Biggest One-Hit Wonders

November 22, 2017 by Evan Comen

Source: pixabay.com
Having a song chart on the American Top 40 is a dream for musicians around the globe. Many artists often have just one great song within them, or at least only one that achieves such mainstream popularity. Only about 40% of all artists who had a song in the Top 40 have done so a second time.

Some of those artists who managed to reach the Top 40 only once were able to achieve the No. 1 spot on the charts. The music industry has a term for those massive hits by artists who do not repeat a similar level of success — one-hit wonders.

To determine the 40 biggest one-hit wonders, 24/7 Wall St. identified the songs with the longest stays on the weekly American Top 40 charts from 1980 to 2012 by artists with no more than two Top 40 hits.

Click here to see the biggest one-hit wonders.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Courtesy of Manhattan Records

40. “Dont Worry, Be Happy”
> Artist: Bobby McFerrin
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: August 13, 1988
> Left charts: November 5, 1988

Source: Courtesy of A&M Records

39. “Rock Me Amadeus”
> Artist: Falco
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: February 22, 1986
> Left charts: May 17, 1986

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Source: Courtesy of MCA Records

38. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
> Artist: Kim Wilde
> Weeks on Top 40: 13
> Entered charts: April 18, 1987
> Left charts: July 11, 1987

Source: Courtesy of Universal Music Group

37. “I’ve Been Thinking About You”
> Artist: Londonbeat
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: February 16, 1991
> Left charts: May 18, 1991

Source: Courtesy of Atlantic Records

36. “The Living Years”
> Artist: Mike & The Mechanics
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: January 21, 1989
> Left charts: April 22, 1989

Source: Courtesy of RCA Records

35. “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”
> Artist: Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: October 10, 1987
> Left charts: January 16, 1988

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

34. “La Bamba”
> Artist: Los Lobos
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: July 18, 1987
> Left charts: October 17, 1987

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Source: Courtesy of Rhino Entertainment

33. “At This Moment”
> Artist: Billy Vera & The Beaters
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: December 6, 1986
> Left charts: March 14, 1987

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

32. “The Next Time I Fall”
> Artist: Peter Cetera & Amy Grant
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: October 11, 1986
> Left charts: January 17, 1987

Source: Courtesy of Mercury Records

31. “Come On Eileen”
> Artist: Dexys Midnight Runners
> Weeks on Top 40: 14
> Entered charts: February 26, 1983
> Left charts: May 28, 1983

Source: Courtesy of Interscope Records

30. “Good Vibrations”
> Artist: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: August 10, 1991
> Left charts: November 30, 1991

Source: Courtesy of Chrysalis Records

29. “Nothing Compares 2 U”
> Artist: Sinead O’Connor
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: March 24, 1990
> Left charts: June 30, 1990

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Source: Courtesy of Atlantic Records

28. “Black Velvet”
> Artist: Alannah Myles
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: February 3, 1990
> Left charts: May 12, 1990

Source: Courtesy of Atlantic Records

27. “Wild, Wild West”
> Artist: The Escape Club
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: September 17, 1988
> Left charts: December 24, 1988

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Records

26. “Shake You Down”
> Artist: Gregory Abbott
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: November 8, 1986
> Left charts: February 21, 1987

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

25. “Take On Me”
> Artist: A-Ha
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: August 24, 1985
> Left charts: November 30, 1985

Source: Courtesy of Casablanca Records

24. “Funkytown”
> Artist: Lipps, Inc.
> Weeks on Top 40: 15
> Entered charts: April 19, 1980
> Left charts: July 26, 1980

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Source: Courtesy of EMI

23. “Unbelievable”
> Artist: E.M.F.
> Weeks on Top 40: 16
> Entered charts: May 11, 1991
> Left charts: August 24, 1991

Source: Courtesy of Pump Records

22. “One More Try”
> Artist: Timmy T
> Weeks on Top 40: 16
> Entered charts: January 19, 1991
> Left charts: May 4, 1991

Source: Courtesy of EMI

21. “Maniac”
> Artist: Michael Sembello
> Weeks on Top 40: 16
> Entered charts: July 2, 1983
> Left charts: October 15, 1983

Source: Courtesy of Virgin Records

20. “I’m Too Sexy”
> Artist: Right Said Fred
> Weeks on Top 40: 17
> Entered charts: January 18, 1992
> Left charts: May 9, 1992

Source: Courtesy of A&M Records

19. “More Than Words”
> Artist: Extreme
> Weeks on Top 40: 17
> Entered charts: April 13, 1991
> Left charts: August 3, 1991

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Source: Courtesy of Chrysalis Records

18. “Mickey”
> Artist: Toni Basil
> Weeks on Top 40: 17
> Entered charts: October 9, 1982
> Left charts: February 5, 1983

Source: Courtesy of Capitol Records

17. “This Is Why I’m Hot”
> Artist: Mims
> Weeks on Top 40: 18
> Entered charts: March 3, 2007
> Left charts: June 30, 2007

