Toronto Mike

One-Hit Wondering

I spent some time heading down the one-hit wonder rabbit hold this morning. It all started with this interesting article about the death of one-hit wonders.

Since 1958, Billboard has released a weekly “Hot 100,” which ranks the “most popular songs across all genres.” Over the years, their ranking methodology has changed to reflect how people consume music; currently, it is measured by radio plays, sales and “streaming activity.”
We took this data and analyzed it for the number of Billboard Hot 100 songs in a given year by artists that never appeared in the Hot 100 again. In the chart below, each point represents the number of one-hit wonders in a given year. (It’s worth mentioning that the counts from 1965 to 1970 may be slightly inflated because these early one-hit wonders might have had a hit prior to the establishment of the Hot 100.)

I once wrote about our need for a standard to define one-hit wonders. The criteria criterion used in this article is an artist who appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 once, but never again. That's fine, but it's resulted in some rather questionable data.

For example, here's what their analysis has determined to be the top 50 one-hit wonders of all-time.


Where do I begin...

  • There's no way the Righteous Brothers are one-hit wonders. In fact, they had two massive hits with "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Loving Feeling".
  • Moby's in there. That doesn't make sense unless it's because of how that song was credited as Moby featuring Gwen Stefani.
  • Same goes for Evanescence. They had a few other hits, so this must have to do with how the song was credited.
  • Tubthumping was a great single, wasn't it?

Fun article, though. I'm going to spin some Chumbawamba now...

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