One and Only – The Best “One-Hit Wonder” Songs of All Time

This article was originally published on our sister site History by Day

All a musician needs is one hit song to get their foot in the door. But for many artists, that one track becomes so popular that it outshines all of their other work. Or even worse. People don’t even know the name of the artist behind the chart-topping track. Take Tommy Tutone, for example. His name probably doesn’t ring a bell, but I can bet that you can still recite Jenny’s number, “867-5309.”

Amy Grant, Trisha Yearwood, Eagle Eye Cherry, Lou Bega.

Amy Grant, Trisha Yearwood, Eagle Eye Cherry, Lou Bega. Photo BY Rick Diamond/Shutterstock / AFF-USA/Shutterstock / Bruce Adams/Daily Mail/Shutterstock / Maria Laura Antonelli/Shutterstock

There have been plenty of other one-hit wonders that dominated the airwaves in the best few decades. From Sinead O’Connor (yes, she was a one-hit-wonder), to the Twisted Sister and The Proclaimers, we’ve rounded up the best one-hit wonders of all time. Did your favorite make the cut? Let’s check it out!

4 Non-Blondes – “What’s Up” (1993)

“And I scream from the top of my lungs: ‘What’s going on?'”

Despite being called “What’s Up”, the song by 4 Non Blondes doesn’t contain that phrase whatsoever. In fact, it would make more sense if the song was named “What’s Going On?” However, the group didn’t want their song to be confused with legendary singer Marvin Gaye’s 1971 track of the same name.

Four Non Blondes posing on stage at the Borderline 1993

Photo by Andre Csillag / Shutterstock

The song was released in 1993 and did well internationally, topping some charts around the world. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at number 14. Sadly, the group split only a year later after the release of the song, which was their only big hit.

Norman Greenbaum – “Spirit in the Sky” (1969)

“Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky, that’s where I’m gonna go when I die…”

Despite having moderate commercial success with his bands, namely Junk Band and Dr. West’s Medicine Show, Norman Greenbaum’s greatest achievement was as a solo artist with “Spirit in the Sky,” released in 1969.

Norman Greenbaum standing in a field with a cow

Source: Pinterest

The track had massive success in the US and the UK, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top spot on the Singles Chart. Additionally, it placed 341st on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time compiled by Rolling Stone magazine.

Toni Basil – “Mickey” (1981)

“Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!”

Despite dancing around in a cheerleader outfit in the video, Toni Basil was actually 39 years old when she released her 1981 hit “Mickey.”

Toni Basil standing and posing for the camera

Photo by Associated Newspapers / Shutterstock

Initially, the song’s title was intended to be “Kitty” but, after some debate, Basil decided to switch it up, making the song about a man, not a kitten.  The song instantly became an international hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart. However, this was Basil’s first and only track that it to the top of the charts, marking her as a one-hit wonder.

Bruce Channel – “Hey! Baby” (1961)

“Hey, hey hey baby! I want to know if you’ll be my girl?”

Artists often like to pay tribute to old classics by creating a remix of their own. DJ Otzi’s version of “Hey Baby” certainly filled many a dance floor in 2000, but the original 1961 version by Bruce Channel has a slower, calmer tempo, with a harmonica used as the dominant musical instrument.

Bruce Channel from the front cover of his album

Source: Pinterest

The song gained commercial success and debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for a total of three weeks. In the UK, it reached number two on the Singles Chart. While Channel had a few other good songs, “Hey! Baby” was his only track to crack the Top 40 list, making him a one-hit-wonder.

The Surfaris – “Wipe Out” (1963)

“Feel I’m goin’ back to Massachusetts, something is telling me I must go home…”

The band’s name, The Surfaris, may sound unfamiliar, but most people will recognize this surf rock song. The track seems to be a favorite for some Hollywood directors as it’s been used in more than 20 movies over the years, including Dirty Dancing, The Sandlot, and Toy Story 2.

The band The Surfaris posing with their instruments

Source: Spotify

Written by Ron Wilson, Bob Berryhill, Jim Fuller, and Pat Connolly, the track peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963, before spending an impressive four months on the list. In the UK, it reached number five on the Singles Chart.

Five Stairsteps – “O-o-h Child” (1970)

“Ooh child, things are gonna get easier. Ooh child, things’ll get brighter”

Certainly, an unforgettable song that’s withstood the test of time, “O-o-h Child” has even managed to rank in the Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 500 Songs of All Time, coming in at number 402.

