- One-hit wonders range from catchy tunes to horrible ear worms.
- We used Billboard’s year-end charts, which go back to 1955, to deduce the most popular one-hit wonder from each year.
- In 1976, the world was enamoured with “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Achieving one-hit wonder status can cement a musician’s place in music history – it only takes one smash hit to be remembered as a legend.
We used Billboard’s Hot 100 year-end charts to deduce what the most popular one-hit wonder was every year since 1955, when the list first came out. Some were the top song of the entire year, like 2012’s Gotye smash “Somebody That I Used to Know,” while others came in further down the list, like “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, which was the 37th biggest song in 1988.
Take a stroll down memory lane with these 64 one-hit wonders.
1955: “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by Mitch Miller
Miller didn’t achieve much chart success besides this song, but it did hit No. 1 in the summer of 1955.
1956: “The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant
Grant had just one other song make it into the Hot 100: “Strange Are the Ways of Love,” which only peaked at No. 80.
1957: “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” by Billy Williams
This cover was Williams’ highest-charting song. His next biggest song, “Nola,” reached No. 39.
1958: “Witch Doctor” by Ross Bagdasarian Sr.
Ross Bagdasarian Sr., also known as David Seville, a stage name, is best-known as the creator of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” He had a song hit No.1 with them, but “Witch Doctor” is the only song that charted that was under his birth name.
1959: “Sleep Walk” by Santo & Johnny
“Sleep Walk” was a No. 1 song for Santo & Johnny, and their only top 20 hit.
1960: “Running Bear” by Johnny Preston
Preston actually had another top 10 hit, but it has fallen into obscurity over the decades. He is now mostly known for “Running Bear,” which tells the doomed love story of two Native Americans in warring tribes.
1961: “My True Story” by The Jive Five
The Jive Five had four songs total chart on the Hot 100, but only “My True Story” made it to the top 10. It peaked at No. 3 in 1961.
1962: “Stranger on the Shore” by Acker Bilk
Acker Bilk was a popular clarinet player, but this didn’t translate into chart success. His next-highest song after his No. 1 hit “Stranger on the Shore” peaked at No. 59.
1963: “Rhythm of the Rain” by The Cascades
“Rhythm of the Rain” hit No. 3 on the charts – after that, The Cascades only peaked at No. 60.
1964: “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” by Gale Garnett
Garnett followed up her lone top five hit with “Lovin’ Place,” which only reached No. 54, and was her last song to chart.
1965: “You Were on My Mind” by We Five
1966: “Cool Jerk” by The Capitols
1967: “Little Bit O’ Soul” by The Music Explosion
The Music Explosion had just two songs make it to the Hot 100 – “Soul” reached No. 2, while the other only made it to No. 63.
1968: “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band
1969: “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies
The Archies earns the distinction of being the only animated band on this list. The Archie Comics characters notched another top 10 hit, “Jingle Jangle,” but it simply does not have the staying power of “Sugar, Sugar.”
1970: “O-o-h Child” by Five Stairsteps
Five Stairsteps had 17 songs chart on the Hot 100, but “O-o-h Child” will always be their signature song, and was introduced to a new generation by its inclusion in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack.
1971: “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight
“Mr. Big Stuff” almost reached the summit of the Hot 100, but fell just short at No. 2. Knight’s follow-up peaked at No. 50.
1972: “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass
Another one-hit wonder brought back from obscurity by “Guardians of the Galaxy,”“Brandy” is a significant departure from Looking Glass’ normal sound.
The No. 1 song peaked in August 1972, but Looking Glass failed to chart another song in the top 25.
1973: “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence
Lawrence is best known for her time as an actress on “The Carol Burnett Show,” but she showed off her vocal chops with “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” her only song to crack the top 50.
1974: “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks
Jacks had only three songs in the Hot 100, but his other two songs only reached spots 68 and 97 respectively, while “Seasons” made it all the way to the top.
1975: “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
Douglas’ only other song to chart was “Dance the Kung Fu” in 1975, which reached 48, while the original earned the No. 1 spot.
1976: “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry
“Play That Funky Music” has endured through the years – it’s impossible to read the song’s title without singing the rest of the lyrics. Wild Cherry had other songs chart, but the highest follow-up only made it to No. 43.
1977: “Angel in Your Arms” by Hot
Hot’s chart success was limited to 1977 and 1978, during which they had three songs chart. However, “Angel in Your Arms,” reached No. 6, while the other two only made it to 65 and 71.
1978: “Emotion” by Samantha Sang
Sang frequently collaborated with the Bee Gees, and one of them actually wrote this song. “Emotion” is the only song of hers to crack the top 50.
1979: “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward
“Ring My Bell” reached No. 2 on the Hot 100. Ward’s only other song to chart, “Don’t Drop My Love” peaked at No. 87.
1980: “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc.
Yes, this song existed before its iconic inclusion in “Shrek 2.” Lipps Inc’s other song to chart, “Rock It,” peaked at only No. 64.
1981: “Believe It or Not (Theme from ‘The Greatest American Hero’)” by Joey Scarbury
The theme song to “The Great American Hero” made it all the way to the second-highest spot on the Hot 100 in ’81.
1982: “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
“Tainted Love” is Soft Cell’s only song to ever make it onto the Hot 100.
