Special Report

Biggest One-Hit Wonders Who Are Still Making Music

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You might see the words ‘one-hit wonder’ and picture a short-lived career, whereby an artist lands on the charts and then all but disappears. The very term is negative in connotation, suggesting that an act must live or die based on the popularity of their singles. This may prove true in many cases but it’s not necessarily the fatal diagnosis that one perceives it to be. (Here are the biggest one-hit wonders of all time.)

On the contrary, plenty of ‘one-hit wonders’ have continued to record music and sell out concert venues in the wake of their sole Top 40 hit. Some of these acts may seem like relics of a bygone era and yet they’ve still managed to make it work in the modern age, often by capitalizing on the lasting value of their former creative peaks. (You might also like our list of 35 musicians with legendarily long careers.

Then there are the artists who may have technically cracked the Billboard Top 40 just once, but maintain healthy careers and frequently appear on peripheral album charts. Examples include Macy Gray and Moby, who seem like pop culture fixtures in spite of their wavering sales numbers. You’ll find their names and more on the following list of one-hit wonders who are still making music.

To determine the one-hit wonders who are still making music, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 songs chart. Only artists with only one song in the top 40 and no more than three songs in the Hot 100 whose biggest single came out in 2010 or earlier and who have released a studio album in 2017 or later were considered. Artists are listed in chronological order of their biggest hits.

Click here to see the biggest one-hit wonders who are still making music

36. Gary Numan
> Hit song: Cars (1980)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 9 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 17
> Latest studio album: Intruder (2021)

The alien-like offspring of artists such as David Bowie and Kraftwerk, Numan forged his signature electronic sound in the late 1970s. His hit single “Cars” helped usher in a new era of synth pop, among other things. He’s experimented with various styles in the time since and will kick off his next tour starting in February of 2022.

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Source: Fin Costello / Redferns via Getty Images

35. Soft Cell
> Hit song: Tainted Love (1982)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 8 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 15
> Latest studio album: Happiness Not Included (2022)

One-hit wonders in the US perhaps, but this synth pop duo scored no less than 12 top 40 hits in their native England. They initially broke up in the 1980s and have reunited more than once over the decades that followed. During their most recent tour, the group performed their iconic album “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret” in full and also previewed songs from an upcoming release.

Source: Thos Robinson / Getty Images

34. Bertie Higgins
> Hit song: Key Largo (1982)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 8 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 17
> Latest studio album: Wanted (2019)

This American singer-songwriter has never matched the success of his breakout hit “Key Largo,” which became a stalwart on adult contemporary radio. He continues to release albums and make live appearances to his loyal fans, also known as Boneheads. When not recording music, he’s been known to work in film production with his two sons.

Source: Davizro / Getty Images

33. Portrait
> Hit song: Here We Go Again! (1992)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 11 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 18
> Latest studio album: Afro Trees (2020)

Hailing from Los Angeles, this R&B quartet arrived on the tail end of the new jack swing style. Their only hit single features a Michael Jackson sample and reached #3 on the US R&B charts in addition to its other accomplishments. Now a trio, their latest album was the group’s first in over 14 years.

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Source: Alexander Hassenstein / Bongarts via Getty Images

32. Right Said Fred
> Hit song: I’m Too Sexy (1992)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 17
> Latest studio album: Exactly! (2017)

Right Said Fred’s iconic hit single was a global phenomenon with lasting cultural capital. Despite the lack of a commercial follow-up, the British band has nevertheless enjoyed a wildly successful career. Two of its members were recently credited as co-writers on the Taylor Swift song “Look What You Made Me Do,” which reworks the chorus of “I’m Too Sexy.”

31. The Proclaimers
> Hit song: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (1993)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 3 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 16
> Latest studio album: Angry Cyclist (2018)

The best-known song from this Scottish duo was first released in the late 1980s and then resurrected after appearing in the 1993 film “Benny & Joon.” They’ve performed at the Glastonbury Festival seven times and are still touring to this day.

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Source: Mike Cameron / Getty Images

30. Ini Kamoze
> Hit song: Here Comes The Hotstepper (From “Ready To Wear”) (1994)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 23
> Latest studio album: Ini Kamoze meets Xterminator: Tramplin’ Down Babylon (2016)

Jamaican reggae artist Ini Kamoze struggled for over a decade before striking it big with his chart-topping single. He intermittently releases albums on the 9 Sound Clik label and once wrote a book on the history of Port Royal.

Source: Courtesy of Des'ree via Facebook

29. Des’ree
> Hit song: You Gotta Be (1994)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 30
> Latest studio album: A Love Story (2019)

This British pop star climbed the charts in her native England before making a short-lived splash in America. Her biggest hit single was also the most played music video on VH1 at the time. In 2019, she released her first studio album in over 16 years.

Source: Sam Morris / Getty Images

28. Luniz
> Hit song: I Got 5 On It (1995)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 8 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 20
> Latest studio album: No Pressure (2018)

This Oakland-based hip-hop duo sold over one million copies of their clever drug anthem, which features guest vocals from Michael Marshall. They offered their most recent album directly through Bandcamp.

