Top Ten Artists Often Incorrectly Labelled As One Hit Wonders

Martin_Canine
A one hit wonder is an artist with only one very successful song (often it also refers to the song itself). The only hit of such a one hit wonder is usually one of the most successful and best known of the year, but they fail to release anything that can keep up with this amount of sales afterwards. Sometimes, the hit grows to become an all time favorite with lots of airplay for decades to come, even though people forget who it’s by.

The reasons for this phenomenon can be widely different. Sometimes, the artist’s other songs don’t have the same quality or have a musical style that's so different fans of the hit song aren’t into them. In other cases only one of their songs is radio friendly and has mainstream hit potential, while the others are more experimental. Or the artist simply released too little or no other material.

However, every once in a while, artists who had several top ten hits, or maybe even a couple of chart toppers, are called one hit wonders as well. How can such a thing happen?

In most cases, it depends on where you live. Artists who had many successful songs in one nation and even rise to major stardom there, might only have one song that’s huge elsewhere. Another explanation is that as the years pass, only one of their songs is remembered by the public (their biggest hit, their first hit, a contribution to the soundtrack of a famous movie, etc.), while the rest fades into obscurity.

Let’s look at some cases where this happened.

The Top Ten

1 Falco Falco Johann "Hans" Hölzel, better known by his stage name Falco, was an Austrian singer, songwriter and rapper.

Austrian musician Falco had a huge international hit with "Rock Me Amadeus", which is likely tied to the success of the Oscar winning biopic "Amadeus" (although it wasn't related in any way).

At that time, he was already a superstar in German language Europe and had one hit in a few other European countries with "Der Kommissar". In Austria, his status only grew from then on, although he wasn't uncontroversial, especially regarding his drug consume. After his death, he became legendary and was seen as a musical genius, and posthumous songs became very popular as well.

Internationally, "Rock Me Amadeus" remained by far his hugest success and with only a few minor exceptions, people weren't that interested in his other (even better) music. - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“Rock Me Amadeus” (1985) (number 1 in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, UK and US, top ten hit in the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland)

Other hits:
“Der Kommissar” (1981) (number 1 in Austria and Germany, top ten hit in New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland)
“Maschine brennt” (1982) (top ten hit in Austria and Germany)
“Junge Römer” (1984) (top ten hit in Austria)
“Vienna Calling” (1985) (top ten hit in Austria, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and UK)
“Jeanny” (1985) (number 1 in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland, top ten hit in Sweden)
“The Sound of Musik” (1986) (top ten hit in Austria and Germany)
“Coming Home” (1986) (number 1 in Germany, top ten hit in Austria, Norway and Switzerland)
“Body Next To Body” (1987) (top ten hit in Austria)
“Wiener Blut” (1988) (top ten hit in Austria and Germany)
“Titanic” (1992) ...more - Martin_Canine

2 Nena Nena Gabriele Susanne Kerner, better known by her stage name Nena, is a German singer-songwriter born on March 24, 1960 in Hagen. ...read more.

What Germany and the rest of the world have in common regarding Nena is that they don't really know (or care) about the meaning of her big hit "99 Luftballons" about being a commentary on the political paranoia of the cold war. People chant along it without actively knowing the words.

The difference is that Nena, much like Madonna, had a very long lasting career in German language territory and the Netherlands by having adapted new styles and setting new trends. In the 80s, she was the leading figure of the Neue Deutsche Welle genre, the most important musical movement of German music. After disappointing sales in the 90s, she had a glorious renaissance in the 21st century, with a new, more modern outfit and a more casual singing style. She's been an essential part of pop culture since with numerous well known songs.

