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30 Best One-Hit Wonders of the ’90s (Favorite Picks)

May 16, 2023
One-Hit Wonders of the '90s

The 1990s were a decade that produced some of the best one-hit wonders of all time.

Many of these groups and singers only had one song that made it big, but that doesn’t mean the song wasn’t great.

Many of these “one-hit wonders” had songs that were better than the music that many popular artists were releasing at the time.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 30 of the best one-hit wonders of the ’90s. From alternative rock to pop to R&B, these songs defined the decade and continue to be loved by fans today.

So, put on your nostalgia glasses and get ready to take a trip down memory lane with the 30 best one-hit wonders of the ’90s.

1. “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers

The Wallflowers scored a huge hit with “One Headlight,” led by Bob Dylan’s son Jakob.

The group didn’t have another successful single, even though they remained active until 2005.

The album Bringing Down the Horse, which featured “One Headlight,” was a best-selling record itself.

“6th Avenue Heartache,” another song on the album, had a lot of radio play, but it didn’t catch on as “One Headlight” did.

Their song “Sleepwalker” was the one that made it onto the Billboard Top 100 chart.

2. “Closing Time” by Semisonic

Another outstanding band from the post-grunge era that looked to disband following its breakout single, “Closing Time,” was Semisonic.

When it was released in 1996, “Closing Time” quickly became a favorite graduation song.

3. “Barbie Girl” by Aqua

This sugary-sweet bubblegum pop dance hit from the Danish-Norwegian group Aqua is one of the most adored and reviled songs from the 1990s.

This was their breakout single, reaching the top of the charts in the UK, Australia, and the US.

They did have a few more popular singles from their Aquarius album, but they were never able to match Barbie Girl’s extraordinary success.

A beautiful and contagious song that paved the path for European groups to enter the US.

To this day, it’s still one of the top one-hit wonders of the 1990s.

4. “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

A revolution was coming at the very beginning of the 1990s. 

Rap and hip-hop were becoming more popular genres among young people.

Robert Van Winkle, alias Vanilla Ice, produced the first groundbreaking hip-hop song, which was firmly rooted in African American culture.

In addition to dominating many charts around the world, the mega-hit Ice Ice Baby topped the Billboard charts.

Unfortunately, after this breakout hit, Vanilla Ice never experienced any more success, but he did have a new surge in popularity as the host of The Vanilla Ice Project on the DIY Network.

Undoubtedly among the top songs of the 1990s.

5. “Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies

This one-hit wonder of the 90s was played on radio stations all across the country and even came up in “Beavis and Butthead” on MTV.

The Toadies never released another song after this one.

The Toadies disappeared from the musical landscape, just like many other post-grunge acts.

6. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

This song was featured on the Benny and Joon album and was frequently played on the radio.

The song was published in the UK in 1988, but in 1993 it became a one-hit wonder because of its inclusion in the well-known Johnny Depp film.

7. “Give It to Me Good” by Trixter

The song “Give It to Me Good” debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and in the same year’s fall, MTV played the video frequently.

The band continued to release albums throughout the 1990s and beyond, but after this hit, they were largely forgotten.

8. “All For You” by Sister Hazel

All for You” by Sister Hazel is one of the most popular one-hit wonders of the 90s.

The only hit song for Sister Hazel on the national level was “All for You,” despite the band being well-liked in several regions of the U.S.

“Your Winter,” another well-known Sister Hazel song, was included on the album 10 Things I Hate About You.

9. “What I Really Meant To Say” by Cyndi Thomson

With her initial release, Cyndi enjoyed tremendous success, but the next year she would declare her intention to leave the music industry.

The song “What I Really Meant to Say” quickly reached the top of the charts.

In 2006, Thomson would try her hand at music again, but she would never achieve the same level of popularity as she had with her first big song.

10. “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba

With the release of this upbeat party anthem with a powerful chorus lead, the British rock band Chumbawamba rose to global fame.

