50 Best One-Hit Wonders of All Time

Photo of author
Written By Will Fenton

Founder of MidderMusic. From numerous bands to stints working in music shops, read more about me on the 'Here's My Story' page!

One-hit Wonders may seem rare in the current state of the music industry, but there are many examples of artists who only have one popular song to their name. 

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most well-known and best one-hit wonders of all time, and also find out what makes them so special.

Table of Contents

1. “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred

“I’m Too Sexy” is a song by the English band Right Said Fred. 

It was released in 1991 as the lead single from their debut album Up

The song peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart and number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

2. “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners

“Come on Eileen” is a song by English band Dexys Midnight Runners, released as a single in 1983 from their album Too-Rye-Ay

The song was written by Kevin Rowland, Jim Paterson, and Billy Adams, and produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. 

It peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1983, becoming the band’s only number-one hit in their native country.

It also topped the charts in the United States and Canada.

3. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell is a song that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a failed relationship. 

The lyrics are full of despair and desperation, and the music is haunting and atmospheric. 

It’s a song that you can’t help but sing along to, even though it’s about something so sad.

4. “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” by Los Del Rio

The Macarena quickly rose to fame in the mid-90s thanks to its catchy beat and easy-to-follow dance moves. 

The Bayside Boys’ mix of the song added an infectious horn line that helped propel the song to the top of the charts in 1996. 

Even two decades later, the Macarena is still a party staple and is sure to get everyone on their feet and dancing.

5. “The Hustle” by Van McCoy

In 1975, Van McCoy released “The Hustle,” which quickly rose to the top of the charts and became one of the most popular songs of the decade. 

The song’s simple, attractive hook and easy-to-follow dance instructions made it a hit with both young and old alike. 

Even today, “The Hustle” remains a popular party anthem.

6. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot

“Baby Got Back” is a 1992 song written and recorded by American rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot, which appeared on his album Mack Daddy

The song’s hook “I like big butts and I cannot lie” was declared one of the most memorable lines in pop music history by MTV. 

The song peaked at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1992 and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1993 ceremony.

7. “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone

If you grew up in the late ‘70s, there’s a good chance Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” was one of your favorite songs.

The ballad spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won Boone a Grammy for Best New Artist.

Although Boone had a few other hits after “You Light Up My Life,” she was never able to replicate its success.

8. “99 Luftballoons” by Nena

Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” is a song about the fears of nuclear war. 

The lyrics describe a world where 99 balloons are released into the air and the ensuing chaos that follows. 

The song was originally written in German, but was later translated into English and became a worldwide hit. 

It is one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s, and its message is still relevant today.

9. “Rico Suave” by Gerardo

The song “Rico Suave” by Gerardo was a huge hit in the early 1990s. 

It topped the charts in several countries and was nominated for a Grammy Award. 

This song was very popular with Latino audiences, but it also crossed over to mainstream success. 

It was one of the first songs to bring Latin music to a wider audience. 

Gerardo became a one-hit wonder with “Rico Suave,”

10. “Take on Me” by a-ha

“Take on Me” is a song by Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha, first released in 1985. 

The song was written by the band’s lead singer Morten Harket, guitarist Pål Waaktaar, and producer Alan Tarney. 

The song combines synth-pop with an infectious melody and Harket’s distinctive falsetto vocals.

The song was an instant hit upon its release, topping the charts in several countries including the US, UK, and Norway, selling over 10 million copies worldwide.

11. “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

When it comes to one-hit wonders, few are as iconic as Vanilla Ice. 

“Ice Ice Baby” was his breakout hit, and it quickly rose to the top of the charts. 

The song is an ode to Ice’s love of hip-hop, and it features some of the most famous lyrics in rap history. 

“Ice Ice Baby” is a true classic, and it remains one of the most popular one-hit wonders of all time.

12. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men

The song “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men is one of the most iconic one-hit wonders of all time. 

This song was released in 2000 and quickly peaked in the charts, becoming a global phenomenon. 

The catchy tune and simple lyrics made the song irresistible, and it remains a party favorite to this day. 

While the song may be light-hearted and fun, it also has a deeper meaning.

13. “Mickey” by Toni Basil

“Mickey” by Toni Basil was a massive hit in 1982, spending six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. 

The song was written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, and it was originally recorded by Racey in 1979. 

However, it was Toni Basil’s version that took the world by storm. 

Despite its success, “Mickey” is considered a one-hit wonder as Toni Basil never had another song reach the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

14. “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo

Kajagoogoo burst onto the scene in 1983 with their debut single “Too Shy”. 

The song was an instant success, reaching the top of the charts in several countries. 

Despite its popularity, the band failed to replicate its success with subsequent releases and disbanded in 1986.

