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The 100 Best One-Hit Wonder Songs

Because sometimes one hit is all you need...

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    If anyone ever asks you to work on a list of the best one-hit wonders, do yourself a favor: Smile, pivot, and flee full speed in the opposite direction faster than you can say, “Oh … my … God, Becky.” We all know what a one-hit wonder is, right? Um, no you actually probably don’t. We’re still not sure that we’ve got it entirely figured out. The standard definition (determined by who, Right Said Fred?) of a one-hit wonder is a band who has cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 only once. What, you had a late-career single make 41? Sorry, thanks for playing, but charting 41 isn’t the same as 40, right? Um, no … maybe? It gets no easier when you have to wade through dozens of other Billboard charts that count for everything except, apparently, determining a one-hit wonder. And what about all those charts in other countries – yeah, we ignored them. Great, this list is making us xenophobic now.

    But that’s getting pretty damn technical, and we’re not numbers people here. Because, technically, Beck is a one-hit wonder. As are the Grateful Dead and even Radiohead if they hadn’t snuck in at 37 with “Nude” back in 2008. Very lucky, Mr. Yorke. Can you imagine if you scrolled through a list of the 100 Best One-Hit Wonder Songs and found Beck sitting at the top spot? You’d collectively crash our site’s server in a contest to see which commenter could say the cruelest thing about our music knowledge, mothers, and cats. Hey, leave our pets out of this.

    right said fred The 100 Best One Hit Wonder Songs

    So, that being said, we all know what the real definition of a one-hit wonder is, right? For us, it’s an act who reached their peak popularity with a high-charting hit and then saw that popularity wane and never return once their song ran its course. They’re an artist, band, or group who we’ll forever identify with one song. Did we still have to make some gut calls? Sure. Technically, Twisted Sister are a one-hit wonder, but we all know “I Wanna Rock” as well as “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. Warren Zevon had a lot more going on than his howling “Werewolves of London”, but the charts don’t tell that story. The Verve? Okay, so we pay some attention to the UK charts. You won’t find them here.

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    But here’s what we really want you to 100% understand about this list and how it differs from so many other one-hit wonder lists. We actually like all these songs. Some we flat-out love. Somewhere along the line, the term “one-hit wonder” became a dubious distinction, a badge of ignominy. Why? Some bands only score one hit, but some of these songs are so good that those artists only needed one hit to secure their permanent place on our playlists. So, sorry, Toni Basil. Apologies, Sir Mix-a-Lot. No dice, Frankie. See ya back in Hollywood. Yeah, we remember you guys, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear your songs anywhere near as often as we do.

    So, here they are. The one-hit wonders that we love best. As a cherry, we even picked out a second song we think could’ve been a hit for each act. But again, there’s no shame in having only one hit. After all, these one-hit wonders have something that 99.9% of the acts out there don’t have and never will. That’s right. A hit.

    –Matt Melis
    Editorial Director


    100. Europe – “The Final Countdown” (1986)

    It’s not surprising that the song “The Final Countdown” was conceived around the track’s keyboard intro. Thirty years later, that’s the part that remains iconic. The TV show Arrested Development even went on to reintroduce it to a new generation by making magician Gob use it as his entrance music for his magic tricks, err, illusions. But at the time, it was a launchpad to the top of the charts for Swedish rock group Europe. The song went number one in 25 countries, and the album of the same name went on to sell three million copies. Sure, no one really knows any of their other songs (though they technically had another “hit” with “Carrie”), but the band is still active today, playing casinos around the world. –Philip Cosores

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Rock the Night”


    99. EMF – “Unbelievable” (1990)

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    Oh! You might not remember the record Schubert Dip; hell, you might not even remember the band EMF at all. But the second that rough-hewn sample of comedian Andrew Dice Clay plays and the crowd roars immediately after, you’ll remember “Unbelievable”. The alternative dance band from Cinderford, Gloucestershire, jammed a whole bunch of lyrics into their verses, some of which fit better than others, but when you’ve got a certified grade-A hook delivered straight from Jock Jam heaven, you can pack as many forgettable verses as you like alongside. The song has been featured in countless soundtracks, but more fittingly is played in sporting arenas across the globe. The group had a handful of more middling singles in the UK, but failed to crossover again and have since split and reunited a couple of times. –Lior Phillips

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Children”


    98. Michael Sembello – “Maniac” (1983)

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    Singer-songwriter Michael Sembello’s pedigree already included working as a guitarist for Stevie Wonder at the young age of 17, but that doesn’t mean that a nudge and a little luck aren’t still needed to score a number-one hit. His synthpop song “Maniac” ascended the charts due to its inclusion in the popular 1983 romantic drama Flashdance, an opportunity Sembello stumbled upon when his wife accidentally included it on a tape that she sent to executives at Paramount looking for music for the soundtrack. The song has since become inseparable from main character Alex Owens vigorously training and practicing dance moves in her warehouse. “Maniac” rose to the number-one slot on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in 1983 and remains one of the highest-grossing songs ever written for a film. Today, Sembello still creates music and has released six studio albums. –Sonia Vavra