The Five Stairsteps posing together

Source: Pinterest

Released in 1970, the song peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Canadian RPM. It has also been used in some movies and TV shows over the years, notably How I Met Your Mother and Scandal.

“O-o-h Child” was the only commercial success for the Five Stairsteps, whose successive songs failed to be anywhere near as popular.

Jean Knight – “Mr. Big Stuff” (1971)

“Mr. Big Stuff, who do you think you are? Mr. Big Stuff, you’re never gonna get my love!”

In 1971, Jean Knight recorded a cult classic that was played by nearly every radio station at the time. Moreover, the song spent an impressive five weeks at the top of the Soul Singles chart and managed to make it to the second spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jean Knight posing for a photograph

Source: Pinterest

Despite the song’s huge commercial success, Knight’s career failed to take off, and she never had another hit of anywhere near the same magnitude. Even so, “Mr. Big Stuff” has withstood the test of time and is considered by many to be the greatest soul song of 1971.

Looking Glass – “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” (1972)

“The sailors say, ‘Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be!'”

As a band, Looking Glass only released three singles, namely “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne,” “Golden Rainbow” and “Brandy,” the latter being the song that the group is fondly remembered for. It managed to top the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1972 and came in at 51 in the UK Singles Chart in the same year.

The band Looking Glass posing together in front of a tree

Source: Facebook

Recently, the song received attention after featuring in the iconic 2017 film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, where one of the characters deems it as planet Earth’s most unusual musical composition! Though this is questionable, it’s clear that this song has captured the hearts of many over the years.

King Harvest – “Dancing in the Moonlight” (1972)

“Dancing in the moonlight, everybody’s feeling warm and bright…”

Many people believe that King Harvest would have experienced commercial success if not for the tumultuous relationships between the band members. The musicians fought so much that by the mid-’70s, the band had already broken up.

King Harvest standing around an open lot

Source: Pinterest

Despite the band member’s rocky relationship with one another, they managed to release one huge hit, “Dancing in the Moonlight,” which reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2000, British band Toploader released a cover of the song and gained worldwide success. Their version achieved certified platinum status in the UK.

Pilot – “Magic” (1974)

“It’s magic you know, never believe it’s not so!”

In 1974, a young band named Pilot released their first hit single “Magic,” which peaked at the number five position on the US Billboard Hot 100. By the end of the year, it was at an excellent 31st position. In the UK, the track reached number 11 on the Singles Chart, proving that the track was an international success.

The band Pilot posing together

Source: Pinterest

While “Magic” was a chart-topping single, it was the band’s only taste of commercial success. Former Disney star, Selena Gomez, recorded her own version of the song for the popular TV series Wizards of Waverly Place.

Cheryl Lynn – “Got to Be Real” (1978)

“What you find-ah, what you feel now, what you know-ah, to be real!”

Although Cheryl Lynn failed to maintain a long, successful career, many will remember her debut single “Got to Be Real,” which topped the US R&B Chart in 1978, came in at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot Disco Singles Chart, and reached number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Cheryl Lynn posing on the red carpet

Photo by Mediapunch / Shutterstock

Twenty-six years later in 2004, the song was reintroduced to a younger generation by Mary J. Blige in DreamWorks movie Shark Tale. The song was also recorded by Patti LaBelle and Mariah Carey in 1998. While Lynn’s career failed to take off, this disco hit makes her one of the best one-it wonders of all time!

Sugarhill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight” (1979)

“I said a hip hop, the hippie to the hippie, the hip hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it…”

Rap, the most popular genre today, was born with the release of the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, which peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. Surprisingly, it received more success abroad, reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart, and even going as far as taking the top spot in Canada and the Netherlands.

Wonder Mike, Master Gee, and Big Bank Hank of Sugarhill Gang signing autographs in February 1980

Photo by Andre Csillag / Shutterstock

The song also holds a great title in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as being an aesthetically significant, culturally influential, and historically life-changing piece of music.

Despite this, the Sugarhill Gang did not enjoy much commercial success after this single and failed to reach the Billboard Top 40 again.

Devo – “Whip it” (1980)

“It’s not too late to whip it, whip it good”

Perhaps considered the most controversial one-hit-wonder of the ’80, the video to Devo’s “Whip It” would never fly today. The band added more fuel to the fire by claiming the song was written in support for then-President Jimmy Carter.

