Adorable reached #29 on the Billboard alternative chart in 1992 with their song "Sunshine Smile". Like other bands in the Shoegazing subgenre, Adorable had disbanded only a few short years later, and never charted again anywhere else after their only hit.
AFI have had numerous hits on alternative radio and are hardly considered one-hit wonders. However, their sole Top 40 hit was 2006's "Miss Murder", which peaked at #24. Their only other charting single was its direct follow-up "Love Like Winter", which fizzled out at #68.
Blaqk Audio, a darkwave/synthpop side-project of AFI singer Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget, scored a #20 alternative hit in 2007 with their debut single "Stiff Kittens". Although Blaqk Audio released two more albums after that, none of their singles came anywhere close to a Billboard chart.
Alabama 3 are known almost exclusively for "Woke up this Morning", the theme to The Sopranos. The song reached #11 on the Billboard adult alternative chart and #34 on the Adult Top 40 chart in 2000. It was the band's only chart entry in the United States. They only made the Top 40 once in their native UK, but it wasn't with "Woke Up This Morning" (which only reached #78); Their one hit there was "Ain't Goin' to Goa", a #40 entry in 1998.
The Ataris had a major hit in 2003 with a cover of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer". While they had a couple of other songs reach the alternative rock charts, nothing else has come close to the success of their cover.
AWOLNATION had a huge hit with "Sail" in 2013. The song's mix of alternative, synthpop, noise rock and industrial became a completely unexpected crossover hit in an era where pop, dance, and hip-hop rules the airwaves. The song took several years to become a hit, first being released in 2010, not charting on the Hot 100 until the next year, and finally reaching a peak of #17 in October 2013. It actually held the record for the longest time spent on the Billboard Hot 100, with a total of 79 weeks spent on the chart, until it was broken by the 87-week run of Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (which was also an unexpected crossover hit, albeit less Genre-Busting). It's also their only song to enter the Hot 100. Their song "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)" actually outpeaked "Sail" on the alternative charts, going all the way to #1 in 2015, but it's barely remembered compared to the cross-genre smash that "Sail" was.
Banks has garnered a large following but her only success on the radio was 2014's "Beggin for Thread", a #11 hit on alternative. She has yet to even touch the bottom of the chart again.
Belly, (no relation to the Canadian rapper of the same name, who is listed on the rap page), who were fronted by former Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donnelly, topped the alternative chart in 1993 with their single "Feed the Tree", which also cracked the Hot 100 at #95 and made it into rotation on some Top 40 stations. Despite a couple other alternative hits, "Feed the Tree" was the only time the band crossed over into the mainstream.
Billy Talent are one of the most popular and best-selling rock bands in their native Canada, with a string of platinum records and hit singles. Across the border in the United States, they are nowhere near as popular, and their only chart entry in that country was with their debut single "Try Honesty", which reached #24 on the alternative chart in 2003. Even there, "Try Honestly" is nowhere near as well known as their later song "Red Flag" due to its use in various video games.
blink-182 was one of the biggest bands in the world in the late '90s/early '00s, but technically they only had one crossover hit: "All the Small Things", which peaked at #6 in 2000. A later single, "I Miss You", fell just short of the Top 40 at #42. While "Things" is still their best known song overall, they've had numerous hits on alternative radio and many would be surprised to learn that they're, technically, one-hit wonders. Additionally, several of their side projects proved to be one-hit wonders in their own right, even though they never had a crossover hit with them:
Box Car Racer, an emo-oriented side-project of Blink members Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker, scored a #8 alternative hit in 2002 with their debut single "I Feel So". Their follow-up "There Is" only made it to #32 and didn't have the saying power "I Feel So" did. The band never released another album.
+44, which Barker and Mark Hoppus formed after Blink split in 2005, scored a #89 Hot 100 and #14 alternative hit in 2006 with their debut single "When Your Heart Stops Beating". +44 also only released one album, and "Heart" was their only charting single.
Angels & Airwaves, a space rock band led by DeLonge, had a #55 Hot 100 and #20 UK entry with their 2006 debut single "The Adventure". The band went on to have five more entries on the alternative chart, but never made the Hot 100 or the Top 40 in the UK again.
Blue October's only mainstream hit was the tear-jerking "Hate Me", a #31 Hot 100 hit in 2006. Although they never made the Top 40 of the pop charts again, they managed two more big hits on the adult contemporary chart ("Into the Ocean" and a remix of their earlier single "Calling You") and one more Top 10 on the alternative chart ("Dirt Room"). They would later Lampshade their one-hit wonder status on their 2011 song "Any Man In America."
Tracy Bonham had a #1 alternative hit in 1996 with "Mother Mother". Her follow-up single, "The One", only went to #23 and she never charted again. Incidentally, "Mother Mother" would be the last song by a female solo artist to top the alternative chart for 17 years, the next one being Lorde's "Royals" in 2013. In fact, Lorde wasnt even born until about a few months after Mother Mother fell off the charts.
Candlebox had their only Top 40 hit with 1994's "Far Behind", which made it to #18 on the Hot 100. While the Seattle band had several Top 20 rock hits, their only other Hot 100 entry was "You", "Far Behind"'s followup single, which only got as high as #78.
Indie pop duo Capital Cities had a massive crossover hit with "Safe and Sound" in 2011, which received airplay on alt rock, Top 40 and adult contemporary stations all at the same time, charting at #2 on the Billboard Adult Top 40, Mainstream Top 40 and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts at the same time and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100; and being certified 6× Platinum by the RIAA. Their next single, "Kangaroo Court", missed the Hot 100 completely and they've since faded into obscurity.
Swedish band The Cardigans had a massive hit stateside with their deceptivesilly love song "Lovefool", which hit #2 on the Hot 100 airplay charts (it didn't touch the Hot 100 proper due to the lack of a physical single release) and #9 on the modern rock charts. That was also their only entry on any American pop chart. However, they had a modest #16 hit on modern rock with "My Favourite Game" (which also earns recognition through Gran Turismo and a controversial video), but that was exactly where their stateside success ended. That said, they've managed to maintain consistent success in their native Sweden.
Caviar scored a #28 alternative hit with their 2000 single "Tangerine Speedo", which appeared on the soundtrack for that year's Charlie's Angels movie. Although their longue-influenced sound set them apart from other radio rock bands of the day, none of their other songs caught on and they wound up getting dropped from their label shortly thereafter.
Chumbawamba: They had only one international hit, "Tubthumping," which sounds nothing like their other songs (they started out in The '80s with anarcho-punk and went poppier as time went on). The song itself is actually supposed to be totally meaningless to anyone who isn't British—it's about Old Labour post-Tony Blair. That's right.
The band even went as far as to lampshade the commercial success of "Tubthumping" when the lead singer wore a T-Shirt reading "ONE HIT WONDER" when the band were musical guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Citizen King are only known for their 1999 hit, "Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)". Apparently, people assumed it was the newSublime song (Brad Nowell was long dead at the time of its release). The song was a #25 Hot 100 hit, a #5 alternative hit, and reached the Top 20 in Canada. It was also their only chart entry anywhere. After the band split up, singer Mount Sims moved to Germany, became a DJ, and collaborated with The Knife on their 2010 album Tomorrow, In a Year. Bass guitarist Dave Cooley, meanwhile, went on to have a long career as a record producer and mastering engineer for artists like Silversun Pickups and M83.
Coin, a rock band made up of Belmont University alumni from Nashville, had a hit song in 2016 with "Talk Too Much". It reached #8 on the alternative charts, but that was it for them. They are set to go on tour with 5 Seconds of Summer in 2021, after the coronavirus pandemic pushed back their original planned tour dates.
Crash Kings had a #1 rock hit in 2010 with "Mountain Man", a follow-up that stalled at #18, and, after that, nothing.
The Downtown Fiction have only managed one well-known song, "I Just Wanna Run".
Deadeye Dick scored a #27 pop hit in 1994 with their novelty tune "New Age Girl" from the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack. It was their only entry on any chart; Despite being by an alt-rock band, the song never made the Billboard alternative chart and neither did any of their other singles.
Death From Above 1979 was a short lived Canadian rock duo who released one album before splitting in 2005. They reunited nearly a decade later, where they scored a rock hit below the border with "Trainwreck 1979", inspired by the November 1979 train disaster in Mississauga, Ontario. Unfortunately, that's where the success stopped. What's more, they're much better remembered for their 2004 song "Romantic Rights" — which didn't chart, but became well known through its use in popular culture — than for "Trainwreck 1979".
Deep Blue Something: Their 1995 song "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was their major hit, reaching #5 in their native United States and going all the way to #1 in the UK. They managed a second semi-hit in the UK with "Josey" (it made it to #27), but even there are mainly remembered only for the former.
Dishwalla made it to #1 on the Modern Rock Chart and #15 on the Hot 100 with "Counting Blue Cars" in 1995. The band scored two very minor rock chart entries thereafter, and largely disappeared aside from a 1999 episode of Charmed where they guest star and play a major role in the plot.
Everclear were popular with rock audiences, but their only Top 40 hit was with "Wonderful", which sounded considerably lighter than their usual material. Their singles "Santa Monica" and "I Will Buy You a New Life" went Top 40 on the airplay chart, but neither of them had a physical single release and were therefore ineligible for the Hot 100. Unfortunately, even on rock radio they never had much success after "Wonderful", only getting a couple more Top 20 hits on the modern and mainstream rock charts before fading into obscurity.
Denver rap-rock group Flobots scored a #37 hit in the US and a #14 hit in the UK with their song "Handlebars" in 2008, driven partly by its huge success as a radio request, which was a somewhat rare way to have a hit by the late 2000s. The song was an even bigger hit on the Billboard alternative chart, reaching a peak of #3 there just five weeks after it debuted. However, the band never made good on that impressive start, chartwise; They had two more entries on the alternative chart, neither of which made it higher than #22, and those were their only other charting singles anywhere in the world.
The Flys, a post-grunge band from Hollywood, had a top 10 hit on both the modern and mainstream rock charts in 1998 with "Got You (Where I Want You)", which also appeared on the soundtrack to Disturbing Behavior (whose stars Katie Holmes and James Marsden appeared in the song's video). Nothing else they did ever made an impact on the charts.
For Squirrels is one of the few examples of this trope brought about by Died During Production. Around the time they released their album and the single "Mighty K.C.", the band was involved in a traffic accident that killed their lead singer, bass player, and manager.
4 Non Blondes scored a worldwide hit with "What's Up?" in 1992. Despite releasing no less than five follow-up singles, none of them cracked the top 40 and the band broke up after just one album. Lead singer Linda Perry later became a successful songwriter, penning hits for Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, and P!nk.
Foxboro Hot Tubs, a garage rock influenced side-project of Green Day, reached #16 on the Billboard alternative chart in 2008 with their debut single "Mother Mary". The song actually began charting before it was officially confirmed that Foxboro Hot Tubs were Green Day, but after fans and journalists had correctly deduced their identity, and modern rock stations responded in kind by putting it in rotation. A full-length album followed, but that was also the band's last release. Green Day have occasionally revived Foxboro Hot Tubs for one-off shows, and their 2012 album ¡Dos! was intended as the project's Spiritual Successor.
Filter scored a #12 Hot 100 hit in 2000 with "Take A Picture". The dreamy, acoustic mid-tempo ballad was a major departure from the band's normally heavy industrial sound. While the band had no further Top 40 pop hits, they had several chart entries on both rock charts before and after "Take a Picture".
Flickerstick, an unsigned band from Dallas, scored a major national breakthrough when they won the only season of the VH1 reality competition Bands on the Run in 2001. Their single "Beautiful" reached #27 on the alternative chart, but their major label debut suffered from low sales and poor promotion, and they were ultimately dropped in the aftermath of 9/11. Flickerstick never charted again, and went back to the Dallas indie scene for the remainder of their career.
Fuel, the American band best known for their hit "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" which peaked at #30. On the Rock charts, however, they are far from one hit wonders. Their song "Shimmer" went #2 on Alternative radio and nearly made the Hot 100's top 40. Likewise, "Falls On Me" was a bigger pop radio hit than "Hemorrhage" was, but because "Hemmorhage"'s pop radio run coincided with its rock peak, it was able to go higher on the overall charts. And their ballad "Leave The Memories Alone" found new life as a professional wrestling meme, after it was used in a Ric Flair video tribute upon his retirement, to ironically pay tribute to wrestlers with forgettable careers upon their releases from WWE. "Hemorrhage" is still, by far, their best known song.
fun. are not a one-hit wonder, but Janelle Monáe, their guest who appears as an Advertised Extra backing vocalist on "We Are Young", is. While Monáe is one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the 2010s, none of her own singles have made it any higher than #79. Also a one hit wonder is fun.'s frontman Nate Ruess, via his appearance on P!nk's "Just Give Me a Reason" (his own song "Nothing Without Love" initially garnered modest hype, but it ultimately failed to gain traction).
Geggy Tah, an alt-rock trio with funk and world music influences, scored a #16 hit on Billboard's alternative chart in 1996 with their song "Whoever You Are". While the band would have no other hits, "Whoever You Are" returned to radio playlists again in 2001 after it was featured in a Mercedes-Benz TV ad. The band is best known now as the first project of its keyboardist Greg Kurstin, who during the next two decades became a Grammy-winning superstar producer for artists like Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Foo Fighters and Sia.
While they never reached mainstream popularity, indie rock band Giants of Industry has only one song at least known to the public, "Here We Go", all because of its usage in the Roblox Anthem Video.
In the most objective sense of "only one hit on the Top 40", Gorillaz meet this trope, as their De La Soul collaboration "Feel Good Inc." was their only Top 40 hit in the US. However, they had more hits in their native UK, and even casual American fans seem to be aware of "Clint Eastwood" and "Dare" despite their much lower Hot 100 peaks.
Boris Grebenshchikov is one of the most famous rock musicians in his native Russia, and as the frontman for the pioneering band Aquarium, he is considered to be highly influential on the country's entire rock music scene. Outside of Russia, however, he had just one hit: His Dave Stewart-produced English language single "Radio Silence", a #7 hit on the Billboard Alternative Chart in 1989. While he received considerable American press at the time as the first Russian artist to sign a recording contract with a Western label, Grebenshchikov didn't follow up that hit with any others.
Harvey Danger is known solely for "Flagpole Sitta", which was a Sleeper Hit for getting radio airplay in their native Seattle's alternative and rock stations, and then it spread across the country on rock and alternative radio. It helped that it was also featured in the first American Pie and later on as the theme to Peep Show. They only released one other single "Private Helicopter", which was completely ignored — Unfortunate for the band, because their label demanded it be their next single instead of the song they had personally chosen. Harvey Danger had two more Top-30 alternative hits, and that was it.
Hoobastank was fairly popular with rock fans in the early '00s, but the only time they crossed over to pop territory was with their massive hit "The Reason" which topped many charts and went #2 on the Hot 100. In fact, they didn't even have much success on the rock charts afterwards, as it was their final ever top 10 on both mainstream and alternative rock, and so even the biggest rock fans today only know them for that song (only their earlier hit "Crawling in the Dark" still gets radio rotation - on the alternative format only, and even then much less so than "The Reason"; Also, two of their other songs appeared in the video game Test Drive: Eve of Destruction). This is also an example of how one's biggest hit is not representative of their normal material.