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27. Nicki French
> Hit song: Total Eclipse Of The Heart (1995)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 21
> Latest studio album: Glitter to the Neon Lights (2018)

English singer Nicki French covered a Bonnie Tyler song to global success and later represented the UK in the 2000 Eurovision Song Contest. She’s also a seasoned stage actress, who’s scheduled to appear in the upcoming musical “Menopause the Musical 2.”

Source: Jason Kempin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

26. Joan Osborne
> Hit song: One Of Us (1995)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 4 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 21
> Latest studio album: Trouble and Strife (2020)

This American singer earned seven Grammy nominations for her debut single and the 1995 album on which it appeared. She released new material last year and then cancelled a planned tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her upcoming album “Radio Waves” consists of unheard demos and live radio recordings.

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Source: Courtesy of Martin Page via Facebook

25. Martin Page
> Hit song: In The House Of Stone And Light (1995)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 14 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 26
> Latest studio album: The Occupation of Hope (2021)

This British musician made up half of the pop group Q-Feel and also collaborated with a number of major artists before debuting as a solo act. He released two albums in 2021 and continues to host a podcast called Radio OwlsNest.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

24. Take That
> Hit song: Back For Good (1995)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 7 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 25
> Latest studio album: Wonderland (2017)

The former boy band of Robbie Williams, Take That charted regularly in the UK but only cracked the Billboard Top 10 on one occasion. Now a trio, the group recently toured in support of their best-selling greatest hits compilation “Odyssey.” An adjoining DVD of the tour was the biggest live music sale of 2019.

Source: Donald Weber / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

23. Jann Arden
> Hit song: Insensitive (From “Bed Of Roses”) (1996)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 12 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 30
> Latest studio album: Descendant (2022)

This award-winning Canadian singer followed her hit single with a long-running career that spans multiple mediums. She co-created and stars in the semi-autobiographical CTV series “Jann,” which is coming up on its third season.

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Source: Vince Bucci / Getty Images

22. Dishwalla
> Hit song: Counting Blue Cars (1996)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 15 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 33
> Latest studio album: Juniper Road (2017)

The signature single from this platinum-selling band straddled more than one Billboard chart, reaching #1 on the Modern Rock charts. They reformed with a modified line-up in 2008 and continue to sporadically tour and release new music.

Source: Courtesy of The Tony Rich Project via Facebook

21. The Tony Rich Project
> Hit song: Nobody Knows (1996)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 38
> Latest studio album: Encaustic (2017)

As a house songwriter for LaFace Records, Tony Rich penned tracks for the likes of Boyz II Men and TLC before breaking out on his own. His platinum-selling single and its adjoining album led to four Grammy nominations and one win.

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Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

20. Shawn Colvin
> Hit song: Sunny Came Home (1997)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 7 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 23
> Latest studio album: The Starlighter (2018)

With a career spanning decades, Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin has virtually never stopped recording music either as a solo artist or in collaboration with others. Her (planned) upcoming nationwide tour will celebrate the 32nd anniversary of her debut album, “Steady On.”

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

19. The Verve Pipe
> Hit song: The Freshmen (1997)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 29
> Latest studio album: Threads (2021)

Founded in 1992, this Michigan-based band has experienced a handful of line-up changes over the years. Original member Brian Vander Ark rejoined in 2021 and appears on their latest album.

Source: Jason Davis / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

18. Sister Hazel
> Hit song: All For You (1997)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 11 (for 5 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 33
> Latest studio album: Elements (2020)

This genre-blending band reached the height of their success soon after signing to a major label in 1997. They later became early champions of the Internet, releasing rare material to their most loyal fans (aka Hazelnuts) through the early 2000s. Multiple albums and tours have followed.

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Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

17. Shawn Mullins
> Hit song: Lullaby (1998)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 7 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 16
> Latest studio album: Soul’s Core Revival (2018)

Singer Shawn Mullins abandoned a potential military career to focus on music, scoring a hit single and lending his songs to a number of TV shows. He recently released “Soul’s Core Revival,” which features new recordings and arrangements of his best-selling album from 1998.

Source: Katy Winn / Stringer / Getty Images Entertainment

16. Nicole
> Hit song: Make It Hot (1998)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 5 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 23
> Latest studio album: Piece of Me (2022)

Hip hop superstar Missy Elliott co-produced and appears on the debut single from this American singer, who followed it with a moderately successful album. Currently signed to Big Crown Records, she now records and performs under the name Lady Wray.

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Source: David Greedy / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

15. Eagle-Eye Cherry
> Hit song: Save Tonight (1998)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 25
> Latest studio album: Streets of You (2018)

The son of American jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, this Sweden-born musician recorded parts of his debut album in his bedroom studio. It became a massive success and sparked a long-running career, which includes collaborations and soundtrack contributions in addition to solo releases.

Source: Miguel Villagran / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

14. Jennifer Paige
> Hit song: Crush (1998)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 3 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 23
> Latest studio album: Starflower (2017)

The lead single from her debut album, Jennifer Paige’s “Crush” reportedly sold 11 million copies around the world. She helped finance the recent album “Starflower” through Kickstarter and named it after her daughter.

