It’s hard to believe that the 2000s are already more than a decade in the past.
The aughts were a decade of change and transition, both in the music industry and in the world at large.
At the turn of the millennium, the internet was still in its relative infancy, and the music industry was struggling to adapt to the new digital landscape.
The industry would eventually find its footing, but in the meantime, the 2000s saw the rise of the one-hit-wonder.
These are the songs that dominated the radio for a hot minute before disappearing into the ether, never to be heard again.
In this article, we’re counting down the 40 best one-hit wonders of the 2000s.
From iconic songs like “Heaven” to cult classics like “You’re Beautiful,” these are the tunes that defined the decade.
1. “Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)” by Nine Days
The hook on this song is undoubtedly the most incredibly contagious in recent years.
Play this on any occasion and watch as everyone over 20 experiences a sudden wave of nostalgia, even if they don’t remember any of the words other than the first few lines of the hook.
2. ”22 Grand Job” by The Rakes
Nowadays, a 22-grand job can pay for a hotel in Zone 3 and hardly an Uber.
On the other hand, the Rakes were describing the entry-level trudge in 2005 with a sparkle in their eye and a spring in their angular, art-rock stride.
3. “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men
In 2000, the song was everywhere.
Anyone alive in 2000 could not avoid this song, which was played on Top 40 radio stations and in children’s movies (The Rugrats movie’s soundtrack featured it prominently).
Additionally, the song is frequently misunderstood.
According to the band, it is a feminist hymn, even though many people mistakenly believed it was about men harassing women on the dance floor and calling them “dogs.”
In reality, the song is about a group of women calling the party thugs “dogs” for trying to ruin everyone’s fun.
4. “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton
Millions of people were moved by Carlton’s melancholy love song, which was supported by a fantastic piano riff and her whisper-like singing.
Since this hit song, Carlton has released five other albums, but none of them has achieved the same level of success.
In 2021, the song briefly gained popularity as a TikTok sound.
5. “New Soul” by Yael Naim
“I’m a New Soul” by Yael Naim is one of the best one-hit wonders of the 2000s.
Amid the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the financial and political crises, this folk tune from 2008 brought comfort.
It presents the tale from the perspective of a protagonist who describes themselves as a new soul and a life novice.
The song achieved international fame and peaked in the United States at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
6. ”Inside Your Heaven” by Bo Bice
Bo Bice won over the “American Idol” viewers with “Inside Your Heaven,” which peaked at No. 2 in July 2005.
The moment the cameras were turned off, fans quickly switched off.
Without this masterpiece by Bo Bice, the one-hit wonders of the 2000s wouldn’t be complete.
7. “Headstrong” by Trapt
The band never gained fame for anything other than this song, despite the single being ranked among Billboard’s Top 100 songs of the year.
The band’s leader, Chris Taylor Brown, is now a prominent right-wing user on TikTok, and he has donated the song to several conservative causes.
The song is frequently used in advertisements for the United States military.
8. “Laffy Taffy” by D4L
Numerous pop singers, alt-rockers, and rappers can be found among the countless early 2000s one-hit wonders.
With their smash hit “Laffy Taffy,” a song about booty shaking that was as popular as a song by another one-hit wonder rapper, Bubba Sparxxx, Run-DMC, the rap group D4L appeared to be on track to become the new Run-DMC.
The likelihood of a D4L reunion happening is unlikely because Shawty Lo, one of the band members, passed away in a 2016 vehicle accident.
9. “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling
Anyone who listened to pop radio regularly in the 2000s will likely believe that Lifehouse wrote this song.
The single hit from The Calling, “Wherever You Will Go,” has all the characteristics of a Lifehouse song while still being unique enough for late-night boozy sing-alongs.
This brings back some particular memories of the 2000s one-hit wonders.
10. “Hounds of Love” by The Futureheads
It’s a tragedy in theory. In actuality, it is everything about the indie disco you have heard of.
Maybe it was the Heads’ quick rhythm shift, maybe it was the fact that everything sounds cuter when sung in a Mackem accent.