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Gravity”


    97. The Surfaris – “Wipe Out” (1963)

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    Surf rock had such a big moment that it seemed like everybody had beachfront property. While The Beach Boys may go down as the ultimate band of the surf movement, The Surfaris’ “Wipeout” stakes a claim as one of the most iconic singles. That comes in some part due to its instrumental nature (well, other than that dude laughing and saying the title at the song’s open), setting it up perfectly for use in dozens of surfing and beach scenes in film and TV. It’s simple, but the shimmying rhythm and upbeat riff are earworms through and through. –Adam Kivel

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Point Panic”


    96. White Town – “Your Woman” (1997)

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    It’s a shame that Jyoti Prakash Mishra and his one-man band White Town arrived several years ahead of the blogosphere, where he might have found a more receptive audience for his slightly off-kilter pop experimentation. Then again, the great thing about White Town’s 1997 mega hit “Your Woman” is how far ahead of its time it sounds. With a trumpet sample lifted from Al Bowlly’s “My Woman” and a lyric sheet that emphasizes fluid gender identity, “My Woman” would’ve been just as big a hit (probably bigger) if it had dropped in 2016. Mishra’s troubled relationship with EMI and insistence on doing his own thing left him an afterthought by the early 2000s, though his 2010 single “Cut Out My Heart” shows that he’s still got some bangers left in the tank. –Collin Brennan

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Cut Out My Heart”


    95. Wild Cherry – “Play That Funky Music” (1976)

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    Wild Cherry aren’t much of a household name, but they recorded one of the most well-known funk songs to date, which makes them as common as the household fruit they mock. “Play That Funky Music” was written by Rob Parissi, the band’s lead singer, and quickly shot to the top of the Hot Soul Singles chart when he and the rest of the band dropped it in 1976. As if it wouldn’t with a bass line that ripe. Those slapped lines and straightforward accents make the most stiff person dance. By the time the woodblock comes in during the bridge and the eponymous line gets called out in the chorus, it’s got everyone wiggling along. To date, it’s sold almost 3 million records in the United States alone. Over 40 years later, the song still holds up, too, raising the question: Could a funk rock revival be the change we need? I won’t say yes, but I certainly won’t say no either. –Nina Corcoran

    Two-Hit Wonder? “I Feel Sanctified”


    94. Len – “Steal My Sunshine” (1999)

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    Toronto’s Len might have only had one hit, but what a hit it was. “Steal My Sunshine” rose to the heights of No. 9 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1999, back when doing so had rarely ever mattered more. The ska-flecked pop hit was inescapable, and though the band would never reach those heights again (and is currently on the ninth year of an indefinite hiatus), “Steal My Sunshine” endures as both a catchy, unusually infectious reminder of that brief and weird time when ska began to fuse with whatever Smash Mouth was doing at the time and as a pretty great Parks and Recreation punchline. Also, the arm of Len is long; former member Brendan Canning would go on to form Broken Social Scene after his run with the band. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Cryptik Souls Crew”


    93. Ronald & Ruby – “Lollipop” (1958)

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    Rewind back to the ’50s and grab a seat at your local diner. No matter what time of day you go in, chances are you’re bobbing along to the sugary 1958 single “Lollipop”. Pop duo Ronald & Ruby wrote the song supposedly without much hard work. After all, its effortlessness is what works in its favor. It’s been half a century and it still crosses generational gaps. Less than two minutes in length, “Lollipop” is an easy one to toss into movie scores and commercials alike, getting the point across without its simplistic charm fading. Unfortunately, Ronald & Ruby avoided major press because they were an interracial duo and knew that fact might jeopardize their career. Thank goodness they slid this song across the counter with enough force to still treat nostalgic masses today, though, or else we wouldn’t know what we were missing out on. –Nina Corcoran

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Lovebirds”


    92. Billie Myers – “Kiss the Rain” (1997)

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    Coventry-born singer-songwriter Billie Myers worked as a nurse and an insurance agent while she crafted her first album of material, her passion for the art in the face of difficulty readily apparent. It seems more than coincidence that “Kiss the Rain” and Dawson’s Creek (a show it appeared on) arrived at the same time, the lovelorn outsider an essential trope of the late ‘90s. Myers’ lush growl and the clanging guitar were the perfect soundtrack to so many late nights with foreheads pressed against the windowpane, raindrops dripping down in the moonlight. You may only find Billie Myers’ name at the top of the charts once, but “Kiss the Rain” producer Desmond Child worked on smash songs ranging from “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” to “Livin’ la Vida Loca”. Myers, meanwhile, went on to release two more records without much pop success, doing some great work as a vocal advocate for gay rights and same-sex marriage, as well as for mental health awareness. –Lior Phillips

    Two-Hit Wonder? “You Send Me Flying”


