Winning a Grammy award is considered to be among the highest achievements in the music industry. This year’s ceremony — which is scheduled to air on Jan. 26 on CBS — will offer another opportunity for a select group of musicians to accomplish this feat.
Surprisingly, some Grammy winners have exceptionally short careers as popular entertainers. Artists such as Sir Mix-A-Lot, Bobby McFerrin, and the Baha Men — all of whom could be considered “one-hit wonders” — have taken home awards over the years.
There’s no official definition of the term “one-hit wonder” in the music world, but it usually refers to a recording artist who has had one No. 1 hit (or one song that charted near the top for a substantial stretch of time), with the artist’s other efforts failing to reach similar heights.
In order to determine the biggest one-hit wonders of all time, 24/7 Tempo has identified artists whose sole No. 1 songs stayed the longest on the weekly Top 40 charts, based on the Billboard Hot 100.
Sometimes, one-hit wonder artists are great successes in fields other than popular music. Radio and TV personality Rick Dees, whose “Weekly Top 40” claims to be the longest continuously running hit music countdown in the world, topped the charts himself (as Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots) with “Disco Duck” in 1976. Mark Wahlberg first found fame as the lead member of hip-hop group Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch, who scored a hit with “Good Vibrations.” Wahlberg would go on to act in numerous critically acclaimed blockbuster movies. These are the greatest movies starring musicians.
Others continued working in music, despite being unable to release another chart-topper. Not having more than one top hit doesn’t imply a lack of talent or success. Many one-hit wonders carry on producing new music, years after their big hit. These are the one-hit wonders that are still making music.
24/7 Tempo’s list of biggest one-hit wonders includes many names you may recognize. Some of them, such as Canadian singer Alannah Myles, Latino rockers Los Lobos, and Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor have won Grammy awards.
To determine the biggest one-hit wonders, 24/7 Tempo identified the songs with the longest stays on the weekly Top 40 charts, based on the Billboard Hot 100, from 1980 to 2012. Only songs that reached No. 1 were considered.
Additionally, artists must have charted on the Top 40 no more than twice, either as individual artists or by featuring on another artist’s song, and must have sold fewer than 5 million albums throughout their careers, not including singles.
The American Top 40 consists of the top 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Data on certified album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America.
Songs that were originally recorded for a film or television show were not considered.