Source: Michael Loccisano / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

13. Everlast
> Hit song: What It’s Like (1999)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 13 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 19
> Latest studio album: Whitey Ford’s House of Pain (2018)

As a frontman for hip-hop outfit House of Pain, Everlast was no stranger to success by the time he went solo. His debut album “Whitey Ford Sings the Blues” is certified 2X Platinum and it contains his biggest hit single to date.

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12. Lou Bega
> Hit song: Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…) (1999)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 3 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 20
> Latest studio album: 90s Cruiser (2021)

This German singer reinterpreted an old Pérez Prado instrumental for his signature classic, which took dance floors by storm. His subsequent releases have performed better internationally than they have in the states. Bega’s latest single is a reinterpretation of the 1990s hit song “Macarena.”

Source: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

11. Nine Days
> Hit song: Absolutely (Story Of A Girl) (2000)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 6 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 21
> Latest studio album: Snapshots (2016)

Musicians John Hampson and Brian Desveaux were cohorts in a heavy metal band before pivoting into pop. Following a string of independent releases, they signed with a major label and dropped their best-known single. The group reformed in 2014 and spent their own money recording a new album.

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Source: George De Sota / Getty Images

10. BBMak
> Hit song: Back Here (2000)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 13 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 24
> Latest studio album: Powerstation (2019)

Powered by their hit single, this British pop group broke in America first before climbing up the charts in their native UK. They worked the boy band circuit and performed as a supporting act for NSYNC on the 2001 PopOdyssey tour. Reunited after 15 years, they release their third studio album in 2019.

Source: Scott Dudelson / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

9. Macy Gray
> Hit song: I Try (2000)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 23
> Latest studio album: Ruby (2018)

Macy Gray arrived on the scene with such ferocity that her ‘one-hit wonder’ status may come as a surprise. She cracked the Billboard Top 40 just once, but nevertheless forged a long-lasting career across multiple mediums. Her most recent album “Ruby” rolled out to rave reviews.

Source: Scott Gries / Getty Images

8. Ruff Endz
> Hit song: No More (2000)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 25
> Latest studio album: Rebirth (2021)

What was once a quartet became an R&B duo by the time Ruff Endz signed to Epic Records and released their biggest single to date. Finding their native Baltimore in a state of turmoil and unrest, the pair reunited in 2016 to record the song “Time 4 Change.” They’ve been steadily releasing new music ever since.

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7. Moby
> Hit song: South Side (2001)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 14 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 26
> Latest studio album: Reprise (2021)

This enduring icon helped bring electronic music into the mainstream and landed more than a few hits on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. However, the seventh single from his blockbuster album “Play” remains his only song to crack the Billboard Hot 100. His latest album features orchestral and acoustic interpretations of previous work.

Source: Michael Buckner / Getty Images

6. Hoobastank
> Hit song: The Reason (2004)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 34
> Latest studio album: Push Pull (2018)

An unlikely ballad for a band named Hoobastank, “The Reason” earned two Grammy nominations and achieved international success. It appeared on an album of the same name, which the group recently played in full during a 15th anniversary tour.

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Source: Courtesy of DHT featuring Edmee via Facebook

5. D.H.T.
> Hit song: Listen To Your Heart (2005)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 8 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 21
> Latest studio album: #2 (2019)

The biggest hit from this Belgian duo reinterprets a 1980s Roxette single by way of various styles and techniques. An international club smash, it was one of the few trance songs in history to penetrate the Billboard Top 10. Their second album was recorded in 2007 but not released until over a decade later.

Source: Vince Bucci / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

4. Daniel Powter
> Hit song: Bad Day (2006)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 5 weeks)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 27
> Latest studio album: Giants (2018)

It was a good day for Canada’s Daniel Powter when his self-composed single gained serious TV exposure in Europe and the US, thereby topping various charts. He was later named by Billboard as the ‘Top One Hit Wonder’ of the 2000s. His latest release is a 32-track retrospective of previous material, representing his third compilation to date.

3. Estelle
> Hit song: American Boy (2008)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 9 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 18
> Latest studio album: Lovers Rock (2018)

This British multi-hyphenate has collaborated with a slew of industry icons over the course of her career, which touches down on a range of musical styles. Fellow artists John Legend, will.i.am, and Kanye West are credited as co-writers on her biggest single, with West also providing guest vocals. An accomplished actress, Estelle recently starred in the Netflix thriller “Fatal Affair.”

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Source: Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images Entertainment

2. Buckcherry
> Hit song: Sorry (2008)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 9 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 19
> Latest studio album: Hellbound (2021)

This American rock band dissolved in the early 2000s and then reformed with new members, leading to their greatest success. They played 100 live shows in 2021 and will team up with country rap duo The Lacs for an upcoming 15-date tour, scheduled to kick off in January of 2022.

1. La Roux
> Hit song: Bulletproof (2010)
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 8 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Top 40: 19
> Latest studio album: Supervision (2020)

Initially a duo, this British synthpop act worked their way up the Billboard Hot 100 with help from live TV appearances. It’s now the solo project for singer Elly Jackson, who continues to release new material and provide guest vocals for other artists.

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