Maybe it was just that people like to shout “uh uh oh oh oh” when they’re unhappy, but Kate Bush’s classic gained a delightfully fresh perspective on life in their grip.
11. “1234” by Feist
Soft rockers and indie rockers, who were becoming increasingly popular at the end of the decade, were particularly drawn to Feist’s soft personality and soft voice.
Feist’s biggest song, “1234”, became so well-known that it was used in Apple ads.
Even though she continued in her career, she was never able to duplicate “Lightning in a Bottle,” which was her smash hit in 2007.
12. “I Love College” by Asher Roth
Ironic humor was extremely popular in the 2000s.
Asher Roth personifies both the one-hit wonder and the ironic humor.
Roth, a notably white rapper, sang a song honoring the party lifestyle that one can only experience for the first four years after graduating from high school.
The song has good rapping and fantastic humor and is overall quite engaging.
Roth’s career, however, continued to decline after this song.
The level of humor and fun that came with this music was unmatched by any of his other releases, and some thought that by the time the “I Love College” craze was over, the song had become overused.
13. “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus
This legendary Wheatus record was one of many in the 2000s that would become cult favorites.
The song was a global hit despite enjoying only limited success in the United States.
Not too bad for a bunch of young, self-described hoodlums.
14. “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt
Back in 2005, you just could not turn on the radio network without hearing this number-one song on many stations.
In an apology for its extensive misuse, James Blunt called his popular song “annoying.”
He was inspired to make the global hit after catching his ex-lover while she was with another person on the subway.
After that, they ceased speaking to one another.
According to Blunt, he wrote the song in under three minutes.
15. “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston
Nowadays, it’s common for pop songs to sample other sounds, but Sean Kingston’s biggest success was a little risky for doing so with a song as revered as “Stand By Me.”
What’s more shocking is that Kingston stole those beats while making repeated references in the hook to deviant topics like suicide.
Although Kingston, who was still a teenager, hasn’t had much success since this 2007 hit, it was enough for people to remember him.
16. “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
“Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis is one of the greatest hits of the 2000s.
Leona Lewis only had one big hit, “Bleeding Love,” but at least she gave it her all.
For seven weeks straight, “Bleeding Love” topped the charts, breaking a record that wasn’t broken until Drake’s “One Dance” came along.
17. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Goyte ft. Kimbra
Gotye, a Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter, collaborated with Kimbra, a New Zealand singer, on the song “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
“Somebody That I Used to Know” was both the artist’s signature song and global commercial success.
However, neither Goyte nor Kimba had another hit after that. It became the traditional song for independent film teasers.
18. “This Is Why I’m Hot” by MIMS
In March 2007, MIMS released the single “This Is Why I’m Hot,” which lasted two weeks at the top of the charts.
In July 2007, the Jamaican rapper’s second hit, “Like This,” peaked at number 32.
19. ”Dry Your Eyes” by The Streets
“Dry Your Eyes” has to be on the list of the best one-hit wonders of the 2000s.
The Streets’ most well-known song, “Dry Your Eyes,” was an insult to both muscular lads and prototypically depressed boys.
Mike Skinner uses his special blend of grit and tenderness to explore the horrible sorrow that results from a broken heart.
20. “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Gnarls Barkley to combine a jammable groove with crooning that everyone could sing along to.
In 2006, it was impossible to avoid watching or hearing home videos of individuals dancing to this song while driving.
Again, we’re not counting the individual musicians involved; rather, we’re just counting this as a one-hit wonder for the Gnarls Barkley duo.
21. “Scotty Doesn’t Know” by Lustra
“Scotty Doesn’t Know” rose to the top of the Billboard charts after being written for the 2004 movie EuroTrip (and lip-synced by Matt Damon doing his best Henry Rollins impersonation).
This is reputedly one of the first times this happened entirely as a result of digital downloads.
