Music can be an interesting industry. Some musicians and bands break into the mainstream and rack up hit after hit after it until they become household names or even legends. Others have moderate success, selling enough records to stay on the radio and achieve a moderate amount of fame. But then there are those who hit the scene with one giant hit that everyone is rocking along to only to disappear and never be heard from again.
While their music careers may never have panned out, those one hit wonder songs get stuck in our heads and never really leave. Every time we hear them we find ourselves singing along and, sometimes, wondering what happened to that band--if we can remember who the band even was. Think you know your one hit wonders? Take this quiz to find out just how many you can name.
What was the name of Len’s one and only hit?
Canadian brother-sister duo Len only had one single to chart in the United States. The 1999 hit reached peaked at nine on the Billboard charts, but is despite the group’s inability to follow up with further hits, this one song is still well-regarded, with Rolling Stone placing the song at number 33 on their “Best Summer Songs of All Time” list. Lyrics like “my mind was thugged all laced and bugged all twisted wrong and beat/a comfortable three feet deep” contribute to the song’s hybrid hip-hop and pop vibe. What’s the name of this one hit wonder?
People incorrectly attribute this song to Michael Jackson.
While he did provide vocals for the chorus of this hit single, Michael Jackson did not release this 1984 hit. Instead the song is by Rockwell, who happens to be the son of Motown CEO Berry Gordy. Another former Jackson 5 member, Jermaine Jackson, also provided backing vocals for the song that topped the charts in Belgium, France and Spain in addition to the United States. The song is often featured in collections of Halloween music due to the popular music video for the song which featured a haunted house-inspired theme. What is the song?
This song from the 1980s featured the band in pencil-sketch animation.
The video for this song featured the band in pencil-sketch animation, a method called rotoscoping and ultimately won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. While the song was a the only American hit for the Norwegian band A-ha, it has sold over 7 million copies worldwide, making the song with the line “we’re talking away/I don’t what I’m to say/I’ll say it anyway” one of the best-selling singles of all time. Interestingly, A-ha continues to make music. The band released the album Cast in Steel in 2015.
The lead singer of this one hit wonder group had a hit with Carlos Santana in 2004.
Best known for their hit “Wherever You Will Go” and for lead singer Alex Band’s duet with Carlos Santana, “Why Don’t You & I,” this band had success with their debut album ‘Camino Palmero’ as well as their promising follow-up album, ‘Two,’ but the lack of a fanbase even upon the release of their first album took a toll and by the time the second album was released, much of the original band had left. The group completely disbanded in 2005. Alex Band attempted to reform in 2013 with all new members, but they too disbanded. What is the name of the band?
What was the name of Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 hit?
While Billy Ray Cyrus has had a successful music and television career, he is still best known for one 1992 country crossover single. The song, which was the first single to ever achieve triple platinum status in Australia, launched a worldwide dance craze because of the video featuring a line dance along with the song. The song was originally written by Don Von Tress and was recorded under a slightly different title by The Marcy Brothers in 1991. Despite its massive popularity, both VH1 and “Blender” list the single among the worst songs of all time. What is the song?
This band is best known for the theme song to ‘Friends.’
Released as a single in 1995, “I’ll Be There for You” was originally written as a one-minute theme song for the television sitcom, ‘Friends.’ It was later re-recorded to be a three-minute pop song due to the popularity of the theme and ‘Friends.’ The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart for eight weeks and did well in both Canada and the UK as well. However, despite the commercial success, Blender ranked the song number fifteen on their list of “50 Worst Songs Ever” in 2004. Who sang this hit?
Which one hit wonder's real name is Stanley Burrell?
Technically a two hit wonder, this musician may have only had two hit records and is best remembered for his signature pants and flashy dance movements. However, despite this, the musician behind “U Can’t Touch This” is widely considered to be a pioneer of “pop rap” and is the first hip hop artist to have an album reach diamond status for selling over ten million copies. Before becoming a rapper, he also dreamed of being a professional baseball player and tried out for the San Francisco Giants, but did not make the team.
Who sang “though I try to hide it, it’s clear/my world crumbles when you are not near?”
