- Each year, certain songs dominate the charts -but can’t ultimately stand the test of time, as the artists behind them are quickly forgotten.
- Some one-hit wonders, like Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” show real talent and skill, while others are clearly one-off successes.
- Sometimes, the artists behind one-hit wonders are able to find success with other musicians, but that’s not always the case.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Every year, there are songs that become fast hits, but sometimes artists can’t replicate that popularity – and end up becoming one-hit wonders.
And while they are some really great one-hit wonders, others are just bad. Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” is annoying, and Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is just too repetitive. However, some one-hit wonders, like Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” have even predicted later trends in music.
Here are 56 of the worst one-hit wonders of all time, in chronological order.
Anjelica Oswald contributed to an earlier version of this article.
“Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas (1974)
Carl Douglas became most famous for his song “Kung Fu Fighting.” The disco hit is also well-known for its use of an “East Asian riff,” which is used by Western cultures as a stereotype or caricature of what they believe Asian music to sound like. The song was never meant to be a hit, but the dance clubs at the time picked it up and launched it to the top of the charts.
“Turning Japanese” by The Vapors (1980)
British band The Vapors is best known for their song “Turning Japanese.” The tune also uses the “East Asian” riff that “Kunf-Fu Fighting” is best known for. It’s ultimately just dumb, though. It was also thought to be one large innuendo, but the bandsaid the song was about “all the cliché’s about angst and youth and turning into something you didn’t expect to.”
“Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. (1980)
Disco group Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown” does sound funky. It’s got a good disco beat to get someone moving, but the song is a repetitive mess that’s actually difficult to understand.
“Mickey” by Toni Basil (1982)
Singer and choreographer Toni Basil’s “Mickey” actually didn’t hit when it was first released. It was re-released almost a year later and ended up hitting No. 1 in countries including the US. The beat is addictive, but the song becomes annoying after hearing the same thing over and over and over.
“Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Taco (1982)
Originally written by Irving Berlin, Taco put his own synth spin on the song, but he shouldn’t have messed with it at all. Also problematic, the original video featured people in black face.
“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats (1983)
“The Safety Dance” has a joyous beat that is really fun to move to. But despite that, Rolling Stone voters chose it as one of the top five worst songs from the 1980s. Happiness does not equal good.
“You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive (1984)
It’s hard not to tap your foot to the Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round,” but the group doesn’t sound good in it. Vocalist Pete Burns even admitted that their record label didn’t want the song made. In his autobiography, he wrote, “The record company said it was awful. It was unanimous – it was awful, it was rubbish.”
“Almost Paradise” by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson (1984)
Otherwise known as the theme from “Footloose,” “Almost Paradise” is supposed to be a romantic love ballad, but the pairing of Loverboy’s Mike Reno and Heart’s Ann Wilson just doesn’t work as well as it could. Now, the song is used as the theme music for “Bachelor in Paradise. “
“Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice (1989)
Vanilla Ice’s most popular song took the bass line of David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure,” which landed the rapper in hot water after the release. When threatened with a suit, Ice settled out of court. The song didn’t establish Ice as a rapper though. And even though the song topped the Billboard charts, he didn’t mange to release another hit.
“Rico Suave” by Gerardo (1990)
“Rico Suave” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts and earned the Ecuadorian rapper and singer two MTV Video Music Awards nominations. The song has since been seen as a gimmick, along the same lines as “Ice Ice Baby.”
“Groove Is In The Heart” by Deee-LIte (1990)
This psychedelic dance track was a nightclub success, because it is easy to groove to. But aside from the tune, the song doesn’t have the strength to sustain itself as a hit. The rap done by A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip is fairly iconic though.
“Unbelievable” by EMF (1990)
The psychedelic sound and the repetition of “you’re unbelievable,” are the most memorable parts of this song. But EMF’s soft vocals and disinterested sound render the rest of the song forgettable.
“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred (1991)
“I’m Too Sexy” was the debut single from brothers Fred and Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred. The catchy song proved to be a hit, topping the charts in countries including Australia and the United States. We still can’t escape the song in 2018 thanks to Taylor Swift using the same rhythmic pattern in her single “Look What You Made Me Do.”
“Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus (1992)
It’s hard to deny the impact Miley Cyrus’ father had on country music in the ’90s. “Achy Breaky Heart” managed to become a crossover hit on the radio and made line dancing popular for a brief time, but the craze and the song have since fizzled out.
“Informer” by Snow (1993)
Canadian reggae artist Snow wrote “Informer” after spending a year in a detention centre on charges of attempted murder, which were later changed to charges of aggravated assault, according to Billboard. The song somehow spent weeks at No. 1 in the US, but Snow was never able to match that success.
Jim Carrey later parodied Snow on the sketch show “In Living Colour” with lyrics including: “Impostor/I’m just a middle-class white guy from Toronto/Despite of how I sound.”
“Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team (1993)
“Whoomp! (There It Is)” is a pop culture phenomenon. The song has been used in commercials and movies and at sporting events since Tag Team first came out with the song. But its overuse makes it a little stale. Just remember, it’s “Whoomp,” not “Whoot.“
“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by Crash Test Dummies (1993)
The Crash Test Dummies earned a Grammy nomination for “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” and the song made it to No. 5 in the states, but one may ask how and why? The song sounds like a serious cover of a parody song. And then there’s the title itself, which makes it hard to even say what your listening to. “Mmmmmmm.”
“Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex (1994)
The origins of a folk song called “Cotton-Eyed Joe” extend back to the 1880s, but the most popular version of the song is a remix from Swedish group Rednex. The techno tune made people dance and even hit No. 1 in a few countries, but it’s fairly irritating after a few seconds.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something (1995)
Deep Blue Something found their only hit in this humdrum song about a boy trying to hold onto a girl that he has “nothing in common” with by bringing up the Audrey Hepburn movie “Breakfast a Tiffany’s.” According to the girl, she remembers that, well, “they both kind of liked it.” Somehow it peaked at No. 5 in the US.
“How Bizarre” by OMC (1995)
The thing about OMC’s hit single is that the horns and the beat are wonderful. But lead singer, Pauly Fuemana, just doesn’t sound interested in what he’s singing. It should be more fun.
“One of Us” by Joan Osborne (1995)
Osborne’s song repeatedly asking the question”What if God was one of us?” received four Grammy nominations and was also used as the theme song for “Joan of Arcadia.” It’s got a good hook, but the simple guitar song is boring.
“Pepper” by Butthole Surfers (1996)
Ah, yes, the Butthole Surfers. The rock band’s song “Pepper” was a successful rock song of the ’90s. The song goes from spoken words into a sung chorus, but it’s a strange sound.
“Barbie Girl” by Aqua (1997)
Danish group Aqua found success with “Barbie Girl,” an easy to memorise, bubbly song. But the infectious tune is irritating. Mattel, which manufactures Barbie, sued the record company in 2000 and said that the song violated their trademark. Eventually, a court of appeals ruled that the song was a parody, so “Barbie Girl” is here to stay.
“Superman” by Goldfinger (1997)
Ska group Goldfinger is best known for “Superman,” thanks in part to the song being used in the video game “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.” It’s a fun song for game, but ultimately falls flat.
“Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65 (1998)
Italian group Eiffel 65 reached international fame with their song “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” and even got a Grammy nomination for the dance track. Sure, the song is catchy, and sure, we’ll sing along with it when it comes on, but with the auto-tune and nonsensical lyrics, it’s not great.
“The Bad Touch” by Bloodhound Gang (1999)
Many of the Bloodhound Gang’s songs are sexual in topic, and “The Bad Touch” is no exception. Even though the lyrics are filled with bad sexual innuendos and puns, the song’s catchy beat still ends up stuck in your head.
“Summer Girls” by LFO (1999)
There’s a lot to process when going through the lyrics to “Summer Girls.” There’s pop culture references to “Home Alone” and “Abercrombie and Fitch” and “New Kids on the Block.” There’s a seemingly random line about Chinese food making them sick. And then there’s “When you take a sip/You buzz like a hornet/Billy Shakespeare wrote/A whole bunch of sonnets.” Nothing quite makes sense in this song.
“Who Let the Dogs Out” by Baha Men (2000)
“Who Let the Dogs Out” is repetitive to the point of being obnoxious and asks the same question over and over: “Who let the dogs out?” Well, we still don’t know.