You undoubtedly saw this movie and recall this song as its sole saving grace if you’ve ever attended a sleepover where you borrowed your friend’s older brother’s Blockbuster rentals.
22. “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne
Looking back, it’s a little strange how desperately the aughts tried to be nothing more than a hodgepodge of oddball teen comedy.
With a music video that finishes with a 13-year-old getting caught masturbating in a restroom, Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” had all the strange sexual desperation of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
It also includes the borderline Oedipal overtones of The Graduate (shot to reflect the scene in Fast Times wherein the same thing happens to Judge Reinhold).
23. “Just The Girl” by The Click Five
As per reports, Kurt Cobain said, “It’s better to burn out than fade away.”
If he had been living to witness the band’s biggest success, The Click Five, he might also have been referring to them.
“Just the Girl” received a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America and peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard 100 Chart in 2005.
They never had another big hit after that, which was unfortunate.
24. “Butterfly” by Crazy Town
Crazy Town, a Los Angeles-based rap rock band, topped the charts in March 2001 with “Butterfly,” a Red-Hot Chili Peppers-inspired song that stayed at the top for two weeks.
The group’s wings were chopped after reaching that peak; therefore, they were never able to return to the top 100 lists.
25. “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service
The Postal Service, which was made up of electronic musician Dntel and singer and songwriter for Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Gibbard, was well-known in early 2000s indie circles.
However, after they became allies, they produced a fantasy in the form of “Such Great Heights.”
Of course, each member of the group had other hits than “Postal Service,” but this was unquestionably the peak of the group.
Young adults will immediately recognize this song as the soundtrack to their first relationship.
Although The Postal Service never put out another album, this classic song will always be remembered.
26. “Bulletproof” by La Roux
Due to its catchy hook and contagious beat, this 2009 electro-pop song went to #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became a global hit.
The main character is tired of consistently repeating the same mistakes.
She comforts herself as well as the person who had previously deceived her.
Although the song was a success for La Roux, singer Elly Jackson blamed her panic attacks on the song’s popularity.
She later came to regret the hit.
27. “Turn Me On” by Kevin Lyttle
This song, which seemed to have fallen out of popularity after its first boom, is currently experiencing a mini-renaissance thanks to its use as meme bait in viral Vine videos.
The song’s reggae-infused beats and humorous and endearing falsetto delivery by Lyttle paved the way for early Rhianna hits like “Pon De Replay.”
28. “Pieces Of Me” by Ashlee Simpson
The world seems to forget about Ashlee Simpson quickly.
Whether that’s because of the Saturday Night Live lip-syncing incident or the series of terrible reality shows she and her older sister Jessica had on MTV.
On the other side, the lone notable radio hit was so well-liked in 2004 that it appeared to be playing continuously.
Although it first dominated the radio when it debuted, Simpson’s hit has distinguished itself as a potent representation of the times.
29. “Why Can’t I?” by Liz Phair
Liz Phair released this excellent and clean rock/pop song in 2003.
Even though it was somewhat simple, it back then had all the makings of a pop radio hit—a goal pursued by many musicians.
30. ”Lean Back” by Terror Squad
“Lean Back” by Terror Squad is rated as one of the top one-hit wonders of the 2000s.
A new dance step was introduced after the hip-hop group Terror Squad’s song “Lean Back” reached the top spot in August 2004.
After that, the group’s follow-up song, “Take Me Home,” released in late 2004, caused it to drop to No. 62.
Although each of the artists in the song may have had other successful songs on their own, this was unquestionably the Terror Squad’s finest work.
31. “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn & John
The Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John’s third album, Writer’s Block, features “Young Folks” as its lead single (released in 2006).
Victoria Bergsman features on the record as a guest vocalist.
Every ad featured this music in the middle of the 2000s.
If Etsy were a song, this soothing mid-tempo pop melody would undoubtedly be Etsy.
People enjoy the song because the whistling at the beginning lets us forget our problems and just vibe.
32. “The Boys Of Summer” by The Ataris
This rock song is a remix of a Don Henley hit from 1984.
