Biggest One-Hit Wonders of All Time

Biggest One-Hit Wonders of All Time

Winning a Grammy award is considered to be among the highest achievements in the music industry. 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.

Source: David Redfern / Getty Images

36. Lean On Me
> Artist: Club Nouveau
> Weeks on Top 40: 12
> Entered charts: Feb. 21, 1987
> Left charts: May 9, 1987

“Lean on Me” was a hit for its composer, Bill Withers, in 1972. California-based R&B-pop band Club Nouveau recorded a popular cover version in 1986, which not only hit the charts again, but also belatedly won Withers a Grammy for Best R&B Song.

Source: Araya Diaz / Getty Images

35. I’ll Be Your Everything
> Artist: Tommy Page
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: Feb. 24, 1990
> Left charts: May 19, 1990

Tommy Page’s one hit was this song, which he co-wrote with New Kids on the Block members Jordan Knight and Danny Wood. Page, who died in 2017 of apparent suicide, went on to become a successful music industry executive, including stints as a vice president of Top 40 promotion for Warner Bros./Reprise Records and as publisher of the music business bible, Billboard.

Source: Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

34. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
> Artist: Bobby McFerrin
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: Aug. 13, 1988
> Left charts: Nov. 5, 1988

Bobby McFerrin took a phrase popularized by Indian spiritual adviser Meher Baba (who also influenced The Who’s Pete Townshend) and turned it into a hit in 1988. McFerrin has been nominated for 18 Grammy awards and won 10 times. Three of those awards — song, record, and male pop vocal performance — were for this Jamaican syncopated tune.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

33. Rock Me Amadeus
> Artist: Falco
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: Feb. 22, 1986
> Left charts: May 17, 1986

Austrian-born rocker Falco, wearing a powdered wig as a punk Mozart, scored his only No. 1 hit in the United States with the campy “Rock Me Amadeus.” The classically trained Falco was unable to successfully follow up that novelty tune. He was killed in a car accident in 1998 while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Source: Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

32. You Keep Me Hangin’ On
> Artist: Kim Wilde
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: April 18, 1987
> Left charts: July 11, 1987

English singer Kim Wilde topped the American charts in 1987 with her cover of The Supremes hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Wilde was not able to duplicate that feat in the U.S., though she did have some success in Europe. She has sold more than 10 million albums and 20 million singles worldwide.she has sold over 10 million albums and 20 million singles. she has sold over 10 million albums and 20 million singles.

Source: Jhelms1947 / Wikimedia Commons

31. I’ve Been Thinking About You
> Artist: LondonBeat
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: Feb. 16, 1991
> Left charts: May 18, 1991

The British-American ensemble scored a No. 1 hit on Billboard with the dance-pop song, “I’ve Been Thinking About You,” released from their album “In the Blood.” The song was No. 1 for one week on the Billboard Hot 100 and was on the chart for 19 weeks.

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

30. La Bamba
> Artist: Los Lobos
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: July 18, 1987
> Left charts: Oct. 17, 1987

Los Lobos, three-time Grammy Award winners from Los Angeles, had a hit with their Latin-infused rocker “La Bamba” in 1987. The song was No. 1 for three weeks on Billboard and stayed on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 21 weeks.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

29. At This Moment
> Artist: Billy Vera & The Beaters
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: Dec. 6, 1986
> Left charts: March 14, 1987

The quintessential club band, Billy Vera and the Beaters have been putting on popular shows around Southern California since 1979. But the group — modeled after the classic Ray Charles and Little Richard R&B bands of the 1950s, complete with four saxophones — has had only this one big hit, a song Vera wrote.

Source: Fin Costello / Getty Images

28. Come On Eileen
> Artist: Dexys Midnight Runners
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: Feb. 26, 1983
> Left charts: May 28, 1983

Dexys Midnight Runners’ biggest hit remains a favorite of bar patrons. It came off the British band’s second album, “Too-Rye-Ay.” “Come On Eileen” spent one week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and was on the chart for 23 weeks.