15. “Whip It” by Devo

“Whip It” by Devo is a song that was released in 1980 as a single from the album Freedom of Choice

The song became a top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

“Whip It” has been described as an “anthem for nerds” and has been featured in various films and television shows.

16. “All My Life” by K-Ci & Jojo

K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life” is a ballad about the power of love. 

The lyrics tell the story of a couple who has been through everything together and come out stronger for it. 

The song became a massive hit, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

It remains one of the most popular one-hit wonders of all time.

17. “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry

In 1976, Wild Cherry released their only hit song, “Play That Funky Music.” 

The song was an instant success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Despite its success, the band was unable to replicate its success and disbanded a few years later.

18. “Cars” by Gary Numan

Though “Cars” was a massive hit in the UK, topping the charts for four weeks in 1980, it was only a moderate success in the US, peaking at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Nonetheless, the song has gone on to become one of the most iconic and influential synth-pop tracks of all time.

19. “She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby

In 1983, English singer-songwriter Thomas Dolby released his most successful single, “She Blinded Me with Science”.

The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and number two on the UK Singles Chart. 

Despite its success, Dolby did not release another album until 1992.

20. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is a song by the American rock band Iron Butterfly, originally released in 1968. 

This song is considered to be one of the first heavy metal songs and is widely regarded as a classic of the genre.

21. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor is a song about the pain of breakups and the longing for the one you love. 

It was written by Prince, who also recorded it with his band The Revolution. 

O’Connor’s version was released as a single in 1990, and became a huge international hit, reaching number one in several countries. 

The song’s haunting lyrics and O’Connor’s emotive vocals make it one of the most memorable one-hit wonders of all time.

22. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister is one of the most iconic one-hit-wonder songs of all time.

 The song was released in 1984 and quickly climbed the charts, reaching #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 The song has been used in a variety of movies and TV shows over the years.

23. “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang

In 1979, the Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight”, which is often credited as being the first rap song. 

The song was a huge success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, the group was unable to repeat this success and is now considered a one-hit wonder.

24. “96 Tears” by Question Mark & The Mysterians

“96 Tears” by Question Mark & The Mysterians was one of the first garage rock songs and an early example of a song with a distinctive riff. 

The song was written by Question Mark (born Rudy Martinez) and released in 1966. 

It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October of that year.

25. “Groove Is In The Heart” by Deee-Lite

The track “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite was an instant classic when it was released in 1990. 

The song is a perfect blend of pop, dance, and funk that is guaranteed to get you moving.

 The lyrics are also very catchy and easy to sing along to. 

If you’re looking for a fun song to add to your workout playlist, this is the one for you.

26. “Pop Muzik” by M

In 1979, British musician Robin Scott released “Pop Muzik,” a song that would become a global sensation.

 The track topped charts in several countries and is credited with helping to launch the new wave movement. 

While Scott would never again achieve such commercial success, “Pop Muzik” remains one of the most iconic one-hit wonders of all time.

27. “In A Big Country” by Big Country

Big Country’s “In a Big Country” is one of the most iconic one-hit wonders of all time. 

The song was released in 1983 and quickly rose to the top of the charts, becoming a huge international hit. 

The song’s success was due in part to its unique sound, which combined elements of country music with rock and roll.

28. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve is one of the most famous one-hit wonders of all time. 

The song was released in 1997 and quickly rose to the top of the charts, where it stayed for weeks.

Despite its success, the song has a bittersweet message about life and relationships.

29. “Me And Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul

There are few one-hit wonders more iconic than Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones”.

The 1972 soul ballad spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. 

The song tells the story of an illicit affair between a man and his married lover, with Paul’s emotive vocals conveying the passion and secrecy of the relationship.

30. “I Melt With You” by Modern English

“I Melt With You” is a song by the British new wave band Modern English. 

It was released in 1982 as their second single and became an instant hit, reaching the Top 40 in several countries. 

The song has been used in numerous films and TV shows over the years.

31. “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors

The Vapors were a new wave band from the United Kingdom that achieved mainstream success with their 1980 hit single, “Turning Japanese”.

The song peaked at #3 on the UK Singles Chart and #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. 

Despite its success, the band was unable to follow up with another hit and disbanded shortly after.

32. “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks

Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” is a 1997 pop song that achieved widespread success, reaching the top 10 in several countries.

The song is a defiant anthem about standing up to haters and being oneself, with Brooks’ powerful vocals delivering the message with attitude.

The song’s catchy hook and empowering lyrics make it an enduring classic of the one-hit wonder genre.

33. “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band

“Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band is one of the most prominent one-hit wonders of all time. 

The song was released in 1976 and reached the top of the charts, becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. 

The song is about a couple’s afternoon rendezvous and has a catchy, upbeat sound that makes it impossible to forget.