The singer of the hit “I Try” won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance on the song in 2001 and also had her first acting role in the film ‘Training Day.’ However, she also had serious challenges, including being booed off a football field for forgetting the lyrics to the American national anthem and she also developed a drug addiction that she would later note as a reason her career floundered after her worldwide hit 1999 album ‘On How Life Is.” Who is the one hit wonder?
Who sang “Funky Cold Medina”?
This musician’s turn as a one hit wonder comes less from having just one successful song and more from the fact they had two successful singles off of one album. The musician released their lone successful album in 1989 and followed it up with a second album in 1991, but the second album never took off. Despite the lack of lasting success, this “Funky Cold Medina” singer has made a career for himself out of occasional acting and voice acting roles, specifically as the character The Goanna in 'FernGully: The Last Rainforest.'
This song was the first video played on MTV.
The first video played on MTV when it debuted on August 1, 1981 was released by The Buggles two years prior and barely even made it onto the Billboard charts when released. The song squeaked in at number 40. However, being the first video ever played on MTV gave the song its legendary status. The video also has the distinction of being the one-millionth video aired on MTV on February 27, 2000 as well as being the final video to air on MTV Philippines before it closed in 2010. What song is it?
Which musical group was sued over their one hit wonder?
Released in 1997, the song "Barbie Girl" was a big hit. The Euro-dance style song was crazy catchy in the late 90s and the accompanying video was a candy-colored send up of femininity and Barbie dolls. However, that lead to legal trouble for the band and its record label. In 2000, toy manufacturer Mattel sued the label over the song, claiming trademark violation. The record label ultimately prevailed when a judge dismissed the case in 2002, noting in his ruling that "The parties are advised to chill." Who sang the song?
The video to which song ended up as the subject of United States Senate testimony?
In 1985, the Parents Music Resource Center ended up before a Senate hearing as the PMRC wanted to introduce a parental warning system to label albums containing offensive material. Many musicians testified against the proposed warning system, including Twisted Sister's Dee Snider who discussed the video to this song during his testimony. While the warning system never came to be, the hearings did result in the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" label we see today. In 2012 the song entered politics again, this time as a campaign song for vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
Which one hit wonder found fame with “Kiss Me”?
In the late 90s and early 2000s, “Kiss Me’ was everywhere. The single was on the soundtrack for ‘She’s All That,’ ‘Not Another Teen Movie,’ and also appeared on television’s ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ The song is the band’s only original hit, though they also released a cover of The La’s “There She Goes’ in 1999 that became the band’s second hit single, extending the group’s fifteen minutes of fame. Unfortunately for the band, the album they were prepared to release following their hit singles was delayed for several years while their label fell apart. Who is the one hit wonder?
Which song's video featured a now-banned cheerleading stunt?
Released in 1982, the video for musician Toni Basil's biggest hit featured Basil dressed as a cheerleader performing choreographed dance routines along with cheer stunts. In the opening stunt, a cheerleader jumps through the center of a human pyramid. This move is now banned in cheerleading as cheer rules now state that "partner stunts and pyramids may not pass over, under or through other partner stunts or pyramids." Interestingly, Basil herself was never a cheerleader in high school and was, instead, a professional dancer. What song is this?
Which rock and roll legend could technically be considered a one hit wonder?
It seems sacrilegious to even think about this musician as being a one hit wonder, but technically only one of their songs made it into the Top 20 in the United States during their all-too-short career. “All Along the Watchtower” peaked at 20 in 1968 and while other singles did better in the United Kingdom, the song was the artist’s only American hit. However, despite this, this artist is widely considered one of the greatest instrumentalists in rock music history.
Who sang “Bad Boys”?
Released as a single in the United States in 1991, the song “Bad Boys” peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 after a second release in 1993, but despite its success on the charts, the reggae song may be best known as the opening them for the television show ‘Cops.’ The song was also used in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence film ‘Bad Boys’ as well as its sequel, ‘Bad Boys II’ with some of the lyrics sung by Smith and Lawrence in both films. Who originally released this song?
This song was covered by Marilyn Manson in 2001.
Soft Cell's 1981 hit was itself a cover of a 1964 song by American musician Gloria Jones. However, Jones' song was a commercial flop and went largely unnoticed until British club DJ Richard Searling purchased a copy of the single in 1973. When the song was covered by Soft Cell in 1981, it became the best-selling single in the United Kingdom that year and reached eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in 1982. In 2001, Marilyn Manson released their own cover based on the Soft Cell arrangement. What is the name of the song?
