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 top-20 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 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]

VH1's list of "10 greatest one-hit wonders"[edit]

In 2002, the American cable network VH1 aired a countdown of the VH1's 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders, hosted by William Shatner.[citation needed] It listed musicians with only one American hit, regardless of international success.

The top ten consisted of:

  1. "Macarena" – Los Del Rio (1996)
  2. "Tainted Love" – Soft Cell (1982)
  3. "Come on Eileen" – Dexys Midnight Runners (1982)
  4. "I'm Too Sexy" – Right Said Fred (1991)
  5. "Mickey" – Toni Basil (1982)
  6. "Who Let the Dogs Out?" – Baha Men (2000)
  7. "Ice Ice Baby" – Vanilla Ice (1990)
  8. "Eye of the Tiger” - Survivor (1982)
  9. "Rico Suave" – Gerardo (1990)
  10. "99 Luftballons" – Nena (1984)

Channel 4's "50 Greatest One Hit Wonders"[edit]

A 2006 television poll, conducted by Channel 4 in the UK, asked viewers to select their favourite one-hit wonder from a shortlist of 60. Respondents could also vote by e-mail to select a song that was not on the original list, if they so wished. The top 10 were:[citation needed]

  1. "Kung Fu Fighting" – Carl Douglas
  2. "99 Red Balloons" – Nena
  3. "Sugar, Sugar" – The Archies
  4. "Can You Dig It?" – The Mock Turtles
  5. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" – Monty Python
  6. "Spirit in the Sky" – Norman Greenbaum
  7. "Who Let the Dogs Out?" – Baha Men
  8. "The Safety Dance" – Men Without Hats
  9. "Take On Me" - A-ha
  10. "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please" – Splodgenessabounds

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

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:

  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)

Classical music one-hit wonders[edit]

Deutsche Grammophon and Vox Records have both released albums of classical one-hit wonders. Many of the works on the CDs are from composers who have two or more works that are popular in classical music circles, but have a single work that has become popular outside these circles. The two CDs differ, but the works common to both are:

  1. Johann PachelbelCanon in D
  2. Samuel BarberAdagio for Strings
  3. attrib. Tomaso AlbinoniAdagio in G minor (this was written by Remo Giazotto and contains no Albinoni material)
  4. Jean-Joseph MouretFanfare-Rondeau from Symphonies and Fanfares for the King's Supper (theme to Masterpiece, formerly Masterpiece Theatre)
  5. Luigi Boccherini – minuet from String Quintet in E
  6. Jeremiah Clarke – "Trumpet Voluntary", more properly known as "Prince of Denmark's March"
  7. Jules Massenet – Meditation from his opera Thaïs
  8. Pietro Mascagni – "Cavalleria rusticana"
  9. Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov – "Caucasian Sketches"
  10. Amilcare Ponchielli – "Dance of the Hours" from the opera La Gioconda
  11. Charles-Marie Widor – Toccata from Symphony for Organ No. 5
  12. Marc-Antoine CharpentierTe Deum
  13. Tekla Bądarzewska-BaranowskaMaiden's Prayer

Other examples of classical one-hit wonders are Léo Delibes's "The Flower Duet", Vittorio Monti's Csárdás, Enrico Toselli's Serenata 'Rimpianto' Op.6 No.1, popularly known as "Toselli's Serenade", and Jean Paul Egide Martini's Plaisir d'Amour.

Outside of music[edit]

The term one-hit wonder is occasionally applied to other media. For example, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander earned reputations as television one-hit wonders after the failures of the shows they attempted after starring in the major hit sitcom Seinfeld.[6] (The other co-star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, eventually found success with two other sitcoms, The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep.)[7] (Seinfeld has continued to be a success in his original medium of stand-up comedy, and Alexander has continued to act in films.)