    91. Grover Washington Jr. – “Just the Two of Us” (1981)

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    If we were searching for the number-one contributor to overpopulation, this song would be a strong contender. The granddaddy of babymakers, R&B king Bill Withers and jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. created a perfectly executed hit that was way beyond its years. Washington unfortunately passed away in 1999, but his work lives on, one winelight night at a time. –Frances Welch

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Mister Magic”


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    90. Shocking Blue – “Venus” (1969)

    “Venus” is really two or three great pop songs crammed into the space of one, which might explain why we never heard much else from Shocking Blue; they blew their whole cache of hooks on just one single. But my, what a single it is! From that jangly, stuttering guitar line that kicks off the tune to perhaps the great pre-chorus of all time (“She’s got it!”), this one takes no prisoners on its way to psych pop nirvana. Speaking of Nirvana, Shocking Blue’s “Love Buzz” found a second life as one of the grunge trio’s early covers. That kind of qualifies as a hit, right? –Collin Brennan

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Love Buzz”


    89. Mark Morrison – “Return of the Mack” (1996)

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    As both a video time capsule of fantastic mid-‘90s R&B fashion (offset black leathers! high-cropping turtlenecks!) and a surprisingly effective kiss-off song, “Return of the Mack” sampled the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” and threw the most inescapable hook possible atop it. (Seriously, try to get this out of your head after playing it.) While Morrison had a few hits in his native England, “Return of the Mack” was it for him Stateside, despite climbing all the way to No. 2 during its chart run. A fun thing to do next time you get in an argument: Respond with a “you lied to me” in Morrison’s exact inflection. –-Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Crazy”


    88. The Cascades – “Rhythm of the Rain” (1962)

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    It’s probably not a surprise that a song called “Rhythm of the Rain” was written during a thunderstorm. Still, Cascades songwriter John Gummoe couldn’t have foreseen that a song he wrote while on watch in the Navy would one day sell a million copies and become a hit in 80 countries. Beyond the stormy sound effects and raindrop keys, the brief song manages to tap into all the regrets, pining, and holding out hope that come when “the only girl [we] care about has gone away.” Ironically, when Gummoe’s bandmates drop in with their harmonies, it creates the effect of him seeming truly alone with only his thoughts and the raindrops as companions. While the band never found another song that captured the public’s imagination like “Rhythm of the Rain”, it’s hard to imagine them being forgotten – not as long as broken hearts and rainstorms persist. –Matt Melis

    Two-Hit Wonder? “The Last Leaf”


    87. Luscious Jackson – “Naked Eye” (1996)

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    Luscious Jackson aren’t an easy band to pin down, with a catalog that fluctuates from disco funk (“Here”) to chilled-out alt-pop (“Take a Ride”). As with their friends and labelmates the Beastie Boys, there’s something definitely “New York” about the group, and that might end up being the best way to describe their particular sound. Their 1997 single “Naked Eye” embodies this facet of their identity with its cool urban groove and spoken-word verses, both of which exude the vibe of pre-9/11 Manhattan. Listening to “Naked Eye” in a modern context, the song comes across like Sleater-Kinney by way of Lilith Fair, which is to say it embodies the late ‘90s rock sound quite perfectly. –Collin Brennan

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Here”


    86. Pilot – “Magic” (1974)

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    Some songs often serve as punctuation, calling cards for certain moments (think: Queen’s “We Will Rock You” pre-game and “We Are Champions” post-game). Produced by Alan Parsons, Pilot’s breadwinner, “Magic”, conjures all sorts of giddy feelings, the type of anthem you might want to hear after a surprising-yet-enviable left turn in life. Which is why the single has popped up in a handful of films, most of them not very good, but out of the bunch worth mentioning: Happy Gilmore. Anyone who’s ever seen the joy that races across Adam Sandler’s face when he finally gets the golf ball in appreciates the brilliant marriage of sound and screen. As for Pilot, those Scottish rockers (and former Bay City Rollers) would move on to other big-name outfits like The Alan Parsons Project and 10cc, where they’d find … well, you know what to do. –Michael Roffman

    Two-Hit Wonder? “January”


    85. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (2003)

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    There was a brief moment in 2003 where the success of The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” made many wonder whether ’80s-inspired glam was set to return. Well, it wasn’t, making The Darkness a singular hit-maker for an entire genre revival. It’s for the best that butt rock didn’t come back, though The Darkness do make a compelling argument for its merits with glass-shattering vocals, flexing guitar solos, and karaoke-ready lyrics. The Darkness found more success abroad and still hold their share of apologists, but the song’s success is still surprising to this day. –Philip Cosores

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Growing On Me”


    84. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” (1982)

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    New wave bands were a dime a dozen back in 1982, so you had to do something kind of different if you really wanted to stand out. In Wall of Voodoo’s case, “something kind of different” involved adding a whimsical mariachi organ melody and a maddeningly repetitive chorus to their one-hit single, “Mexican Radio”. The band would go on to release three more albums before breaking up in 1988, but they’d never did recapture the insane catchiness of “I’m on a Mexican radio!” Considering how many folks had that line permanently stuck in their heads throughout the ‘80s, that might be for the best. –Collin Brennan