Devo wearing the red Lego-like hats holding their instruments

Photo by Elisa Leoneli / Shutterstock

Regardless of what the band said, many people believe that the main themes of this song are sexual. Either way, the controversies contributed to the song’s success, as it climbed to number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, it reached a decent 51 on the Singles Chart.

Tommy Tutone – “Jenny (867-5309)” (1981)

“Eight six seven five three oh nine! Jenny jenny you’re the girl for me!”

Tommy Tutone’s 1981 song “867-5309/Jenny” is considered to be the catchiest phone number song in history, featuring a combination of numbers that perfectly match the beat. The subject of “Jenny” has been the subject of many urban legends over the years, with many stipulating that she was a lady of the night, and some co-writers disagreeing on whether she was even real in the first place.

Tommy Tutone in concert in 2018

Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro / Shutterstock

Sadly for Tutone, this was the only song throughout his music career that managed to make it to the top 25 of the US Billboard Hot 100. The song peaked at number four.

T.G. Sheppard – “I Loved ‘Em Every One” (1981)

“Big, little or short or tall, wish I could’ve kept them all, I loved ’em every one”

Despite having a theme that many consider being inappropriate, T. G. Sheppard’s “I Loved ‘Em Every One” managed to clinch the 37th spot in the 1981 US Billboard Hot 100. However, this was a few years before the AIDS epidemic became highly televised and publicized.

TG Sheppard performing in 1976

Photo by Andre Csillag / Shutterstock

The narrator of the song reflects on all the women that he had embraced and bedded throughout the years, boasting how he thoroughly enjoyed himself and hoped that they enjoyed themselves too. The song was thought to celebrate promiscuity and was shunned by many.

Unfortunately for Sheppard, he never had a Billboard hit again, though he did manage to do reasonably well with country singles such as “Finally.”

Soft Cell – “Tainted Love” (1982)

“Sometimes I feel I’ve got to, run away I’ve got to, get away…”

The original version of “Tainted Love” was first composed by Ed Cobb in 1964, and the recording was done by Gloria Jones that same year. However, the cover done by the band Soft Cell in 1982 achieved greater commercial success and went on to be covered by quite some artists after its release.

Marc Almond and David Ball of Soft Cell posing together on a loveseat in 1938

Photo by Eugene Adebari / Shutterstock

Soft Cell’s cover peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100, but performed better in the UK, reaching number five on the Singles Chart. Despite Soft Cell’s promising start, “Tainted Love” was their only hit song.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Come on Eileen” (1982)

“Come on Eileen, oh I swear (what he means), at this moment, you mean everything!”

It was “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners that denied Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller” album from having back-to-back hits in 1982. The track topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for one week.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners posing together circa early 1980s

Photo by Glasshouse Images / Shutterstock

The track also had international success, reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart in the same year. Recently, the song was featured as the soundtrack to teen comedy-drama Perks of Being a Wallflower. While the song is immoral, it takes people a second to recognize the Dexy’s Midnight Runners. They’re better known as the band who sang “Come on Eileen.”

Modern English – “I Melt With You” (1982)

“I’ll stop the world and melt with you, you’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time”

Although the track peaked at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100, the catchy melody to Modern English’s 1982 hit “I Melt With You” has helped it withstand the test of time. The song has been featured in a number of films, including Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates, as well as in various commercials.

The band Modern English posing together in front of a graffiti wall

Source: Twitter

The track is one of the top 500 songs that has ever been played on the radio in the US. In 2017, Modern English was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the BMI Awards in celebration of 3 million plays of “I Melt With You.”

Charlene – “I’ve Never Been to Me” (1982)

“Ooh I’ve been to Georgia and California, oh, anywhere I could run…”

“I’ve Never Been to Me” by Charlene was released twice: first in 1977, when it didn’t do particularly well, and then in 1982, when it reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100. The theme of the song centers on a woman who has lived a self-preserved, wealthy lifestyle.

Charlene performing her hit song

Source: YouTube

During the song, she has a conversation with an unhappy mother, who is yearning to gain more from life. Surprisingly, as the narrator conveys her story, she discusses how she ended up bitter and alone, mainly because she never managed to discover herself.