Incubus has had numerous hits on alternative and mainstream rock radio, and aren't typically thought of as one-hit wonders in the same way that others are. Still, they technically only had one Top 40 hit: Their #9 "Drive".
Guitarist Mike Einziger managed to be a one-hit wonder twice, as he played guitar (albeit uncredited) on Avicii's "Wake Me Up". It was the only hit he ever had independent from Incubus on any chart.
The Josh Joplin Group had a #1 hit on the Adult Alternative Chart in 2001 with their song "Camera One". The song also reached #40 on the Modern Rock chart. However, their debut album was a sales disappointment, and so was their followup. The band ultimately split in 2003, just two years after their hit. Joplin has since recorded as a solo artist, but has had no further hits.
Kaleo is an Icelandic rock band whose sole claim to fame is the surprise 2017 hit "Way Down We Go", which topped the Alternative charts and became a favorite for TV and movie usage. The song's success led to the band even performing it inside a volcano. While they also scored a #9 hit on mainstream rock with "No Good" ("Way Down We Go" having only reached #23 on that chart), it was quickly forgotten.
Kings of Leon are one of the most popular rock bands of the 21st century, but their only major crossover hit was 2009's Grammy-winning Use Somebody. Their only other top 40 hit was Radioactive, which only hit the top 40 due to first-week digital hype. They had better luck in other countries where Sex on Fire was a big hit, even reaching #1 in a couple of countries, while it only peaked at #56 in America (it has since gone platinum, though).
KONGOS, a band from South Africa, had only one major hit in America, "Come With Me Now." They did somewhat better on the alternative radio charts but even there never came close to topping their breakout hit.
The La's reached #13 in the UK and #49 in the US with "There She Goes" in 1990. While the band were very influential on the later Britpop scene, they were short lived, and only released one album before dissolving.
Canadian band Len had an international Top 10 hit (#8 UK, #9 US, #3 Australia) with "Steal My Sunshine" in 1999. Following single "Cyptik Souls Crew" was a minor hit in the UK, but that was the last time they ever charted anywhere. Shortly after their biggest hit, guitarist Brendan Canning quit the group to form a new band called Broken Social Scene, which became one of the most acclaimed indie rock bands of the 2000s.
Lit may have gone top 5 on the Alternative charts with "Miserable," but today the only thing they are remembered for is their 1999 smash-hit debut "My Own Worst Enemy".
Living Things are mostly known just for "Bombs Below" after its use in a number of commercials.
Local H had a top 10 hit on both Billboard rock charts, and a #46 pop airplay hit, with "Bound for the Floor" in 1996. While they followed that song up with a few more minor rock hits, they never had any further crossover success. However, players of Burnout 3: Takedown will recognize their later song "Everyone Alive".
Ludo reached #8 on the modern rock chart in 2008 with their song "Love Me Dead". While the band's quirky take on emo pop-punk earned them a cult following, they never returned to the single charts again.
Luscious Jackson, a band which featured Beastie Boys co-founder Kate Schellenbach, had a #35 US and #24 UK hit in 1996 with "Naked Eye". While they earned raves for their mix of electronica, hip hop and indie rock, that was their only trip to the Top 40 in either country, although they had two more hits on the Billboard alternative chart.
Lustra are only known for their 2004 song "Scotty Doesn't Know", famously lip synced by Matt Damon in the film Euro Trip.
Good Charlotte are hardly considered one-hit wonders, but the side project of frontmen Joel and Benji Madden, creatively called The Madden Brothers, are. They hit it big in 2014 with "We Are Done", a chart-topper in Australia and New Zealand, and never charted again.
Marcy Playground had a huge hit in 1998 with "Sex & Candy." They never saw the Hot 100 again, but their follow up "Saint Joe on the School Bus" hit the top 10 on the alternative charts.
Matthew Good Band was one of the most popular alt-rock groups in Canada during the 1990s and early 2000s, but they only managed one hit stateside: "Hello Time Bomb", a #34 hit on the Billboard Modern Rock chart in 2001.
Max Q, a side-project of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, scored a #6 alternative hit in 1989 with their debut single "Way of the World". The band was extremely short-lived and only released one album before Hutchence went back to INXS. The project was never re-activated before his death in 1997.
Mazzy Star fell short of the Top 40 with "Fade Into You", which stalled at #44. It was their only song to reach the Hot 100 and still gets plenty of recurrent airplay on alternative radio.
Meredith Brooks had a massive #2 hit in 1997 with "Bitch", also known as "Nothing in Between". Her only other chart entry was "What Would Happen", which fizzled out at #46, and her only other notable song is "Shine", the original theme to Dr. Phil. After that, she faded into complete obscurity with neither her singles nor albums charting anywhere. Not helping matters is the fact that the song only became a hit because people thought it was a newAlanis Morissette song. Naturally, interest in Brooks faded once people found out she was not Morissette, and the real deal released new music shortly afterwards.
The Neighbourhood's only notable song is "Sweater Weather" (despite "Afraid" reaching #4 on the alternative charts).
Nerf Herder had a minor alternative rock radio hit in 1996 with their tribute to "Van Halen". Nothing else by the band ever charted, and they are remembered as a classic one-hit wonder — just not for "Van Halen", but for the instrumental theme to the Cult Classic TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The Nixons had four hits on the mainstream rock chart, but their only pop hit was 1996's "Sister", which made it to #39 on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 radio chart. It was also their only entry on the alternative chart, where it peaked at #11.
One Day as a Lion was a rap-rock project that was Zach de la Rocha's first substantial musical outing since Rage Against the Machine broke up nearly eight years earlier. The band's debut single "Wild International" made it to #20 on the Billboard Alternative chart in 2008...and that was more or less it for them. The group's five song EP, released shortly thereafter, proved to be the only record they ever put out.
The Orwells made it to #23 on the alternative chart in 2014 with their song "Who Needs You". It was their only chart entry, but they remained a popular touring band afterwards. That is, until four years later, when they broke up following sexual assault allegations against three of its five members.
Our Lady Peace are an extremely popular band in their native Canada, but their only Hot 100 entry was "Somewhere Out There", which reached #44 in 2002. Despite their lack of pop success, the band had multiple chart hits on both Billboard rock charts, including several that were bigger than "Somewhere Out There".
The Plain White T's scored an unexpected hit with their acoustic ballad "Hey There Delilah", which actually topped the Hot 100 (a rare feat for any band post-millennium). While they were fairly popular in the alt. rock community from the mid-00's to the early-10's and they did manage to get two other songs to scrape the lower ends of the top 40, they are almost solely known to the public as "the band that made Hey There Delilah".
Plain White T's also suffer from a bad case of Black Sheep Hit-itis, as all three of their Top 40 singles - "Hey There Delilah", "1234" and "Rhythm of Love" - are all acoustic folk ballads instead of the high-energy pop-punk they're better known for on the rock charts.
The Presidents of the United States of America are widely considered a Two-Hit Wonder for their pair of 1995 hits, "Lump" and "Peaches". However, because "Lump" was not released as a physical single, "Peaches" was the only one of the two to be eligible for the Hot 100, where it peaked at #29 ("Lump" was the bigger radio hit, making #21 on the pop airplay chart).
Primitive Radio Gods. Not really a band, but a solo project of Chris O'Connor, who'd been in a band called The I-Rails. After that band split up O'Connor got a job as an air traffic controller and sent out demo tapes to record labels. One executive liked them and signed him. After the song "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" was included in The Cable Guy, it became a Breakaway Pop Hit. It hit #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, made the top 10 of the Hot 100 Airplay chart, and the video was an MTV staple in the summer of 1996. After that O'Connor reunited with other members of the I-Rails and turned Primitive Radio Gods into a full-fledged band. To this day "Standing" is their only-ever chart entry.
American grunge band Radish scored a UK hit in 1997 when their song "Little Pink Stars" went to #32 there. Although grunge was not a very popular genre in England by the mid 90s, the band stood out because their lead singer and songwriter Ben Kweller was just 16 years old when they made it big. Radish split a short time later, with Kweller starting a solo career.
However, despite critical acclaim for his solo work, Ben Kweller himself also only had one charting single: His 2002 solo single "Wasted & Ready" reached #29 on the Alternative Songs chart in the United States.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus had "Face Down", still a fixture on alternative radio today, chart at #23 on the Hot 100 in 2007. The band went indie after their second album, and they are more known for a copyright violation incident in 2014 than any music they put out after "In Fate's Hands".
Remy Zero are an alternative rock band from Alabama. They are known for the song "Save Me", the theme song to the hit TV series Smallville, and not much else.
Satellite Party was a supergroup led by Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell and also featuring Nuno Bettercourt of Extreme and Peter Hook of New Order. Despite the impressive lineup, the band was short-lived and only scored one chart entry before imploding on itself: "Wish Upon a Dog Star", a #26 entry on the Billboard alternative chart in 2007.
Seven Mary Three scored a huge rock hit in 1996 with "Cumbersome". The song reached #1 on the mainstream rock chart, #7 on alternative and even #39 on the Hot 100. The band never crossed over to the pop charts again after that, but they went on to have several more hits on both rock charts for a few years afterward and were influential on the Post-Grunge genre.
Shihad are one of the biggest rock bands in New Zealand, but they only had one hit in America, when their song "Bulletproof" made it to #27 on the rock charts there in 2003. At the time, they had changed their name to Pacifier in order to remove the Unfortunate Implications of being a band whose name was a misspelling of "jihad" post 9/11. They changed it back a year later, but they had no further success in the US.
The only hit for Sister Hazel was their 1997 debut "All for You", which went to #11 in 1997. They had a few more hits on the rock and adult contemporary charts.
Aussie rockers Spiderbait made it to #32 on Billboard's mainstream rock chart in 2004 with their cover of Leadbelly's "Black Betty", which was based off Ram Jam's hard rock interpretation from 1977. It was also a #1 hit in their native Australia, but the band didn't follow up the success and went on a long hiatus at the end of 2004. When they reunited in 2013, they were back to being strictly Australian stars, as all of their international momentum had long gone.
Technically, The Starting Line's only charting song was 2007's "Island," but it is their earlier song "Best of Me" that is fondly recalled today.
Stone Sour, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor's other band, managed a #39 pop hit with "Through Glass", and never hit the Top 40 again. Both bands have had much more success on the rock charts; in fact, most people will be surprised that Stone Sour were more successful on rock radio than Slipknot despite being much less famous overall and having far lower album sales, due to a far more consistent album release schedule especially as of the 2010s.
Sublime is an example of a band that's a technical one-hit wonder but is well known for their body of work. Their one Top 40 hit was "What I Got", which peaked at #29 on the airplay charts (it didn't officially chart because of a rule at the time preventing non-physical singles from entering), but they've had numerous hits on alternative radio and are mainstays on that format to this day (including "Santeria", which is almost as well-known and even gets pop radio airplay). Of course, since its frontman Bradley Nowell died tragically of a drug overdose, they're unlikely to fade to obscurity anytime soon.
Long Beach Dub Allstars - a group that the two surviving members of Sublime formed with a bunch of the band's friends after Nowell's death - is a more clear-cut example of a one-hit wonder. The band's one and only chart entry, "Sunny Hours", made it to #28 on the Billboard Alternative chart in 2001. The song is notable for featuring a guest appearance from a pre-fame will.i.am.
Talk Show was a very short lived side-project for the members ofStone Temple Pilots who weren't Scott Weiland (plus a new singer), during a period where STP was estranged from their frontman due to his drug habit. Talk Show only released one album and one single, "Hello Hello", a #16 entry on the Modern Rock chart in 1997. The album, however, was a huge flop and the members ultimately decided to reunite as STP with Weiland after all.
that dog. had a #27 alternative hit in 1997 with "Never Say Never", which was their only charting single anywhere. Their 1994 single "Old Timer" had a popular video directed by Spike Jonze that got plenty of MTV airplay, but it did not cross over to radio.
Tonic had a major hit in late 1997 with "If You Could Only See." While they had a few more rock radio smashes, they vanished from the Hot 100.
Thursday have a devoted following and are considered to be highly influential on the screamo and post-hardcore genres, but their only major chart hit was 2003's "Signals to the Air", which reached #30 on the Billboard alternative chart and #62 in the UK in 2003.
U2 is certainly not a one-hit wonder, but all four members became one-hit wonders with collaborations: Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen went to the top-10 in 1996 with the theme for Mission: Impossible. In 2010, Bono and The Edge teamed up non-one-hit wonders Jay-Z and Rihanna for the top-20 "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)".
Urban Dance Squad, a Dutch group who mixed hip-hop with alternative rock a few years before that style really caught on, scored a #21 hit in the United States in 1991 with "A Deeper Shade of Soul". The band's biggest impact on American music, however, came later that year when they toured with the Beastie Boys, and inspired them to play their own instruments on their next album Check Your Head.
VAST had a big rock hit in 2000 with "Free" and haven't had much success otherwise.
The Verve Pipe (no relation to The Verve) are only known for their top 5 hit "The Freshmen" and never saw any more Hot 100 action (though their song "Photograph" — which was not a Cover Version of Ringo Starr or Def Leppard — got to #6 on the Alternative chart).
Wax had a #28 hit on the alternative chart in 1995 with their song "California". The song's radio success was spurred by its striking video directed by Spike Jonze, which depicted a man on fire running to a bus stop in slow motion. It received a huge Colbert Bump for its appearance on Beavis And Butthead, and pretty much became a proto-viral video. The song and video's success did not help Wax score any further hits, though. Their drummer Loomis Fall later appeared on Jackass and Wildboyz, and their singer Joe Sib founded the long-running pop-punk record label Sideonedummy.
Ween just missed the top 20 of the Modern Rock charts (going to #21) with "Push th' Little Daisies", and even went to #18 on the pop chart in Australia. "Voodoo Lady" charted at a less impressive #36 and #58, and they had no further chart hits.
The eccentric Swedish trio Whale scored a #24 US alternative hit with their offbeat 1993 single "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe". Two years later, a reissue took it to #15 in the UK. The band never made the Top 40 again in either country.
Weezer is another band that is a One-Hit Wonder in only the most absolute technical sense - despite being one of the famous 90's rock bands and having no shortage of iconic songs, only one ever cracked the Billboard Top 40 - "Beverly Hills", off of the panned 2005 album Make Believe. 1994's "Buddy Holly" did reach #18 on the airplay charts, but because of Billboard's rule on airplay-only singles at the time, it was inelgible to chart on the Hot 100.
Punk-pop band Wheatus reached #7 on the Billboard alternative chart in 2000 with their song "Teenage Dirtbag". The song was their only hit in their native US, but it was an even bigger hit elsewhere in the world, reaching #2 in the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Ireland and topping the charts in Belgium and Australia. While their followup single, a cover of Erasure's "A Little Respect", made it to #3 in the UK and placed in the Top 40 in a few other countries, it did not chart in the US. After that, they only had one more Top 40 hit in the UK before their chart success dried up for good.