1983: “Maniac” by Michael Sembello
“Maniac” is one of two of Sembello’s songs to make it onto the Hot 100. “Maniac” reached No. 1, while the other made it to just No. 34.
1984: “Missing You” by John Waite
Of all of Waite’s songs to make it onto the Hot 100, only “Missing You” cracked the top 25 – and it actually rose to the top of the charts.
1985: “Take on Me” by A-ha
A-ha experienced much success in their native country of Norway, but “Take On Me” is their lone American hit.
1986: “Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy
The comedian dabbled in music with “Party All the Time,” which reached No. 2.
1987: “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott
Abbott had one other song chart on the Hot 100, but “Shake You Down” did significantly better, reaching No. 1, while his other song peaked at only 56.
1988: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
Contrary to popular belief, this reggae classic was not sung by Bob Marley, but by Bobby McFerrin. The song, which reached No. 1, was McFerrin’s only to chart at all.
1989: “Waiting for a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl
“Waiting for a Star to Fall” made it to No. 5. After that, little was heard from Boy Meets Girl.
1990: “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles
1991: “One More Try” by Timmy T
Timmy T’s “One More Try” made it to No. 1 – his next-highest song peaked at 40.
1992: “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot
Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby’s Got Back” is one of the most beloved one-hit wonders of all time, and his most successful song by far.
1993: “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team
All three of Tag Team’s songs that made it onto the Hot 100 are some version of “Whoomp!,” including an Addam’s Family version, and a Disney version sung by Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.
1994: “Baby, I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain
Big Mountain had four songs chart on the Hot 100, but “Baby” is far and away the most enduring, and best-selling, Big Mountain tune.
1995: “I Know” by Dionne Farris
“I Know” is Farris’ one and only song to ever chart on the Hot 100, and it peaked at No. 4.
1996: “Macarena” by Los del Río
The original version of the “Macarena” didn’t do too well, but once the duo Bayside Boys remixed it, the song blew up and became Los Del Rio’s signature hit.
1997: “B—-” by Meredith Brooks
This song, commonly mistaken for an Alanis Morissette song, peaked at No. 2, and was Brooks’ lone top 25 hit.
1998: “I Don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole
Technically speaking, Paula Cole had a higher-charting hit with “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?,” but “I Don’t Want to Wait” is easily Cole’s signature hit. In 1998, the song was chosen as the theme song for “Dawson’s Creek,” and the two have become inextricably linked.
1999: “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer
2000: “Everything You Want” by Vertical Horizon
“Everything You Want” garnered Vertical Horizon their only No. 1 song – their follow-up peaked at 23.
2001: “What Would You Do?” by City High
City High released two singles total: one was “What Would You Do?” which reached No. 8, and the other was “Caramel,” which peaked at 18.
2002: “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling
This was The Calling’s lone song to chart.
2003: “No Letting Go” by Wayne Wonder
This was the only song Wayne Wonder released to make it onto the Hot 100.
2004: “The Reason” by Hoobastank
Hoobastank had two songs peak at 44 and 68 respectively before “The Reason,” which was their first and last song to crack the top five.
2005: “Listen to Your Heart” by DHT featuring Edmée
DHT, which stands for Dance House Trance, only had one song to chart on the Hot 100.
2006: “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
Powter joins the one-hit wonder club with “Bad Day,” his one and only song to chart on the Hot 100 – and it was a No. 1.
2007: “Party Like a Rockstar” by the Shop Boyz
Shop Boyz have yet to follow up “Rockstar” with a commercially successful song.
2008: “Sexy Can I” by Ray J featuring Yung Berg
“Sexy Can I” is Ray J’s signature song, though he almost earned another top 10 hit with “One Wish.”
2009: “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon
“Use Somebody” is Kings of Leon’s lone song to crack the top 25: they have failed to chart a song since 2010, meaning it has almost been a decade since their last successful hit.
2010: “Like a G6” by Far East Movement featuring The Cataracs and Dev
Far East Movement had a No. 7 song with “Rocketeer,” but we bet that the only Far East Movement hit you can sing off the top of your head is “Like a G6,” an infectious ear worm of a song.
2011: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
“Pumped Up Kicks” was Foster the People’s first and only song to achieve mainstream success.
2012: “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
Gotye, a Grammy Award-winning artist, has yet to follow up the smash success of “Somebody” seven years later.
2013: “Harlem Shake” by Baauer
As of 2019, “Harlem Shake” is still Baauer’s only song to ever chart.
2014: “Rude” by MAGIC!
MAGIC! have yet to replicate the success of reggae-pop infusion “Rude.”
2015: “Cheerleader” by Omi
Omi’s song “Cheerleader” hit No. 1, but he hasn’t had a song chart since then.
2016: “Panda” by Desiigner
“Panda” peaked at No. 1. The rapper’s next-best selling single is “MIC Drop,” which peaked at 28 in 2017.
2017: “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man
Portugal. The Man has been a group for years, but “Feel It Still” is their one and only song to chart, and landed at the top spot to boot.
2018: “The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
“The Middle” cracked the top 10 in several countries, and was even nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. The song is a collaboration between Russian-German record producer Zedd, American country music singer Maren Morris, and American duo Grey, whom we have yet to hear more from.
- Read more:
- The 57 best one-hit wonders of all time
- The 50 worst one-hit wonders of all time
- The most popular summer song of the last 43 years
- The top pop song from the year you were born
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