Thomas Dolby – “She Blinded Me With Science” (1982)

“Now uh, huh huh. When I’m dancing close to her, blinding me with science, science…”

Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” centers its theme on a mad, male scientist that falls in love with his female lab assistant, which is clarified by the backup vocals sung by iconic music producer Mutt Lange.

Thomas Dolby leaning on a banister while crouched down

Photo by Ilpo Musto / Shutterstock

This funky, witty classic clinched the fifth spot in the 1983 US Billboard Hot 100. But while it was a major hit in the US, it didn’t perform too well in Dolby’s native United Kingdom. The track only managed to peak at number 56 on the UK Singles Chart.

Nena – “99 Luftballons” (1983)

“Ninety-nine red balloons, floating in the summer sky. Panic bells, it’s red alert, there’s something here from somewhere else…”

Considered one of the greatest German songs ever to grace the American music scene, “99 Luftballons” gained tremendous international recognition by reaching number two on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Nena performing in Montreux Switzerland wearing a retro outfit

Photo by Andre Csillag / Shutterstock

In fact, the song was so popular that there was even an English version released by the name “99 Red Balloons.” But the English version is not a direct translation of Nena’s German lyrics, and unfortunately did not chart in the US. Nena’s German version of the song was her only US hit.

Kajagoogoo – “Too Shy” (1983)

“‘Cause you’re too shy shy, hush-hush, eye to eye…”

British band Kajagoogoo was expected to have great success overseas, particularly in the US. “Too Shy,” released in 1983, was an instant success, peaking at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the top spot in the 1983 UK Singles Chart. Sadly for them, this was the band’s only successful track in the US, with the majority of their other songs performing much better abroad.

The members of Kajagoogoo posing together in front of a red background

Photo by Ilpo Musto / Shutterstock

Interestingly, the song’s theme discusses the efforts of a boy who is trying to convince a shy girl to stop being so uptight. Though his intent is harmless, some perceive it as rude. The song catapulted the band into the spotlight, but tensions soon began to rise between band members. The band’s lead singer, Limahl, was soon fired, claiming, “I was sacked for making them a success.” Hmm…

Deborah Allen – “Baby I Lied” (1983)

“I swear on my heart I was telling the truth at the time. Baby I lied. Baby I lied.”

Deborah Allen’s “Baby I Lied,” tells the tale of a heartbroken woman pouring her heart out to her ex-lover, claiming that while they were together, she was in too deep. And although she told herself that she would remain strong if their relationship didn’t succeed, but now that he has left her, it’s clear that she is lying to herself.

Deborah Allen straddled over a chair while holding a guitar


Thanks to its touching storyline, the song managed to reach number 26 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. Although Allen released other singles, none came close to the commercial success of “Baby I Lied.”

Animotion – “Obsession” (1984)

“You are an obsession, I cannot sleep. I am your possession, unopened at your feet”

While “Obsession” was originally written and recorded by Michael Des Barres and Holly Knight in 1983, it wasn’t until Animotion recorded their own version in 1984 that the song became successful.  The track peaked at number six in the US and number five in the UK.

Animotion posing together outside of a house

Photo by Andre Csillag / Shutterstock

It also helped that MTV seemed to play this dance track song on repeat. Like many songs on our list, there was no escaping it. In 2009, the band gained even more recognition after it was included on VH1’s Top 100 One Hit Wonders of the ’80s.

Jack Wagner – “All I Need” (1984)

“All I need is just a little more time, to be sure what I feel…”

Jack Wagner’s debut single “All I Need” reached number two in the 1983 Billboard Hot 100, beaten by Madonna’s iconic “Like a Virgin.” The song discusses the problems a man faces when he finds himself falling head over heels for a woman.

Jack Wagner on the red carpet

Photo by Matt Baron / BEI / Shutterstock

However, he feels confused about the situation, saying that he wasn’t planning to relay his feelings with such deep emotion. Before releasing “All I Need,” Wagner was already famous for his role as Frisco Jones on General Hospital. Since the song’s release, Wagner has also made guest appearances on Melrose Place and The Bold and the Beautiful.

Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (1984)

“Oh, we’re not gonna take it! No, we ain’t gonna take it! Oh, we’re not gonna take it anymore!”

Considered to be the ’80s anthem for rebellious American teenagers, Twisted Sister’s high-energy rock song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” centers its theme on how the youth are tired of being undermined and talked down to by their elders.