New Zealand singer Willy Moon had a hit in 2013 with "Yeah Yeah". None of his other songs ever charted anywhere, and his chances of ever scoring another hit went up in smoke after his and his wife Natalia Kills' career-destroying behavior on the New Zealand The X Factor.
British band Wolf Alice had a #9 alternative hit stateside in 2015 with "Moaning Lisa Smile". Their follow-up "Bros" barely scraped a #35 position, and they have yet to see an American chart again. They've continued to be successful in their home country, and won the esteemed Mercury Music Prize in 2018 for their album Visions of a Life.
Yellowcard had a #37 hit on the Hot 100 in 2004 with "Ocean Avenue". While the band would have several more hits on the alternative chart, they never made the pop top 40 again.
Youngblood Hawke only tasted radio airplay with 2013's "We Come Running", which peaked at #7 on the alternative charts. They have yet to chart again.
You Me at Six have been huge in their native U.K. for years, but their only song to get widespread airplay in America to date is the 2014 Black Sheep Hit "Room to Breathe".
Zwan was a supergroup that was Billy Corgan's first project following the disbandment of The Smashing Pumpkins, and featured members of other notable groups such as A Perfect Circle and Slint. The band's first single "Honestly" reached #7 on the Billboard alternative chart, #17 in Canada and #28 in the UK in 2003. Despite that good start, it wound being Zwan's only hit, as Corgan abruptly broke the band up just nine months after they released their debut album, citing personality conflicts between its members.
Collapsed Lung, a Brit-hop band from the 90s, hit the UK top 40 twice with their hit "Eat My Goal", which was also tapped for a Coca-Cola advert, but never had another hit.
Richard Hawley was originally the guitarist for Britpop group the Longpigs, who had several UK hits, and he embarked on a much-acclaimed solo career after they broke up in 2000. While four of his albums reached the UK top 10, he only had one Top 40 single, when "Tonight the Streets Are Ours" peaked at exactly #40 in 2007. While not a very big hit, the song went on to be used in commercials and films over the next few years, most prominently as the theme song for Banksy's 2010 street art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.
James were huge in their native U.K., being active in the Britpop scene and having been active since the 80s, but in America are remembered almost solely for the 1993 hit "Laid". It made it to #3 on the alternative chart and #61 on the Hot 100, their only entry there. Back in the U.K., "Laid" isn't even their best-known song; that would be "Sit Down" (which did make it to #9 on the alternative chart but did not crossover to the pop charts in the US).
Oasis are in a weird situation in the United States. Just looking at the Hot 100, their only Top 40 hit was "Wonderwall", which made it to #8. However, they had several songs that were big on pop radio that would have made the Top 40 had they not been ineligible due to the infamous 90s Billboard chart quirk that deemed songs not issued as physical singles ineligible to chart. Among those songs were "Champagne Supernova", "Live Forever" and "Don't Go Away". Notably, "Don't Look Back in Anger", which is better known than either of the latter two singlesnote and "Supernova" in the UK, but not the USwas released as a single, but only made it to #55.
At the height of Oasis-mania in the UK, the band was responsible for creating three one-hit wonders:
The Mike Flowers Pops took a Retraux easy-listening cover of "Wonderwall" to #2 on the UK Singles Chart in late 1995, which was the same position the original had peaked at earlier that year.
No Way Sis, an Oasis tribute band who had the coveted endorsement of both Gallagher brothers (Noel even gave their guitarist one of his guitars), scored a UK Top 40 hit with a cover of The New Seekers' "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" in 1996. The actual Oasis has been involved in legal proceedings with the writers of that song, who had successfully argued that the band had lifted its melody for "Shakermaker".
Credited specifically to Oas*s, "Wibbling Rivalry" was a bootleg single (albeit one released on legit indie label Fierce Panda) consisting of an NME interview with Liam and Noel Gallagher that devolves into an argument between the brothers about an infamous 1994 incident in which Liam incited a brawl on a ferry ride to the Netherlands, causing the whole band (except for Noel) to be deported back to the UK once they reached land. Owing to the public fascination of the Gallaghers' famously contentious relationship, the single became the best selling interview recording in British history and made it all the way to #52 in the UK in November 1995. No other recordings like this of the Gallaghers made it onto the British charts.
Placebo are superstars, with a total of fifteen top 40 hits (with three going top 5)... in the United Kingdom. In the United States, meanwhile, their only song to have an impact on radio is "Pure Morning". Only one other song appeared on the Modern Rock chart, "Infra-Red", only at #35, and quickly forgotten outside their fanbase. And ironically, their best-known song, "Every You Every Me", failed to chart in the US.
Republica is primarily known for their one hit single, "Ready to Go", which hit #13 on the U.K. charts, cracked the Top 100 U.S. Singles and charted internationally. Their follow-up single, "Drop Dead Gorgeous", ranked higher on the U.K. charts but bombed everywhere else. Nowadays, even in the U.K., Republica is remembered exclusively for "Ready To Go".
Stereophonics are massive in their native U.K., but are known to American audiences for "Dakota" and not much else.
Supergrass are very well-known back in the U.K., but international audiences will be hard-pressed to name any other song by them other than "Alright." Weirdly, that song never charted on the American alternative charts, while the considerably less remembered "Cheapskate" was their only entry there, peaking at #35.
The Verve are popular in the U.K., but "Bitter Sweet Symphony" was their only hit across the pond. A lawsuit by ABKCO caused the Verve to never make a pence off of their hit, until Mick Jagger and Keith Richards waived their credit for the song and gave their share of royalties back to the band in 2019.
BritpoppersWhiteout had exactly one charting single with "Jackie's Racing", barely scraping the UK top 100 at #72, before falling into complete obscurity.
Cornershop had a minor hit with "Brimful of Asha" in 1997, which went to #60 on the UK charts. In 1998, a remix by Norman Cook sent the song straight to #1. Norman Cook, thanks to his output as Fatboy Slim, isn't a one-hit-wonder, but "Brimful of Asha" remains Cornershop's only smash hit.
Big Audio Dynamite was one of the most popular acts on American college radio in the late 1980s, owing in part to the fact that they were led by Mick Jones, the legendary guitarist of The Clash. Despite their alternative success, the band only had a brief time in the mainstream. Their only American top 40 hit was "Rush", which made it to #32 on the Hot 100 in 1991 while the band was in its second incarnation ("Big Audio Dynamite II"). Their only other Hot 100 entry was its follow up"The Globe", a top 5 alternative hit that only managed to get as high as #72 on the pop chart. The band had much more success in both their native UK and the Billboard alternative charts.
The Chills are one of the most important and influential bands to ever come from New Zealand and helped develop the country's distinct "Dunedin Sound" indie rock scene in the 1980s. Although they're revered as legends in their home country and are critics' favorites around the world, they only had one American hit: "Heavenly Pop Hit", a #17 entry on the alternative chart in 1990.
Concrete Blonde reached #19 on the Hot 100 with their 1990 ballad "Joey". The band had several hits on both Billboard rock charts before and after that, but never made the Hot 100 again.
Dreams So Real, one of the top names in the Athens, Georgia alt-rock scene, had much less chart success than some of theother bands from that storied college town. Their only chart single was 1988's "Rough Night in Jericho", a #28 mainstream rock hit. Despite an endorsement from their friend Peter Buck of R.E.M., the band grew frustrated by their lack of success and broke up after they were dropped by Arista Records a few years later.
Easterhouse scored a #82 Hot 100 and #7 Alternative hit in 1989 with their single "Come Out Fighting". Although the British group was a regular on American college radio, they never again had another mainstream hit. They also weren't particularly popular back in their home country outside of the indie scene, and never made the main UK Singles Chart.
fIREHOSE, a band formed by the surviving two-thirds of beloved alt-rock pioneers the Minutemen after the death of frontman D. Boon in a car accident, were one of the top musical acts on the concert touring circuit in the late 1980s. Despite their popularity with the college crowd, the band only had one charting hit, when "Time With You" reached #26 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart in 1989. The band made a jump to a major label for their next album but had no further chart entries before they disbanded in 1994.
Mike Watt, the legendary bassist and lead songwriter for both Minutemen and fIREHOSE, scored a hit as a solo artist in 1995 when "Against the 70s" made it to #21 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. Although Watt was greatly respected at the time, what drove the song's success was that it featured Eddie Vedder on lead vocals and Dave Grohl on drums, just as he was starting to put together Foo Fighters. Although Watt continues to be a highly influential elder statesman of alt-rock, he's never returned to the charts again.
The Go-Betweens were one of Australia's most popular and influential alternative bands, and their importance on the genre in the country can be compared to that of R.E.M. in the United States or The Smiths in the U.K. Although the band were huge on college radio in the US, they only had one chart entry in the country: "Was There Anything I Could Do?", a #16 modern rock hit in 1988. The band broke up the next year, and although they would reunite in 2000, no further hits came for them.
Guadalcanal Diary are one of many jangly indie guitar bands who were favorites on 1980s college radio, but for whom the Billboard alternative chart came just a little too late to fully document their underground popularity. The band's one and only entry on a Billboard chart was "Always Saturday", which made it to #7 on that then-nascent chart in 1989. It was also one of the very last singles the band would release, as they disbanded just a few months later.
Hindu Love Gods, a collaboration between the members of R.E.M. and singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, reached #23 on the alternative chart in 1990 with their cover of Prince's "Raspberry Beret". While Hindu Love Gods had made scattered live appearances in the late 1980s, the project was dissolved after the release of their album, and they never recorded another before Zevon's death in 2003.
Actress Milla Jovovich scored a #21 hit on the alternative chart in 1994 with her debut single "The Gentleman Who Fell". Her debut album was critically acclaimed and earned her positive comparisons to Kate Bush and Tori Amos, but she never released a follow-up. She continued her successful film career, however, and has pursued much lower-key musical projects.
King Missile had a minor 1992 hit with "Detachable Penis", which peaked at #25 on the Modern Rock charts. They had some minor success on college radio.
The Lightning Seeds are legends in their native UK, having been active since the late-80s and being a big force in Britain's Indie Pop scene. Over in America, however, their only Top 40 hit was the debut single "Pure", which hit #31, also something of a Black Sheep Hit as back then The Lightning Seeds were actually just Ian Broudie's solo projectnote That's not to say it's Chart Displacement, as it is one of their best-known songs and the rather sugary lyrics proved influential on the Twee Pop genre.. They did better on the Alternative charts with three Top 10 hits (including the #2 hit "The Life of Riley"), and they were also one of the last bands to become popular on US college campus radio stations.
Midnight Oil had a few Top 10 hits on rock radio , but "Beds are Burning" was their only song to chart in the Top 40 of the Hot 100. "Blue Sky Mine", which narrowly missed it (#47) was a #1 hit on both rock charts ("Beds are Burning" was #6 on Mainstream Rock, and preceded Alternative's existence), and "Forgotten Years" also was a #1 Modern Rock hit. In their native Australia and some other countries, they're more successful.
The Rave-Ups reached #12 on the Billboard alternative chart in 1990 with their song "(Respectfully) King of Rain". The band had been building up a following on college radio for a few years beforehand, especially after Fandom VIPMolly Ringwald arranged for them to appear in Pretty in Pink in 1986. Unfortunately for the band, they didn't last much longer after they finally scored a hit: They were dropped from their label a few months after "King of Rain" reached its peak, and they subsequently broke up.
Dream pop duo Shelleyan Orphan got a big break in 1989 when The Cure picked them as the opening act on their world Prayer Tour. The exposure resulted in their song "Shatter" going to #23 on the Billboard alternative chart that fall. The band only released one more album before breaking up, with both members going on to form Babacar with former Cure drummer Boris Williams. Although Shelleyan Orphan would eventually reform, they ended for good when singer Caroline Crawley died suddenly in 2016.
The Sugarcubes were the first Icelandic musical act of any kind to enjoy worldwide commercial success, and were the launching pad for their lead singer Björk's successful and influential solo career. The band were especially popular in the United States, where they notched four modern rock hits in the early 1990s and do not count as a one-hit wonder in that country. In the United Kingdom however, they only made the Top 40 just once, with 1992's "Hit", which was also their only Billboard Modern Rock #1. Although they were favorites of popular radio DJ John Peel, none of the Sugarcubes' other singles made it higher than #51. "Hit" was also the band's only chart entry in Australia or Sweden.
Thelonious Monster were, along with their pals Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of the leading bands of the Los Angeles alternative scene in the late 1980s. Unlike the Peppers, the band only made one appearance on a Billboard chart, with their 1989 #29 modern rock hit "So What If I Did". The band were also well known for their reputation as party animals, which caught up to singer Bob Forrest. After years of battling drug addiction, he got clean in the mid-1990s and started a successful second career as a drug treatment counselor. He's probably best known now for his stint as Drew Pinsky's head counselor on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew
The husband-and-wife duoTimbuk3 became one of the first alternative rock bands to cross over from College Radio to the Top 40 in 1986, when their song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" made it to #13 on the Hot 100. While the song became a pop culture touchstone, Timbuk3 only had a few more minor hits on the mainstream rock chart before dropping off the radar by the end of the 1980s.
The Triffids reached #26 in the UK in 1986 with "Wide Open Road", which was their only top 40 entry there. The band were very popular in their native Australia, where their album Born Sandy Devotional is considered an alt-rock classic, but none of their four charting singles in Australia reached the country's top 40. They were also one-hit wonders in New Zealand, where "Bury Me Deep In Love", their followup to "Wide Open Road", reached #34.
World Party scored a #27 US hit in 1987 with their debut single "Ship of Fools". The band never returned to the Hot 100, but they remained a staple on alternative radio for a few years; They had three top 10 hits on the modern rock chart, including the 1990 chart-topper "Way Down Now".
Meshuggah fans will name many better songs, but the one song of theirs everyone with an interest in metal knows is "Bleed". This may be that it's one of their few songs which is in 4/4 time signature. It has over 13 million views on YouTube - a number near-unprecedented for metal in general, doubly so for such a deliberately exclusive band - and iTunes lists it as their most popular song, significantly more so than any on the album it promoted and dramatically more than other songs. Don't expect them to ever repeat this.
Cannibal Corpse is easily the world's most famous Death Metal band, with two million albums sold worldwide and being possibly the only one the average person can name. However, most only know one song by them — 1992's "Hammer Smashed Face". It was used in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and much later it was featured as downloadable content for Rock Band 2.
Brewer & Shipley are a singer-songwriter duo consisting of Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley, and while they were cult icons, their only mainstream hit was the 1971 #10 song "One Toke Over the Line".
Jeff Buckley was a folk singer who was never particularly well known in his lifetime, but became more recognized after his tragic drowning. In his lifetime, he had just a single entry on any chart: "Last Goodbye", a #19 entry on the Billboard Alternative chart. However, he is best known to mainstream audiences for his cover of Leonard Cohen's popular song "Hallelujah" and nothing else. The cover's popularity gained traction following Buckley's death and is now legendary: It's charted all over the world since its release as a single in 2007 and is his only chart entry in most countries.