Right Said Fred re-recorded this one hit wonder for the soundtrack to “The Smurfs 2.”
Originally released in 1991 by British group Right Said Fred, this song topped the charts in six countries including the United States and Australia. While Right Said Fred went on to have additional hits in their native United Kingdom, they never replicated their success in the United States. However, in 2003 the group re-recorded their biggest hit for use on the soundtrack for the movie "The Smurfs 2." The song also has another cartoon tie, as Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded a cover of the song for their 1996 album “Club Chipmunk: The Dance Mixes.”
Who sang the hit "Breakfast at Tiffany's"?
Despite being titled "Breakfast at Tiffany's" this 1995 hit was actually inspired by a different Audrey Hepburn film, 'Roman Holiday." However, the songwriter felt that the Hepburn film 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' made for a better song title and reference and the video features the band having breakfast outside of Tiffany & Co. in Manhattan. The song, while popular and catchy, often ends up on "worst songs" lists with Blender ranking it number six on their "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever."
Where did the band Lipps Inc. want to take you back in 1980?
From their 179 album 'Mouth to Mouth,' this song may be a one hit wonder but it has a very unique distinction. This song reached the number one spot in 28 different countries and held that record for 25 years before finally being beaten by Madonna's "Hung Up" hit number one in 41 countries in 2005. Still a fun classic, the song frequently shows up in television shows, commercials and movies. It was featured in 'Shrek 2' in 2004. What is the name of the song?
Which song sampled the 1968 song "You Got What I Need?"
Released in 1989, Biz Markie's only charting single sampled the chord and melody line of Freddie Scott's 1968 song "You Got What I Need" for the chorus. The sampling resulted in popularity not just for Biz Markie's song, but also for the Scott original. The video to Biz Markie's single included Markie singing the chorus of the song while dressed as Mozart, complete with powdered wig, playing the piano in a candlelit room. What's the name of the Biz Markie song?
Which song had two versions in two different languages at the same time?
Originally recorded in German, this anti-war protest song was originally released in German in 1983 with an English-language version released in 1984 following success of the German version. The lyrics to the English version of the song are not a direct translation of the German, but contain similar stories about pilots shooting down a balloon and starting a war. However, the band felt like the English version was too poetic and had lost something in translation and the group has never sung the English version live. What's the name of the English song?
This song was based off of an essay published in the 'Chicago Tribune'.
Published on June 1, 1997, Mary Schmich published the column "Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young" in the Chicago Tribune. The column was billed as a commencement speech that Schmich would give if ever invited to do so. Baz Luhrmann took the essay in its entirety and turned it into a spoken word song for his album 'Something for Everybody.' Luhrmann went on to release a longer version of the song for the 10th anniversary edition of the soundtrack to his film, 'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.' What is the name of this song?
This song is only considered a one hit wonder if you live outside of New Zealand.
Released by the New Zealand band OMC in 1995, this song was featured in movies such as 'Palmetto' and 'The Parent Trap.' It topped the chart in six countries, but was the only international hit for the band. The video to the song features lead singer Pauly Fuemana driving around a 1968 Chevy Impala, as well as dancing, rapping and throwing around money. Following Fuemana’s death in 2010, the song re-entered New Zealand music charts. What is the name of the song?
"Into the Night" actually was a hit twice. Who sang it?
Released in 1980 and 1989 and breaking into the top 20 of Billboard's Hot 100 both times, this song owes its double success to an Arizona disc jockey who played the song in a "where are they now" segment nine years after its first release The song, which seems romantic until you realize that the song is about an adult man pursuing a teenage girl, was also used in the background of a 2009 episode of 'Breaking Bad.' Who sang this twice-over once hit wonder?
This Stacey Q song was covered by Kelly Osbourne.
On the Japanese edition of her 2005 album "Sleeping in the Nothing," reality star Kelly Osbourne covered this 1986 hit by Stacey Q. The song, which makes heavy use of of a vocal sample of the line "I need you" in it's hook, has lyrics that are all about love. It was well-received both by critics and by consumers and is still considered one of the best hits of the 1980s, ranking number 27 VH1's list "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '80s." What song is it?