Baha Men members Dyson Knight and Isaiah Taylor spoke to Vice about how their most famous song came to be, and even the group members didn’t want to record it.
“Isaiah heard the song and said there was ‘no way in hell we’re recording that song,'” Knight said.
And yet, the group did record it, and even won a Grammy Award for the hit.
“Around the World (La La La La La)” by ATC (2000)
Dance group ATC became a surprise hit with their song “Around the World,” but the “la-la-la’s” are ultimately more annoying than they are entertaining.
“Butterfly” by Crazy Town (2000)
Crazy Town, a rap rock group from the ’90s, landed a No. 1 hit song with their single “Butterfly.” The song about an ex-girlfriend takes a sample from Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Pretty Little Ditty.” Crazy Town never replicated that amount of success again.
“I Wanna Be Bad” by Willa Ford (2001)
Willa Ford’s “I Wanna Be Bad” was pop jam that was featured in classic 2000s movies like “What a Girl Wants” and “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.” But in retrospect, the dance song didn’t have staying power.
“My Neck, My Back (Lick It) by Khia (2002)
Fair warning that this song is NSFW in its original version, so don’t play it out loud. The salacious song took off though, and it needed to be heavily edited for radio and TV. Khia was even surprised by the song’s success, telling MTV at the time, “I guess the world is just nasty and freaky like that. It’s not even my favourite song, and I was kind of surprised that’s the song that everybody jumped on.”
“Blowin’ me Up (With Her Love)” by JC Chasez (2002)
JC Chasez tried his hand at a solo career after NSYNC split, but it never took off. His debut single “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love)” from the “Drumline” soundtrack was basically as good as it got, which wasn’t very good at all.
“Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior (2002)
Upon first hearing the song, it doesn’t sound like a jam from the early 2000s. Danish group Junior Senior put this dance track on the map, and for a brief time, it was everywhere. It was in commercials, played on “One Tree Hill,” and was even in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” But aside from the funky beat, it’s forgettable.
“The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)” by Las Ketchup (2002)
Las Ketchup were a Spanish pop group who broke out with their song “Aserejé (The Ketchup Song).” They came out with a Spanish version, a Spanglish version, and one with Portuguese verses. There was even a choreographed dance that people learned. The song was addictive, but it’s also weird, and that’s OK.
“Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)” by Lumidee (2003)
Despite making it to the top three on the Billboard charts, the song is most memorable for the “uh ohs.” Other than that, Lumidee sounds off-key for most of the song.
“Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by Big & Rich (2004)
This song wasn’t even the country band’s most chart-topping hit, yet it’s the one it’s most known for. Fusing country basics with some rock elements and a sort of country rap together managed to make this song memorable enough.
“Tipsy” by J-Kwon (2004)
J-Kwon peaked with “Tipsy,” a song about underage drinking, but there is nothing particularly new or interesting about the catchy song. It’s just a lot of “Everybody in the club gettin’ tipsy.”
“Axel F” by Crazy Frog (2005)
The Swedish computer-animated Crazy Frog character is literally known as “The Annoying Thing,” and that moniker can extend to his songs as well. But despite how annoying “Axel F” was, the song somehow managed to find international success, peaking at No. 1 in countries including Australia, Spain, and Sweden. The song spawned a viral meme when a video of two boys lip-syncing and dancing to it hit YouTube.
“Laffy Taffy” by D4L (2005)
D4L is best known for their song “Laffy Taffy,” which refers to women’s backsides as “Laffy Taffy” and then names a bunch of candy as sexual innuendos. Aside from the catchy beat, the song is fairly boring, yet it did hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
“Lips of an Angel” by Hinder (2006)
Hinder managed to break through to the top of the US charts with their rock ballad. With lead singer Austin Winkler’s recognisable rasp, emotive performance, and easy-to-memorise lyrics, it was hard not to sing along with the band, but that still doesn’t mean the song is good. Also, the song is about a guy wishing his current girlfriend was his ex-girlfriend, so it’s sad and not romantic, yet some couples took it as such.