Shawn Colvin has had a long and influential career as a folk singer, but she's only scored one major hit. Her 1997 single "Sunny Came Home" was a huge hit that year, reaching #6 in the US and going Top 10 in Australia and Canada. The song also netted Colvin a pair of Grammys in 1998 for Record and Song of the Year. Although "Sunny Came Home" was ultimately her only appearance on the Hot 100, Colvin has had several hits on other Billboard charts, including adult alternative, where she charted five more times.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are mostly known only for their 2010 song "Home". The song made to #25 on the Billboard alternative chart, #50 in the UK and #7 in France. They never had another major hit again, with their only other charting singles being a few minor hits on the adult alternative chart a few years later.
Former Fairport singer Iain Matthews had a hit single in 1979 with "Shake It", which reached the Top 40 in the US and New Zealand. It would be his only solo hit in either country. His post-Fairport group Matthews Southern Comfort scored a #1 single in the UK (and a Top 40 hit in the US) with their 1971 cover of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock", which would become their only hit as well.
Fanfarlo reached #20 on the Billboard adult alternative charts in 2010 with their song "Harold T. Wilkins". Although the British-Swedish folk collective's subsequent albums received critical acclaim, they never had another charting single anywhere in the world.
Steve Forbert was hyped by music critics as a "New Dylan" in the late 1970s, but his success was limited only to his 1979 single "Romeo's Tune", which reached #11 on the Hot 100 in 1980. His followup "Say Goodbye to Little Jo" only reached #85 and he never made the Hot 100 again after that. Despite never having a hit again, Forbert went on to have a long career as a singer-songwriter, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 for his tribute album to country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers.
Scottish indie-folk group Frightened Rabbit were one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the 2000s and 2010s, earning themselves an intensely devoted following for the heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics of singer Scott Hutchison. The band was a No-Hit Wonder for several years; Despite being a regular precense on American public radio stations, their singles never quite had the momentum to crack a Billboard chart. That is until 2016, when "Get Out" made to #12 on the Adult Alternative chart. Sadly, it would be one of the last singles they would ever release: Hutchison died in May 2018, his body being found two days after he went missing from a hotel, and the band promptly ceased to be.
The Golden Palominos is an eclectic Supergroup led by Anton Feir of The Feelies and featuring an array of alternative and folk luminaries that have passed in and out of the lineup over the years. The group's only chart hit was "Alive and Living Now", a #14 entry on the Billboard Modern Rock chart in 1991, which primarily charted because it featured Michael Stipe on lead vocals and Richard Thompson on guitar.
David Gray scored a belated hit in 2000 when his 1998 single "Babylon" became a worldwide hit. The song went to #5 in the UK and #57 on the Hot 100 in the US (it also reached the top 40 on its component radio chart). The song was just the start of a solid chart career for Gray in the UK, and it was the first of his four #1 singles on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart, but he never had another American pop hit.
In Tua Nua, an Irish band who mixed their country's folk traditions with jangly indie rock, had a #17 hit on the Billboard alternative chart in the United States in 1988 with their single "All I Wanted". The song was also their only significant hit in the UK, where it made #69. The group broke up two years later while recording their next album and never had any other hits outside of Ireland in their short career.
British Indo-Caribbean folk singer David Jordan burst onto the music scene with his critically acclaimed album Set the Mood, which landed him a #4 UK chart hit in 2008 with "Sun Goes Down". Unfortunately, the success was fleeting, as the follow-up single barely made the charts and a second album has yet to see the light of day. Jordan would later return to the spotlight by playing Michael Jackson in a West End jukebox musical.
Vance Joy is very popular in his native Australia, winning the Triple J Hottest 100 poll in 2013 for his song "Riptide". But said song would be his only major international crossover. His 2017 song "Lay It On Me" was a major alternative radio hit in the US, but failed to crossover to the Hot 100 there and wasn't a hit anywhere else aside from Australia.
Lindisfarne, one of the leading groups of the late 60's British electric folk scene, scored a surprise Top 40 hit in the United States in 1978 with the Black Sheep Hit "Run for Home". The song now considerably more obscure than their other songs which did not chart on the Hot 100. This is only the case in America, as they had a few Top 40 hits in the UK in the early 1970s with more representative material.
Mike McGear scored a #32 hit on the UK Top 40 with his song "Leave It" in 1973. It sounded conspicuously like a Paul McCartney tune; And it should have, because McGear was actually McCartney's younger brother and Paul had written the song for him. Paul and the rest of Wings are his backing band on the song as well. No further solo hits followed, but McGear's former band The Scaffold had a couple of Top 10 hits in the late 1960s.
Milky Chance had a massive worldwide hit in 2014 with "Stolen Dance", which topped many European charts and the American alternative charts (even managing to scrape the Top 40). Their follow-ups haven't been all that successful in their native Germany, let alone anywhere else.
Monsters of Folk was a one-off supergroup featuring some of the best known indie rock performers of the 2000s: Bright Eyes members Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James and folk singer M. Ward. The group scored a #20 adult alternative hit in 2009 with "Say Please", the first single off their only album. After a successful tour, the band members returned to their main projects, and Monsters of Folk dissolved.
Mungo Jerry had an international smash with 1970's "In the Summertime", a #1 hit in over 15 countries. The United States was not one of them but it did make it to a fairly respectable #3 there. Although it was Mungo Jerry's only American hit, they had several more in their native UK, including another #1 with their follow-up single "Baby Jump", and they continued to have minor hits all around the world into the early 80s.
"One Tin Soldier" became a one-hit wonder twice in a two-year time span. It first hit #34 for Canadian pop group The Original Caste in 1970 and a year later became a #26 hit for psychedelic "satanic" rock band Coven. Nowadays, The Original Caste's version of the song has all but faded into obscurity and Coven's version is the one everyone remembers.
Icelandic folk band Of Monsters and Men only had one chart entry in America: Their #20 hit "Little Talks". They've had other hits on alternative radio and got a platinum album, but have never crossed over to the mainstream again.
The Proclaimers are known outside of the British Isles pretty much only for "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", which made it to #3 in the US after it was reissued in 1993 following its appearance in Benny & Joon. If they are known for any other song in America other than "500 Miles", it would be for "I'm on My Way", thanks to its use in the first Shrek, but it never charted.
Brian Protheroe reached #22 in the UK in 1974 with his song "Pinball". It was his only chart entry anywhere.
The Strumbellas, a Canadian folk-rock band, saw their success end as quickly as it began with their 2016 hit "Spirits".
We Five hit #3 on the Hot 100 in 1965 with their cover of Ian and Sylvia's "You Were on My Mind", which also hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and went to #16 in Australia. The follow-up, "Let's Get Together", only made #31, and their only other hit, "There Stands a Door", only reached #116. Their other singles didn't chart.
The Kingsmen, and their famous cover version of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie". They had three top-40 follow-ups: 1964's "Money (That's What I Want)" and "Death of An Angel," and 1965's top 10 "The Jolly Green Giant." Oldies radio has forgotten all about these, though, so the group is widely considered to be a one-hit wonder.
The Gentrys had a #4 hit in 1965 with "Keep On Dancin'". The group never found much success afterwards, but today are best remembered for featuring future professional wrestling legend Jimmy Hart.
The Honeycombs, a British Invasion band - best known for having a female drummer at a time when women instrumentalists in rock bands were extremely uncommon, and for being a pet project of the famously innovative and eccentric producer Joe Meek - are known for the #5 hit "Have I The Right?" and nothing else.
The Shadows of Knight are known solely for their bowdlerised cover of Them's "Gloria", released solely due to some stations objecting to lyrics in the original version. The Shadows of Knight's version reached #10 on the Hot 100, while Them only got to #71. The group had a few other releases that went nowhere, and were largely forgotten by the end of the 1960s while Them's original version remained more popular.
The Trashmen had a #4 hit in 1963 with the iconic "Surfin' Bird", which later spawned numerous covers and usages in media. Their follow-up "Bird Dance Beat" from the eponymous album only made it to #30 and is so obscure that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Younger generations are most likely to only know "Surfin' Bird" from Family Guy due to the episode "I Dream of Jesus" heavily revolving around Peter's obsession with the song and its memetic nature.
Mott the Hoople was on the verge of breakup in 1972 due to lack of success. Then David Bowie presented the group with "All the Young Dudes," which turned out to be a big hit (#3) in Britain and gave them this status in America, where it peaked at a less stellar #37.
T. Rex were superstars in the U.K. in the 1970s, scoring four #1 hits and seven more top 10 hits there, and were extremely influential on generations of British rock musicians. Like many popular British glam acts, T. Rex were not especially popular in the US, but did score a big, memorable hit there with "Bang a Gong (Get It On), which reached #10 in 1972. While a couple of their songs made it to the lower rungs of the Hot 100, that was it for them on the Top 40.
Although a respected name in the art-rock community, Chris de Burgh's only mainstream hit was "The Lady in Red". He was also a one-hit wonder on rock radio, but for "High on Emotion" instead.
Although he was very big in the UK, Gary Glitter's only American hit was "Rock & Roll, Part 2". Unfortunately, the song has since been overshadowed by his career-destroying scandal.
Cult rock band Foxy Shazam's only taste of radio success came in 2012 with the top 10 mainstream rock hit "I Like It." Frontman Eric Nally would become a one-hit wonder on pop as a feature on Macklemore's "Downtown". See his entry on the hip-hop subpage.
British glam-rock singer David Essex had multiple hits in the UK, but his only major success stateside was 1973's "Rock On", which hit #5. A cover version in by actor-singer Michael Damian likewise proved to be his only major hit when it topped the charts in 1989, propelled by his popularity as a cast member on the soap opera The Young and the Restless. Damian had two more Top 40 hits after "Rock On", but neither were especially big and, he is now better remembered as an actor than for his singing career.
Finnish band HIM were quite popular in the United States in 2003 and 2004, but during that time they only managed one major chart entry there with "Wings of a Butterfly", a #19 Modern Rock and #87 Hot 100 hit. While followup "Killing Loneliness" was popular on MTV2 and online, its success in those areas did not cross over to the Billboard charts. They had plenty of other hits in their native Europe.
Bauhaus are credited as the inventors of goth rock, but they were a No-Hit Wonder in the United States (they did have a couple hits in their native UK though). However, the band's members all had brief success with their various side-projects after the band broke up in 1983.
The short-lived Tones on Tail, featuring Bauhaus' Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, is best known only for their 1984 single "Go!". The song did not chart anywhere, but it became a staple of classic alternative radio and 80s playlists over the next few decades.
Love and Rockets, which was basically Bauhaus without Peter Murphy, were one of the most popular college rock bands of the late 1980s in the United States (although not in their native England). But their underground success only translated into a single major American hit: "So Alive", a huge #3 Hot 100 hit in 1989. The band had several other hits on both Billboard rock charts before and after "So Alive", but it was their only Top 40 hit and likely the song they're most remembered for there now.
Around the same time Love And Rockets were hitting it big, former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy scored his only major American solo hit, with "Cuts You Up". The song made it to #55 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Alternative chart in 1990. Like his former bandmates, Murphy had plenty of other rock chart hits to his name, but "Cuts You Up" was his only break into the mainstream.
Love and Rockets and Bauhaus bassist David J struck out on his own in 1990 with the single "I'll Be Your Chauffeur". The song made it all the way to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. David never had another significant hit as a solo artist anywhere else in the world. His bandmate Daniel Ash also tried for a solo career and scored two top 5 hits on the Modern Rock chart in the early 1990s.
Love Spit Love, a side-project of Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler, had a minor hit with "Am I Wrong" in 1994. The song made it to #83 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Modern Rock chart. However, that's probably not the song they're best remembered for; That would probably be their cover of The Smiths' "How Soon is Now?", which they originally recorded for the soundtrack to The Craft and was later adapted as the theme song to the TV show Charmed. Despite the notoriety of that cover, it did not chart anywhere.
Danzig, the post-Misfits band of singer Glenn Danzig, has a strong cult following but just one major chart hit. A 1993 re-release of their 1988 single "Mother" made it to #43 on the Hot 100 and #17 on the Mainstream Rock chart. They had only one more fairly minor rock hit, 1994's "Cantspeak", and then they never made a Billboard chart again.
The Horrors only had one entry in the UK Top 40 with their single "Gloves", a #34 hit in 2007. However, their status as one-hit wonders has an asterisk next to it due to a very unique form of Chart Displacement. Their first three singles were all deemed ineligible to chart in the UK because the band included stickers and other pack-ins inside the sleeve, and the inclusion of such items is banned by UK chart rules. One of these singles was "Sheena is a Parasite", arguably their best-known song, and one that would have very likely made the Top 40 had it been eligible. After "Gloves", the rest of their singles have been chart eligible, but they've come nowhere near the Top 40.
Brownsville Station had a #3 hit with "Smokin' in the Boys' Room"; their follow up "Kings of the Party" stalled at #31 and they never had another major hit anywhere again. "Smokin'" was later Covered Up by Mötley Crüe. Frontman Cub Koda went on to have a second career as a much-respected music historian and critic, writing several books on the history of the blues and becoming a prolific contributor to the Allmusic website and book series before his death in 2000.
In 1978, all four members of KISS simultaneously released solo albums. Three of them had Hot 100 hits from this project that were also their only entries on that chart.
Guitarist Ace Frehley had the biggest hit, a cover of Hello's "New York Groove" that made it all the way to #13. His album was the best selling of the bunch as the result of the single's popularity, and Kiss would occasionally perform it in concert. After he left the band, he would have one more Mainstream Rock chart hit with "Into the Night" in 1987, which was also his only entry on that chart.
Lead singer Paul Stanley reached #46 that year with "Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We're Apart)". Stanley didn't record another solo album until 2006, and it spawned no singles.
Iconic bassist Gene Simmons made it to #47 with "Radioactive". Like Stanley, Simmons didn't release another album for decades, 2004 in his case, and that album also didn't have any singles.
Ram Jam is known pretty much only for their 1977 version of "Black Betty".
Papa Roach is hardly considered a one-hit wonder, having numerous hits on rock radio and headlining many rock festivals, especially in their early-'00s peak. However, they technically only had one Top 40 hit: their #15 "Scars" in 2005. Despite their rock radio mainstay status, many outside their audience would only be able to recognize one song from them, but it's not "Scars". 2000's "Last Resort", despite only peaking at #57, is easily their best-known song, and one of the most iconic songs of the Nu Metal era.
Under the standard definition, Breaking Benjamin just barely qualifies as a one-hit wonder, when their 2009 single "I Will Not Bow" peaked exactly at #40. They've had much more success on the mainstream rock charts, with seven #1 hits there.
Rock band Valora proved to be a one-hit wonder by association with Breaking Benjamin, as their only success to date was their collaboration with them on the 2011 re-recording of "Blow Me Away."