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Far Side of Crazy”


    83. Republica – “Ready to Go” (1996)

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    In the mid-to-late-‘90s, if you needed a song that screamed “alternative” for your teen film and/or extreme sports clip package, you called in for “Ready to Go”. The English techno-punk band rose to prominence around the same time as Garbage, and the similarities are conspicuous before long. After singing the hook on N-Joi’s “Anthem” a few years prior, Saffron was enlisted by Republica’s founders, and so a hit was born. It’s all snotty alt-rock attitude, but in a decade that bred some of the loosest possible interpretations of the genre, it’s an effective reminder of a sound that came and rather quickly went. Though the band went on hiatus for much of the aughts, they reunited in 2008 and are still playing new material today. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Drop Dead Gorgeous”


    82. The Vines – “Get Free” (2002)

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    After the insane blowup of “Get Free” from their first record, the song became the epitome of what a badass Australian rock band sounds like. It creates a surge of adrenaline that makes you want to party hard or get in a high-speed car chase, emotions that strum the chord of superstardom. From the very beginning, sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll were at the forefront for The Vines, especially for frontman Craig Nicholls, who had an insane punk rock meltdown during their performance on The Late Show with David Letterman; you know you’ve entered the threshold of superior punk when Letterman has to ask on-air if “you’re alright.” They’ve put out a few records over the years, including a pretty solid single that was released in April of this year. –Frances Welch

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Ride”


    81. Everything but the Girl – “Missing” (Todd Terry Club Mix) (1994)

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    Everything but the Girl is a wild story, so allow me to digress: In the beginning, the English duo, comprised of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, were heavily invested in a brand of jazz and soul dubbed “sophisti-pop” and spent much of the ’80s and early ’90s working in that revue — and mostly unnoticed. That all changed in 1995 when Brooklyn DJ Todd Terry remixed the second single off their eighth (!) studio album, “Missing”. What was a light, low-tempo ballad about separated lovers turned into a global hit, burning through nightclubs and, eventually, up the charts in countries everywhere. It was a major crossover success.

    According to Thorn, though, it was always intended to be a club hit: “It was written with that idea in mind, totally … we put on sort of a laid-back house groove instead. Then when we gave it to Todd, he took it in a really, really strong New York house direction, which had a real simplicity to it, but it was very infectious.” Whether you credit Thorn or Terry (or both), one thing’s for sure: “Missing” is still one of the best late-night grooves to ever save the night — and was quite influential on the outfit. From there, they would go on to continue experimenting with electronica on 1996’s Walking Wounded and 1999’s Temperamental. –Michael Roffman

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    Two-Hit Wonder? “Wrong”


    80. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy” (1982)

    Pop in the ’80s was no joke, and this holds true with Bow Wow Wow’s rendition of “I Want Candy”. The song was originally written in the ’60s, but was later re-popularized by the English new wave/pop band in 1982. The success of this remake is largely due to its memorable music video, featuring lead singer Annabella Lwin’s energy and trippy FX, which premiered and played in heavy rotation during the rise of MTV. The band has broken up and reformed several times with different members over the years, and Lwin now performs as “Annabella Lwin of the original Bow Wow Wow.” –Sonia Vavra

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Do You Wanna Hold Me”


    79. Bobby Day – “Rockin’ Robin” (1958)

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    If there was a ’50s hit that deserved to stay on the charts for weeks on end, it was “Rockin’ Robin”. Bobby Day recorded the song back in 1958. As his only hit single, it spent a criminal one week at the top of the charts before being bumped down a few places. To this day, it remains one of the key songs of that decade and perhaps one of the best uses of whistling. The song’s alternate downbeat emphasis, cheery hand claps, and childish lyrics made it one fit for play just about anywhere, not to mention the loose jazz drumming. Even now, Day’s emphasis on the blues guitar line brings a smile to anyone who hears it. Then again, maybe that’s because they got caught singing the words “tweedle-lee-leedle-lee-lee” like the sun only sets for birds. –Nina Corcoran

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Over and Over”


    78. Anita Ward – “Ring My Bell” (1979)

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    Legend has it that the infectious “Ring My Bell” was initially intended for 11-year-old Stacy Lattislaw, eventual auteur of such teen tunes as “Attack of the Name Game” (yes, a rap version of the rhyming name song). But hand the tune over from the youth to then-23-year-old Anita Ward, and the song transitioned from a song about calling someone up on the phone to something far sexier. The Memphis-born disco vocalist got a degree in psychology and started teaching before she ever took to the booth, but the slinky, groovy “Ring My Bell” is an absolute star turn, an earworm of idyllic, chiming proportions. Ward put out a second album, then hit a rough spell that included label disputes and a severe car accident, returning only 10 years later for a final LP in 1989, long after the disco moment had faded. Her voice still sounded great on a brief 2011 return, but the formula hasn’t aged quite as well. That said, “Ring My Bell” absolutely hit its moment and feels like a teleportation chamber to the late ‘70s. –Lior Phillips

