No matter which way you look at it, the music industry is absolutely littered with one hit wonders. From performers that spent years grasping desperately for that one opportunity, to those who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, these artist-song combinations took the world by storm and continue to define their acts to this day. Love them or hate them, here are the 25 Best One Hit Wonders Ever To Top The Charts.
Shocking Blue - Venus
Written by Robbie van Leeuwen and performed by Dutch rock band Shocking Blue, “Venus” topped charts in 9 different countries and sold over 8 million copies across the world. Since the peak of its popularity in 1970, it has appeared in numerous movies, television shows, and commercials.
Norman Greenbaum - Spirit in the Sky
This 1970 gospel rock song spent a whopping 15 weeks at the number 3 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 in addition to taking the number one spot on charts in the UK, Canada, and Australia.
Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)
Despite the recording studio initially refusing to record the song, “You Spin Me Round” went on to rank first in the UK and eleventh in the US.
Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom
Fountains of Wayne’s only mainstream hit, “Stacy’s Mom,” is based on a childhood friend of bassist Adam Schlesinger, who allegedly attempted to romance Schlesinger’s grandmother.
Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks
Although it was released in the summer of 2010, “Pumped Up Kicks” remained a sleeper hit until spring of 2011 when it gained mainstream popularity and peaked at number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song tells the depressing story of a troubled and homicidal youth who fantasizes about taking revenge against the popular kids at his school.
Toni Basil - Mickey
Topping charts in the United States, Canada, and Australia, “Mickey” remains Toni Basil’s only song to break the top 40.
Harold Faltermeyer - Axel F
First debuting in the 1984 film Beverly Hills Cop, this early synthpop instrumental rocketed to the top of charts around the world. The song was and continues to be as staple of the electronic genre.
Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me
Rockwell’s debut single became an international and commercial success following its 1984 release. It also features backing vocals by Michael Jackson and his older brother Jermaine Jackson.
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
Gaining popularity for its comedic and delightfully fun lyrics, “Werewolves of London” peaked at 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed in the top 40 for six weeks. It also featured the drummer and bassist from popular British rock band Fleetwood Mac.
Tommy Tutone - Jenny (867-5309)
After its release in 1982, this catchy song went on to spark a national craze in which people would call the number 867-5309 and ask for Jenny. Despite the fad, a number of contradictory statements by the band make it unclear whether the number, or Jenny, ever really existed.
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
American rapper Vanilla Ice wrote his hit single “Ice Ice Baby” when he was only sixteen. Despite being referred to by many as one of the “best worst songs” ever, Ice Ice Baby still took the number one spot on a number of international charts and helped introduce hip-hop to a mainstream audience.
Devo - Whip It
Despite their large cult following, the American new wave band Devo only ever drew mainstream attention for their 1980 single “Whip It.” Due to its cryptic lyrics, many listeners assumed the song to be sadomasochistic; however, the band actually intended for the song to represent moving forward through adversity.
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The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Although initially failing to break the top ten on charts in the UK and Ireland, “I’m Gonna Be” eventually became the Irish duo’s most recognizable song worldwide, taking the number 1 spot on charts in Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Weather Girls - It's Raining Men
Despite never breaking 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, “It’s Raining Men” has become an international classic and sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know
This alt pop ballad has topped charts in 26 countries and broken the top 10 in over 30 countries worldwide. It is one of the bestselling digital singles of all time with over 13 million downloads.
Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)
Popularized by the John Hughes film Breakfast Club, “Don’t You Forget About Me” garnered Simple Minds international recognition and topped charts in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands.
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry, Be Happy
In 1988, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” became the first a capella song to top the Billboard Hot 100. Every individual part of the song was recorded by McFerrin separately and overdubbed into the final product; no instruments were used.
A-ha - Take On Me
Although not their only hit, A-ha received international recognition for their debut single “Take Me On” which topped singles charts in 36 different countries and sold over 7 million copies worldwide.
Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting
This fun disco tune rose to the top of British and American charts and even helped to popularize the disco genre. Since its release, it has been memorialized for it’s over the top vocals and playful lyrics.
Men Without Hats - Safety Dance
One of the biggest hits in the new wave genre, “Safety Dance” topped the US Cash Box and the Billboard Hot 100 dance chart, as well as broke the top 10 in many countries. The song was written to protest clubs that would ban certain dance moves.
Chamillionaire - Ridin'
Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’” gained infamy for its controversial lyrics discussing racial profiling, police brutality, and African-American stereotypes. It spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and ranked 3rd in Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Songs of 2006.”
Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
Peaking at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart and number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, “Tubthumping” follows the 1984 and 1985 UK Miners’ Strike and refers to the protester’s habits of getting drunk after a long riot or strike.
Kyu Sakamoto - Sukiyaki
Known in Japan by the title, “Ue o Muite Aruko” (I look up when I walk), Sakamoto’s 1963 hit has sold over 13 million copies worldwide and remains the only Japanese-language song to top the US Billboard Hot 100.
Daniel Powter - Bad Day
Canadian singer Daniel Powter’s hit single “Bad Day” appeared in a French Coca Cola ad a year before its official release in 2005.
The Archies - Sugar, Sugar
Written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim for The Archie Show in 1969, this catchy bubblegum-pop tune held the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks.
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