Source: Evan Agostini / Getty Images

27. Good Vibrations
> Artist: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: Aug. 10, 1991
> Left charts: Nov. 30, 1991

Marky Mark may have been a one-hit wonder, but he also became a big star. “Mark” was actually Mark Wahlberg, and the video for “Good Vibrations” — not to be confused with the Beach Boys song of the same name — showed off his buff physique, which led to a job as a Calvin Klein underwear model. That, in turn, helped him land his role as a porn star in “Boogie Nights,” and the rest is show-biz history.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

26. Nothing Compares 2 U
> Artist: Sinéad O’Connor
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: March 24, 1990
> Left charts: June 30, 1990

The Irish singer who has courted controversy throughout her career notched her lone No. 1 hit, so far. “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a remake of a Prince song, reached the top position on April 21, 1990 and stayed there for four weeks. The song was on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 21 weeks.

Source: Mike F. Campbell / Wikimedia Commons

25. Black Velvet
> Artist: Alannah Myles
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: Feb. 3, 1990
> Left charts: May 12, 1990

Canadian singer Alannah Myles’ lone No.1 song reached Billboard’s Hot 100 top spot on March 24, 1990. The song occupied that position for two weeks and was in the Billboard chart for 24 weeks. The song, which garnered a Grammy Award for Myles in 1991, was written by Canadian musicians David Tyson and Christopher Ward about Elvis Presley.

Source: Grabbitt / Wikimedia Commons

24. Shake You Down
> Artist: Gregory Abbott
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: Nov. 8, 1986
> Left charts: Feb. 21, 1987

Raised in Harlem by a Venezuelan mother and a father from the Caribbean island of Antigua, Abbott is a prolific songwriter (Jennifer Warnes, Whitney Houston, and 50 Cent are among those who have recorded his work), but “Shake You Down” is his claim to fame as a performer.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

23. Take On Me
> Artist: A-ha
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: Aug. 24, 1985
> Left charts: Nov. 30, 1985

A-ha was the first Norwegian group to have a No. 1 single in the U.S. The synth-pop song “Take On Me” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 for one week and spent 27 weeks on the chart. The band is remembered for its groundbreaking video for the song that combined live action with illustrations. The video was created by Steve Barron, who directed Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

22. Funkytown
> Artist: Lipps, Inc.
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: April 19, 1980
> Left charts: July 26, 1980

While disco had largely fallen out of favor as a popular music style by the 1980s, the disco/funk/R&B group Lipps Inc. managed to strike gold in 1980 with their disco hit “Funkytown.” Though they failed to reach that level of mainstream success again, they had a number of additional songs that performed well on the Dance Club charts.

Source: Courtesy of EMF via Facebook

21. Unbelievable
> Artist: E.M.F.
> Weeks on Top 40: 16
> Entered charts: May 11, 1991
> Left charts: Aug. 24, 1991

The first album by this British band, led by guitarist and songwriter Ian Dench, resulted in four songs in the U.K. Top 40 in 1990. The song “Unbelievable” crossed the pond to America the following year, and the band toured the U.S., but without Dench. E.M.F. had repeatedly played this one song at every show, as it was the only one of theirs the audience had ever heard of.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

20. One More Try
> Artist: Timmy T
> Weeks on Top 40: 16
> Entered charts: Jan. 19, 1991
> Left charts: May 4, 1991

Californian Timmy T (born Timothy Torres) scored his only No. 1 hit, which stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 25 weeks. This song is not to be confused with the Rolling Stones tune of the same name from 1965.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

19. Maniac
> Artist: Michael Sembello
> Weeks on Top 40: 16
> Entered charts: July 2, 1983
> Left charts: Oct. 15, 1983

Although Michael Sembello had minor success with his song “Automatic Man,” it pales in comparison to the No. 1 hit “Maniac.” The single’s popularity was no doubt bolstered by its inclusion in the 1983 film “Flashdance.”