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Don’t Drop My Love”


    77. Robert Knight – “Everlasting Love” (1967)

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    There’s no science behind what will or won’t be a hit. Producers Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden originally brought Robert Knight “Everlasting Love” to use as a B-side. Now, it stands as one of only two songs in history (the other, “The Way You Do the Things You Do”) to be a Top 40 hit in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. You can credit the success of this version to its Motown-approximating sound, unique string-like organs, and Knight intentionally delivering his lines slower than the melody, but its enduring appeal might be simpler than all that. People mess up. They hurt each other, even those closest to them. “Everlasting Love” throws itself on the mercy of a hurt lover and asks for a second chance. When will a song like that ever stop being relevant? –Matt Melis

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Love on a Mountaintop”


    76. Lipps Inc. – “Funkytown” (1980)

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    Come on, Madonna. “Funkytown” was the only song to reach the number one spot in 28 countries until Madonna’s “Hung Up” came along 25 years later and hit number one in nearly twice that number of countries. Disco act Lipps Inc. came out of nowhere with the hit, but it stayed for a month on the Top 40 chart, likely due to how infectious it is as a dance song and how many reasons people wanted to escape the politics of the time back in 1980. The song originally comes as an eight-minute extended version, as all disco tracks must, that saw scissors snip it in half for the radio. Lipps Inc. have that to thank for their fame. Without it, one of the best songs to sport improv dance moves to wouldn’t have been the iconic track it is today. –Nina Corcoran

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Designer Music”


    75. Big Country – “In a Big Country” (1983)

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    Talk about peaking too soon. Big Country’s only song to crack the Top 40 in the US was track one on their debut album. It’s also a rare case where a song title references the recording artist’s name. So, there’s that. But the truth about Scottish band Big Country is that their debut album, The Crossing, is a underrated album from front-to-back, and they weren’t able to match that early creative achievement again. They would offer up flop after flop in the US, despite a decent showing in the UK. The band still performs today, though without original singer Stuart Adamson, who became increasingly troubled in the years following their initial success, struggling with alcoholism and eventually hanging himself in a hotel room. –Philip Cosores

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Inwards”


    74. The Flys – “Got You Where I Want You” (1998)

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    If you recall The Flys’ 1998 post-grunge single “Got You (Where I Want You)”, you either a.) saw Disturbing Behavior and maybe owned its underrated soundtrack (which, admittedly, cruelly left off Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta”) or b.) loved the Katie Holmes and James Marsden-featuring music video where everyone dives off a cliff at the end. Then again, you might have just listened to a lot of rock radio in the late ’90s and found this diamond in the very, very ugly rough. Either way, this slice of dreamy alternative was enough to give the Hollywood rockers a nationwide hit, something they were never really able to accomplish in the years after. Fun fact: Members Adam and Josh Paskowitz are related to the infamous (and, sadly, now departed) Jewish surfer Doc Paskowitz, so that’s pretty rad. –Michael Roffman

    Two-Hit Wonder? “She’s So Huge”


    73. Barrett Strong – “Money (That’s What I Want)” (1959)

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    Here’s a good trivia stumper: Who scored Motown’s first hit single? If the fella beside you comes up with Barrett Strong, leave your pub’s trivia night immediately – you’re being hustled. However, the second the song’s unmistakable, chugging piano lead or Strong’s insincere proclamation that “the best things in life are free” pipes out of the jukebox, everyone in the joint knows “Money (That’s What I Want)”. Whether we grew up on Strong’s version or covers from artists as iconic as The Beatles and as quirky as The Flying Lizards, “Money” is hardwired into our internal iPods. Ironically, Strong, whose strongest claim to fame is as a Motown songwriter (the man wrote “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”), didn’t compose his own hit. Regardless, nearly 60 years later, “Money” continues to talk, and it’s still what we want. –Matt Melis

    Two-Hit Wonder? “You Got What It Takes”


    72. Toadies – “Possum Kingdom” (1994)

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    The Toadies are a prime example of the benefits of timing. Who’d have thought that a little group out of Fort Worth, Texas, singing from the perspective of a dead cult member inviting you to join him in death at Possum Kingdom Lake would wind up with a hit? But then the combination of Vaden Todd Lewis’ dark lyrics (“Behind the boathouse/ I’ll show you my dark secret”), Darrel Herbert’s whammied guitar riff, and a massive hook fit right in with the just-crested grunge moment. The song was apparently conceived as a sequel to “I Burn”, in which cult members set themselves ablaze to reach nirvana. You’ll never have more fun repeating “Do you wanna die?” at the top of your lungs. –Adam Kivel

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Tyler”


    71. The Youngbloods – “Get Together” (1967)

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    The first time I heard The Youngbloods’ “Get Together” was in a more sarcastic context, with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic screaming the chorus at the top of his lungs at the beginning of “Territorial Pissings”. But the song itself is a pleasantly earnest plea for peace amidst the tumult of Vietnam and the 1960s. No other song better embodies the hope and altruism that were so central to the budding hippie movement, and it continues to stand as one of the brighter beacons from that era. –Collin Brennan