Australian Hard Rock band Wolfmother had a large fanbase in the mid-'00s, but they only had one real radio hit in the US — "Woman". It peaked at #7 on mainstream rock and #10 on modern rock. Although "Joker & The Thief" is generally well known (and a Top 10 hit back home), none of their other songs even hit the Top 25 of either chart.
Zac Brown Band aren't even close to one-hit wonders on the country charts or the Hot 100. However, their only successful trip to rock radio was "Heavy Is the Head", featuring vocals from Chris Cornell. It actually topped the Mainstream Rock Charts, making them only the second artist after Bon Jovi to have a #1 hit on both that chart and the country charts. Their follow-up rock song "Junkyard" stumbled to a #32 peak before quickly falling off. It's unlikely they'll have another rock hit any time soon, considering that it sounds nothing like their normal material and will probably need another assist from a rock legend.
Linkin Park isn't a one-hit wonder at all, but several of the band members' side projects are one-hit wonders:
Dead By Sunrise, the short-lived side project of vocalist Chester Bennington only had one successful single on rock radio — "Crawl Back In", which peaked at #11 on Mainstream Rock. They never hit the charts again, and the project went on an indefinite hiatus before Bennington's suicide in July 2017.
Bennington had a short-lived stint as the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, who aren't one-hit wonders either. However, Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington (specifically credited as such) only had one major hit on rock — "Out of Time", which topped the mainstream rock charts and was used as the Theme Song for WWE's Hell in a Cell. The follow-up "Black Heart" only reached #15 before falling off the charts. Afterwards, Bennington left to focus solely on Linkin Park, while their original frontman Scott Weiland died not long after due to drugs, and Bennington committed suicide two years later, with STP carrying on with a former The Voice contestant as their lead singer.
Co-vocalist Mike Shinoda's side project Fort Minor was a very unusual case of a one-hit wonder. They had a smash hit in 2006, when "Where'd You Go" peaked at #4, while follow-up "Remember the Name" stalled at #66 and dropped off the charts quickly afterwards. However, thanks to the latter song being used as a sports anthem and in countless movie trailers, it has completely overshadowed the former in the public eye. "Where'd You Go" also provided the only top 40 appearance for featured artist Jonah Matranga, the lead singer for influential '90s emo band Far (the song's other credited artist, Holly Brook, had two other hits after she changed her stage name to Skylar Grey). Far themselves also count as a one-hit wonder: When the band reunited in 2008, they released a joke cover of Ginuwine's R&B hit "Pony" that went to #40 on the Billboard Alternative chart. The band broke up again in 2010, immediately after putting out their fifth album, and never released another single. Likewise, "Remember the Name" is the only thing rap group Styles of Beyond is really known for.
Shinoda was also involved in another one-hit wonder when he provided lead vocals to "It's Goin' Down", a song by the turntablist collective The X-Ecutioners. The song made it to #85 in the US, #7 in the UK and #13 on the Billboard alternative chart. The song also featured Linkin Park's own DJ, Mr. Hahn, and was his only hit as away from the band. Shinoda wouldn't have another solo chart entry until he launched his solo career in 2018.
Bennington also helped another underground turntabalist, in this case Z-Trip, score their only hit when he provided lead vocals on the single "Walking Dead", a #17 alternative hit in 2005. While Z-Trip has been in demand as a remix producer since, "Walking Dead" remains his only charting single anywhere.
British band Kill It Kid had a #20 hit on the U.S. Mainstream Rock charts with "Blood Stop and Run". It was also their only entry on any American chart, and they entered an indefinite hiatus soon after.
Great White had several hits on the rock charts, but their cover of Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" was their only big pop hit. Unfortunately, the group is today better known for the deadly Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island, which killed over 100 people, than their music.
Crossfade had several hits on the mainstream rock charts, but are now known solely for their debut 2004 single "Cold", their biggest hit on their home format as well as their only top 10 on modern rock and their only Hot 100 or even Bubbling Under entry. They've had three Top 10s on their native format, but "Cold" is their only song to get recurrent airplay.
Jackyl had a few hits on the Mainstream Rock chart in the early '90s, but today they're only remembered for one - their debut single "The Lumberjack", most notable for its chainsaw solo.
A peculiar curse that befell Hair Metal bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s was when they had just one Top 40 hit, and it was with their obligatory Power Ballad single instead of something a little more rocking:
Kix, who took "Don't Close Your Eyes" to #11 in 1989.
Faster Pussycat, whose bluesy "House of Pain" made it to #28 in 1990.
L.A. Guns reached #33 in 1990 with "The Ballad of Jayne". The band is probably better known because its leader and guitarist Tracii Guns was also a founding member of Guns N' Roses (GNR was even formed as a "merger" between an early version of L.A. Guns and Axl Rose's band Hollywood Rose, hence the name), but he was kicked out and replaced by Slash after just a few months.
Steelheart, who made it to #23 in 1991 with "I'll Never Let You Go"
Saigon Kick, who were relatively late to the party, but still managed a #12 hit with "Love Is On the Way" in late 1992. The band's sound was a little more varied than "hair metal" - in fact, they weren't really much of a metal band at all - but their only hit is a textbook example of a hair metal-style power ballad.
Thin Lizzy are legends in Ireland and popular in the UK, but elsewhere are only really known for "The Boys Are Back in Town". The song was their only Top 40 hit in the United States, where it made it to #12. For a while in the 70s it looked like they were destined to be known as One Hit Wonders in the UK as well, for their rocked-up reading of the folk song "Whiskey in the Jar" (the version later Covered Up by Metallica) - it was their first major UK hit, but the parent album bombed, as did their next LP. It was a few years before they finally broke through properly.
No Address, a short-lived mid-2000s rock group, had a hit with "When I'm Gone (Sadie)" and never did anything else of note.
Canadian-American rock musician Custom had a hit in 2002 with "Hey Mister". Unfortunately, most of the song's publicity revolved around its sexually provocative music video. It was banned by MTV and it crippled his momentum afterwards.
Diffuser charted in 2001 with "Karma" from the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack. Although they never had another hit, frontman Tomas Costanza later found fame as a producer.
pete. had a Top 20 rock hit in 2001 with "Sweet Daze" and they were dropped by Warner (Bros.) Records soon afterwards.
Canadian rock band Headstrong's only hit was "Adriana" in 2002.
Another Animal, a supergroup composed of Ugly Kid Joe and Godsmack members, neither of whom is considered a one-hit wonder, hit the top 10 in late 2007 with "Broken Again". The group never charted again afterwards and went their separate ways.
Seasons After had three entries on the rock charts but are today only remembered for their cover of "Cry Little Sister".
In 2002 and 2003, there was a pair of rock hits about being "Caught in the" weather; namely Course of Nature's "Caught in the Sun" and Revis's "Caught in the Rain". Both hit top 10 on the rock airplay charts, the former even getting some minor pop radio play, but neither ever had another major hit. That being said, Mark Wilkerson, Course of Nature's frontman, later co-wrote Daughtry's crossover smash "It's Not Over" and is better known as the husband of Melissa Joan Hart.
Bassist Corey Lowery (brother of Sevendust guitarist Clint) has had the misfortune of playing in two one-hit wonder rock groups, namely Stereomud ("Pain") and, alongside his brother, Dark New Day (with the appropriately titled "Brother"). He later joined supergroup Saint Asonia (who have had three Top 10 hits, and is now the guitarist for Seether (who have had plenty of rock hits).
Saving Abel scored a surprise crossover hit in 2008-09 with "Addicted" (#2 mainstream rock, #7 alternative, #20 Hot 100), in an era where dance-pop and rap ruled the airwaves. Their follow up "18 Days" managed to bubble under and was another top 10 hit on rock radio. Their chart success dried up after "The Sex is Good" became their only #1 on Mainstream Rock radio, and they faded into complete obscurity. Today they are remembered exclusively for one song: "Addicted".
Hinder was also this, but to a much lesser degree. Yes, "Lips of an Angel" was an unbelievably massive hit and anyone who was alive during the mid-2000s will doubtlessly remember hearing that damn song playing everywhere. That being said, "Get Stoned", "Better than Me", and "Use Me" were also big hits; not as big as "Lips of an Angel" by any means, but still big enough that people will probably remember hearing them a lot as well. "Remember" is the operative word, however, as Hinder fell out of favor and now sees minimal airplay due to a mix of no longer being backed by a major label because of how hard they fell off and being held up as a symbol of everything wrong with rock in the 2000s. On pop radio, however, "Lips" was their only major hit, period; although "Better than Me" cracked the bottom of the top 40, virtually no one from that radio format's audience remembers it.
Default are very popular in their native Canada, but the only song of theirs to have any impact outside their native country was "Wasting My Time." They've had some rock airplay for other hits, but nothing by them has been able to go anywhere near where "Wasting My Time" was. Lead singer Dallas Smith had a successful Breakup Breakout as a Country Music artist.
Mr. Big hit #1 in 1992 with the ballad "To Be With You." While they had two other songs hit the top 40, "To Be With You" is the only one that's remembered today outside of Japan.
Shinedown has had plenty of #1 singles on Mainstream Rock radio, but their only crossover hit was in 2009 with "Second Chance", which peaked at #7. None of their other singles reached the Top 40, although "If You Only Knew" almost made the mark peaking at #42. Today, "Second Chance" is seen as the swan song of crossover mainstream rock music, as it was released just before the EDM-pop-rap takeover of The New '10s that killed all forms of harder rock in the mainstream, making it unlikely they'll ever be able to produce another crossover hit.
South African rock band Seether have had seven #1 hits on the Mainstream Rock charts, yet only one of their songs crossed over to the pop Top 40: 2004's "Broken". It reached #20 and marked their only song to successfully travel to non-rock audiences. Proving that one can be a star of their own format but a one-hit wonder on another. Additionally, it featured frontman Shaun Morgan's then-girlfriend Amy Lee, which became her only hit independently from Evanescence.
Speaking of Evanescence, they were huge in the early 00s, and are not a one-hit wonder by any stretch of the imagination. However, their Signature Song "Bring Me to Life" features guest vocals from Paul McCoy, frontman of the Christian Rock band 12 Stones. That was the only song McCoy was involved in that anyone remembers since none of the singles from his band made it past the 20s on the rock charts nor did they ever enter any other chart, and even their albums barely registered on the Billboard 200. Shortly after the success of Fallen, bassist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray formed the side project Future Leaders of the World. The group had a hit in late 2004 with "Let Me Out" and not much else.
My Darkest Days were rather popular in their native Canada but in America, their success began and ended with "Porn Star Dancing," their breakthrough smash. The band is on an indefinite hiatus, as lead singer Matt Walst has joined Three Days Grace.
Speaking of Three Days Grace, they've had plenty of hits on rock radio, but former frontman Adam Gontier only has one notable credit as a soloist: his feature on Apocalyptica's "I Don't Care."
Apocalyptica themselves are often seen as one by American audiences for "I Don't Care". While the Finnish cello metal band is very popular in Europe, they only experienced brief popularity stateside before falling off the map. As it stands, despite having three Top 10s on mainstream rock (the others being collaborations with CoreyTaylor and Bush's Gavin Rossdale), "I Don't Care" is the only one American audiences still remember them for.
In 2007, ex-Puddle of Mudd guitarist Paul Phillips and actor Johnny Strong formed Operator. The band had a hit with "Soulcrusher" and nothing else.
Army of Anyone, a supergroup consisting of Richard Patrick, the DeLeo brothers, and RayLuzier, had a major rock hit in 2006-7 with "Goodbye". Their song "Father Figure" stalled in the 30s and they split up almost immediately afterwards.
The Veer Union are known for the 2009 #10 mainstream rock hit "Seasons" (best remembered for being the theme to WWE's 2009 Backlash pay-per-view), and absolutely nothing else.
A Perfect Circle is not a one-hit wonder, but member Billy Howerdel's solo project Ashes Divide are known only for the song "The Stone". It was a top 10 hit on both the mainstream and alternative rock charts, but neither chart saw another top 40 from them.
Buckcherry was very popular back on their native mainstream rock format, but "Sorry" was their only pop crossover.
Zakk Wylde has had several hits with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society, but his featured credit on the aforementioned "Porn Star Dancing" was the only major hit he has ever had under his own name. Prior to forming Black Label Society, he fronted a band called Pride & Glory, who hit #14 with "Losin' My Mind" and never had another hit afterwards.
Motörhead is certainly not a one-hit wonder, but the short-lived Headgirl project with Girlschool are, thanks to their #5 St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP. As for Girlschool, it marked their only major presence on the UK charts to date.
British rock band Young Guns had a smash #1 rock hit with "Bones" but quickly floundered afterwards.
Tantric had quite a few hits on mainstream rock radio, but their only hit single on the alternative chart was the top-5 "Breakdown" in 2001.
St. Louis based rock band Cavo had two big hits in 2009-10, the #1 "Champagne" and top 10 follow-up "Crash"; however, the latter is almost completely forgotten and they are usually considered one-hit wonders for the former.
Living Colour had many massive hits on rock radio, but their only major pop crossover was 1989's "Cult of Personality," and today it is the only song the group is still remembered for. The song's newfound lease of life in 2011 when professional wrestler CM Punk adopted it as his theme certainly did not help.
Mötley Crüe isn't a one-hit wonder at all, but drummer Tommy Lee had a #5 hit on rock radio with his debut solo single "Hold Me Down". It was his only chart presence without them.
Nickelback is not a one-hit wonder at all, but frontman Chad Kroeger is as a soloist with "Hero" from the Spider-Man soundtrack. His only other hits were guest spots on two Santana songs, "Why Don't You and I" and "Into The Night". However, since they weren't his hits, and the former is better known for its alternate version with Alex Band, it doesn't disqualify him. It is also a one-hit wonder for Saliva's Josey Scott, who never recorded another solo song nor has he ever had another pop hit with or without his group.
Masters of Reality, a critically acclaimed forebearer of the stoner rock genre, only managed a single chart entry when "She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On)" reached #8 on the Mainstream Rock chart in 1993. Part of the reason it did so well was that the band's drummer at the time was the legendary Ginger Baker of Cream, which captured the attention of radio programmers and audiences. The band didn't release another album for six years, by which point Baker was long gone and they had lost all their momentum. However, frontman Chris Goss began a very fruitful career as a producer, most notably being behind the boards for Queens of the Stone Age's first five albums.
Giant is known almost entirely for their 1990 hit "I'll See You in My Dreams", although they had a few other hits on the Mainstream Rock charts. After the band broke up in 1992, lead vocalist/guitarist Dann Huff and bassist Mike Brignardello both became session musicians in Country Music. Huff has since become more known since the end of The '90s as a Record Producer, having worked with Faith Hill, Lonestar, Rascal Flatts, and Keith Urban among others. (Coincidentally, Huff was originally a member of the Christian rock band White Heart, which also had a few members move over to country in the '90s.)
We Are Harlot, the blues-influenced side project of Asking Alexandria's Danny Worsnop, had a major rock radio hit in mid-2015 with "Dancing on Nails". Their success stopped afterwards and Worsnop returned to AA a year later, leaving the group's future in doubt.