This one hit wonder’s hit was written by David Bowie.
While this band had a long career releasing seven studio albums, they are best known for their song “All the Young Dudes” which was written for the band by none other than the late legend David Bowie. The song is considered one of the classic anthems of the Glam Rock genre and was written by Bowie after he met the band’s bassist, Peter Watts. The band was struggling to stay together due to lack of success so Bowie offered to write them a song. Bowie would later tell ‘Rolling Stone’ that the song was not intended to be a glam rock anthem and was, instead, about the apocalypse. What is the song?
Digital Underground is best known for what song?
Still well-regarded as one of the best songs in the Hip Hop genre according to VH1 as well as making the network’s list of 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, this song was Digital Underground’s second single from their debut album ‘Sex Packets’ following “Doowutchyalike” in 1989. The song remains a part of Hip Hop, being samples by different artists and producers since its release. The song’s video has a little Easter Egg of sorts for music fans, as well: a young Tupac Shakur can be seen in the background. What is the song?
This one hit wonder maintains a cult following to this day.
Best known in the United States for the song “Cars” this one hit wonder didn’t reach lasting fame in America, but remained popular in the United Kingdom and has consistently released albums and remained in the music industry and is slated to release his 22nd album in September 2017. While he started out as being early New Wave, this musician has also collaborated with Industrial Pop groups and once had plans to work with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. He still sells out European concert tour dates and shows no signs of slowing down despite being an American one hit wonder. Who is he?
This reggae fusion hit is based on the artist's experience being charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Canadian reggae musician Darrin O'Brien, best known by his stage name Snow, was charged with two counts of attempted murder stemming from a 1989 incident. Snow spent a year in jail before the charges were reduced and he was acquitted. After that, he produced a four-song demo and was signed to a record label. While serving time in a Toronto jail for assault, one of the songs began getting radio airplay and quickly became a hit. The song spent seven weeks at number one in the United States. What is the name of the song?
This song is incorrectly believed to be about masturbation.
The only major hit of the British band The Vapors, this song is often said to be about masturbation. However, band member David Fenton clarified that that is not the case during an interview on VH1. Fenton also said that he wanted to thank those who started the rumor, as he felt it may have helped make the song a hit. The song’s lyrics consist of the singer talking about pictures of his love interest, which may have helped spur the rumors. The 1980 New Wave song peaked at 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. What is the song?
This one hit wonder song clocks in at 17 minutes long.
With actual lyrics appearing only at the beginning and at the end, this song from Iron Butterfly has a full run time of 17 minutes, though the edited single version clocks in at just under three minutes. The song is considered by some to one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time as well as a major influence on heavy metal, so much so that it is sometimes considered the first song in the genre. The title of the song is actually a misunderstanding. Songwriter Doug Ingle was so drunk that he slurred his words, leading to the unique name. What song is this?
This song was, supposedly, an anti-nuclear message.
Due to nuclear-related imagery at the end of the video to Men Without Hats' 1983 hit single, many came to believe that the song was an anti-nuclear message. However, writer Ivan Doroschuk later explained that while the song is a protest that protest is against the establishment, specifically club bouncers preventing dancers from dancing in a "pogo" style by jumping up and down at New Wave concerts. Other theories about the song include that it is also a call for safe sex practices, another claim that Doroschuk denies. What's the song?
Who sang “She Blinded Me with Science”?
This English musician and producer first became famous for his New Wave hit single “She Blinded Me with Science” in 1982, but despite his one hit wonder status, this musician has made a name for himself in other industries. While still active in music, this artist has also been a technology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, has served as the music director for the TED Conference and is also a Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. One of his technological endeavors, Headspace, developed the Rich Music Format, a music file type specifically designed for internet usage. Who is the musician?
Who sang "so much for all your high-brow, Marxist ways/Just use me up and then you walk away, boy you can't play me that way"?
With themes that include “being a member of an orthodox Trotskyist/Marxist movement. Being a straight guy in love with a lesbian. Being a gay guy in love with a straight man,” among others, “Your Woman” is the only hit from this British one-man band. The single was released in January 1997 from the album “Women in Technology.” The song peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and broke into the top thirty in the United States. However, the follow up single did not perform as well and this one hit wonder act faded into memory. Who is it?