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Darkness, Darkness”


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    70. Kris Kross – “Jump” (1992)

    In a time when rap was still a burgeoning commodity in the charts, there wasn’t a formula much safer than that of Kriss Kross. Two rambunctious pre-teens sampling The Jackson 5, James Brown, Schoolly D, and more had the vibe and hook for crowds familiar with rap, even if a little cheesy, and had the crossover appeal to get mid-’90s bar mitzvahs rocking. Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac got people jumping on the dance floor even if their verses weren’t always stellar, Jermaine Dupri’s loping production perfectly fit for an all-ages jam. If this one didn’t have you craving your own Cross Colours or wearing your baseball jerseys backwards in ’94, you didn’t have a pulse. –Adam Kivel

    Two-Hit Wonder? “I Missed the Bus”


    69. The Vapors – “Turning Japanese” (1980)

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    Either The Vapors forgot to knock on wood or this was some type of reverse jinx when the English power-pop band decided to wait to release “Turning Japanese” as their second single in fear of becoming a “one-hit wonder.” They never were able to get back on the charts and unfortunately became their worst nightmare: a one-hit wonder. After 34 years of inactivity, the band was spotted in a London bar playing “Turning Japanese” but got off the stage directly after and left the premises in true one-hit wonder fashion. –Frances Welch

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Jimmie Jones”


    68. Primitive Radio Gods – “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” (1996)

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    These days, curated movie soundtracks are rare, but still have the potential to be blockbusters. In the ’90s, a movie didn’t even particularly have to be a hit in order to have a song (or a whole soundtrack) from it do well. Primitive Radio Gods’ only foray into mainstream culture came on the back of a much-hyped and not-very-well-liked in its time film, The Cable Guy. But regardless of what Jim Carrey fans felt about the flick, they couldn’t deny the laid-back melody or the B.B. King sample that provides a chorus. In truth, the song was pretty ahead of its time (Moby and Fatboy Slim would soon also conquer the alt charts with similarly repurposed samples) though the band never really did anything of note again. –Philip Cosores

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Motherfucker”


    67. Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes – “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (1987)

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    Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes got together to sing “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” in 1987. The single landed on the charts after being the theme song of romantic drama Dirty Dancing, most famous for its role during the film’s grand finale when Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey finally perform their dance and famous lift.
    Even today, the song is frequently played on throwback radio stations and at weddings. This is the only song that Medley and Warnes ever recorded together, but both singers continued their solo careers following their joint hit. –Sonia Vavra

    Two-Hit Wonder? Their only song together.


    66. The Capitols – “Cool Jerk” (1966)

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    Everyone likes a song you can groove to. But a song that comes bundled with its own dance? Now, you’re talkin’! Like Chubby Checker (“The Twist”) before them and Los del Río (“Macarena”) decades later, The Capitols scored big with a song that let listeners know precisely which move to bust. Originally dubbed “Pimp Jerk” in honor of those cats too bad to do The Jerk like everyone else, the band ultimately settled on the more marketable title “Cool Jerk” — a move that vaulted them to a top-10 single. And while the band never ignited another dance craze (not even among pimps), we still have that same question running through our minds half a century later: Can you do it, can you do it, can you do it, can you do it? Cook jerk, come on, people! –Matt Melis

    Two-Hit Wonder? “We Got a Thing That’s in the Groove”


    65. Corona – “The Rhythm of the Night” (1993)

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    “The Rhythm of the Night” has enjoyed a slight revival in recent years thanks to its appearance on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack, but Italian outfit Corona’s sole hit was genuinely inescapable in 1995 when it crossed the sea. On the strength of an uncredited Giovanna Bersola’s vocals, “Rhythm” follows in the lineage of other European club hits that came to America some time after their peak foreign prominence. The hard-charging production, and even the charmingly vogue-friendly cutaways, allow the track to transcend its simplistic (by modern standards) sound. Now, come on. I know you wanna say it. –-Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Do You Want Me”


    64. ? & the Mysterians – “96 Tears” (1966)

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    The children of migrant farmers producing early strains of punk in Michigan in the ’60s, ? and the Mysterians are a unique case to say the least. Inspired by surf rock, the British Invasion, and oddball science fiction in equal measure, members of the band were apparently also trained in traditional Mexican music. Frontman Question Mark (aka Rudy Martinez) claimed he’d been to the future, and considering how in step the sublime “96 Tears” are with proto-punk and garage acts that followed, it doesn’t seem unreasonable. The choppy organ chords, swirling guitar, and subterranean bass all shade Mark’s vague but broken lyrics, describing a relationship destined to end in slightly less than 100 tears. They wrote “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” only to see it sunk by Smash Mouth, and they released some amazing, raw jams, but “96 Tears” was the straightforward hook that brought them crossover appeal. –Adam Kivel