The group’s one significant achievement—which catapulted them to stardom—was tubthumping.

When they finally found commercial success, the group was already on their eighth studio album.

However, despite their lack of additional success, the band is happy with how well-known the song has become, and if you’ve ever attended a party when this one dropped, you can understand why.

This song is awesome, which is why it’s listed among the “90s rock one-hit wonders.”

11. “Mambo #5” by Lou Bega

This Latin Pop song, which served as Lou Bega’s lead single from his debut album, enjoyed tremendous commercial success in 1999.

In many nations, including the US, UK, Oceania, and all of Europe, it peaked at number one.

It has since evolved into a regular song on wedding playlists.

He did go on to create several follow-up albums, but he was never able to match Mambo No. 5’s level of popularity.

12. “Daddy’s Money” by Ricochet

Country music is known for its songs about attractive women, and “Daddy’s Money” is no exception.

The lyricist has noticed this attractive woman who “had her daddy’s money” at the bar, and it appears that she is reciprocating his attention.

After this singular success, Ricochet was never able to enjoy further popularity.

13. “Should Have Asked Her Faster” by Ty England

Ty England, a former member of Garth Brooks’ backup band, released a successful first album, but his follow-up album received a mixed reception.

On the Hot Country Songs chart, “Should Have Asked Her Faster” peaked at number three.

14. “Return Of The Mack” by Mark Morrison

“Return of the Mack” is a popular song and therefore should be on the list of the top 90s one-hit wonders.

With a series of moderately successful albums in the middle of the 1990s, Mark Morrison was beginning to establish himself, but Return of the Mack in March 1996 catapulted him to stardom.

It reached the top of the charts in the UK and entered the top 10 in several other nations.

It sold 1.4 million copies and peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard charts before going platinum.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest one-hit wonders of the 1990s.

15. “I Swear” by All-4-One

“I Swear” was quickly covered by other artists, which is unusual.

John Michael Montgomery first released it in 1993 as a country song, and American R&B group All-4-One later covered it in 1994.

The audience connected with the smooth R&B rhythm, and it eventually reached number 1 in the US, Australia, Germany, and Canada, to name a few countries.

The group did go on to release a few more songs, but they will always be known for this song.

16. “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle

Bob Carlisle’s “Butterfly Kisses” was frequently used as the father-daughter dance at Southern wedding receptions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The song is a reflection of middle-aged fatherhood and the melancholy experience of watching Daddy’s little girl grow up and start her own life.

17. “Dust On The Bottle” by David Lee Murphy

Recently, country music has become heavily focused on backroads and attractive women, and many of these songs draw inspiration from David Lee Murphy’s 1995 one-hit wonder, “Dust on the Bottle.”

The song is still known as Murphy’s anthem.

18. “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus

With 16 studio albums and 53 singles, Billy Ray Cyrus has had a pretty spectacular career spanning decades.

Achy Breaky Heart was something unique and different, even if he has had numerous songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Whether you like it or not, this song succeeded in bridging the gap between pop and country and sold 1 million copies in the US.

It is also recognized as the song that introduced line dancing to the general public.

This is a remarkable list of achievements for a 90s one-hit wonder.

19. “Crush” by Jennifer Paige

The year was 1998, and Jennifer Paige was set to share her seductive and expressive vocal prowess with the world.

Crush, her debut single, became a breakout hit and peaked at number 3 in the US.

It also peaked at number one in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

The success of Jennifer Paige’s subsequent singles from her debut album was never as great as it was for her first single.

Her subsequent albums likewise didn’t do that well, although she continues to make music to this day.

20. “Candy Rain” by Soul For Real

Sadly, “Candy Rain” was the only hit for the brothers-in-law band Soul for Real.

The song was produced by rapper Heavy D; however, after Madonna dethroned it as the top hit (with “Live to Tell” taking the top slot a few weeks following “Candy Rain”), the group did not see any further significant success.

Bruno Mars re-created the song.

