Biggest One-Hit Wonders of the 21st Century

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Some of the longest reigning No. 1 singles in Billboard history are from artists who never churned out another hit song. Take Belgian-Australian singer Gotye’s minimalist art pop breakup ballad “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The enduring song debuted in 2011, spending eight weeks at No. 1, and had amassed over two billion views on YouTube by the end of 2022. Despite the fact that he has since released six more singles, Gotye has yet to chart another record.

Dozens of other artists from the 2000s have had a similar experience, enjoying fame for a lone single and nothing more. To determine the biggest one-hit wonders of the 2000s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data for the top 40 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts. Songs that reached No. 1 or No. 2 between the years 2000 and 2016 were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 40 points, a week at No. 2 worth 39 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 40 worth one point. To be considered, artists must have had no more than three top 40 hits, either as individual artists or as featured artists, and must have sold no more than five million albums in the United States throughout their careers. Chart data is current through April 8, 2023.

Songs like PSY’s “Gangnam Style” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” went viral on YouTube, with “Gangnam Style” not only starting a viral dance craze that became nothing short of a pop cultural phenomenon but also becoming the first YouTube video ever to exceed a billion views. (It is undoubtedly one of the 25 most iconic music videos ever made.)

Many of these one-hit wonders, like Canadian reggae fusion band Magic!, famous for their debut single “Rude,” have continued making music, while others have disbanded, including Atlanta hip hop group D4L, whose hit single “Laffy Tаffy” spent one week at no. 1. Some songs, including the Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” and Blu Cantrell’s “Hit “Em Up Style (Oops)” even received Grammy Nominations. (As an illustration of how musical tastes change, see this list of the biggest one-hit wonders of the 1990s.) 

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