Top 20 One-Hit Wonders of All Time

While many musicians only have a short time in the spotlight, their most iconic song can have an ever-lasting impact on the world. These hit singles by one-hit wonders can be heard in TV shows, films, and even on the radio today. So, what are some of the top one-hit wonders of all time? Read on to experience a blast from the past and find out.

1. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love”

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Originally sung by the American soul singer Gloria Jones, the “Tainted Love” cover by Soft Cell took the world by storm when it was released in 1981. Soft Cell, consisting of Marc Almond on vocals and David Ball on instruments, produced the song that reached #1 in 17 different countries and spent 43 weeks on the Top 100 chart in the US.

While the two disbanded just three years later after their hit single took off, they’re set to return with their fifth studio album “Happiness Not Included” in May of 2022.

2. Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Come on Eileen”

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Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ 1982 hit “Come on Eileen”. This enormous hit went #1 in the US, UK, and Australia, spreading the song’s good vibes and unique sound worldwide. While this song may be considered a one-hit-wonder, it’s still being played regularly all over the world today.

3. A-ha – “Take on Me”

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Believe it or not, A-ha’s “Take On Me” flopped hard when it was first released. After re-recording the song and music video, though, the song really started to take off once it started to play on MTV and radio stations. With this one-hit-wonder, A-ha became the first Norwegian band to have a #1 hit in the US.

4. Los Del Rio – “Macarena”

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The “Macarena” was one of the biggest dance crazes of the 1990s and still lives on to this day. When the song was first released by Los Del Rio in Spain in 1993, it did fairly well, but once the American label BMG bought the Spanish label, the song sky-rocketed into success.

This classic song stayed in the US Top 100 for 60 weeks, the one-time record for the longest run on the singles chart.

5. Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby”

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While Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” was written in just 30 minutes, you never would’ve guessed by the song’s enormous amount of success. This one-hit wonder was the first single by a rapper to hit #1 in the US and returned to the charts in 2010 when it hit #74 in a version sung by the cast of “Glee”.

6. Baha Men – “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

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While this next one-hit-wonder was released in 2000, today we still ask ourselves the age-old question: “Who Let the Dogs Out”? This hit single by the Baha Men had a surprisingly low chat position, as it peaked at just #40, but that didn’t stop it from being a sensation across the nation.

7. Vicki Sue Robinson – “Turn the Beat Around”

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“Turn the Beat Around” was Vicki Robinson’s only hit, but a good one at that. This single was a disco standard in the ’70s, earning Robinson a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal. The song was even included in several TV shows and film soundtracks, including “The Sopranos” and “The Last Days of Disco”.

8. Haddaway – “What Is Love”

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This next upbeat yet gut-wrenching song catapulted German singer Haddaway into the spotlight. “What is Love” features a fun dance track with tragic lyrics, as Haddaway sings about a girl who won’t love him back. The song really struck a chord with the world, as it really took off after it was featured in a recurring “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

9. House of Pain – “Jump Around”

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If you’ve ever been to a party or a club, chances are you’ve heard this absolute bop. “Jump Around” by House of Pain allowed the trio to make a name for themselves in the ’90s, as this hit song became big in hip-hop in 1992. The song reached its chart peak of #3 that same year, boosting its popularity enough to be featured in films like “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “The Internship”, and “Happy Gilmore”.

10. The Waitresses – “I Know What Boys Like”

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“I Know What Boys Like” has been featured in several well-known films and TV shows including “Glee”, “Ugly Betty”, “I Was a Teenage Zombie”, and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”. This hit single was released in 1980 and was re-recorded and re-released on air to MTV in 1982. Once it hit MTV, the song blew up in popularity and is still iconic to this day.

11. Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting”

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As unlikely as it may seem, Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” wasn’t meant to be a hit. In fact, this hit song was recorded on the B-side, as the singer figured no one was going to listen to it anyways. To his surprise, the song went on o sell 10 million copies worldwide and Douglas became the first Jamaican-born singer to have a #1 hit in the US because of its success.

12. Aqua – “Barbie Girl”

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Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” became popular for a number of reasons, both good and bad. These Scandinavian musicians released the song in 1997 on their “Aquarium” album and quickly received attention from Mattel, the owners of Barbie, and not the good kind.

In fact, Mattel ended up suing the band, saying that they not only violated the Barbie trademark but also turned Barbie into a sex object, as they referred to her as a “Blonde Bimbo” in the song. They say any publicity is good publicity, and in this case, that still stands true, as the single peaked on the American charts later on.

13. Jermaine Stewart – “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off”

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Jermain Stewart’s “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” plays on the reversal of traditional norms, as the song explains that he’s “not a piece of meat” and “wants to be approached cool and romantically”.

This unique song was Stewart’s biggest hit that landed on the Hot 100 and the song even ended up being featured in the film “Zack and Miri Make a Prono” as well as the 2003 episodes of “Scrubs”, titled “My Dirty Secret.”

14. Lipps, Inc. – “Funkytown”

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“Funky Town” by Lipps, Inc. is perhaps one of the most iconic hits of the ’80s. This song has been featured in several TV series and movies, including “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Friends”, “Shrek 2” and “Selena”. Despite the song’s large amount of popularity, the band failed to see the success they had with this hit on any other songs.

15. The Weather Girls – “It’s Raining Men”

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“It’s Raining Men” by the iconic dynamic duo The Weather Girls became a roaring success due to the fact that it objectified men in a way that was rarely heard in popular music.

Because of this, the song became widely popular in the gay community, as listeners heard it as a celebration of their culture. After seeing the success of the hit song, the duo went on the make more music but never had another hit as popular as this one.

16. Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

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If you’ve ever felt extremely pumped up by Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, you’re not alone. In fact, so many people loved this song that the song went from clubs into arenas after it was featured on their third album, “Stay Hungry”. This song has been used in a number of hit films, including “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”, “Read Play One”, and “The Emoji Movie”.

17. Sir Mix-A-Lot – “Baby Got Back”

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Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s hit single “Baby Got Back” might just sound like a song about men who like big butts, but according to the artist, there’s a deeper meaning behind the song.

The musician has said that the song actually refers to the lack of acceptance by Hollywood of the African-American body. Regardless of its meaning, the people loved it and it ranked #1 on the US charts for quite some time.

18. Toni Basil – “Mickey”

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Originally named “Kitty”, “Mickey” by Toni Basil took off when the music video was played on various TV shows and sent the song sky-rocketing up the charts. In fact, it peaked at #3 in the UK even before it aired on MTV. Once the song hit America, it was #1 on the charts for a week in 1982.

19. Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy”

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Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” is an iconic dance record that sold six million singles and five million albums. While the Right Said Fred group can be considered a one-hit-wonder, the hit song is still popular today and can be heard at parties and clubs worldwide.

20. The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

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“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles” by The Proclaimers was the band’s only hit in America, and for good reason. This upbeat love song struck a chord with listeners, as it tells the story of a man devoted to spending the rest of his life with a woman.

Today, the song has been used in many TV shows and films, as well as commercials like the 2015 Budweiser Super Bowl commercial that coveys the lengths that living creatures will go for love.

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