Source: Ralph Orlowski / Getty Images

18. I’m Too Sexy
> Artist: Right Said Fred
> Weeks on Top 40: 17
> Entered charts: Jan. 18, 1992
> Left charts: May 9, 1992

English duo Right Said Fred found quick success when they released their debut single “I’m Too Sexy” in 1992. While the goofy single only spent three weeks at No. 1, it stayed in the Top 40 for another 14.

Source: SebastyneNet / Wikimedia Commons

17. More Than Words
> Artist: Extreme
> Weeks on Top 40: 17
> Entered charts: April 13, 1991
> Left charts: Aug. 3, 1991

Extreme was formed by Massachusetts-born vocalist Gary Cherone (who went on to have a brief career as lead singer for Van Halen) and Portuguese guitarist Nuno Bettencourt (later to tour with Rihanna). The band recorded this acoustic love ballad as a contrast to their more usual rock music.

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

16. Mickey
> Artist: Toni Basil
> Weeks on Top 40: 17
> Entered charts: Oct. 9, 1982
> Left charts: Feb. 5, 1983

Toni Basil is a multiple Emmy and Grammy nominee, choreographer, actor, director, and dancer, and was named a Living Legend of Hip Hop by Hip Hop International in 2008. Though “Mickey” was hailed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as one of the groundbreaking singles of the ’80s, it was Basil’s only smash hit recording.

Source: Scott Gries / Getty Images

15. This Is Why I’m Hot
> Artist: Mims
> Weeks on Top 40: 18
> Entered charts: March 3, 2007
> Left charts: June 30, 2007

Mims (full name Shawn Mims) had a huge hit with this “memorably minimalist chest-bump anthem” (in the words of Stereogum). The follow-ups, however, were tepidly received, and Mims subsequently turned to Silicon Valley, creating an app, RecordGram, with two partners.

Source: Vince Bucci / Getty Images

14. Butterfly
> Artist: Crazy Town
> Weeks on Top 40: 18
> Entered charts: Feb. 3, 2001
> Left charts: June 2, 2001

Written by Crazy Town lead singer Shifty Shellshock (otherwise known as Seth Binzer), “Butterfly” samples “Pretty Little Ditty” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band Crazy Town toured with. The song — identified by the Federal Trade Commission as inappropriate for underage listeners — didn’t top the charts until a year-and-a-half after it was released.

Source: Courtesy of Snow Darrin Kenneth O'Brien via Facebook

13. Informer
> Artist: Snow
> Weeks on Top 40: 19
> Entered charts: Feb. 6, 1993
> Left charts: June 12, 1993

Darrin Kenneth O’Brien, the Canadian reggae-rapper who performs as Snow, got into the Guinness Book of World Records for this song, named the biggest selling reggae single of all time. Subsequent recordings failed to duplicate the success of “Informer,” and since 2009, when his longtime partner died of cancer, he has devoted himself to charities funding cancer research and to helping residents of nonprofit housing.

Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty Images

12. Laffy Taffy
> Artist: D4L
> Weeks on Top 40: 20
> Entered charts: Oct. 29, 2005
> Left charts: March 11, 2006

Atlanta rappers D4L (which stands for “Down for Life”) initially created this song as a smartphone ringtone before it came out as a single. The song appeared on the group’s sole studio album, “Down for Life.”

Source: Mike Cameron / Getty Images

11. Here Comes the Hotstepper
> Artist: Ini Kamoze
> Weeks on Top 40: 23
> Entered charts: Oct. 15, 1994
> Left charts: March 18, 1995

Ini Kamoze had modest success as a reggae artist, but he wanted to try something in a different format in an attempt to gather more airplay. The chorus on this track is sampled from the Cannibal and the Headhunters version of “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and the bass line is sampled from “Heartbeat” by Taana Gardner. “Hotstepper,” a Jamaican term for a fugitive from the law, is the singer’s nickname.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

10. Baby Got Back
> Artist: Sir Mix-A-Lot
> Weeks on Top 40: 24
> Entered charts: May 2, 1992
> Left charts: Oct. 10, 1992

Seattle rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot’s derrière-themed hit has been widely covered and parodied and referred to in everything from “Friends” to “Shrek.” Last year, the singer, born Anthony Ray, debuted a real estate-themed reality show called “Sir Mix-a-Lot’s House Remix” on the DIY Network.