    Two-Hit Wonder? “I Need Somebody”


    63. Edison Lighthouse – “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” (1970)

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    English pop band Edison Lighthouse can be counted as a one-hit wonder, but their lead singer, Tony Burrows, for a time, was an absolute hit machine. In 1970, Burrows had four chart-climbing hits with, count ‘em, four different groups (Edison Lighthouse, The Pipkins, White Plains, and Brotherhood of Man). How does that even happen? Well, in the case of Edison Lighthouse, they were primarily a studio group who recruited Burrows to sing lead for them. Heck, when telly’s Top of the Pops called because “Love Grows” was tearing up the UK charts, the band had to actually find stand-ins who could mime alongside Burrows. While the singer never really found a permanent home with any one group, “Love Grows” has found a place in our lovestruck hearts forever. –Matt Melis

    Two-Hit Wonder? “It’s Up to You, Petula”


    62. Peter Schilling – “Major Tom (Coming Home)” (1983)

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    If you ever wanted a sequel to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Peter Schilling has you covered. In seriousness, it must have taken some audacity to craft a song featuring Bowie’s character, but in Schilling’s defense, the song rips. Originally recorded in German, the new wave anthem got makeovers several times after its 1983 release, Schilling updating the track as he saw fit through 2003. And as is fit for a song that rips off another, “Major Tom” would later be copped by Blink 182 not for its content, but for its melody. Check this out and then check out “Man Overboard”.

    Two-Hit Wonder? “The Different Story (World of Lust and Crime)”


    61. Duncan Sheik – “Barely Breathing” (1996)

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    What perhaps makes so many ’90s singles stand tall above the rest is the economy of sound. There’s traditionally something lingering between the lines, whether it’s a synth patch or some curious guitar line or even a harmony. Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing” comes littered with them, from the twirling lead guitar in the background to the halcyon hits that massage the chorus to the coastal piano that builds the bridge. Sheik’s vocal hooks are front and center, sure, but it’s the wall of sound that makes this such a memorable hit — and probably explains why the song nabbed a BMI Award for Most Played Song of the Year in 1997. As to why he could never bottle lightning twice, he’s since blamed his record label for trying to sell him as something he wasn’t: the cute, sensitive singer-songwriter. Still, the guy’s penned over half a dozen albums and has found a new life writing music for plays, especially his work on the Tony-winning musical Spring Awakening. Yeah, he’s breathing just fine. –Michael Roffman

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Wishful Thinking”


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    60. Norman Greenbaum – “Spirit in the Sky” (1969)

    Do us a solid: hit play, shut your eyes, and try not to think of one of the many movies in which you’ve probably heard “Spirit in the Sky”’s bouncing opening chords as you do it. Having trouble? It makes sense. It’s a versatile hit as one-hit wonders go, its Christian leanings (despite Greenbaum’s Jewish upbringing) and retro bounce ensuring that it continues on as one of pop culture’s favorite ways to hearken back to one of America’s most transitional eras. And to be fair, that guitar riff is a damn classic. Greenbaum has fallen quiet in the modern era, but sometimes it helps to just go back to that place that’s the best. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Petaluma”


    59. Sneaker Pimps – “6 Underground” (1996)

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    Strangely, the Sneaker Pimps that produced “6 Underground” are very unlike the Sneaker Pimps that came both before and after that record. Kelli Dayton provides lead vocals for the track, but she was only recruited to sing just prior to the recording and was dismissed from the band after the album’s release. But for one bright moment, the Hartlepool outfit had the combination of trip-hop smooth and a sultry female lead, the kind of thing that could guarantee a hit back in 1996. But there was something special about this combination, a pop-friendly core that they couldn’t replicate when Liam Howe and Chris Corner chased more personal tunes afterward. –Lior Phillips

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Spin Spin Sugar”


    58. 4 Non Blondes – “What’s Up?” (1992)

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    Now, follow me on this one: The title phrase “What’s Up?” never appears in 4 Non Blondes’ song, but they didn’t want to call it “What’s Going On” for fear of confusion with Marvin Gaye, even though frontwoman Linda Perry repeats that line on the song’s hook. Whatever you want to call it (and, seriously, that hook was way more ubiquitous than the title), this one thrums with that early ‘90s angst and an epic vocal performance. If nothing else, the “What’s Up?” video is worth checking out for Perry’s top hat-goggles combination in the music video. Seriously, that was a look. –Lior Phillips

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Spaceman”


    57. Ten Years After – “I’d Love to Change the World” (1971)

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    The early 1970s was a transitional era for rock music and the world in general, with America finally pulling out of Vietnam and the hippie counterculture slowly fading into the mainstream. The bluesy British group Ten Years After somehow captured all of this tumult in their 1971 single “I’d Love to Change the World”, which is at once the platonic ideal of ‘60s folk rock and a bold step forward into a new era of big-time guitar solos and flamboyant genre-mashing. The song’s chorus (“I’d love to change the world/ But I don’t know what to do”) finds a band admitting their limits but stretching toward the sky anyway. It’s powerful stuff, even if Ten Years After never reached the same heights again. –Collin Brennan