Nu metal band Snot never charted before the death of their lead singer Lynn Strait in 1998. After his death, the members of the band reconvened as Strait Up and put out a memorial album to Strait in 2000 featuring some of the top metal vocalists of the day as guests. One of these songs, "Angel's Son" featuring Sevendust frontman Lajon Witherspoon, made it to #11 on the mainstream rock chart and #15 on the alternative chart. Strait Up was only formed to put out that one album and they never charted again. Neither did Witherspoon, who has never actively pursued a solo career, though his band has twelve top 20 mainstream rock hits.
In their native United States, Grand Funk Railroad were one of the biggest rock bands of the early 1970s, with two #1 singles and a streak of gold or platinum albums. Across the pond in the UK? There were not particularly popular at all. That shows in their chart history; Their only UK chart entry was their cover of The Animals' "Inside Looking Out", which made to #40 for a single week in 1971. That cover never even charted in America and is nowhere near as popular as their actual hits over there.
Heavy metal guitarist Kane Roberts was best known for his work in Alice Cooper's backing band in the late 1980s and his cameo in the horror classic Shocker, but in 1991 he had a hit with "Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?", a cover of an unreleased Bon Jovi song that was previously recorded by Cher.
Despite being one of the most iconic (and controversial) hard rockers of all time, Ted Nugent only managed to go top 40 once in his career with 1977's "Cat Scratch Fever". That being said, his pre-solo career band The Amboy Dukes also qualify with their 1968 classic "Journey to the Center of Your Mind". The same can essentially be said for Damn Yankees, his early-90s supergroup known for the ballad "High Enough". Damn Yankees had one other hit in 1992 with "Where You Goin' Now" and several entries on the rock charts, but only "High Enough" seems to be remembered today.
Honeymoon Suite reached #34 on the Hot 100 in 1986 with "Feel It Again". They had three other Hot 100 hits, several further entries on the mainstream rock chart, and were very successful in their native Canada for most of the 1980s, but they never reached the American pop top 40 again.
Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction reached #18 in the UK with "Prime Mover" in 1987. Although they continued to record after that, they never made the Top 40 again. Their song "Feed My Frankenstein" became a hit through a cover by Alice Cooper in 1992, while bassist Jimmy Cauty had many more hits as one-half of The KLF.
The White Stripes were a hugely successful and acclaimed alt-rock duo, but strangely enough can be seen as one-hit wonders from two different directions. Technically, their only Top 40 hit was 2007's "Icky Thump", which hit #26 due to strong first-week digital sales. However, they are generally known to the mainstream audiences almost exclusively for one decade-defining indie-rock anthem that technically wasn't a hit — 2003's "Seven Nation Army." Frontman Jack White's other project The Raconteurs are known solely to the greater public for their 2006 hit "Steady, As She Goes". They had a couple of other hits on alternative, but since going on hiatus that's the only one most people can name. It's also the only song by them that gets any airplay today. "Steady" also falls into the "famous one-hit wonders that weren't technically hits" zone, as it only reached #54. Finally, Jack White himself got a top 40 hit as a guest on Beyoncé's "Don't Hurt Yourself". Since his music isn't made for pop radio, it'll likely remain his only Top 40 hit.
Swedish Garage Rock band The Hives are yet another example of this like the ones above. They are highly respected, especially during the garage rock revival movement of the early-2000s. However, their only real radio hit stateside was 2000's "Hate To Say I Told You So", which went #6 on modern rock charts after being re-released in 2002, and #86 on the overall Hot 100. The closest thing they had to that success was "Walk Idiot Walk", which only reached #19 and was quickly forgotten. Funny thing is, the song didn't even chart back home. Their biggest success locally is, of all things, "A Christmas Duel", with Cyndi Lauper.
Most people who know of April March are only familiar with the song "Chick Habit", aka "The High-Pitched End Credits Song From Death Proof". The song is actually a cover of "Laisse tomber les filles", a song written by famed French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, which she then translated and re-wrote into English. March has released a number of albums and is quite popular in France, but "Chick Habit" was her one and only appearance in the American mainstream.
The Folk Implosion, a side project of Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr. member Lou Barlow, managed a #29 entry on the Hot 100 in 1995 with "Natural One", from the film Kids. As a lo-fi band with a somewhat noncommercial sound, it's not surprising that they never troubled the pop charts again. In fact, they never even hit the Alternative charts afterwards.
Alex Clare had a hit with "Too Close". The song only became popular because of an Internet Explorer commercial, and his album didn't sell very strongly, leaving his career in the dust. He did lend his vocals to the moderately successful Rudimental track "Not Giving In" and the UK top 10 "Endorphins" by Sub Focus. As far as his own songs go, he hasn't charted since. He's now largely remembered as an ex-boyfriend of Amy Winehouse who kissed and told to a tabloid.
Canadian band Wintersleep are a popular live act and an acclaimed band, but their only chart entry was "Weighty Ghost" in 2007, though they had many hits on alternative radio stations.
Foster the People had a surprise hit in 2011 with "Pumped Up Kicks". Because indie-pop songs rarely ever became major crossover hits at the time, they, like Gotye, were seen to be too left-field to score a second hit. They've had a couple of more hits on the alternative charts, but didn't do anything on a national chart until 2018 when their song "Sit Next to Me" fell short at #42.
American Authors are known for their almost-Top 10 hit "Best Day of My Life" and nothing else.
Irish musician Hozier scored a surprise crossover hit with "Take Me to Church" in late 2014-early 2015, which peaked at #2 behind Taylor Swift's "Blank Space". On the rock/alternative side, it fared even better, where it topped the Billboard Rock Songs chart for a whopping 23 weeks. His follow-ups haven't even hit the bottom of the Hot 100 ever since (#101 is the highest he's gotten since). Because its success was so left-field, and his style of music is too 'rock' to have consistent crossovers on pop, it's unlikely he'll be able to get another hit. The exceptions are in his native Ireland, where most of his follow-ups have charted well, and Billboard's adult alternative chart, which he topped in 2018 with "Nina Cried Power".
British band Florence + the Machine is one of the biggest indie rock bands on the market, which includes both sides of the Atlantic. However, they technically only got one song into the American Top 40; "Dog Days Are Over", which peaked at #21. This is a feat they achieved without bothering mainstream pop radio (though it did crossover to Hot AC). They've had more success on the alternative charts (and on the mainstream charts back home), and have sold millions of albums worldwide (including two platinum albums in the US).
Frontwoman and namesake Florence Welch became a one-hit wonder twice over by Billboard standards, as she was featured on Calvin Harris' #10 hit "Sweet Nothing", which actually marked her only visit to pop radio. Of course, since Florence + the Machine is basically her solo project anyways, this tag doesn't really follow her.
Big Data, the electronic rock music project of Alan Wilkis, had a #1 hit on alternative radio with "Dangerous", which featured Joywave (who had a minor hit on the charts afterwards). After that, nothing.
"That's Not My Name" was the only American hit for British duo The Ting Tings. Interestingly, that song has largely faded from public consciousness while "Shut Up and Let Me Go", which missed the Top 40, remains a popular recurrent on rock and pop radio.
The Black Keys are not a one-hit wonder on alt-rock radio. However, The Arcs, the side-project of frontman Dan Auerbach, only had one single that got widespread airplay — "Outta My Mind".
OK Go are well known and much loved in the indie rock community, in particular for their one-shot music videos, but they have only one song of theirs that hit the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 - 2006's "Here It Goes Again."
While fairly popular in the indie scene (with a top 10 hit on the alternative side with "Anna Sun"), Walk the Moon's 2015 ode-to-dancing song "Shut Up and Dance" will likely be the only thing the general public will know them for. It became their first single to chart, first scraping the bottom of the Hot 100 before slowly yet steadily climbing up all the way to the Top 5; it was a massive crossover sleeper hit. Given how sales for their album Talking is Hard have been abysmal, their follow-up "Different Colors" was barely a hit on alternative radio, and the fate having befallen all but a few alternative crossover hits in the 2010s, their chances of scoring another successful hit on pop are slim-to-none. For instance, their 2018 single "One Foot" became their second #1 on the alternative chart, but only got to #65 on the Hot 100.
Grouplove just barely missed the top 40 in 2012 with "Tongue Tied" and then nothing else on the pop side of things. They've done better on the alternative chart, with "Ways to Go" hitting #2 in 2013.
Denver alt-pop band Churchill scored an alternative radio hit with "Change" in 2013, riding off the song's selection as the iTunes Free Single of the Week. Unfortunately, the band abruptly broke up just as the song was at its peak of popularity. "Change" turned out to be their final single.
California alt-pop band The Mowgli's are known exclusively for their 2012/2013 hit "San Francisco".
Sheppard, an Australian family band, had a big hit in 2014 and 2015 with "Geronimo". It topped the ARIA charts back home and crossed over to several other countries. They haven't charted again internationally, although they have managed to regain some success in their home country since the release of their 2017 single "Coming Home".
Pavement. One of the most influential indie rock groups of all time. A grand total of one song that charted on the Modern Rock charts. "Cut Your Hair" in 1994. Sentence.
Australian band Frente! were having some success in their home country when they scored an international hit recording a Softer and Slower Cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle". While reissuing overseas their first single "Labour of Love" somewhat paid off (it even outpeaked that cover by one position in the US' Modern Rock chart), it was the end for them, as their second album tanked and Frente! called it quits two years later.
Commercials for Apple products were a proto-viral phenomenon in the 2000s, and several of the songs appearing in those ads became Billboard hits, and several artists became one-hit wonders as a result:
New Zealand alt-rockers Steriogram reached #14 in the UK with their song "Walkie Talkie Man" after it appeared in a 2004 iPod ad. The band never charted again in the UK, only had one more follow-up hit in New Zealand, although they remained popular in that country until their split in 2014.
Swedish rock band Caesars' song "Jerk It Out" only made it to #60 in the UK upon its original release in 2003, right after appearing in the hit video game FIFA 2004. Two years later, the song re-charted at #8 in the UK and #70 in the US after featuring in the inaugural iPod Shuffle ad in 2005.
French electro-rock duo Rinôçérôse scored a #40 hit on the modern rock chart in 2006 with their song "Cubicle" following its appearance in an iPod Nano ad.
Brazilian dance-punk band CSS scored a #63 hit on the Hot 100 in late 2007 with their song "Music is My Hot, Hot Sex" following its appearance in an iPod Touch commercial. Despite missing the Top 40, it was the band's biggest hit to date and their only appearance on any American singles chart.
Canadian singer-songwriter Feist is a big name in the indie rock world, but had her only mainstream success after her song "1234" appeared in an iPod Nano commercial in 2007. The song became an international hit, going to #8 in both the US and UK. It was also the only time she ever made the pop charts in either country. She has, however, continued to be a mainstay over on the adult alternative chart, where she's had three songs that have charted higher than "1234".
Israeli-French singer Yael Naim made it to #7 in the US with her song "New Soul", following its appearance in a MacBook Air commercial.
Indie electronic band Marian Hill became the latest example of this trend in 2017 when their song "Down" made it to #21 on the Hot 100 after being featured in an iPhone 7 commercial. Their only other song to gain even the slightest bit of traction is "Back To Me", which solely gained attention because Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony (who ironically would release their own song called "Down" a few months later) was featured on it. Because "Down" wasn't particularly a massive hit, Marian Hill have little chance of scoring a successful follow-up hit.
British band The Big Pink scored a Top 40 hit on both the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard alternative chart in the US with their 2009 single "Dominos". The song's success earned the band considerable hype, which had unfortunately cooled by the time their second album was released in 2012 to less-than-stellar reviews. "Dominos" remains the band's only charting single.
Peter Bjorn and John have long been one of the top indie rock bands in their native Sweden, but the only time they made any commercial impact outside of Scandinavia was with their international smash "Young Folks" from 2007. The song was inescapable for anyone who listened to indie music for a better part of a year, and was a Top 40 hit in six countries, including the UK. None of the band's other singles have charted, but their 2011 song "Second Chance" remains well known as the theme song for the American sitcom 2 Broke Girls.
PB&J's "Young Folks" featured vocals from Swedish singer Victoria Bergsmann, whose solo project Taken by Trees also only had one hit. Her soft, piano-driven cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine" made it to #23 in the UK in 2009. The song charted after it received a Colbert Bump from being featured in that year's Christmas advertisement from the department store John Lewis, which is a highly anticipated annual tradition in Britain. After that, she never charted again in any country.
Actors Michael Cera and Elliot Page reached #91 on the Hot 100 in 2008 with their cover of The Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else But You" from the Juno soundtrack. It was both's only chart appearance anywhere in the world.
Washington D.C. indie band Lilys scored a surprise UK hit in 1996 after nearly the entirety of their song "A Nanny in Manhattan" was used in a television commercial for Levi's jeans. Although American-style indie rock rarely crossed over into the British charts in the mid-90s, the commercial's popularity resulted in the single reaching the Top 20. After that, Lilys never had another hit anywhere.
Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li is a one-hit wonder with two different songs depending on the country. Her 2012 single "I Follow Rivers" was a huge hit in Continental Europe, reaching #1 in Germany and Belgium and #2 in Austria. In most of the countries it was a hit, she never had another major charting single. The single she released before it, "Get Some", was her only charting single in the United States, where it made #31 on the Billboard Alternative chart. Despite her relative lack of success on the singles charts, her three albums have each received critical acclaim, and she's better known as an albums artist than as a singles-driven one.
Danger Mouse is certainly not a one-hit wonder as a producer, but he does count as a solo artist in collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi. Their song "Two Against One" made it to #20 on the Alternative chart in 2011, driven by a guest lead vocal by non-one-hit wonder (on the alternative charts anyway) Jack White. Because Luppi is a composer instead of an alt-rock artist, it will likely be his only entry on an American singles chart unless he collaborates with another artist again. Danger Mouse has had other alternative chart hits as a member of both Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells, but he never charted again there as a solo act.
Miike Snow have been cult icons in their native Sweden and beyond since they first arrived on the scene in 2009. Despite that, they have only ever managed to score one successful song on United States radio with 2016's "Genghis Khan". However, that isn't to say they haven't had hits by other means: The core of the group are songwriters Bloodshy & Avant, who are most famous for writing the Britney Spears smash hits "Toxic" and "Piece of Me", while lead singer Andrew Wyatt won an Oscar for co-writing Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's hit duet "Shallow". Also, in the United Kingdom, they're probably better remembered for their debut single "Animal", which didn't chart but it now well-known as the theme tune to Friday Night Dinner.
While fairly popular in his native Canada, Coleman Hell's American career fizzled out quickly after the success of 2015's "2 Heads".
Marmaduke Duke, the quirky side-project of Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil, scored a surprise #12 hit in the UK in 2009 with their funky dance-rock tune "Rubber Lover". The duo's follow-up single didn't chart and Neil has largely focused on his main band since.