Film and television actors whose careers are overshadowed by one defining role risk being typecast.[8] Most of the supporting actors of the series Star Trek never had a substantial acting career outside that franchise.[9][10]

In sport[edit]

In the sports world, there are several athletes known to casual sports fans for one event in their careers. Examples include Paul Henderson, a Canadian ice hockey player who scored the deciding goal in the 1972 Summit Series; Mike Jones, an American football player who tackled Kevin Dyson at the one-yard line on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV; David Tyree, a wide receiver who became famous for a helmet-assisted catch during the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII; Timmy Smith and Mark Rypien, both Washington Redskins stars that ended up out of football shortly after winning Super Bowls XXII and XXVI respectively; Armando Galarraga, a pitcher who is primarily known for one near-perfect game he played in June 2010. New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen, who had a lifetime record of 81-91, is known for pitching a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

NASCAR driver Derrike Cope, who won the 1990 Daytona 500 in a surprise victory after Dale Earnhardt blew a tire on the last lap (though he later won a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race that season at Dover International Speedway); Buster Douglas, who was the first boxer to ever knock Mike Tyson out; and Jimmy Glass, a goalkeeper, who is remembered for scoring a goal in the last seconds of the final day of 1998–99 English Third Division that kept his club in The Football League. His subsequently released biography was titled One-Hit Wonder.

Some athletes have become remembered for a single mistake in their careers as opposed to a triumphant moment. Notable examples of such athletes include Buffalo Bills placekicker Scott Norwood, who is infamous for a missed 47-yard field goal that cost his team the Super Bowl; Bill Buckner, who at the 1986 World Series made a fielding error in which a baseball rolled through his legs; Steve Smith, who scored an own goal near the end of the third period in game 7 of the 1986 Stanley Cup Quarter Finals causing the Edmonton Oilers to lose to the Calgary Flames; and Jim Marshall, who, as part of the Minnesota Vikings, ran 66 yards (mistakenly into his own end zone) and scored a safety for the San Francisco 49ers.

In tennis, the term "one-slam wonder" can be referred towards players who have either won only one Grand Slam singles title during his or her career, or players who have currently only won one Grand Slam singles title but have the potential to win even more in their careers.[11] Andy Roddick is said to have enjoyed a successful tennis career, despite winning only one Grand Slam singles title – the 2003 US Open – in his entire career.[12] Other players who won only one Grand Slam singles title in their entire career include Pat Cash, Carlos Moyá, Petr Korda, Gastón Gaudio, Thomas Johansson, Albert Costa, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Anastasia Myskina, Yannick Noah, Gabriela Sabatini, Jana Novotná, Andrés Gómez, Conchita Martinez, Michael Chang, Ana Ivanovic and Jeļena Ostapenko.[13]

In darts, there are also some players that had only a very short run of success. Kirk Shepherd provides one example - he reached the 2008 PDC World Championship final as a non-seeded qualifier, but never managed to have success at another major tournament afterwards and was sometimes called a one-hit-wonder by the media.[14]

The term "cup of coffee" is used to describe a baseball or ice hockey player who has only a short stint (i.e., long enough to drink a cup of coffee and not do much else) in Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League respectively and then spend the rest of their careers in the minor leagues.

See also[edit]

Notes[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". VH1. Viacom International. Rahsheeda cites at least two examples of this, Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio," which peaked at number 58 in the U.S., 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. ^ Baerg, Greg (5 March 2002). "'Curb's' Larry David: 'Seinfeld' Curse 'Idiotic'". Zap2it. Retrieved 17 May 2007.
  7. ^ Susman, Gary (21-03-2006) "Has Julia Louis Dreyfus broken the 'Seinfeld' curse?" Entertainment Weekly Retrieved on 29-08-2008
  8. ^ Marriott, Michael (15 September 1991). "TV VIEW; THE 'STAR TREK' CURSE: A LIFETIME STARFLEET COMMISSION". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  9. ^ Leney, Peter (13 March 1970). "Star Trek Player Nichelle Nichols Performing Here Tonight, Saturday". Calgary Herald. p. 28. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  10. ^ Rioux, Terry Lee (2005). From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy. Simon and Schuster. pp. 166–167, 297. ISBN 0-7434-5762-5.
  11. ^ "Tennis News, Photos, Stats, Scores, Schedule & Videos". Yahoo Sports.
  12. ^ "Tennis star Roddick confident of wiping out "one-slam wonder" tag – TopNews". Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Players". ATP World Tour. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  14. ^ Walters, Mike (24 December 2008). "Darts: Kirk Shepherd threatens to go back to day job". mirror. Retrieved 23 February 2019.

References[edit]

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