979)
  48. You Get What You GiveNew Radicals (1998)
  49. The Safety DanceMen Without Hats (1983)
  50. Somebody's Watching MeRockwell (1984)

One-Hit Wonders from the 1980s[edit]

Classic Pop magazine's list[7] only includes acts who made the UK’s Top 40 (as compiled by Gallup) once only in their careers and does not include acts which feature members from other successful bands from the 1980s. The top ten is as follows...

  1. "The First Picture Of You" - The Lotus Eaters
  2. "Twilight Cafe" - Susan Fassbender
  3. "Big In Japan" - Alphaville
  4. "Broken Land" - The Adventures
  5. "Waiting For A Train" - Flash And The Pan
  6. "Waiting For A Star To Fall" - Boy Meets Girl
  7. "99 Red Balloons" - Nena
  8. "Let My People Go-Go" - The Rainmakers
  9. "The Captain Of Her Heart" - Double
  10. "Kissing With Confidence" - Will Powers

One-Hit Wonders from the 1990s[edit]

In 2020, Absolute Radio 90s compiled a list of 'the 20 greatest one-hit wonders of the 1990s' as part of their 10th birthday celebrations, the list was as follows...(listed in alphabetical order): [8]

  • Babylon Zoo - "Spaceman" (1996)
  • The Boo Radleys - "Wake Up Boo!" (1995)
  • Bran Van 3000 – "Drinking In LA" (1997)
  • Meredith Brooks - "Bitch" (1997)
  • Charles & Eddie – "Would I Lie To You?" (1992)
  • Cornershop - "Brimful of Asha" Norman Cook Remix (1997)
  • Crash Test Dummies – "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" (1993)
  • 4 Non Blondes – "What's Up?" (1993)
  • The La’s - "There She Goes" (1990)
  • Len - "Steal My Sunshine" (1999)
  • Baz Luhrmann - "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" (1999)
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "The Impression That I Get" (1997)
  • Mr Oizo – "Flat Beat" (1999)
  • The New Radicals – "You Get What You Give" (1998)
  • Olive - "You’re Not Alone" (1997)
  • OMC - "How Bizarre" (1995)
  • Spacehog - "In The Meantime" (1996)
  • Spin Doctors – "Two Princes" (1993)
  • Stiltskin - "Inside" (1994)
  • White Town – "Your Woman" (1997)

In addition to these one-hit wonders, the NME also recognised the following hits in their one-hit wonders feature from 2014 (also in alphabetical order): [9]

  • Tasmin Archer – "Sleeping Satellite"
  • Blind Melon – "No Rain"
  • Chumbawamba – "Tubthumping"
  • Eagle-Eye Cherry – "Save Tonight"
  • Deee-Lite – "Groove Is In The Heart"
  • Deep Blue Something – "Breakfast at Tiffany’s"
  • Divinyls – "I Touch Myself"
  • Gay Dad – "From Earth With Love"
  • Green Jellÿ – "Three Little Piggies"
  • Andreas Johnson – "Glorious"
  • Ini Kamoze – "Hotstepper"
  • Kris Kross – "Jump"
  • Lisa Loeb – "Stay"
  • The Mock Turtles – "Can You Dig It?"
  • Joan Osborne – "One Of Us"
  • The Rembrandts – "I’ll Be There For You"
  • Rozalla – "Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)"
  • Scatman John – "Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)"
  • Semisonic – "Closing Time"
  • Sir Mix A Lot – "Baby’s Got Back"
  • Soul Asylum – "Runaway Train"
  • Stereo MCs – "Connected"
  • Rednex - "Cotton Eyed Joe"
  • The Wallflowers – "One Headlight"
  • Whale – "Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe"

One-Hit Wonders from the 2000s[edit]

From the BBC in March 2017 (based on a combination of chart position and sales)[10]

  • Afroman - "Because I Got High" (2001)
  • The Bravery - "An Honest Mistake" (2005)
  • DJ Pied Piper & The Masters of Ceremonies - "Do You Really Like It?" (2001)
  • Duffy - "Mercy" (2008)
  • Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" (2006)
  • Junior Senior - "Move Your Feet" (2002/3)
  • Las Ketchup - "The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)" (2002)
  • Spiller (featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor) - "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)" (2000)

From the BBC Radio 2 show One Hit Wonders with OJ Borg which started on 2 November 2020...[11][12](in alphabetical order):

  • Bodyrockers - "I Like The Way"[13]
  • Caesars - "Jerk It Out"[14]
  • Kevin Lyttle (feat. Spraga Benz) - "Turn Me On"[15]
  • Nizlopi - "The JCB Song"[16]
  • Planet Funk - "Chase The Sun"[17]
  • Sweet Female Attitude - "Flowers"[18]
  • The Temper Trap - "Sweet Disposition"[19]

One-Hit Wonders from the 2010s[edit]

The Official Charts Company's list[20] of the biggest one-hit wonder releases of the 2010s, is based on sales and streams. Like the Classic Pop list it uses the UK singles Top 40 chart as the cut-off point. The top ten is as follows...

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Melis, Matt; Consequence of Sound staff (20 September 2016). "The 100 Best One-Hit Wonder Songs". Consequence of Sound.
  2. ^ Mann, Brent (2003). 99 Red Balloons ...and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806525167.
  3. ^ Rahsheeda, Ali (2 May 2013). "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s". [[]]. Viacom International. Rahsheeda cites at least three examples of this: Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio," which peaked at number 58 in the U.S.; The Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like," which peaked at number 62; and The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men," which peaked at number 46 (but was a chart-topper on the dance charts and reached the top 40 on the hip-hop charts).
  4. ^ Life (14 November 2009). "One Hit Wonders". onehittwonders.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on 12 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "OnePoll Market Research & PR Surveys | New York, California, Texas, London". OnePoll Research.
  7. ^ "Top 40 80s One-Hit Wonders". 19 February 2019.
  8. ^ "The 20 greatest one-hit wonders of the 1990s". Absolute Radio.
  9. ^ "90s One-Hit Wonders That'll Make You Feel Nostalgic - Where Are They Now?". 10 December 2014.
  10. ^ "What happened to the one-hit wonders of the noughties? - BBC Music". www.bbc.co.uk. 27 March 2017.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ [3]
  14. ^ [4]
  15. ^ [5]
  16. ^ [6]
  17. ^ [7]
  18. ^ [8]
  19. ^ [9]
  20. ^ "The Top 40 biggest one-hit wonders of the decade". www.officialcharts.com.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]