The members of Twisted Sister dressed up and posing against a red wall

Photo by Ilpo Musto / Shutterstock

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was released in 1984, and peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. While the single has been certified gold (selling more than 500,000 copies), it was, sadly, the band’s only single to make it to the Top 40.

Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley – “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (1987)

“Now I’ve had the time of my life. No, I never felt like this before…”

“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” was released by Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley in 1987 and featured as the theme tune to iconic blockbuster Dirty Dancing. It reached the top spot in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the UK Singles Chart and is still regarded as a classic today.

Jennifer Warnes performing / Bill Medley standing around at an event

Photo by ITV, Shutterstock / Bei, Shutterstock

In fact, it’s not unusual to see people attempt to recreate the famous dance when the song is played. While Warnes and Medley had mildly successful careers as solo artists, the two never collaborated again.

Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (1988)

“In every life we have some trouble, But when you worry you make it double…”

Despite the track’s great success, the 1988 song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” is often confused with another iconic hit with the same name produced by reggae legend Bob Marley. But the hit song we’re talking about here was recorded by Bobby McFerrin.

Bobby McFerrin on the red carpet in 2005

Photo by Picture Perfect / Shutterstock

When the song was released, it instantly attained commercial success, peaking at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles Chart. Notably, it was the first acapella song to attain the number one spot on the US charts.

The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” (1988)

“But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more…”

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, which reached number three on the 1988 US Billboard Hot 100, was the Proclaimers’ biggest hit. In fact, it was their only song that reached the Billboard Hot 100.

Charlie Reid and Craig Reid from The Proclaimers sitting and smiling with their guitar

Photo by Keith Waldegrave / Associated Newspapers / Shutterstock

The track has since been used in countless sporting events, specifically in Scotland, where the Proclaimers are from. Additionally, it was featured in the soundtrack for the hit TV show How I Met Your Mother when the single got stuck in one of the character’s car stereo and becomes the only song ever played in his car.

The La’s – “There She Goes” (1988)

“There she goes, there she goes again…”

“There She Goes” by The La’s has had its fair share of controversy. Some people claim that the song is centered on a girl doing drugs, with the lyrics “pulsing through my vein” being a point of discussion.

The LA’s standing against the outside of a Church

Photo by Clare Muller / Pymca / Shutterstock

Though the song did not become a major hit of 1988, it received moderate commercial success in the band’s native United Kingdom. Sadly, the song’s fame was shadowed by a cover by the classic ’90s band The Parent Trap. An additional cover by SixPence None the Richer was recorded in 1999 and managed to peak at number seven on the US Adult Top 40 Chart.

Alannah Myles – “Black Velvet” (1989)

“Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell, Jimmy Rodgers on the Victrola up high…”

The hugely successful ballad “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles was released in 1989. The track pays tribute to the powerful influence that Elvis Presley had on the music industry.

Alannah Myles holding an International Music Award in 1990

Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

It was inspired by Elvis fans that were on a bus traveling to Graceland for the 10th memorial of his death, as well as his earlier years. The title was inspired by some of the dark velvet paintings of him that fans put on the walls of their homes. Upon the song’s release, “Black Velvet” reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Biz Markie – “Just a Friend” (1989)

“You, you got what I need, but you say he’s just a friend…”

Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” was so popular when it was released in 1989 that it was ranked as number 81 on VH1’s Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time. It even achieved certified platinum status (selling more than one million copies) and was Markie’s only song to reach the US Billboard Hot 100.

Biz Markie on the red carpet holding his chain out

Photo by Leon / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

In 2002, American artist Mario released his cover “Just a Friend (2002)”, which was successful in its own right. Mario’s R&B track outperformed Markie’s version, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 (while the original peaked at number nine).

Sinead O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)

“It’s been seven hours and fifteen days since you took your love away…”

Although legendary singer-songwriter Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” and produced it alongside Nellee Hooper, it was Sinead O’Connor that made it popular worldwide. The track was released in 1990 and topped the charts around the globe, holding onto the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for an impressive four weeks.

Sinead O’Connor performing circa 1987

Photo by ITV / Shutterstock

The track was well-received by critics, who believed that O’Connor’s “emotional performance” is what made the song a classic. And while O’Connor was, and still is a household name (mainly due to her controversial beliefs), “Nothing Compares 2 U” is her only Top 40 hit.