34. “Got to Be Real” by Cheryl Lynn

Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real” is a soulful disco track that topped the charts in 1978. 

The song’s appealing hook and danceable beat make it a party classic, and its positive message about being true to yourself has resonated with listeners for decades.

35. “Hot, Hot, Hot” by Buster Poindexter

“Hot, Hot, Hot” by Buster Poindexter is a song that was released in 1987 and instantly became a dancefloor hit.

The song is about a guy who is trying to pick up girls at a club, but they all seem uninterested in him.

However, he’s not deterred and keeps trying his best to get their attention. 

The song’s uplifting beat and fun lyrics make it a favorite among party-goers to this day.

36. “Unbelievable” by EMF

The early 1990s were a golden age for one-hit wonders. 

Among the many gems from that era is “Unbelievable” by EMF.

The song was a massive hit in 1991, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

It was also a Top 10 hit in several other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

37. “Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks

“Seasons in the Sun” is a song by Terry Jacks. 

It was released in 1974 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. 

The song is about a dying man who looks back on his life and regrets not having lived it to the fullest.

38. “Pass The Dutchie” by Musical Youth

In 1982, a song about a Jamaican cooking pot became an international sensation. 

“Pass The Dutchie” by Musical Youth was a No. 1 hit in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada. 

The song also peaked at No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

39. “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock

“It Takes Two” is a song by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock that was released in 1988. 

The song samples heavily from the 1966 hit “It’s My Thing” by Marva Whitney.

 The song was a massive hit, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s.

40. “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” is one of the most iconic one-hit wonders of all time. 

The song was originally released in 1984, but it wasn’t until 1985 that it became a massive hit. 

The song is famous for its sexually suggestive lyrics and its catchy chorus.

41. “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell

“Somebody’s Watching Me” was a massive hit for Rockwell in 1984, reaching the top of the charts in both the US and the UK.

The song is notable for its paranoid lyrics, which describe a feeling of being constantly watched and followed.

42. “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club

One-hit wonders are often looked down upon, but there’s no denying the impact that they’ve had on music. 

“Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club is one of the most influential one-hit wonders of all time. 

The song was a massive hit in 1981, and it’s still beloved by fans today.

43. “Barbie Girl” by Aqua

“Barbie Girl” is a song by Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua. 

It was released in May 1997 as their third single overall, and the first United Kingdom release, from their debut album Aquarium

The song was written by Søren Rasted, Claus Norreen, René Dif, and Lene Nystrøm Rasted, and produced by Johnny Jam, Delgado, Rasted, and Norreen. 

It topped the charts worldwide, becoming one of the most popular songs of 1997.

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

The Proclaimers are a Scottish duo consisting of identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid. 

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” is their most successful single, reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart in 1988. 

The song was written by the brothers for the film Benny & Joon but was not used in the final cut of the film. 

However, it gained popularity after being included in a UK advert for Nissan cars.

45. “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls

“I Touch Myself” is a 1991 song recorded by the Australian rock band Divinyls. 

The song was written by band members Chrissy Amphlett and Mark McEntee, and produced by Keith Forsey. 

It was released as the third single from their fifth studio album, Divinyls (1991).

46. “Turn the Beat Around” by Vicki Sue Robinson

“Turn the Beat Around” is a disco song performed by Vicki Sue Robinson.

The song was written by Gregg Diamond and produced by Allen Ginsberg. 

It was released in 1976 as a single from Robinson’s album of the same name. 

The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a gold record.

47. “True” by Spandau Ballet

The song “True” by Spandau Ballet is a ballad about the ups and downs of a relationship. 

The lyrics talk about how true love never dies, even when things are tough. 

The song was a huge hit in the 1980s and has been covered by many artists over the years.

48. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin

In 1988, Bobby McFerrin released his hit song “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.

The song was an instant success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming a global phenomenon.

49. “Lovefool” by The Cardigans

The Cardigans are a Swedish pop band that formed in 1992. 

Their biggest hit, “Lovefool,” was released in 1996 and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

The song was featured in the film Romeo and Juliet and has since been used in numerous other films and TV shows.

50. “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls

“It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls is an iconic one-hit wonder of all time.

The song was released in 1982 and quickly climbed the charts, becoming a Top 40 hit in the United States. 

The song is about a group of women who are excited about the prospect of finally meeting some eligible men

Best One-Hit Wonders – Conclusion

It’s safe to say that one-hit wonders are a staple of the music industry. 

While some might argue that they’re not really “artists” in the traditional sense, there’s no denying that they’ve left a lasting impression on pop culture. 

One-hit wonders have given us some of the most catchy and memorable songs of all time.

Similar Playlists:

Best One-Hit Wonders of the ’70s