21. “I Try” by Macy Gray

She truly acquired worldwide popularity thanks to Macy Gray’s 90s one-hit-wonder. 

 Along with being popular in America, the song also enjoyed success in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

The song was nominated for “Song of the Year” and earned Gray a Grammy for “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.”

22. “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by Crash Test Dummies

The Canadian band Crash Test Dummies had a tremendous international hit with this alternative rock song.

It sold 700,000 copies and peaked at number four on the Billboard charts in the United States.

Additionally, it topped the charts in several other nations, including Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Belgium.

In an intriguing turn of events, Crash Test Dummies had already gained some recognition in their native country with their debut album, but their fellow citizens did not embrace the second album, which featured this release.

They have since released more music, but this reviled song will always be linked with them.

23. “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team

This tune is among the greatest one-hit wonders of the 90s.

The funky “Miami Bass” song by the rap group Tag Team, released in 1993, quickly became a party favorite and achieved commercial success.

It performed well internationally and soared all the way to number two on the Billboard charts.

Due to its widespread use in commercials, films, and sporting events, it has solidified its place in pop cultural history.

After the release of this debut song, Tag Team did not, however, experience any additional success.

24. “Freak Like Me” by Adina Howard

In her 1995 hit song “Freak Like Me,” Adina Howard used a phrase from well-known rap songs from the 1990s to talk about “the dog in me.”

In a world where male singers predominate in the music industry, Howard’s song was about women’s emancipation.

25. “Nobody Knows” by The Tony Rich Project

Unrequited love is a common topic for songs, but The Tony Rich Project’s “Nobody Knows” allows listeners to see into the singer’s heart and feel his pain.

This song surely hits home for those who have experienced love and loss.

26. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot

Songs about butts consistently enjoy commercial success for whatever reason, and this trend continued in the 1990s.

This song by Sir Mix-a-Lot has a good chance of earning the title of “Most Iconic Butt Song.”

His third album, which included it, was released in 1992.

It had moderate popularity worldwide but peaked at the top of the charts in the US and made it to the top 10 in Australia.

It’s still a crowd-pleaser and an anthem for all the women with a voluptuous posterior out there.

27. “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something

With this radio-friendly rock-pop single, Deep Blue Something made a name for itself.

Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics after its 1995 release, Breakfast at Tiffany’s managed to reach number 5 on the US Billboard charts.

With 1.2 million copies sold, it has achieved double platinum status in the UK.

Despite their enormous popularity, the band was never able to put together a decent follow-up, and eventually, the members parted ways and pursued other interests.

28.“The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe

This one-hit wonder of the 1990s was inspired by the main singer’s own experiences.

In high school, he and a friend dated the same lady. She became pregnant, although it was unclear who the father was.

Although the song’s protagonist commits suicide, the song’s true inspiration does not.

Kids of the 1990s could relate to the song since it was an accurate portrayal of real-life events that weren’t frequently expressed in music.

29. “Loser” by Beck

With Beck’s “Loser,” every high school student who never fit in could relate.

Although Beck had many other well-known songs throughout his career, “Loser” managed to capture the hearts of many music lovers.

Teenagers and college students adored this song even though the lyrics are completely absurd (for example, “shave your face with some mace in the dark”).

30. “Steal My Sunshine” by Len

“Steal My Sunshine” by Len is one of the most popular 90s one-hit wonders.

Len was a part of the late 1990s post-grunge wave, but the upbeat “Steal My Sunshine” also became popular on pop radio.

Len later admitted that the song was about depression, even though it had a cheerful beat.

Protecting one’s emotional well-being from those who would “steal” is the main message, which is a positive one.

Best One-Hit Wonders of the ’90s – Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the 1990s were a great decade for one-hit wonders.

However, there were a few that truly stood out above the rest. 

This list comprises the best one-hit wonders of the 90s, based on factors such as popularity, critical reception, and longevity.

From alternative to pop to R&B, there was a one-hit wonder for everyone. 

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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