California duo In the Valley Below scored a #18 alternative hit in 2015 with their song "Peaches" and never made the charts again afterward.
Rogue Wave had a #29 alternative hit in 2007 with the catchy "Lake Michigan". Despite the song's success and its frequent use in commercials, Rogue Wave never had another chart hit.
Bell X1 are one of the most popular indie bands in their native Ireland, with several top 40 pop hits there. In the United States, however, their only charting single was the Talking Heads-influenced "The Great Defector", which made it to #9 on the adult alternative chart in 2009.
Viola Beach have a tragic reason for their one-hit wonder status. The British indie band had just released their first singles and were gaining buzz through festival performances when all four members were killed in a van accident in 2016. Following the accident, the band's debut single "Swings & Waterslides" made it to #11 on the UK charts as a result of a campaign to get it on the chart in their memory, which had been endorsed by British rock luminaries like Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown. The band's second and final single "Boys That Sing" only reached #50, despite a similar push from Chris Martin, who encouraged his fans to buy the song. A few months later, Viola Beach's only album (a collection of those two singles plus live radio sessions) made it to #1 on the UK album chart.
Fyfe Dangerfield was not a one hit wonder as the frontman to the popular indie rock group Guillemots, as they scored four top 40 hits on the UK Singles Chart. As a soloist, however, his only hit of note was a 2010 cover of Billy Joels 1977 hit "Shes Always a Woman" that hit #7. The cover gained attention through its use in an advertisement for high-end department store chain John Lewis, and the original Billy Joel version re-entered the charts around the same time.
New Young Pony Club reached #40 in the UK with "Ice Cream" in 2007. Although the band members would later contribute backing vocals to Kaiser Chiefs' top 5 hit "Never Miss a Beat", New Young Pony Club never reached the top 40 as a lead artist again.
Two Feet, the electronic-rock project of Harlem-based jazz and blues musician Bill Dess, first got attention on SoundCloud for the viral hit "Go Fuck Yourself". While it got no airplay, it did land him a record deal with Republic Records, and he hit #1 on alternative radio out the bat with "I Feel Like I'm Drowning", his major-label debut. Two Feet has only had one other alternative chart entry, "You?", which only made it to #30 in 2019.
EL VY was a short-lived indie supergroup featuring Matt Berninger of The National and Brent Knopf of Menomena. Their first single "Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Blume to Sing, with Crescendo)" reached #6 on adult alternative and #28 on the alternative chart in 2015. The song was Berninger's first-ever entry on either chart; Although the National were one of the most popular indie rock bands at that point, they didn't start having rock radio hits until 2017. EL VY never released another album, and "Return to the Moon" was their only song to chart anywhere.
Danish indie band The Asteroids Galaxy Tour scored a minor hit in 2011 with their song "The Golden Age" after it was used in a Heineken commercial. The song reached #109 in the US, and made the Top 40 in a half dozen European countries. While they had no further actual hits, they are sometimes remembered as a Two-Hit Wonder because "Around the Bend" gained prominence after being used in a 2009 iPod commercial despite never charting anywhere.
The Dave Matthews Band has had several hits across multiple charts, but bandleader Dave Matthews hasn't been as lucky as a solo artist. His only Top 40 solo hit was his guest appearance on Kenny Chesney's "I'm Alive", a #32 Hot 100 entry in 2009. On the alternative chart, his only solo entry is "Gravedigger", which made it to #35 in 2003. He did better on the adult alternative chart, where all three singles from his 2004 solo album made the top 10, two of them going all the way to #1. However, his solo success there pales in comparison to that of his band, who have had 9 #1 hits on that chart.
The Disco Biscuits became popular in the early 2000s for adding electronic and trance influences into their jam band sound, creating a new subgenre called "livetronica". Despite their devoted following, the band has only had one chart entry anywhere in the world: "On Time", which reached #20 on the Billboard dance club chart in 2010.
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians had a #7 hit in 1989 with "What I Am". Although their album sold well and they had a few other hits on the rock-centric charts, they never troubled the pop charts again. Brickell herself is otherwise best known for being Paul Simon's wife.
Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia, the two frontmen for the Grateful Dead, both had one minor Hot 100 solo appearance in the 1970s. Garcia's "Sugaree" reached #94 in 1972, while Weir's "Bombs Away" peaked at #70 in 1978. Both guitarists had long solo careers separate from the Dead, but those songs remain their only charting singles away from the band. "Sugaree" was regularly performed by the Dead in concert before and after Garcia released his solo recording, and it appears on several of the group's live albums.
Bobby and the Midnites, a side-project for Weir and fellow Dead member Brent Mydland, scored a rock radio hit in 1981 when their song "Too Many Losers" squeaked onto the Mainstream Rock chart at #48 (for part of the 80s, the chart had 50 positions instead of the regular 40). No further hits followed, and the project split a few short years later. Although there were many Dead side-project bands, this was the only time that any of them made any singles chart.
O.A.R. were primarily known as a jam band before the mid-2000s, when they pulled a Genre Shift to adult-alternative. After having a minor hit with "Love & Memories" in 2005, the band had their first and only top 40 hit with "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)", which reached #36 in 2008. The band never made the Hot 100 again but continues to have a regular presence on the adult contemporary chart.
Rusted Root are known almost exclusively for their 1994 song "Send Me On My Way". The song only reached #72 on the Hot 100, but its use in popular culture, namely in Matilda and the first Ice Age, led to it becoming one of the most well-known folk songs of The '90s. They haven't had any other well-known songs since.
Power metal group DragonForce are one of the most respected names in their genre and have a huge cult following around the world, but they are known to the general public almost exclusively for their 2006 song "Through the Fire and Flames," due to its memorable inclusion in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the hardest song to play in the series' history. The song is even their only Billboard chart entry, making it to #34 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #86 on the Hot 100.
Though they are popular in the metal world, metalcore band I Prevail's only Hot 100 entry was a joke metal cover of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" complete with screaming, as it was a curious novelty for both metalheads and Swifties. Although their Hot 100 action stopped after the "Blank Space" cover, the band saw further success on rock radio and their 2019 single "Bow Down" got a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance nomination.
System of a Down were one of the most popular and critically acclaimed metal bands of the 2000s, but they only managed one Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hit. "BYOB" made it to #27 in 2005, reaching that peak with no help from pop radio, relying mostly on sales, downloads, and what little airplay rock radio contributes to chart placement. Two of their other songs, "Aerials" and "Hypnotize", came close to the Top 40, but missed by about a dozen places each. On the rock charts, it's a different story since pretty much all of their singles charted on both.
Scars on Broadway was a short-lived side project of System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan. The group made it to #15 on the Billboard Alternative chart in 2008 with their song "They Say". The band's next two singles failed to catch on, and they went on hiatus until 2017.
Black Veil Brides are one of the biggest metal bands of the 2010s, with a rabid fanbase and hugely successful concert tours. That being said, their only radio hit to date has been 2013's "In The End" (not that "In The End"!).
Minneapolis-based blues-rock band Crow took their song "Evil Woman" to #19 in the US in January 1970. It's probably better known for the cover that Black Sabbath released a few months later on their debut album.
Avenged Sevenfold are technically No Hit Wonders on the Hot 100, as they never went higher than #51 with 2010s "Nightmare". However, lead singer M. Shadows and guitarist Synyster Gates hit #39 in 2007 when they respectively provided guest vocals and guitar on Good Charlotte's "The River".
Lo-Pro, formed from the ashes of nu-metal underdogs Ultraspank, hit the top 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in 2003 with "Sunday". Unfortunately, no follow-up single was ever released and the band didn't put out any new music until 2010.
Underoath, despite their huge following, didn't score their first chart hit until 2018. However, there were three one-hit wonder groups featuring Underoath members that charted before that:
First, drummer Aaron Gillsepie's other band, The Almost had a top 10 alternative hit in 2007 with "Say This Sooner". They never had another charting song anywhere else.
Then, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, the southern-rock side project of original vocalist Dallas Taylor, had a minor hit with "Step Up (I'm On It)", which was used as a WWE pay-per-view theme. Other than recording a tag team theme for Chris Jericho and the Big Show, the band never did anything else notable.
Most recently, lead singer Spencer Chamberlain and his band Sleepwave got a hit in 2014 with "Through the Looking Glass".
Giuffria was a heavy metal band (which included former members of Dio and Quiet Riot) who scored a #15 hit with "Call to the Heart" in 1984. Later singles "Lonely in Love" and "I Must Be Dreaming" made it to #57 and #52 respectively, but no other Top 40 hits. Lead singer David Glen Eisleywould later get a second wind in his career, as he was the singer for "Sweet Victory", the ending song from the iconic SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Band Geeks". "Sweet Victory" is nowadays far more iconic than "Call to the Heart" despite having never charted.
Andrew W.K. scored a #19 hit on the UK Singles Chart with "Party Hard", but never charted again anywhere afterwards. Averted in his native US, where he's a No-Hit Wonder despite being one of the most well-known rock/metal solo artists of the last decade.
California Hair Metal band Autograph had a #29 hit in 1984 with the Heavy Meta anthem "Turn Up the Radio", one of the most iconic songs of the genre's 80s heyday. However, the song ended up being their only hit.
Dexys Midnight Runners are a particularly famous example, when "Come On Eileen" became an unexpected crossover hit in the United States, getting to #1 in 1983. The song is particularly famous as it prevented Michael Jackson from having back-to-back #1 hits with "Billie Jean" and "Beat It". Their only song to chart in the US afterwards was "The Celtic Soul Brothers", which got to #86. In their native UK as well as Ireland, they are much more popular (where, in the former country, they had an earlier #1 hit with "Geno").
The Boomtown Rats had a number of hits in the UK but are only known in the US for "I Don't Like Mondays" (and for having humanitarian activist Bob Geldof in them).
The Vapors had an international hit with "Turning Japanese" but no fanbase back home to build on. Their song "Jimmie Jones" cracked the top 40 of the Mainstream Rock charts in 1981, and proved to be their only hit on that chart, as the chart didn't exist when "Turning Japanese" peaked. They broke up not long after and did not reunite until the 2010s.
Devo had a #15 hit in 1980 with "Whip It". Despite this, they were a hugely influential band and had a large cult following.
Michael Sembello was initially a popular session musician, having recorded with artists including Stevie Wonder, George Benson, and Michael Jackson, but as a solo artist he's only remembered for "Maniac", from the Flashdance soundtrack. He barely had a second Top 40 hit with "Automatic Man", which peaked at #34 and was gone from the charts quickly. Sembello instead turned his focus to film, contributing songs to the soundtracks of Cocoon and Gremlins.
In 2000, radio DJ Mark McCabe scored a #1 hit in Ireland with a cover of "Maniac". It was his only single.
Paul Hardcastle's only top 40 hit in the US was "19", a song about the Vietnam War featuring samples from a news report and potentially more remembered for being the single that prevented "A View to a Kill" by Duran Duran from being the first Bond theme to hit #1 in the UK charts (a feat it achieved in America). He had three more top 40 hits in the UK, including "The Wizard", later used as the theme for Top of the Pops
Toni Basil had a #1 hit in December 1982 with "Mickey", and she never charted in the top 40 again. The songs "Over My Head" and "Suspense" were top 10 dance hits, but "Mickey" was still her most successful song there. Despite only having one hit as a singer, she's had a long, influential career as a choreographer and visual artist before and after "Mickey"'s success.
Matthew Wilder had a Top 5 hit in both the US and UK in 1983 with "Break My Stride". Wilder never had another big hit in either country; Although "The Kid's American" scraped the Top 40 in the US the next year, it topped out at #33 and was quickly forgotten. He had a Career Resurrection in the 1990s as a record producer and songwriter, most notably producing No Doubt's breakout album Tragic Kingdom and working on the soundtrack of Mulan (he co-wrote "Reflection" and was the singing voice of Ling).
The Flying Lizards had a minor hit (#5 in the UK, #50 in the US) with their baffling, stripped-down, nearly emotionless cover of "Money (That's What I Want)" in 1979.
The landscape of Canadian music is littered with the corpses of barely-remembered new wave acts from the 80's:
Blue Peter's one and only hit, "Don't Walk Past" (released on their second and final full album), was played on MTV in its heyday, garnered a few Canadian music awards and resulted in the group touring as an opening act for The Police. More than twenty years later, the group only gets together a few times a year to play local gigs in Toronto, where "Don't Walk Past" is the opening number.
Martha and the Muffins had a massive hit with the quintessential "Echo Beach" in 1980. They had a number of other singles and a few big hits in Canada (although none as big as "Echo Beach"), but were hardly heard from in the rest of the world. The song "Black Stations/White Stations" charted in both the UK and the US (and was their only Hot 100 hit there), getting up to #2 on the Dance charts, but it never hit the top 10 in any international market.
The Payolas, a Vancouver-based new wave group, had a bonafide hit with "Eyes of a Stranger", which appeared on the soundtrack to 1983's "Valley Girl", reached the top of the charts in Canada and hit the Top 25 U.S. Mainstream Rock Singles. Their second single, "Never Said I Love You", reached the Top 10 in Canada, but failed to chart anywhere else. The band's guitarist, Bob Rock, later became well known as a Record Producer for artists like The Cult, Bon Jovi and, most infamously, Metallica
A reworked version of the band, renamed Rock and Hyde, had another hit with "Dirty Water", which cracked the Top 20 in Canada and hit #6 on the U.S. rock charts, but again, their output afterwards failed to chart.
The Toronto-based rock group Toronto (whose band members all hail from... Toronto) had their one and only hit single with "Your Daddy Don't Know", which reached the Top 5 of the Canadian singles chart and #77 in the US. The only reason it garnered any sort of awareness in recent years was due to The New Pornographers covering it for the soundtrack to FUBAR. Toronto had a few other minor hits including "Start Tellin' The Truth" and "Girls Night Out", but never again hit the top 10 nor the US Hot 100. Their best known song aside from their hit was one they wound up never releasing: Two members had written the song "What About Love?", but the rest of the band vetoed putting it on their album. Two years later, A cover version by Heart became an international hit.
"Genius of Love" was the Tom Tom Clubs only Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hit. The band was a a side-project of Talking Heads members (and married couple) Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Interestingly, in the UK, "Genius of Love" never made it past #65, but they reached the top 10 with "Wordy Rappinghood". They had a second top 40 hit in the UK with "Under The Boardwalk," but that missed the top 20. "Under The Boardwalk," however, was their only top 10 hit in New Zealand, despite the former two songs both having gone top 40 there. So, that means Tom Tom Club could be considered a one-hit wonder with three different songs in three different countries. Despite all of that, "Genius of Love" is probably the best-remembered of the three because of its inclusion in the 1984 Talking Heads Concert FilmStop Making Sense (as an interlude to give David Byrne time to change into the Big Suit) in addition to being Sampled Up in Mariah Carey's "Fantasy".
Another band to be a one hit wonder on both sides of the Atlantic with different songs: Icicle Works. "Love Is a Wonderful Colour" was their UK hit, while "Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)" was the song that charted in the US, and is the better-remembered of the two, despite its US peak (#37) being well below "Love Is a Wonderful Colour"'s UK peak (#15).
