I always joke that I would love to be a one-hit wonder. My love for music is so great that I would relish the opportunity to have that one song climb the charts, stay for a while and then fade away like the morning dew. For every one-hit wonder, there are probably thousands of individuals holding on to a pipe dream. Having those meager ambitions are OK if you are a regular Joe, but would be dire for a recording artist. For an artist that dedicates time and money to their craft and struggles to get a recording contract, becoming a one-hit wonder is the last thing on their minds. Artists don’t plan to be one hit wonders; it’s something that just happens. Some artists end up being one hit wonders because of death – The Big Bopper, Their band/group breaking up – New Radicals or their genre/era of music comes to an end – Disco/Grunge. There are however other artists who tried for years and were never successful in finding another hit song. A few of those artists went on to have relatively successful careers, while others found new career paths.
So what exactly is a one-hit wonder? Though it might seem self-explanatory, there are different definitions and the criteria for casting an artist into the musical realm of has-been or never-was varies. Here are two helpful definitions: here and here.
For my post, I made it as simple and straightforward as possible. All the artists on my list had only one big hit; this is the song that came to define their careers. When you think of these artists, these are the songs that come to mind. It might be difficult to name another song, much less a minor hit by these artists. Sometimes, one hit song is enough.
These are my favorite One Hit Wonders (In no particular order):
1. Biz Markie – Just A Friend (1990)
2. Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy (1988)
3. Blind Melon – No Rain (1993)
4. New Radicals – You Get What You Give (1999)
5. 4 Non Blondes – Whats Up (1992)
6. Haddaway – What Is Love (1993)
7. The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony (1997)
8. Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares To You (1990)
9. Semisonic – Closing Time (1999)
10. Joan Osborne – One Of Us (1995)