We Need a Standard for One-Hit Wonders

We Need a Standard for One-Hit WondersI've been playing a lot of SongPop lately. It's an app where you essentially name that tune from a variety of genres and categories and compete against others. One category is called "One-Hit Wonders" and the songs listed there are often from artists that I believe had multiple hits.

That's the problem with One-Hit Wonders. There really is no standard, so who's to say who's a true One-Hit Wonder? For example, if a song has to crack the Billboard Top 40 to be a hit, Jimi Hendrix is a One-Hit Wonder. Only "All Along the Watchtower" cracked the top 40. "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary", "Hey Joe" and "Fire" all failed to crack the top 40. But would anyone consider Jimi Hendrix a One-Hit Wonder? Hell no!

Is Tom Cochrane a One-Hit Wonder? He is according to SongPop, likely because only "Life is a Highway" hit the American charts. And this is the problem.... "One Hit Wonder" is far too broad a term. We can't continue to live this way.

I'm open to suggestions as we attempt to standardize this category of music. We need Nena in there, but not Weezer. That's right, Weezer only has one song that cracked the Top 40 Billboard charts. And that one song is "Beverly Hills", believe it or not.

By the way, if you play SongPop, please challenge tormike. See you on the battlefield.

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New SongPop addict here, it's fun. What's your "go-to" era?

August 18, 2012 @ 11:42 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


In your 80s challenge, I missed my first guess b/c my finger aim was bad. True story... I'll bounce back. :)

I'm very good at 90s alternative, classic rock and classic rap. I'm pretty good at 80s and one hit wonders.

Someone challenged me with Electronica and I sucked. I'm also awful at New Country.

August 18, 2012 @ 11:45 AM


Aerosmith is a great example. Their only #1 hit is "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." I know you love Aerosmith too Mike.

August 18, 2012 @ 1:15 PM


Must be the old CFNY in me. I have always considered one hit wonders, never needed to crack the charts - they were awesome songs that became rare, due to limited release on vinyl......Scary Thieves, Endgames, Johnny Warman and so on. What even became rarer were special 12" remixes and b-sides. Then spending countless hours scouring the used record stores in search of these gems. In today's internet/ electronic age of instant access to digital files....That is now gone. I guess by today's (my) standards I will have to covet that Vanessa Carlton CD and hope it gets deleted from the record labels catalog....but I'd still rather listen to Pukka Orchestra or The Diodes.

August 18, 2012 @ 2:55 PM


I'm a 70's person & many 1 hit wonders. Many were great songs but unfortunately couldn't do anything more.

Case in point Blues Image.
Anybody remember them with 1 of my top 5 songs of all time?

August 18, 2012 @ 3:11 PM


Thanks for introducing me to this game! Although...I may never work another day in my life...

August 18, 2012 @ 4:10 PM

Blind Dave

CLASSIC rap?????????

Oh God, we truly have hit an all-time low.

August 18, 2012 @ 4:29 PM

Handsome Rob

New favorite ap. thanks Mike. :)

August 18, 2012 @ 5:31 PM


I think the standard should be a song that the average person would recognize (as a hit), and then maybe 2 of 3 (or 1 of 2) other conditions/criteria must apply.
Example: Band name can't be recalled. No other song title by band can be recalled. No second album by band.

Mr. Love, by Vehicle would be one of my standard one-hit wonders.

August 18, 2012 @ 7:58 PM


How about In the Year 25 25 by Zager and Evans from 1969.

August 18, 2012 @ 9:25 PM

Blind Dave


That one would qualify for me. I remember the song, but didn't remember the artist, and know of nothing else they've done.

Although I think Denny Zager has done well for himself. He has his own line of guitars on the market.

August 19, 2012 @ 2:49 PM


Every Mothers Son?

What song? 1 of the best for 1967.

August 19, 2012 @ 6:44 PM


Yes, In the Year 25 25 was a great song. I found it on Itunes.

August 19, 2012 @ 8:36 PM


Formidable SongPop opponent there Mike! Intense!

August 19, 2012 @ 10:11 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Yes, some good SongPop battles. You're a much tougher opponent than Elvis, who I'm getting tired of destroying.

I'm unplugging now for a few days, but we'll battle again when I'm back.

August 19, 2012 @ 10:37 PM


It's true.

August 20, 2012 @ 10:42 AM

Handsome Rob

Im quite impressed too Mike, even when Ive had a decent game you still manage to best my score. :(
RJB72 for anyone else playing.

August 20, 2012 @ 12:21 PM

Mississauga Phil

I think the standard for one hit wonder is when 99% of people only identify 1 song with the band (quick name a chumbawumba song besides tubthumpping...)

Your example of Hendrix is a good one, although he only had 1 top 40 hit, people identify many different songs with him. If you were to get 10 people together and said "name a Hendrix song" you'd get probably 3 or four different answers.

August 21, 2012 @ 8:06 AM


Dancing in the moonlight by King Harvest is a one hit wonder that everyone loves.

August 21, 2012 @ 11:40 AM

Mike from Lowville

I figure a song that makes air play and thats the groups only song that does, ever. Hence one-hit-wonder.

August 21, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

519 Rob

This is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I LOVE the Rheostatics, but, they have 1 'hit' (Claire).
But, if you are a fan of the Rheos, you know what an incredible catalogue of music they have (ANYTHING off of Whale Music is brilliant).

My other beef is with Blind Melon. Their second album, Soup, is a gem. If you've never heard it, please go pick it up.
But, most people know them for that annoying ear-worm song, No Rain. Sadly, they also get listed as a One-Hit wonder. And perhaps that is a fair assessment (using the test of asking 10 people to name a Blind Melon song, I think you'd get 10 answers of No Rain).
However, their catalogue (as brief as it was) is quite good.

By the way, for songpop fans, I am rob.brown and then a bunch of numbers...I'll be challenging you Mike, and anyone else who threw their handles up here.

August 27, 2012 @ 9:56 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@519 Rob

Blind Melon is a good example. When it comes to "local radio hits", they had a few. By the way, it might surprise you to learn I'm a Soup guy: http://www.torontomike.com/2005/03/a_backwards_appreciation_for_s.html

On SongPop, they have Tom Cochrane and Allanah Myles as one hit wonders. Both had multiple hits here in Canada. The Rheostatics is a great example... Record Body Count got plenty of airplay, but you can't deny "Claire" is their only "hit".

And while we're on the topic, Falco recorded Der Kommissar well before Rock Me Amadeus.

August 27, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

Ward And Al

On on upcoming edition of our new show (soon to be heard on Humble and Fred Radio), we interview Glass Tiger.

Saw them listed as "One Hit Wonder" in a CD store the other day. Several hits under their belts, including two that were Top 20 (One was #1) in The States. HARDLY one-hit wonder territory.

Saw the same thing with Thomas Dolby one day. And ABC. Seems some people just love to put that moniker on acts from the 80s without doing any research.

And then, if the artist is a critical darling, they will shun the same moniker. Edie Brickell was a 1-hit wonder, and yet you won't find a critic who wants to call her that.

Rule of thumb: If the critics love the artist, they won't dare point out the single hit.

August 28, 2012 @ 2:00 PM

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