“This Is Why I’m Hot” by MIMS (2007)
Why does rapper MIMS say he’s hot? “Cause he’s fly.” And why are you not hot? “You ain’t cause you not.” That pretty much sums up MIMS’ hit No. 1 single.
“I Love College” by Asher Roth (2009)
“I Love College” was made during the MySpace area, which helped get this party anthem the attention it needed. The song itself doesn’t even have the best dance rhythm, but it’s all about drinking and smoking weed, so it works for what it is.
“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People (2010)
In addition to being incredibly overplayed, the song’s lyrics are pretty controversial, apparently focusing on a student planning on shooting up his school.
Even though frontman Mark Foster has since said that the song was meant to be an anti-gun violence anthem, it’s still not a good look to have “all the other kids with the pumped up kicks/ better run, better run, outrun my gun” as the main lyrics of your hit.
“Teach Me How to Dougie” by Cali Swag District (2010)
The song led to a lot of debate over what it actually meant to “dougie” – and referred to women exclusively as “bitches.” In addition to its offensive lyrics, “Teach Me How to Dougie” quickly becomes repetitive after a few listens.
“Billionaire” by Travie McCoy ft. Bruno Mars (2010)
The song is about rich men wanting to get even richer – something that’s just as distasteful today as it was in 2010.
“Friday” by Rebecca Black (2011)
From the poorly edited music video to the auto-tuned song itself, everything about Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was made to go viral. And, of course, it did. But despite being panned by critics and regular people everywhere, people’s hatred for the song propelled it to the Billboard charts. Once it’s stuck in your head, it’s hard to get it out.
“Tongue Tied” by Grouplove (2011)
The song relies heavily on a use of synthesizers, and doesn’t have the most original lyrics, either.
It reached peak popularity after it was featured in an iPod touch commercial, and went on to be one of the most overplayed songs of the early 2010s.
“Gangnam Style” by Psy (2012)
This K-pop hit was made to go viral. There’s nothing inherently special about the song itself, but the catchy beat and choreographed dance became a cultural phenomenon. It broke records and won a ton of awards, but the novelty of it has since died down.
“Harlem Shake” by Baauer (2012)
The lasting legacy of the “Harlem Shake” isn’t the song itself, but the meme that took off from videos of people grooving to the dance track from producer and DJ Baauer. Sports teams, actors, and even TV shows got in on the meme. The song hit No. 1 thanks to its brief bout of fan hysteria.
“Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” by The Finatticz (2012)
“Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” was a song that gained popularity thanks to social media, specifically Vine. A year after The Finatticz released this bop, a vine of a team twerking went viral and spawned numerous other memes with the song. The simple tune does have a knack for burrowing its way into your brain and staying there.
“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye ft. Kimbra (2012)
The song was atypical for a one-hit wonder – it featured softly murmured vocals and a catchy xylophone riff that immediately lodged itself in listeners’ memories. But even though it brought a new sound to the top of the charts, its uniqueness was quickly diminished – after it was played on repeat for months on end.
Now, the music video for “Somebody That I Used to Know” has over 1 billion views on YouTube.
“Cheerleader” by Omi (2012)
Omi’s reggae track went viral after Felix Jaehn put an EDM twist on it in 2014, and upon first listen, it’s a pretty upbeat bop – but it quickly becomes apparent that it doesn’t have much substance to it, since it focuses on a man who has been tempted to cheat on other women, but didn’t because his girlfriend is his own personal cheerleader
“The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by Ylvis (2013)
Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis found international success with their song of animal sounds, which asked the question: “What does the fox say?” Their answer was an annoying series of sounds that took over radio airwaves and landed at No. 6 on the US charts. The song wasn’t meant to be a success, but it’s virality pushed it to to the top.
“Rude” by Magic! (2013)
Canadian band Magic! found success with their reggae-sounding “Rude,” as it hit the top of the charts in multiple countries and was the ninth best-selling song of 2014, but the question is why? The song is about a dude asking his girlfriend’s father if he can marry her, getting a no, and saying, “Why you gotta be so rude?” and “I’m going to marry her anyway.” Time named it one of the top 10 worst songs of the year.
“CoCo” by O.T. Genasis (2014)
This viral track is literally about loving cocaine. It’s repetitive and full of elongated o’s, but it still went platinum.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.