However, she's still seen as a pne hit wonder internationally. - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“99 Luftballons” (1983) (number 1 in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Sweden, top ten hit in Norway and the US; English version “99 Red Balloons” number 1 in Canada and UK)

Other hits:
“Nur geträumt” (1982) (top ten hit in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland)
“Leuchtturm” (1983) (top ten hit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland)
“? (Fragezeichen)” (1983) (number 1 in Switzerland, top ten hit in Germany and Austria)
“Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann” (1984) (top ten hit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland)
“Feuer und Flamme” (1985) (top ten hit in Germany)
“Leuchtturm (New Version)” (2003) (top ten hit in Germany)
“Wunder gescheh’n (New Version)” (2003) (top ten hit in Germany)
“Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime (New Version)” (2003) (number 1 in Austria and the Netherlands, top ten hit in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland)
“Liebe ist” ...more - Martin_Canine

3 Eagles Eagles The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner.

I agree it is absurd to describe one of the most successful music artists ever as a one hit wonder. However I think it could make sense to have a description of an artist as a one hit wonder in a particular territory for example in parts of Europe the Eagles are a one hit wonder. I also think the size of the biggest hit is an important factor in whether an artist is viewed as a one hit wonder Carly Rae Jepsen for example has a hit at number 8 in the US but is often none the less called a one hit wonder as Call Me Maybe was such a massive hit (1 and one of the biggest hits of the decade) whereas say M.I.A with a number 4 and a number 10 hit would be less likely to be thought of as such.

Often, it's European artists who have success on their continent without making it big in America, but this time it's the other way around.

While the Eagles are among the best known bands in the USA and Canada (their greatest hits album surpassed Michaek Jackson's "Thriller" as the best selling album of all time in the US), they never really broke through in Europe, except for one song: "Hotel California". In Austria for example, said track is their only charting song, peaking at number 13. Over the years, it became a radio favorite with tons of airplay, but none of their other tunes were noticed. Of course, they aren't one hit wonders either as they had quite some other hits in America, including a couple of chart toppers, but still, several Europeans would incorrectly call them just that. - Martin_Canine

I agree it is absurd to label one of the most successful bands of all time as a one hit wonder however do you think that a music artist can be considered a one hit wonder in a particular context for example saying that the Eagles are “a one hit wonder In Europe”? Another point of interest is whether it matters how big the hit is for example Carly Rae Jepsen is frequently called a one hit wonder in the US although her second most popular song reached number 8 on the charts there I suspect if Call Me Maybe had been say a number 4 hit rather than one of the biggest hits of the decade in the US she would not be called this.

Presumed only hit:
“Hotel California” (1977) (number 1 in the US and Canada, top ten hit in France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and UK)

Other hits:
“Take It Easy” (1972) (top ten hit in Canada)
“Witchy Woman” (1972) (top ten hit in Canada and the US)
“Best of My Love” (1974) (number 1 in the US and Canada)
“One of These Nights” (1975) (number 1 in the US, top ten hit in Belgium, the Netherlands and New Zealand)
“Lyin’ Eyes” (1975) (top ten hit in the US, Ireland and New Zealand)
“Take It To The Limit” (1975) (top ten hit in the US and Canada)
“New Kid in Town” (1976) (number 1 in the US and Canada, top ten hit in New Zealand and Norway)
“Heartache Tonight” (1979) (number 1 in the US and Canada, top ten hit in Ireland and New Zealand)
“The Long Run” (1979) (top ten hit in the US and Canada)
“I Can’t Tell You Why” (1980) (top ten hit in the US and ...more - Martin_Canine

4 A-ha A-ha A-ha is a Norwegian band formed in Oslo in 1982. The band was founded by Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy.

I have seen this band on lists about one hit wonders more often than any other on here. At the same time, they arguably had the most and biggest hits of all. In their home country Norway, the UK and Ireland, their songs regularly reached very high chart positions including top spots, and individual tracks were also major hits in other markets.

"Take on Me" of course is a standout track, not only being the best selling song of all and having topped the US charts, but also having had an impact on pop culture with its legendary music video. But it is far from being their only hit. - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“Take On Me” (1985) (number 1 in Norway, Australia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and US, top ten hit in France, Ireland and UK)

Other hits:
“The Sun Always Shines on Me” (1985) (number 1 in Ireland and UK, top ten hit in Norway, Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland)
“Train of Thought” (1986) (number 1 in Norway, top ten hit in Ireland and UK)
“Hunting High and Low” (1986) (top ten hit in Norway, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and UK)
“I’ve Been Losing You” (1986) (number 1 in Norway, top ten hit in Ireland and UK)
“Cry Wolf” (1986) (top ten hit in Norway, Ireland and UK)
“Manhattan Skyline” (1987) (top ten hit in Norway and Ireland)
“The Living Daylights” (1987) (number 1 in Norway, top ten hit in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and UK)
“Stay on These Roads” (1988) (number 1 in Norway, top ten hit in France, Germany, ...more - Martin_Canine

