A one-hit wonder is a musical artist who is successful with one hit song, but without a comparable subsequent hit. The term may also be applied to an artist who is remembered for only one hit despite other successes. This list contains artists known primarily for one hit song in the United States, who are described as one-hit wonders by the media.
Music reviewers and journalists sometimes describe a musical artist as a one-hit wonder, based on their professional assessment of chart success, sales figures and fame.
For the purpose of his book 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 Billboards national, pop, Top 40 just once." In his definition of an "act", Jancik distinguishes between a solo performer and any group he or she may have performed in (thus, for example, Roger Daltrey's "Without Your Love" is counted despite Daltrey's numerous hits as frontman for the Who), and a number of musicians appear multiple times, either with multiple bands or as a member of a band and as a solo artist. (Eponymous bands are generally not separated; thus Charlie Daniels is not counted as a one-hit wonder for "Uneasy Rider" and the hits of the Charlie Daniels Band are credited to him.)
Fred Bronson, a journalist and former writer for Billboard magazine, in his book Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits, uses the criterion that an artist is ineligible to be categorized as a "one-hit wonder" if they have a second song listed on the Billboard Hot 100.
In both cases, the Billboard Hot 100 was used as an objective standard for one-hit wonder status, since Billboard magazine published the books.
Disc jockey and music writer Brent Mann points out how some artists have been called a "one-hit wonder" despite having other charting singles. As an example, English-born singer Albert Hammond enjoyed success with "It Never Rains in Southern California" (1972) rising to number 5 in the US, but his follow-up single, "I'm a Train" was dismissed by Mann as "totally forgotten" even though it charted at number 31 in 1974.Consequence of Sound editor Matt Melis lists Beck ("Loser") and the Grateful Dead ("Touch of Grey") as "technically" being one-hit wonders despite their large bodies of work.Entertainment Weekly mentions prolific artist Frank Zappa as a one-hit wonder because his only Top 40 hit was "Valley Girl" in 1982.
British musician Tony Burrows sang the lead vocal on five one-hit wonders: Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" (February 1970); White Plains' "My Baby Loves Lovin'" (March 1970); the Pipkins' "Gimme Dat Ding" (April 1970); "Beach Baby" (July 1974) by the First Class; and "United We Stand" (1970) by the first incarnation of the Brotherhood of Man.
Murray Head and Yvonne Elliman each sing in two US hits, first as members of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, followed years later by singles under their own names. Playing the part of Judas, Head was heard singing on the title song "Superstar", which rose to number 14 in 1971. In 1984, Head broke into the Top 40 once more as himself, with "One Night in Bangkok". In the same manner, Elliman, playing Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, sang on the hit song "I Don't Know How to Love Him", which rose to number 13 in 1971. In 1977 she took the Bee Gees composition "If I Can't Have You" to number 1 under her own name.
English singer Limahl sang lead vocal on two US one-hit wonder songs; the first, "Too Shy" in 1983, came during his tenure as the frontman for the group Kajagoogoo. The next year, he had another hit single as a solo artist with "The NeverEnding Story", the title track to the film The NeverEnding Story. The latter song charted at number 17 in May 1985.
List of one-hit wonders in the US
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- ^ Bronson, Fred (July 30, 2005). "All-Time Hottest Songs of Summer". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 35. Nielsen Business Media. pp. 34-35. ISSN 0006-2510.
- ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Me and Mrs. Jones: The Best of Billy Paul - Billy Paul". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Greene, Jo-Anne. "Tinga Stewart - 'Why Can't We Live Together?' Composed by Timmy Thomas". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
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- ^ Demalon, Tom. "Clint Holmes | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
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- ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Best of Yvonne Elliman - Yvonne Elliman". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ "The Music Career of Dean Friedman - Mental Itch". MentalItch.com. Retrieved 2018.
- ^ a b c d e "The Proclaimer's 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)' voted one of nation's favourite one-hit wonders". The Herald. Newsquest. October 26, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Griffith, JT. "Greatest Hits: Puttin' on the Ritz - Taco". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Marx, Tommy (July 17, 2009). "One Hit Wonder: Baltimora". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b Horton, Matthew (April 19, 2012). "15 Actually-Quite-Amazing One Hit Wonders". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Marx, Tommy (August 28, 2009). "One Hit Wonder: Patrick Swayze". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Marx, Tommy (August 7, 2009). "One Hit Wonder: Sinead O'Connor". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Owens, Thom. "The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover to Cover - Billy Ray Cyrus". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Alston, Joshua (February 4, 2016). "After "Lovefool," The Cardigans broke up with the one-hit-wonder sound". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Woodstra, Chris. "A Few Small Repairs - Shawn Colvin". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c EW Staff (September 25, 2015). "How one-hit wonder artists fare on their second singles". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c d e Sastry, Keertana. "25 One-Hit Wonders From The '90s & Early 2000s You Totally Forgot Existed -- LISTEN". Bustle.com. Retrieved 2018.
- ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Hoku - Hoku". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c d e f Berkowitz, Stuart (June 8, 2015). "The Top 10 One-Hit Wonders of the '00s". CraveOnline. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c d Nicastro, Chris (September 28, 2016). "The 10 Best One-Hit Wonders of the 2000s". Paste. Wolfgang's Vault. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c Farella, Dylan (September 23, 2014). "How Much Money Artists Really Make From One-Hit Wonders, And What Happens To Them After". Elite Daily. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c Devora, Abby (September 25, 2014). "9 Girl Group One-Hit Wonders You Need To Remember Right Now". MTV. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c d e Wilson, Angela (January 8, 2015). "#TBT: What Happened?! 8 of the Biggest One Hit Wonders". Vibe. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Sblendorio, Peter (July 27, 2017). "One-hit wonder Willa Ford blames 9/11 attacks for contributing to end of her music career". New York Daily News. Tronc. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Jeffries, David. "Khia | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Currin, Grayson Have (May 8, 2013). "The Darkness and the woes of revivalist one-hit wonders". Indy Week. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c TSS Crew (January 13, 2015). "Ranking Rap's 10 Biggest One-Hit Wonders of the Past Decade". Uproxx. Uproxx Media Group. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Marx, Tommy (October 16, 2009). "One Hit Wonder: Snow Patrol". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ a b c Schwartz, Danny (June 25, 2017). "6 One-Hit Wonders From 2006". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Fleischer, Adam (August 21, 2015). "Remember The 'A Bay Bay' Guy? He's Back With A New DJ Mustard And Ty Dolla $ign Song". MTV. Retrieved 2017.
- Babiuk, Andy (2001). Beatles Gear. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879306625.
- Barrett, John (September 28, 2011). "25 Awesome One-Hit Wonders of the 1990s". Paste. Wolfgang's Vault.
- Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879306533.
- Bogdanov, Vladimir (2003). All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879307448.
- Bronson, Fred (2003). Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 9780823077380.
- Cantor, Paul (May 15, 2012). "The 100 Best Hip-Hop One-Hit Wonders". Complex. Complex Media.
- Dodd, Philip; Du Noyer, Paul (1999). The Encyclopedia of Singles. Paragon. ISBN 9780752533377.
- Fuse staff (September 25, 2015). "Spin 14 of Pop-Punk's Best One-Hit Wonders". Fuse.
- Galindo, Brian (June 10, 2014). "20 Forgotten Early '00s One-Hit Wonders". BuzzFeed.
- Gharnit, Yasmeen; Manders, Hayden (November 10, 2015). "One-Hit Wonders From The 2000s: Where Are They Now?". Nylon.
- Glatter, Hayley; Wilbur, Hayley (April 17, 2015). "12 One-Hit Wonders We're Still Singing". Seventeen. Hearst Corporation.
- Graves, Cory (March 23, 2011). "The 30 Best One-Hit Wonders of '90s Hip-Hop". Dallas Observer. Voice Media Group.
- Greenblatt, Leah (April 7, 2009). "VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '80s: Do You Agree?". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc.
- Hoffman, Frank (May 23, 2016). Chronology of American Popular Music, 1900-2000. Routledge. ISBN 9781135868864.
- Jancik, Wayne (1998). The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7622-9.
- Jasen, David A. (October 15, 2013). A Century of American Popular Music. Routledge. ISBN 9781135352714.
- Joseph, Delenda (November 23, 2016). "Here's What The One-Hit Wonders Of '90s Rap Are Up To Now". Uproxx. Uproxx Media Group.
- Malinowski, Jamie (July 1985). "Once Is Enough: Rock's One-Hit Wonders". Spin. Vol. 1 no. 3. Spin Media. pp. 62-64. ISSN 0886-3032.
- Mann, Brent (2003). 99 Red Balloons ...and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806525167.
- Melis, Matt; Consequence of Sound staff (September 20, 2016). "The 100 Best One-Hit Wonder Songs". Consequence of Sound.
- Morgan, Chris (May 27, 2015). "Here Are The Top 20 One-Hit Wonders Of '90s Alternative Rock". Uproxx. Uproxx Media Group.
- Morrison, Julia (October 2, 2017). "19 2000s One-Hit Wonders You Loved at the Time But Totally Forgot About". Alloy. Defy Media.
- Musto, Michael (October 1, 2014). "The 45 Best One-Hit Wonders". Paper.
- Newman, Melinda (July 30, 2005). "One-Hit Wonderland". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 35. Nielsen Business Media. pp. 32-33. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Rahsheeda, Ali (May 2, 2013). "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s". VH1. Viacom International.
- Rettenmund, Matthew (October 15, 1996). Totally Awesome 80s: A Lexicon of the Music, Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Stars, and Trends of that Decadent Decade. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312144364.
- Studwell, William E.; Lonergan, David (May 22, 2014). The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from Its Beginnings to the Mid-1970s. Routledge. ISBN 9781317720683.
- Stutz, Colin (June 21, 2015). "Whatever Happened... 15 One-Hit Wonders From the Past 15 Years". CraveOnline.
- Unterberger, Richie (1998). Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll. Backbeat Books, Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781617744693.
- Whitburn, Joel (2000). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7690-3.