make one turn over in grave

One-hit wonders in the United States

A one-hit wonder is a Top-40 phenomenon: the combination of artist and song that scores big in the music industry with one smash hit, but is unable to repeat the achievement with another hit. The term can refer to the artist, the song, or both together. The following were one-hit wonders in the United States.


Wayne Jancik's book The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders (Billboard Books, 1998) defines a one-hit wonder rather conservatively, as "an act that has won a position on Billboard's national, pop, Top 40 just once." He therefore includes such performers as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix solely on the basis of their Top 40 performance. In his definition of an "act", Jancik distinguishes between a solo performer and any group he or she may have performed in; thus Roger Daltrey is distinguished from The Who. He restricts his reporting time to the period from the start of the "rock-and-roll era" (defined by the author as 1 January 1955) to 31 December 1992. The latter date was picked to allow a five-year "lag time" before publication for a listed one-hit wonder to produce a second hit; this unfortunately does not allow for a longer hiatus between hits for a particular performer. For example, Lenny Kravitz is listed for "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" (No. 2, August 1991); the book therefore misses subsequent hits, such as "Fly Away", which reached #12 on the Billboard chart in 1999.

Songs by decade

Each decade of one-hit wonders has a corresponding entry:

One-hit wonders from other media

The list of Billboard's one-hit wonders is also peppered with artists better known for talents other than pop vocals:

Muppetteer Jim Henson hit the Billboard Top 40 twice: as Ernie with "Rubber Duckie" (No. 16, September 1970), and Kermit the Frog with "The Rainbow Connection" (No. 25, November 1979)

Double one-hit wonders

A number of artists have also been double one-hit wonders, having a hit both with a group and solo.

Vocalist Tony Burrows may be the most prolific "one-hit wonder" — he sang lead vocals on no less than five singular hits for five groups in the United States:

Solo one-hit wonders

A number of members of successful bands became one-hit wonders when they went solo:

Same song, different singer

Some songs have been solitary hits for different acts, in some cases almost simultaneously on the charts, due to an artist or label trying to "cash in" on the popularity of a particular song. In other cases, a song may be rerecorded as a cover much later, providing a second artist with the same solo hit.

See also


  • Jancik, Wayne (1998). The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7622-9
  • Whitburn, Joel (2000). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7690-3


External links

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