The rock group The Ataris gained notoriety for their 2003 cover of this song, which peaked at number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and made them a one-hit-wonder.
It’s a shame that their most popular song had to be a cover.
The song tells the story of a man’s beloved memory of a young woman with whom he once had a summer affair and how the experience has affected him.
33. “Stanky Legg” by GS Boyz
The song is rated as one of the best 2000s pop songs.
If you think back to the late 2000s, you’ll recall this legendary dance track.
Although several hip-hop dances from the 2000s were incorporated into mainstream music, this single stood out among its peers.
34. “Back Here” by BBMak
You probably remember BBMak from their episode of Nickelodeon’s Even Stevens, where they attempted to produce a song with a “Sacramento sound.”
Sacramento sound almost certainly doesn’t exist, but BBMak’s “Back Here” recycled every cliche of ’90s pop for the new millennium.
They left behind a classic song that has lasted for 16 years, even though they were never heard from again.
35. “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
“Bad Day” by Daniel Powter is one of the 2000s top hits of the 2000s.
Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” served as the theme song for the fifth season of “American Idol,” and it gained significant clout to become the year’s biggest single.
The song spent five weeks at the top of the charts in April.
However, Powter’s good fortune ran out, and he hasn’t been included on the top playlists since.
36. “I Wanna Be Bad” By Willa Ford
The song “I Wanna Be Bad” by American singer Willa Ford is featured in her debut studio album, Willa Was Here (2001).
I’m not sure about you, but we miss the lusty Y2K music.
When we were younger, we had no business listening to this, yet we were powerless to resist.
The 2000s’ one-hit wonders list should include Willa Ford.
37. “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys
The main character in this Grammy Award-winning pop song from 2004 is a man who is weary, lost, and praying for heavenly intervention.
He prays to God for assistance in escaping the mental prison he has been living in. He feels imprisoned and depressed.
The narrator thinks that if he shows faith, God will reward him with a divine treasure.
38. “Collide” by Howie Day
When it comes to love, popular songs frequently have an all-or-nothing attitude.
A relationship is either flawless or irreparably damaged.
Howie Day, a singer-songwriter, strikes a more realistic balance on “Collide.”
Both he and his partner have their own issues and challenges.
However, they manage to overcome these issues because of their enduring love for one another.
Although “Collide” has a heavy heart, it also has faith that all will turn out for the best.
It demonstrates that although love is undoubtedly complicated, this complexity need not be a bad thing.
39. “Smooth Criminal” by Alien Ant Farm
It takes a lot of guts to attempt a cover of a Michael Jackson song, especially one as well-known as “Smooth Criminal.”
However, the fact that Alien Ant Farm doesn’t merely aim to copy Michael Jackson’s original is what makes their rendition so effective.
Instead, “Smooth Criminal” was modernized for the 2000s by the California band, who turned it into the nu-metal anthem we never knew it could be.
They might not have achieved nearly the same level of success as the King of Pop.
However, Alien Ant Farm gave us a fantastic rendition of a wonderful tune with “Smooth Criminal.”
40. “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness
It’s still unclear whether this song is meant to be taken seriously or not.
The absurdly extravagant video undoubtedly wasn’t helpful.
But there was no denying its success.
No one seemed to be able to resist the band’s overtly retro style and lead singer Justin Hawkins’ falsetto vocals due to their shockingly effective combination.
It also elevated the group to the status of bona fide rock gods, at least temporarily.
The song was included in movies, video games, and “Glee,” and Taylor Swift sang along to it in an Apple Music commercial.
As a reminder of a bygone time when guitars ruled the world, it is still fondly remembered.
Best One-Hit Wonders of the 2000s – Final Thoughts
In conclusion, one-hit-wonders are a dime a dozen, but the best ones are the songs that have a lasting impact on you in one way or another.
These artists achieved mainstream success with their debut singles but were unable to replicate that success with subsequent releases.
The 2000s had plenty of those, and these are the 40 best one-hit wonders of the 2000s.