By Pia Cabrera
Over the years, many artists have released a single track that launches them to international fame , only to disappear into darkness, never to be heard from again. They’re called One Hit Wonders. They sing the songs from your past, the ones you can’t help but sing along to when you hear them on the radio, and you briefly wonder why the artist’s career suddenly stopped.
There are numerous One Hit Wonders from the 80’s, 90’s and today. Let’s rewind and take a look at some of the more popular artists to fall into this category.
The 80’s – they were famous for artists like Madonna, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson, and more. But among these success stories, some of which are still going strong today, are those artists and bands that produced but one hit and then faded into oblivion, leaving us with lyrics that are forever etched into our memories.
Some of the more famous of these artists and bands include:
Cutting Crew – (I Just) Died In Your Arms
Released in 1986, this passionate and driven song was the band’s biggest hit, reaching #1 in the United States and parts of Europe.
a-ha – Take On Me
Released in 1985, this catchy pop song reached the top position of the Billboard Hot 100. With its fun keyboard and upbeat drums, it was hard not to love this song. And its unique black and white cartoon-like music video helped to push it over the top.
Lipps Inc – Funkytown
You might have heard this song in some of your favorite shows and movies, from Shrek, Alvin and the Chipmunks, to even an episode of Friends. It’s no surprise that everyone knows this popular disco song. It spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1980’s.
The 1990’s brought us plenty of superstars in the form of bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and artists like Britney Spears and Alanis Morrissette. But once again, among them were the artists that brought us ONE hit and made it a good one! Some of the more popular include:
Lou Bega – Mambo No.5
Who didn’t love this Lou Bega hit called“Mambo No.5? The upbeat song was made for dancing and singing along with the chorus, making it to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Len – Steal My Sunshine
Straight out of Canada, this brother-sister duo will forever be remembered for their happy and playful #1 hit.
Hanson – MMMBop
These three brothers were teen pop sensations; they ruled the airwaves in 1997. The song had a chorus that you just couldn’t shake no matter how hard you tried, making it reach#1 in 27 countries. Till this day, Hanson has a huge fan base.
The early 2000’s had many bands and rising pop stars on the scene, all trying to make their mark on the music world. But as hard as they tried to make it to the top, some ended their careers after just one hit. It begs the question, “Why is it so hard for artists to continue creating good music after their first single becomes a big hit?
Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen is a perfect example of an artist who is trying to avoid being a One Hit Wonder. After the worldwide success of her pop song “Call Me Maybe” which sat on many pop charts in the #1 position for what seemed like the entire summer of 2012, she since has had difficulty in obtaining the same level of success for her follow-up singles. No doubt she has released some catchy tracks like “Good Time” and “This Kiss” but they haven’t been met with quite the same enthusiasm from fans.
It would seem there is too pressure from fans and the music industry after scoring so high on the charts with a first single. Thankfully for Jepson, she recently signed with Justin Bieber under his manager Scooter Braun’s School Boy Records label and released her new track “I Really Like You”. For sure the song is catchy and the accompanying music video gets a lot of mileage thanks to actor Tom Hanks playing the lead role, while dancing and lip syncing throughout.
But not all artists can rebound in such a way, which is why they become One Hit Wonders. As for the question ‘what happens to them’, some go on to work behind the scenes in the industry, helping to write or produce songs for other artists. Sadly, most go back to living a normal life with normal, everyday jobs. But no matter where they go, they can rest assured they’ve left us with songs that will be revived at every high school reunion, and at every wedding and celebration, because they’re the songs we will never forget.