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 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
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 and 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:

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 (2006)
  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. Stay – Shakespeare's 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. Ooh Eeh Ooh Ah Aah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing BangWitch Doctor (1998)
  38. TubthumpingChumbawamba (1997)
  39. The Ketchup SongLas 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 (1999)
  49. The Safety DanceMen Without Hats (1983)
  50. Somebody's Watching MeRockwell (1984)

See also[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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  3. ^ Rahsheeda, Ali (2 May 2013). "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s". [[]]. Viacom International.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) 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". 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: The Nation's Favourite One Hit Wonders


External links[edit]