5 Rednex Rednex

The Swedish country dance band Rednex were a huge thing in the 90s. Having combined banjos, fiddles and stomping rhythms, they were a major pop sensation from the 90s to early 2000s. Their signature song was "Cotton Eye Joe", which was a number one hit in many European nations, and was a moderate success in the US, peaking at number 25. However, after that, they still had considerable success in individual other European countries. In Austria, for example, "Cotton Eye Joe" wasn't even their biggest hit, the dramatic ballad "Wish You Were Here" and the uptempo country novelty song "Old Pop in an Oak" were both even more popular (and that's an understatement, they were the two best selling songs of 1995 over here), and the Native American inspired "The Spirit of the Hawk" that even has a certain anti-war message and a spectacular music video was a best seller too. In Sweden, their career was even longer, and they had a number one hit far in the late 2000s with "Football is Our Religion". - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“Cotton Eye Joe” (1994) (number 1 in Sweden, Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and UK, top ten hit in Ireland)

Other hits:

“Old Pop in an Oak” (1994) (number 1 in Sweden, Austria, Finland and Norway, top ten hit in Germany and Switzerland)
“Wish You Were Here” (1995) (number 1 in Austria, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, top ten hit in Sweden and Finland)
“The Way I Mate” (1999) (top ten hit in Sweden)
“The Spirit of the Hawk” (2000) (number 1 in Austria and Germany, top ten hit in Sweden and Switzerland)
“Mama, Take Me Home” (2006) (top ten hit in Sweden)
“Fe Fi (The Old Man Died)” (2006) (top ten hit in Sweden)
“Anyway You Want Me” (2007) (top ten hit in Sweden)
“Looking For a Star” (2007) (top ten hit in Sweden)
“Football is Our Religion” (2008) (number 1 in Sweden) - Martin_Canine

6 Soft Cell Soft Cell Soft Cell are an English synthpop duo who came to prominence in the early 1980s, consisting of vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball.

Everyone knows "Tainted Love". Originally sung by Gloria Jones in 1964, Soft Cell's 80s rendition became the definitive version of the track that is first associated with it, which also provided the basis for a successful Marilyn Manson cover and a sample for Rihanna's famous hit "SOS".

However, that's not all the duo has to offer. In the UK and Ireland, they had a selection of other highly charting songs, and they even had a major success and spectacular comeback in 2018 with "Northern Lights". - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“Tainted Love” (1981) (number 1 in UK, Australia, Belgium, France and Germany, top ten hit in Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and US)

Other hits:
“Bedsitter” (1981) (top ten hit in UK, France and Ireland)
“Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” (1982) (top ten hit in UK)
“Torch” (1982) (top ten hit in UK, Belgium and Ireland)
“What! ” (1982) (top ten hit in UK, France and Ireland)
“Tainted Love ‘91” (1991) (top ten hit in UK and Ireland)
“Northern Lights (2018) (top ten hit in UK) - Martin_Canine

7 Bloodhound Gang Bloodhound Gang The Bloodhound Gang is an American rock and pop band currently consisting of Jimmy Pop (vocals, guitar), "Evil Jared" Hasselhoff (bass), Q-Ball (DJ, keyboards, synthesizers, producer), The Yin (percussion) and Daniel P. Carter (guitar) that formed in 1988. ...read more.

Admittedly, the Bloodhound Gang never had the amount of hit singles any of the other artists on this list has. But there was a certain time span when they were household names, which was for more than one song. "The Bad Touch" was undeniably the biggest hit of the decidedly tasteless group, and is still a huge radio favorite, but apart from that, they had at least four big hits that at that time everyone knew in the countries there were successful in. - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“The Bad Touch” (1999) (number 1 in Germany and Sweden, top ten hit in Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland and UK)

Other hits:
“Fire Water Burn” (1997) (top ten hit in the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland)
“Along Comes Mary” (1999) (top ten hit in Austria and Germany)
“Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo” (2005) (top ten hit in Austria)
“Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss” (2005) (top ten hit in Austria) - Martin_Canine

8 James Blunt James Blunt James Hillier Blount, better known by his stage name James Blunt, is an English singer-songwriter, record producer and former British Army Officer.

