Special Report

Biggest One-Hit Wonders of the 1990s

Al Pereira / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

 Some 47.5% of all recording artists who hit the Billboard charts for the first time between 1955 and 2005 never charted again, according to a University of Colorado Denver analysis. That means that the performers of about half of all hit songs during that half century could be considered one-hit wonders.  

The 1990s had its fair share of those one-time-only musical stars. With an unusually diverse array of musical genres including grunge, modern country, and hip-hop going mainstream, many hopeful new acts hit the radio with popular songs only to vanish as their next singles failed to top the charts.

To determine the biggest one-hit wonders of the 1990s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data for the top 40 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts. Songs that reached No. 1 or No. 2 between the years 1990 and 1999 were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 40 points, a week at No. 2 worth 39 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 40 worth one point. To be considered, artists must have had no more than three Top 40 hits, either as individual artists or as featured artists, and must have sold no more than five million albums in the United States throughout their careers. Chart data is current through April 8, 2023.

Click here to see the biggest one-hit wonders of the 1990s

Much pop music of the ‘90s was characterized by danceable beats. Hip hop, R&B, and electronic dance music began to dominate the airwaves in the 90’s, and most of the one hit wonders fall into one of these categories. Songs like Tag Team’s “Whoomp (There It Is)” and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” reached No. 1 back then and remain instantly recognizable to millennials despite the fact that the artists failed to produce comparable subsequent hits. (You might be surprised at the identities of some of the most famous musicians who never topped the Billboard Hot 100.)

Some soft rock efforts also became huge hits in the era. Extreme’s acoustic ballad “More Than Words,” and Mr. Big’s power pop “To Be With You” were surprise chart-toppers for these glam metal bands that typically played much harder rock. Some female singer songwriters also saw their fifteen minutes of fame, including Meredith Brooks and Lisa Loeb. Her song “Stay (I Missed You)”  was featured on the “Reality Bites” movie soundtrack. (To see how musical tastes can change from decade to decade, see this list of the biggest one-hit wonders of the 1980s.)

25. Unbelievable
> Artist: EMF
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 16 weeks
> Entered charts: May 11, 1991
> Left charts: Aug. 24, 1991

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24. How Do You Talk to an Angel
> Artist: The Heights
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 16 weeks
> Entered charts: Oct. 10, 1992
> Left charts: Jan. 23, 1993

23. More Than Words
> Artist: Extreme
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 17 weeks
> Entered charts: April 13, 1991
> Left charts: Aug. 3, 1991

22. Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
> Artist: C+C Music Factory
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 17 weeks
> Entered charts: Dec. 15, 1990
> Left charts: April 6, 1991

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21. To Be With You
> Artist: Mr. Big
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 17 weeks
> Entered charts: Jan. 25, 1992
> Left charts: May 16, 1992

20. I’m Too Sexy
> Artist: Right Said Fred
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 17 weeks
> Entered charts: Jan. 18, 1992
> Left charts: May 9, 1992

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19. Do Anything
> Artist: Natural Selection
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 19 weeks
> Entered charts: Aug. 24, 1991
> Left charts: Dec. 28, 1991

18. Informer
> Artist: Snow
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 7 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 19 weeks
> Entered charts: Feb. 6, 1993
> Left charts: June 12, 1993

17. Total Eclipse of the Heart
> Artist: Nicki French
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 21 weeks
> Entered charts: May 6, 1995
> Left charts: Sept. 23, 1995

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16. Candy Rain
> Artist: Soul For Real
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 4 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 21 weeks
> Entered charts: Jan. 28, 1995
> Left charts: June 17, 1995

15. Rump Shaker
> Artist: Wreckx-N-Effect
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 3 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 23 weeks
> Entered charts: Oct. 24, 1992
> Left charts: March 27, 1993

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14. Freak Me
> Artist: Silk
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 22 weeks
> Entered charts: Feb. 27, 1993
> Left charts: July 24, 1993

13. Here Comes the Hotstepper (From “Ready To Wear”)
> Artist: Ini Kamoze
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 23 weeks
> Entered charts: Oct. 15, 1994
> Left charts: March 18, 1995

12. Bitсh
> Artist: Meredith Brooks
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 4 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 25 weeks
> Entered charts: May 10, 1997
> Left charts: Oct. 25, 1997

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11. Baby Got Back
> Artist: Sir Mix-A-Lot
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 5 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 24 weeks
> Entered charts: May 2, 1992
> Left charts: Oct. 10, 1992

10. Lately
> Artist: Divine
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 25 weeks
> Entered charts: Sept. 12, 1998
> Left charts: Feb. 27, 1999

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9. Stay (I Missed You)
> Artist: Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 25 weeks
> Entered charts: May 28, 1994
> Left charts: Nov. 12, 1994

8. Freak Like Me
> Artist: Adina Howard
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 27 weeks
> Entered charts: Feb. 25, 1995
> Left charts: Aug. 26, 1995

7. Kiss Me
> Artist: Sixpence None the Richer
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 28 weeks
> Entered charts: Feb. 27, 1999
> Left charts: Sept. 4, 1999

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6. Return of the Mack
> Artist: Mark Morrison
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 33 weeks
> Entered charts: March 8, 1997
> Left charts: Oct. 18, 1997

5. I Love You Always Forever
> Artist: Donna Lewis
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 9 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 35 weeks
> Entered charts: July 20, 1996
> Left charts: March 15, 1997

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4. Missing
> Artist: Everything But the Girl
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 1 week)
> Total time on Top 40: 37 weeks
> Entered charts: Nov. 11, 1995
> Left charts: Aug. 10, 1996

3. Nobody Knows
> Artist: The Tony Rich Project
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 38 weeks
> Entered charts: Jan. 13, 1996
> Left charts: Sept. 28, 1996

2. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)
> Artist: Los Del Rio
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 1 (for 14 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 37 weeks
> Entered charts: May 18, 1996
> Left charts: Jan. 25, 1997

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1. Whoomp! (There It Is)
> Artist: Tag Team
> Peak position on Top 40: No. 2 (for 7 weeks)
> Total time on Top 40: 41 weeks
> Entered charts: June 12, 1993
> Left charts: March 19, 1994

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