One Hit Wonder noun (informal): A band or singer that everyone forgets about after their hit song runs its natural course into obscurity, because they can never get back onto the charts again. Most one-hit-wonders are that way because either they can’t write their own songs, or their own songs are crap.
We all know them. Absolutely banging tracks that turn out to be the only successful songs by that artist or band. Some one-hit wonder songs can even stand the test of time but you’ll be hard pressed to remember anything else that artist produced. Or that they produced and it charted well.
So we have compiled a list of some of our favourite one-hit wonders for you to reminisce and enjoy (and some that we didn’t even realise were one-hit wonders because they are just that good)!!
‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba
‘Tubthumping’, also commonly known as ‘I Get Knocked Down’ topped charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the US. It has sold over three million copies in the US alone and almost 900,000 in the UK. Although in the UK a tubthumper is a politician, this song was the band’s least political.
‘My Sharona’ by The Knack
This song topped the US Billboards top 100 for six weeks and was also number one on the charts in Australia and Canada. In the US ‘My Sharona’ was the best selling single of 1979. The lead singer of The Knack wrote this song about a girl, he met at a clothing store where she was working and he was in love with but wasn’t dating her at the time.
‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell
‘Tainted Love’ reached #1 in 17 different countries including Australia, Canada and the UK. It also broke a record at the time with 43 weeks in the US top 100. In 1981 it was the best selling song in the UK. The song was originally about a toxic relationship but as AIDS was discovered and began to spread through America the song took on a new meaning.
‘Come On Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners
‘Come On Eileen’ topped charts in Australia, the US and the UK. It was the biggest selling single in the UK of 1982. The song describes the thin line between love and lust and was based on a girl that Kevin Roland, the lead vocalist, grew up with and had a romantic relationship with.
‘Take On Me’ by A-ha
This single was released several times before it really broke ground. It spent 27 weeks in the US charts, with some time at the top, and topped charts in over 36 countries worldwide including Australia, Canada and Germany. It is one of the best selling singles of all time, selling over 7 million copies worldwide. It also made A-ha the first Norwegian band to have a #1 single in the US.
‘Mickey’ by Toni Basil
‘Mickey’ topped charts in Australia, America and Canada and has appeared on multiple ‘best of’ lists. Toni Basil was the first to produce, direct, and choreograph her own music video when she did so for this song. Some people believe the song to have underlying sexual connotations however she says that there is nothing dirty about it and it’s just a happy tune about a girl who really likes a guy.
‘Somebody That I used To Know’ by Gotye (feat. Kimbra)
This song topped the charts in over 27 countries including Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK. It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Gotye hadn’t originally planned to write the song as a duet but as he started it turned into one. Its success has been attributed to its cross over of genres as it was the first ever single to top all three of the Hot 100, Dance/Club Play Songs and Alternative Songs.
While he still commands a fervent audience in Australia, Gotye’s success never quite continued outside of this track in places such as the US, making him a one hit wonder.
‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster The People
‘Pumped Up Kicks’ topped several charts across the world including Australia and the US and peaked in the top 10 in many other countries. It has sold over 7 million copies world wide. The controversial song is about a kid that is slowly losing his mind and is plotting revenge. The song was never officially released as a single, and was originally put on the band’s official website before it went around the internet before being picked up by radio stations.
‘Little Talks’ by Of Monsters And Men
This song topped multiple charts across the world, peaking at #7 in Australia and #20 on Billboards Hot 100. ‘Little Talks’ has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. The song is about a relationship, however the band revealed that they don’t like to give too much away in their lyrics and prefer their fans to have to read into it themselves.
‘It’s Raining Men’ by The Weather Girls
A combo of R&B, soul and 1970s electronic dance music, ‘It’s Raining Men’ was nominated for a Grammy Award and also features on multiple greatest hits lists. It reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and peaked at #16 in Australia. This song was specifically directed to the gay community, despite being sung by women, and it objectified men in a way that had never been done in mainstream music before.
‘Whip It’ by DeVo
‘Whip It’ was successful in multiple countries and peaked at #14 on the US Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The song has been certified gold in the US and Canada for the amount of copies it has sold. This song was originally four separate parts of pieces the band had already written that they later composed into one song. Despite what people tend to believe it is not actually about beating off or sadomasochism.
‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ by Bobby McFerrin
This song reached #1 in both Australia, the US and Canada, and has been certified gold in the US for the amount of copies it has sold. Bobby McFerrin once said that he saw the song title on a poster and thought it was a pretty neat philosophy in four words. It won Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Song Of The Year in 1989.