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Love Like a Man”


    56. Kajagoogoo – “Too Shy” (1983)

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    Those highway synths, those coke basslines, those yacht rock keys … you’ve stepped into some Kajagoogoo. Produced by Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes and legendary engineer Colin Thurston, “Too Shy” thrives from its jarring change-ups, going from an atmospheric midnight rambler amid the breaks to a dance hall explosion by the chorus. It’s lush, it’s weird, it’s a quintessential ’80s jam that deserves to be on every Reagan-era compilation. It’s a damn shame the English outfit could never find more success stateside; instead, they coasted by on a couple of Top 10 hits over in the UK. (Hell, lead singer Limahl would go on to pen the titular theme song for 1985’s The NeverEnding Story.) Today, you know you’ve got a savvy DJ nearby if you hear this ditty creep up on you — don’t be shy, y’all. –Michael Roffman

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Ooh to Be Ah”


    55. Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight” (1997)

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    Four minutes of post-grunge americana is all it takes for Eagle-Eye Cherry to convince Americans he’s from their country and they should fall in love with his song. The Swedish musician is Neneh Cherry’s sister but never achieved the same sort of fame she did. Still, single “Save Tonight” hung around the radio charts of Ireland, the US, the UK, and his homeland of Sweden for quite some time. All that rushed acoustic guitar and deep vocal gruff made some light-hearted “doo-doo’s” and otherwise cheesy notes ones people would sing along to in bars for years to follow its 1997 release. Grab a beer bottle and lift it up to the redneck gods. —Nina Corcoran

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Falling In Love Again”


    54. King Harvest – “Dancing in the Moonlight” (1972)

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    Picture an outdoor ‘70s pool party lit by a full moon with décor straight out of the film Boogie Nights, and you’ll start to hear “Dancing in the Moonlight” playing in the distance. King Harvest consisted of four American expatriates who met in Paris and danced all the way to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. However, the band was fairly short-lived and started crying in the daylight when Van Morrison started to get miscredited for a record they never even recorded. The single has seen a recent second life after being featured in a few shows and films the past three years, and the band randomly released an album in April of last year. –Frances Welch

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Take It Easy, Take It Slow”


    53. Tommy Tutone – “867-5309/Jenny” (1981)

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    Some one-hit wonders become classics because of their iconic use in a film or TV show or public event. Others simply endure through the craft of their production. Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” might be the only entry on this list that caused a legal snarl the nation over and continues to periodically annoy random people to this day. The power-pop band’s gold-certified ode to the perfect girl’s number on a bathroom wall has often been mistaken as an ode to a prostitute, but frontman Tommy Heath has publicly insisted that it’s simply an innocent homage to an old flame. And in 1982, it couldn’t have been a more timely ode to the touch-tone telephone or to the excitement of finally pulling some digits. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    Two-Hit Wonder? “Angel Say No”


    52. Meredith Brooks – “Bitch” (1997)

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    For many of us born in the ’80s, Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” was our extra guilty pleasure — the B-word was in the title for godsake! I was a cocky, little, blonde asshole running around telling everyone I was a bitch, a mother, a child, and a lover. I mean, come on! (It was the first Mpeg Layer 3 file my brother downloaded that took a full weekend: from Friday 7 p.m. to Monday 6:59 a.m. The dial-up internet downloaded at a maximum 2kb per second … So take me as I am!) Beyond that saucy little bit of fun, the hook is an absolute showstopper, an anthem of simplified feminism awestruck by the idea of someone being both a sinner and a saint. Brooks’ song was often tarred as an Alanis Morissette rip-off, but it’s got far more of a sweet-tooth, not so concerned with raw personal specifics as it is with being entirely easy to relate to. “Bitch” was so big that it earned Brooks a Grammy nomination, a feat she couldn’t match even with the Lilith Fair crowd backing her. To see the falloff, one of her post-“Bitch” achievements was producing a Jennifer Love Hewitt record. But for one song, Meredith Brooks was on top of the world. –Lior Phillips

    Two-Hit Wonder? “What Would Happen”


    51. The Casinos – “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” (1967)

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    The most curious thing about The Casinos’ lone shuffle to the top of the charts is that their hit song, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”, already sounded like an oldie when it struck big back in 1967. The Cincinnati-based Casinos were a doo-wop group scoring a doo-wop hit several years after that genre’s popularity had waned — with a song that had originated as a country tune no less. By no means is that a chart-topping formula to emulate, but there’s definitely something timeless about this behind-the-times song. Classic harmonies like these never grow stale, and what desperate young man with his heart set on the perfect girl can’t appreciate the deal this song tries to broker: “Tell me you’ll love me for a million years/ Then if it don’t work out/ Then you can tell me goodbye.” That’s quite the trial period, no? Read the fine print, ladies. –Matt Melis

    Two-Hit Wonder? “I Still Love You”


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