Marc Cohn – “Walking in Memphis” (1991)

“Then I’m walking in Memphis, walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale…”

Marc Cohn’s breathtaking ballad “Walking in Memphis” is an autobiographic song that details his trip to Memphis that ignited his own spiritual awakening. During the trip, he attended a sermon by Reverend Al Green, visited the statue of W. C. Handy (who is also known as “the father of the blues”), and even sung with a woman playing the piano at a music venue.

Marc Cohn sitting on stage smiling while holding his guitar

Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro / Shutterstock

Despite “Walking in Memphis” reaching number 13 in the 1991 US Billboard Hot 100, Cohn was unable to achieve similar success with any subsequent songs.

Oleta Adams – “Get Here” (1991)

“If I had my way, surely you would be closer. I need you closer”

1991 was a tumultuous time for US international relations as the country began preparing to enter the Gulf War. So, for many people who had loved ones in the army, Oleta Adams’s version of “Get Here” really hit home.

Oleta Adams posing in front of a wall of purple flowers

Photo by Peter Brooker / Shutterstock

The song did exceptionally well compared with the original 1988 version by Brenda Russel. Adam’s version managed to peak at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well as the UK Singles Chart. Despite the single’s success, “Get Here” was her only Top 40 hit.

Tom Cochrane – “Life is a Highway” (1992)

“Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long!”

“Life is a Highway” is a classic song with an upbeat rock tempo released in 1992, gaining Tom Cochrane a brief window of commercial success when it climbed to an impressive sixth position on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Tom Cochrane posing in a recording studio

Photo by Canadian Press / Shutterstock

Consequently, Cochrane launched a tour of Africa, with the objective of raising awareness and funds to provide famine relief to impoverished communities. Though Cochrane never recorded another big hit, “Life Is a Highway” was so influential that it was covered by country music group by Rascal Flatts, reviving the song’s luster and entering it into the country music sphere as well as mainstream charts.

Blind Melon – “No Rain” (1992)

“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain…”

“No Rain” is considered an all-time classic. It wasn’t just the band’s amazing vocals that made the song a hit, but also the fact that it featured iconic American actress Heather DeLoach as the “Bee Girl” in the music video.

The members of Blind Melon posing together backstage at a performance

Photo by Ian Dickson / Shutterstock

It reached number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 17 on the UK Singles Chart in 1992, making it the most popular release of their career. So whatever happened to Blind Melon? Sadly, the band’s lead singer, Shannon Hoon was addicted to narcotics and died during the band’s 1995 tour.

Joan Osborne – “One of Us” (1995)

“What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?”

The underlying message of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” is that no matter how unfairly we treat each other and how imperfect each of us might be, we are all influenced by a higher power.

Joan Osborne performing while wearing a large fluffy white sweater

Photo by Hayley Madden / Shutterstock

Upon release, the song peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the UK Singles Chart and was Osborne’s biggest hit. The single also earned her three Grammy Award nominations. The song was written by Eric Bazilian, who later said it was the quickest song he ever wrote. Bazilian finished writing the song in one night so he could impress a girl.

The Tony Rich Project – “Nobody Knows” (1995)

“I pretend that I’m glad you went away, but these four walls close in more every day…”

Upon its release, “Nobody Knows” by The Tony Rich Project was destined to be a success. It dominated the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1995, peaking at number two, and also did well as an R&B crossover song. Then country musician Kevin Sharp recorded his own cover, keeping the song on the charts throughout 1996.

Tony Rich holding a Grammy Award on the red carpet in 1997

Source: Shutterstock

The song’s narrator talks about the woman he loves and how he let her get away from him. Despite pretending to have moved on, deep down, he is still crying for her and desperately waiting for the day she returns to him.

Los del Rio – “Macarena” (1995)

“Hey Macarena! Ay!”

Originally recorded by Los del Rio, “Macarena” was remixed by the Bayside Boys in 1996. The song was so popular that VH1 named Los del Rio as the greatest one-hit wonder of all time. Though the original version did not achieve much commercial success, the remix has become a party classic that is often played at weddings and sporting events.

Antonio Romero Monge and Rafael Ruiz Perdigone dancing the macarena

Photo by Muddy Ignace / DYDPPA / Shutterstock

The single managed to peak at number seven on Billboard’s All-Time Top 100, as well as number one on Billboard’s All-Time Latin Songs. The track was 1996 most successful songs, remaining on the Hot 100 chart for 60 weeks! This was the longest reign for a number one song until Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” broke the record 15 years later.