The British crooner James Blunt had a massive hit in 2005 when "You're Beautiful" was released, a song that was everywhere. Literally. It was inescapable, and that all around the globe. It was also a chart topper in the US. After that, Blunt vanished from the American charts, and that of some other countries as well. Nevertheless, in a bunch of European countries, he became an A-list celebrity and one of the flremost popstars of his generation - next to UK, that is the entire German language territory, where he had other number one hits, some of which were much bigger than "You're Beautiful". - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“You’re Beautiful” (2005) (number 1 in UK, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and US, top ten hit in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and Switzerland)

Other hits:
“High” (2005) (top ten hit in Brazil and Italy)
“Goodbye My Lover” (2005) (number 1 in Sweden, top ten hit in UK, Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway)
“Wiseman” (2005) (number 1 in Belgium and Czech Republic, top ten hit in the Netherlands)
“1973” (2007) (number 1 in Austria, Belgium, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey and Venezuela, top ten hit in UK, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden)
“Je realisé” (2008) (top ten hit in France)
“Primavera in Anticipo (It Is My Song)” (2009) (number 1 in Austria, top ten hit in Switzerland)
“Stay ...more - Martin_Canine

9 Eiffel 65 Eiffel 65

"Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by the Italian pop group Eiffel 65 infamously was one of the first very successful songs to make notable use of the autotune effect. It was used far more excessively than on Cher's "Believe", making the vocals very artificial. Which made it so appealing, because it brought in something new.

In the USA, that was it. But afterwards, they had another blockbuster with "Move Your Body", which was almost as huge in many countries. The immense success of this song alone would be enough to disqualify them as one hit wonders, but they also had a handful of other tracks that sold really well, especially in their home country of Italy. - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“Blue (Da Ba Dee)” (1998) (number 1 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and UK, top ten hit in Italy, Iceland, Spain and US)

Other hits:
“Too Much of Heaven” (1999) (number 1 in Italy, top ten hit in France, Greece and Romania)
“Move Your Body” (1999) (number 1 in Italy, Austria, Denmark and France, top ten hit in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK)
“80s Star” (2002) (top ten hit in Italy)
“Losing You” (2002) (top ten hit in Canada)
“Quelli che non hanno età” (2003) (top ten hit in Italy)
“Una notte e forse mai più” (2003) (top ten hit in Italy) - Martin_Canine

10 Psy Psy Park Jae-sang, better known by his stage name Psy, stylized PSY, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, record producer and rapper.

Psy's "Gangnam Style" not only went viral in 2012 (several songs did that before and after), it was a cultural phenomenon all around the globe like there hasn't been one in forever. It also announced a time in which everyone even from parts of the world that aren't known for landing international hits now have the chance to do so. Love it or hate it, its impact can't be played down.

But behold! That's not all Psy has to offer. Right afterwards, he had another internationally recognized hit with "Gentleman", which was a worldwide top ten success, too. It however didn't leave such a legacy and then vanished into obscurity. But even without that song, Psy's career in his home country of South Korea couldn't look more impressive: a large number of top ten hits even multiple chart toppers over a time span of more than 15 years is quite astounding. - Martin_Canine

Presumed only hit:
“Gangnam Style” (2012) (number 1 in South Korea, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland and UK, top ten hit in Colombia, Hungary, Ireland, Slovakia, Sweden and USA)

Other hits:
“Bird” (2001) (number 1 in South Korea)
“The End” (2001) (number 1 in South Korea)
“Champion” (2002) (number 1 in South Korea)
“Paradise” (2002) (top ten hit in South Korea)
“Delight” (2005) (top ten hit in South Korea)
“We are the One” (2006) (top ten hit in South Korea)
“Entertainer” (2006) (number 1 in South Korea)
“Right Now” (2010) (top ten hit in South Korea)
“Shake It” (2011) (top ten hit in South Korea)
“Blue Frog” (2012) (top ten hit in South Korea)
“Passionate Goodbye” (2012) ...more - Martin_Canine

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