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

9. Fireflies
> Artist: Owl City
> Weeks on Top 40: 25
> Entered charts: Oct. 10, 2009
> Left charts: March 27, 2010

Owl City is Minnesotan Adam Young’s electronic-pop project. He apparently doesn’t care that he produced no successful follow-ups to this No. 1 hit, telling Songfacts, “I don’t really care if people only know me for ‘Fireflies.’ I just do my own thing.”

Source: Gaman Worldwide Music Videos / YouTube

8. Lately
> Artist: Divine
> Weeks on Top 40: 25
> Entered charts: Sept. 12, 1998
> Left charts: Feb. 27, 1999

This gospel-inspired ballad by R&B trio Divine topped the Billboard charts only a few weeks after the three young members of the group graduated from high school. Follow-ups faltered, and the group disbanded in 2000.

Source: Vince Bucci / Getty Images

7. Bad Day
> Artist: Daniel Powter
> Weeks on Top 40: 27
> Entered charts: March 11, 2006
> Left charts: Sept. 9, 2006

With this song, Daniel Powter, who is from British Columbia, became the first Canadian to top the U.S. charts since Nickelback did so four years earlier. Billboard named Powter the top one-hit wonder of the years 2000 to 2007.

Source: Scott Gries / Getty Images

6. Lean Back
> Artist: Terror Squad
> Weeks on Top 40: 27
> Entered charts: July 3, 2004
> Left charts: Jan. 15, 2005

Big Punisher and Fat Joe, two already notable Latino rappers from the Bronx, formed the core of this late-1990s/early-2000s group. “Lean Back” reached the top five on Billboard’s Hot 100 list before the album featuring it was released. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.

Source: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

5. Hey There Delilah
> Artist: Plain White T’s
> Weeks on Top 40: 28
> Entered charts: May 26, 2007
> Left charts: Dec. 1, 2007

Plain White T’s lead singer Tom Higgenson wrote this song about a woman named Delilah DiCrescenzo, whom he was trying to woo (he failed). Last year, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the band began pitching a TV series based on the song.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

4. You’re Beautiful
> Artist: James Blunt
> Weeks on Top 40: 29
> Entered charts: Dec. 24, 2005
> Left charts: July 8, 2006

English singer-songwriter James Blunt scored his sole Top 40 hit with this soulful pop ballad. The song did exceptionally well on the charts — it was on the Billboard Hot 100 for 38 weeks — and was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. But even Blunt, as he told Hello! Magazine in 2014, found the overplaying of the track “annoying.”

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

3. Everything You Want
> Artist: Vertical Horizon
> Weeks on Top 40: 34
> Entered charts: Feb. 19, 2000
> Left charts: Oct. 7, 2000

Released nearly a decade after the band’s formation, Vertical Horizon’s “Everything You Want” was a huge success for the alternative rock band from Washington, D.C. In addition to spending 34 weeks in the Top 40, the song was Billboard’s Most Played Single of 2000.

Source: Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images

2. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)
> Artist: Los Del Rio
> Weeks on Top 40: 37
> Entered charts: May 18, 1996
> Left charts: Jan. 25, 1997

Anyone alive during the mid-1990s will remember the inescapable fad that was the “Macarena.” Complete with its signature dance, the song was played everywhere — from sporting events to the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

Source: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

1. Somebody That I Used To Know
> Artist: Gotye feat. Kimbra
> Weeks on Top 40: 44
> Entered charts: Feb. 11, 2012
> Left charts: March 2, 2013

Australian electronic musician Gotye scored his one top 40 hit with this infectious 2012 pop song. The track — which samples Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfa’s 1967 song “Seville” — spent an impressive 44 weeks in the Top 40 and eight weeks at No. 1. “Somebody That I Used to Know” also won the awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.

To top