Deep Blue Something – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1996)

“And I said, “What about Breakfast at Tiffany’s?” She said, “I think I remember the film…”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something received a good reception with the youth of the ’90s, reaching the fifth spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996. In the UK, the song topped the Singles Chart and was certified platinum.

The members of Deep Blue Something posing in front of a brick wall

Photo by British Sky Broadcasting Ltd / Kerry Ghais / Shutterstock

The narrative focuses on a couple that has fallen out of love and realized they have nothing in common, apart from the fact they both love the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The band’s follow up singles never quite reached the same success as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” placing them in the one-hit-wonder category.

Meredith Brooks – “Nothing in Between” (1997)

“I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I do not feel ashamed…”

“Nothing in Between,” more famously known by its uncensored version name of “B#*@%,” was a classic cult song of the ’90s that managed to receive two Grammy Award nominations. The song rose to popularity, peaking at number two on Billboard Hot 100.

Meredith Brooks on the red carpet at the VH1 Diva Las Vegas benefit concert in 2002

Photo by Matt Baron / BEI / Shutterstock

The song was so popular that it spent 35 weeks on the chart. Unfortunately, Brooks never managed to achieve the same level of commercial success again. Recently, however, the song was revived thanks to being featured as a soundtrack in an episode of the first season of Orphan Black.

Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping” (1997)

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down!”

More commonly known by its more mainstream name “I Get Knocked Down,” Chumbawamba’s 1997 hit, officially called “Tubthumping,”  peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles Chart.

The members of Chumbawamba posing in a parking lot

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For the British band, this was their only hit in the mainstream music scene. The band actually wrote a combination of punk, folk, and dance music mixed with almost any type of genera you could imagine. While they never had another chart-topping hit, the band has an active fanbase all across Europe.

Trisha Yearwood – “How Do I Live” (1997)

“Without you, there’d be no sun in my sky, there would be no love in my life…”

Initially, Tisha Yearwood’s 1997 hit “How Do I Live” was intended to be sung by 14-year-old LeAnn Rimes, though executives feared that the song would not receive such a warm reception due to the nature of the single’s content, as well as Rimes’ age.

Trisha Yearwood performing in 2005

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So the label decided to release two versions of the song, one by Yearwood and one by Rimes. Both gained commercial success, with Yearwood’s version peaking to the 23rd position on the US Billboard Hot 100. While Yearwood is a three-time Grammy Award winner, this track is her only Top 40 hit.

Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight” (1997)

“Save tonight and fight the break of dawn, come tomorrow…”

Norwegian singer Eagle-Eye Cherry managed to have his big break and dominate the US music industry with his hit single “Save Tonight.” At least that was how it was thought to be.

Eagle Eye Cherry at the MTV Music Awards 1998

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Although the song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot and number six on the UK Singles Chart, Eagle-Eye Cherry was unable to build on his newly gained popularity. The singer gave a series of interviews on some late-night American TV shows, but his demand steadily declined afterward. To this day, “Save Tonight” remains his most successful song.

The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (1997)

“Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life…”

Unfortunately for the Verve, their hit single “Bitter Sweet Symphony” ended up laying the foundation for their inevitable split. In fact, the group was involved in a bitter lawsuit regarding the royalties of the song; that is after Rolling Stone filed a lawsuit claiming that the group had derived more content from their hit song “The Last Time” than on what was initially agreed.

Nick McCabe, Pete Salisbury, Richard Ashcroft, Simon Jones, and Simon Tong posing in front of a light wooden wall

Photo by Roger Sargent / Shutterstock

That being said, the song did exceptionally well on the UK Billboard Hot 100 and is a fan favorite in the group’s native country, the UK. It is even considered by Radio 1 listeners to be the third-greatest single of all time.

The New Radicals – “You Get What You Give” (1998)

“But when the night is falling, you cannot find the light…”

New Radicals’ debut single “You Get What You Give” was a major commercial success, having a strong standing on the Billboard Hot 100. The band managed to have another notable single before the group separated shortly after the release of their only album to date, “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too.”

The cover of New Radicals single

Source: Spotify

The song was loved by everyone from kids to older adults. The single was any band’s dream, but unfortunately, The New Radicals never experienced the same success after “You Get What You Give.” The instant pop sensation is still popular today and it has been featured on the soundtrack for TV shows such as Community and Glee.