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Records

16. “Butterfly”
> Artist: Crazy Town
> Weeks on Top 40: 18
> Entered charts: February 3, 2001
> Left charts: June 2, 2001

Source: Courtesy of East West Records

15. “Informer”
> Artist: Snow
> Weeks on Top 40: 19
> Entered charts: February 6, 1993
> Left charts: June 12, 1993

Source: Courtesy of Warner Music Group

14. “Laffy Taffy”
> Artist: D4L
> Weeks on Top 40: 20
> Entered charts: October 29, 2005
> Left charts: March 11, 2006

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Records

13. “Here Comes the Hotstepper”
> Artist: Ini Kamoze
> Weeks on Top 40: 23
> Entered charts: October 15, 1994
> Left charts: March 18, 1995

Source: Courtesy of American Recordings

12. “Baby Got Back”
> Artist: Sir Mix-a-Lot
> Weeks on Top 40: 24
> Entered charts: May 2, 1992
> Left charts: October 10, 1992

Source: Courtesy of Universal Republic

11. “Fireflies”
> Artist: Owl City
> Weeks on Top 40: 25
> Entered charts: October 10, 2009
> Left charts: March 27, 2010

Source: Courtesy of Pendulum Records

10. “Lately”
> Artist: Divine
> Weeks on Top 40: 25
> Entered charts: September 12, 1998
> Left charts: February 27, 1999

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

9. “Bad Day”
> Artist: Daniel Powter
> Weeks on Top 40: 27
> Entered charts: March 11, 2006
> Left charts: September 9, 2006

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Source: Courtesy of Island Records

8. “Lean Back”
> Artist: Terror Squad
> Weeks on Top 40: 27
> Entered charts: July 3, 2004
> Left charts: January 15, 2005

Source: Courtesy of Hollywood Records

7. “Hey There Delilah”
> Artist: Plain White T’s
> Weeks on Top 40: 28
> Entered charts: May 26, 2007
> Left charts: December 1, 2007

Source: Courtesy of Interscope Records

6. “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”
> Artist: Soulja Boy
> Weeks on Top 40: 29
> Entered charts: August 4, 2007
> Left charts: February 16, 2008

Source: Courtesy of Atlantic Records

5. “You’re Beautiful”
> Artist: James Blunt
> Weeks on Top 40: 29
> Entered charts: December 24, 2005
> Left charts: July 8, 2006

Source: Courtesy of RCA Records

4. “Everything You Want”
> Artist: Vertical Horizon
> Weeks on Top 40: 34
> Entered charts: February 19, 2000
> Left charts: October 7, 2000

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Source: Courtesy of RCA Records

3. “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)”
> Artist: Los Del Rio
> Weeks on Top 40: 37
> Entered charts: May 18, 1996
> Left charts: January 25, 1997

Source: Courtesy of Interscope Records

2. “Call Me Maybe”
> Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen
> Weeks on Top 40: 43
> Entered charts: March 10, 2012
> Left charts: January 26, 2013

Source: Courtesy of Eleven: A Music Company

1. “Somebody That I Used To Know”
> Artist: Gotye feat. Kimbra
> Weeks on Top 40: 44
> Entered charts: February 11, 2012
> Left charts: March 2, 2013

The 1980s were a popular time for one-hit wonders. Of the 40 songs with the longest stays on the Top 40 from 1980 to 2012 by artists who only charted once or twice, 15 are from the 1980s, 13 are from the 1990s, 10 are from the 2000s, and two are from 2010 to 2012.

One-hit wonders are often representative of the general trends in the popular music of their day. By the 1980s, for example, disco had largely fallen out of style and was being replaced in dance clubs by synth-pop, a genre that often utilizes the synthesizer as a primary instrument. One-hit wonders from the 1980s that heavily feature synthesizers include “Take On Me” by A-Ha, “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc., and “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco.

While genres such as grunge and alternative rock flourished in the 1990s, many of the most popular one-hit wonders of the decade built on the dance-pop and hip-hop trends of the 1970s and 1980s. “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot, and “Macarena” by Los Del Rio are some of the biggest dance and hip-hop hits from the 1990s.

One notable trend during the 2000s was the rise in popularity of indie, emotionally expressive tunes by singer-songwriters. Examples on our list include “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s and “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt. Borne of the musical trends of their day — 80s synth-pop, 90s dance-pop, and 2000s indie rock — many of these hits fall out of style as new genres emerge and listener tastes change.

To determine the 40 biggest one-hit wonders, 24/7 Wall St. identified the songs with the longest stays on the weekly American Top 40 charts from 1980 to 2012. Only songs that reached No. 1 on the American Top 40 were considered. Additionally, artists must have charted on the Top 40 no more than twice, either as individual artists or by featuring on another artist’s song, and must have sold fewer than 5 millions albums throughout their careers. Songs that were originally recorded for a film or television show were not considered. The American Top 40 consists of the top 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and was obtained from weeklytop40.com. Data on certified album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America.