Len – “Steal My Sunshine” (1999)

“I was lying on the grass of Sunday morning of last week, indulging in my self-defeat…”

“Steal My Sunshine” by Len is one of the most significant summer themes of the late ’90s, ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as the 33rd Best Summer Anthem of All Time. When it was released in 1990, the song managed to reach number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number eight on the UK Singles Chart.

The members of Len at the Pepsi chart show in 2000

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Unfortunately, the group’s subsequent six singles failed to have any impact on the music industry. Fun fact: The budget for the track’s music video was $100,000, but most of the money was spent on alcohol. The band bought so much that they broke their hotel’s elevator trying to get it all to their room.

Lou Bega – “Mambo No. 5” (1999)

“A little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side…”

The original version of “Mambo No. 5” was written and released by Cuban musician legend Damaso Perez Prado in 1949. However, the song did not receive mainstream attention until Lou Bega released his cover in 1999.

Lou Bega sitting on marble steps in an off-white pin stripped suit

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Despite its high ranking by Mental Floss as one of history’s most annoying and irritating songs, the track reached the number one spot in over nine different nations and number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Additionally, a cover was made by Disney, in which the names of the women were replaced with that of Disney characters.

Tal Bachman – “She’s So High” (1999)

“‘Cause she’s so high, high above me, she’s so lovely…”

One of the reasons why Tal Bachman’s “She’s So High” resonates with so many people is because it discusses the feeling of being in love with someone who is out of your league. Upon its release, the song received critical acclaim, reaching the top spot on the Adult Top 40. Additionally, the track went on to peak at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tal Bachman singing with his guitar in 1999

Photo by Shane Partridge / Shutterstock

The song has managed to maintain its relevance throughout the years and was most recently featured in a TV commercial for the Peloton stationary bike in November 2019.

Clint Black & Lisa Hartman – “When I Said I Do” (1999)

“When I said I do, I meant that I will ’til the end of all time, be faithful and true, devoted to you…”

Clint Black and Lisa Hartman, who have been married since 1991, released “When I Said I Do” in 1999, which gained international success and reached number 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Clint Black and Lisa Hartman on the red carpet circa 1990

Photo by Kip Rano / Shutterstock

The song itself dictates that no matter the adversity surrounding their world and their relationship, the two will always vow to stick together. Well, the track still rings true for the country singing couple as they are still going strong today. You go, guys!

Nine Days – “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” (2000)

“This is the story of a girl, who cried a river and drowned the whole world…”

“Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” appeared on Nine Days’ fourth studio album and gained significant commercial success, reaching the number six position on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching the top spot on the Mainstream Top 40. The tracks also reached number 83 on the UK Singles Chart.

The members of Nine Days at an outdoor event in 2002

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Although the track was catchy, Nine Days never managed to achieve similar success with their subsequent albums. The band is reportedly still together today, but the last time they released an album was in 2016. John Hampson, the lead singer, is now an English teacher practicing at Long Island High School.

Phantom Planet – “California” (2002)

“California, here we come, right back where we started from…”

Phantom Planet’s classic 2002 single “California” is most recognizable as the theme song from the hit TV show The O.C. Internationally, the track reached number nine on the UK Singles Chart.

Sam Farrar, Jacques Brauther, Jason Schwartzman, Alex Greenwald, and Darren Robinson o Phantom Planet posing in front of a roof top lookout

Photo by Bei / Shutterstock

Unfortunately, Phantom Planet never managed to capitalize on the success of “California.” Six years after the track’s release, the band announced that they were going on a hiatus, and will not be recording or playing any more live shows. But then in 2019, Phantom Planet finally reunited! Let’s see if they can produce another track of the same caliber as “California”!

The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (2003)

“Can’t explain all the feelings that you’re making me feel! My heart’s in overdrive and you’re behind the steering wheel…”

When “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” was released by The Darkness, everyone thought that the band would usher in a new age of glam rock. Unfortunately, this not exactly what happened.

Dan Hawkins, Ed Graham, Justin Hawkins, and Frankie Poullain of the band The Darkness

Photo by Hayley Madden / Shutterstock

While the song did exceptionally well in the UK and managed to reach number nine on the Billboard Alternative chart, The Darkness was never able to follow up on the track’s success. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” still remains popular and has been covered countless times throughout the years, including Taylor Swift, Hanson, and Adam Lambert.