Yet another band to be a one hit wonder on both sides of the Atlantic with different songs was After the Fire. They had a #40 UK hit in 1979 with "One Rule for You" (this and Laser Love would also become hits on Christian Rock radio later on), and four years later had a big #5 hit in the US with a cover of Falco's "Der Kommissar". After a #85 hit with "Dancing in the Shadows", their chart success was over.
And a fourth example: The Waitresses. They scored a Top 75 hit in both the US and UK with different songs. In the US, it was "I Know What Boys Like" (#62), while in the UK, it was the Christmas song "Christmas Wrapping" (#45). In this instance, both songs eventually became equally well known in both countries, to the point where the band is sometimes considered a Two-Hit Wonder despite only having one actual hit in each country.
Peter Schilling reached #1 in 4 countries with "Major Tom (Coming Home)" and the song is still played on radio in the United States, but afterwards he largely faded from the limelight outside of Germany, though he continues to release albums. His song "The Different Story (World of Lust and Crime)" was a Swedish top 10 hit and also hit the Hot 100, but failed to go top 40.
New York-based band Industry only had one album and were known for their only hit, "State of the Nation", which topped the charts in Italy and went Top 10 in Sweden, but only made #80 in the US. Once the band disbanded, its keyboardist Jon Carin became a member of the post-1987 version of Pink Floyd.
German New Wave duo Bruce & Bongo topped the German and Austrian charts in 1986 while going top 10 in Italy and Switzerland with their bizarre novelty song "Geil". They tried to repeat this feat with "Hi Ho", a cover of "Heigh Ho" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to no avail, despite a #29 placing in Germany.
Modern Talking only had one top 40 hit in the UK, the #4 "Brother Louie." They were far more successful in continental Europe.
Scottish New Wave group Fiction Factory hit #6 in the UK in 1984 with "(Feels Like) Heaven" but couldn't go top 40 ever again.
Strawberry Switchblade went top 5 in the UK with "Since Yesterday," then completely vanished afterwards.
Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie cracked the top 40 in the UK in 1989 with "The Rattler", hitting #37. While they were popular in their native Scotland for several years, they never hit the top 40 again. Keyboardist Shirley Manson would go on to have major success as the frontwoman for the American band Garbage.
Q Lazzarus had a college radio hit in 1988 with the song "Goodbye Horses", but the song didn't become famous until its appearance in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. Although the film brought a considerable resurgence of interest to the song, Lazzarus did not capitalize on it and she pretty much disappeared thereafter.
Orange Juice had a #8 UK hit in 1983 with "Rip It Up." Follow-up "Flesh of my Flesh" just missed the top 40, stalling at 41. Although the band were highly influential in the development of the then-nascent Indie Pop and Sophisti-Pop genres, they never had another top 40 hit. Frontman Edwyn Collins would go on to have a hit of his own in 1996 with "A Girl Like You" from Empire Records. It hit #4 in the UK, #32 in the US, and topped the charts in Belgium.
British band Wang Chung only made the Top 40 in their home country once, with the #21 hit "Dance Hall Days" in 1984. Across the pond in America, however, they had five more Top 40 hits. Among these was the #2 smash "Everybody Have Fun Tonight," which is probably much better known there than "Dance Hall Days" is. Back in the UK, "Everybody" flopped hard, and only made it to #76.
M (aka Robin Scott) scored a #1 hit with "Pop Muzik" late in 1979. Nothing else made the American Top 100 and the only other British hit he had was #33 with "Moonlight and Muzak," although another single peaking at #15 in 1989 was just a remix of "Pop Muzik."
Big Country were very popular in the U.K., but their international success began and ended with "In A Big Country."
Madness only had one major hit in the US, when "Our House" made it to #7 in 1983. They had one more minor Top 40 entry later that year when "It Must Be Love" made it to #33, but it wasn't a particularly big hit and disappeared from the radio soon after. In their native UK, though, it's a whole other story. Madness were the second most-successful singles act in Britain in the 1980s, bested only by UB40. The band's first 20 singles all made the Top 20 there, and "Our House" is merely one of many well-remembered songs they have there, as opposed to their biggest or most popular.
Nena's "99 Luftballons", also known in English as "99 Red Balloons", managed to be a one-hit wonder for both the original German version and its English translation (unlike "Major Tom" where only the English version was the hit). The original German version was one that became a #2 hit in the US, while the British preferred the English version and took it all the way to #1. In Germany, mind you, she's still rather successful, but that was the only time she ever broke into international success.
The remake of "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime" as an English-German duet with British singer Kim Wilde was a hit in various European countries, reaching the Number 1 spot in the Netherlands and Austria, and Number 2 in Belgium, in 2003.
Modern English are commonly cited as an example of an '80s one-hit wonder for their 1982 single "I Melt With You", which, believe it or not, never made it past #78 in the US and missed the UK charts entirely. The band re-recorded the song in 1990, but that version failed to become a hit too, and peaked at #76 on the Hot 100. It was, however, on heavy rotation on MTV, and has become a staple of throwback, classic alternative and adult contemporary stations across the US.
Breakfast Club (not to be confused with the movie), had a Top 10 hit in 1987 with "Right On Track" before fading into obscurity. This was largely out of curiosity over the band that Madonna got her start in (she was their drummer in the late 70s and her replacement, Stephen Bray, co-wrote her hits "Into the Groove" and "Express Yourself"), and once that novelty wore off, so did interest in the group.
Duran Duran are certainly not one-hit wonders, but when they took a break in the mid-80's, they split into two splinter groups, The Power Station and Arcadia. While the former averted this by having two top 10 hits, Arcadia weren't so lucky, as their momentum disappeared after the top 10 hit "Election Day". The two Duran Duran members who went to The Power Station, John Taylor and Andy Taylornote who aren't related to each other — or drummer Roger Taylor (not the Queen one) for that matter became one-hit wonders as soloists with "I Do What I Do" and "Take it Easy", respectively.
The Cars are not one-hit wonders, but frontmen Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr are with "Emotion in Motion" and "Stay the Night", respectively.
British group Dead or Alive had two pop hits in the US, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" and "Brand New Lover", but only the former of the two is remembered. They were more successful on the Dance charts, and in the UK and Japan.
Go West were very popular in Britain, but are remembered in America almost exclusively for the #8 hit "King of Wishful Thinking" (of Pretty Woman fame). They had two other top 40 hits there but neither are well-remembered outside the UK today.
In a bizarre example of a One Hit Wonder whose one hit isn't considered their hit, Romeo Void hit #35 with "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)"... which is nowhere near as well known as their non-charting "Never Say Never".
Naked Eyes were not a one-hit wonder, but rather a Two-Hit Wonder for "Always Something There to Remind Me" and "Promises, Promises", but they're often remembered as one for the former. That being said, keyboardist Rob Fisher later did become part of a actual one-hit wonder band. The duo Climie Fisher had a hit in 1988 with "Love Changes (Everything)" before vanishing into obscurity.
When in Rome, a short lived New Wave group from Manchester, had a hit with "The Promise" in 1988 and then completely vanished.
The Blow Monkeys are a Two-Hit Wonder in their native Britain, with "Digging Your Scene" and "It Doesn't Have to Be This Way", but only the former made an impact across the pond. Frontman Robert Howard (a.k.a Dr. Robert) would later become a one-hit wonder on his own with "Wait", his duet with Kym Mazelle.
Danny Wilson was not a singer, but a Scottish band named after an old movie starring Frank Sinatra. They made their impact in 1987 with "Mary's Prayer", before vanishing into obscurity. Frontman Gary Clark later found some modest success as a songwriter, mostly notably when he wrote all of the songs featured in the 2016 film Sing Street.
Haircut One Hundred were quite successful in their native UK, but their US success began and ended with the #37 hit "Love Plus One" in 1982.
The band's frontman, Nick Heyward, scored his only American solo hit in 1993 with his baroque single "Kite", which made it to #4 on the alternative chart.
Waterfront, one of the few Welsh pop acts to ever make it big, hit #10 in 1989 with "Cry" and were never heard from again.
Bostonian New Wave band Til Tuesday is almost solely known for their 1985 #8 hit "Voices Carry". They are often thought of as a quintessential example of an '80s one-hit wonder. Interestingly, they actually had another Top 40 hit the next year with their #26 song "What About Love". While that technically disqualifies them, it doesn't from the public's point of view. Lead Bassist Aimee Mann went solo, finding critical success (and an Oscar nomination) as a singer-songwriter. Although Mann has had no pop hits, she is well known enough for Til Tuesday to be largely remembered as "That band Aimee Mann was in".
Mann's husband, Michael Penn, was also a one-hit wonder. His sole top-40 hit was 1990's "No Myth", which peaked at number 13. Otherwise, Penn is best known as the brother of Sean Penn.
The Psychedelic Furs are well known for several New Wave standards, including "Pretty In Pink", "Love My Way" and "The Ghost in You". Yet, their only U.S. top 40 entry wasn't any of those songs, but instead the long-forgotten "Heartbreak Beat."
Talk Talk had a single Top 40 hit in the US with 1984's "It's My Life" (which also became a hit for No Doubt). They were much more successful in the UK, where they had four other Top 40 hits ("It's My Life" wasn't even one of them until a 1990 re-issue). Interestingly, their lasting legacy in alternative music history (and arguably, what they're best known for nowadays) is for their material after their hit-making days were over. Their last two albums, 1988's Spirit of Eden and 1991's Laughing Stock, were commercial flops at the time of release, despite critical acclaim. However, the albums soon became favorites in indie music circles, and they're both now lauded as hugely influential to the development of the Post-Rock genre.
Danish new wave duo Laid Back had a Top 30 hit in the US in 1983 with their song "White Horse". None of their other singles were hits in America, but the band would later have a second international hit in 1990 with "Bakerman".
Indonesian-born Dutch singer Taco took a Retraux synth-pop version of Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz" to #4 in the US in 1982. His follow-up, a similar cover of "Singin' in the Rain", was a flop and he never had another hit again.
The Jim Carroll Band, led by poet and writer Jim Carroll, peaked at only #50 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in 1981 with "People Who Died". The song subsequently became much more famous over the next few years, particularly after it was featured in ET The Extraterrestrial and later the film version of Carroll's memoir The Basketball Diaries.
Scandal had two shots to avoid this fate. They made it to #7 with "The Warrior" in 1984. However, their next two singles, "Hands Tied" and "Beat Of a Heart", both peaked at #41. And while "Goodbye to You", an earlier song, is generally better remembered than the aforementioned two, that song only peaked at #65.
A similar fate hit frontwoman Patty Smyth (not to be confused with Patti Smith), her only notable solo hit being "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough", a duet with Don Henley.
The Lotus Eaters reached #15 in the UK in 1983 with their debut single "The First Picture of You". However, their success was fleeting: Their follow-up single failed to reach the top 40 and their debut album was a flop when it came out the next year. The band subsequently broke up and didn't release another album until 2002.
Paul Engemann is remembered exclusively for the song "Push It to the Limit" from Scarface (1983). He became a one-hit wonder twice, as his short-lived group Device (not to be confused with the metal band fronted by Disturbed's David Draiman) got to #35 with "Hanging on a Heart Attack". After that, he joined Animotion and sang lead on their Top 10 hit "Room to Move". Still, when people bring his name up, "Push It" is the only talking point.
Device was also project for Holly Knight, who is not a one-hit wonder as a songwriter (continuing the Animotion theme, she wrote their earlier Top 10 hit "Obsession"), but she too, is a double one-hit wonder. Knight played keyboards in Spider, whose "New Romance (It's a Mystery)" (which she also wrote) scraped the bottom of the top 40 in 1980. Spider are probably better known nowadays for "Better Be Good to Me", which was Covered Up by Tina Turner. The band's drummer, Anton Fig, later became known as a member of the house band on The Late Show with David Letterman.
"I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow. Surprisingly, it was never a top 40 hit in the U.S., nor was their version the original (it was originally by The Strangeloves, which did go top 40 — peaking at #11).
a-ha had two top-20 hits: the evergreen #1 "Take on Me", and the #20 "The Sun Always Shines on TV". Since "Sun" is (in the USA) mostly forgotten today, they are widely considered a one-hit wonder there and have a cult following. In Europe, and especially their native Norway, they were superstars and never thought of as one-hit wonders, and have a massive fan following.
Rockwell's 1984 song "Somebody's Watching Me" is only remembered because the chorus is sung by his friends Michael and Jermaine Jackson.
And because it is a Halloween staple. Rockwell had another top 40 hit, "Obscene Phone Caller," which did not reach the heights of "Somebody's Watching Me."
"Catch Me (I'm Falling)" was a #8 hit song for Pretty Poison. Although "Nighttime" made it to #36, it is pretty much forgotten today.
Regina with Baby Love. She never charted again, and retired from the music industry to raise her children.
Trans-X's 1985 single "Living on Video" was the duo's only memorable international hit, and their only song to chart in the States, at #61 on the Hot 100. They had a few minor hits such as "Message on the Radio" and "3D Dance", which have since fallen into obscurity.
The British trio The Dream Academy made it to #15 in the UK and #7 in the US with their 1985 single "Life in a Northern Town", which was produced by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. The song was both a smash hit and a critical success, but the band had trouble following it up. Their next single, "The Love Parade" barely squeaked into the Top 40 in the United States at #36, but was quickly forgotten, and it only made #68 in the UK. Their cover of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" was prominently featured in one of the most iconic scenes in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but that didn't translate into sales of the single. After the band broke up, frontman Nick Laird-Clowes resumed his musical partnership with Gilmour, and he co-wrote two songs on Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell.
Suave new wave duo The Style Council reached the top 40 in America just once, with 1984's "My Ever Changing Moods". It was frontman Paul Weller's only American hit apart from his appearance on Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"; His first band The Jam were superstars in the UK and critically adored in America, but they never really broke through in the latter country.
Men at Work were not one hit wonders, but their lead singer Colin Hay was, albeit just barely. After the band broke up, he pursued a solo career and only managed a single chart entry with 1987's "Hold Me", a #99 entry on the Billboard Hot 100. While he's enjoyed critical acclaim since and keeps popping up in works featuring Zach Braff, Hay has never made it back to the pop charts anywhere in the world.
Empire of the Sun have the distinction of becoming a one-hit wonder in the United States with an eight-year old song in 2016. "Walking on a Dream" was a popular hit in the band's native Australia back in 2008 and charted in several European countries over the next year. In the United States, it never made an impact until 2016, when it was featured in a Honda commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. That reignited interest in the song and got it up all the way to #65 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Alternative chart. The band just so happened to put out their third album a few months later, and its first single "High and Low" made it to #11 on the Billboard Alternative charts, but it it did not cross over to pop radio in America.
Experimental musician Laurie Anderson scored a surprise hit in 1981 when her 8-minute long "O Superman" made it all the way to #2 in the UK. The song was notably not edited for its single release, resulting in it being one of the longest songs ever to become as big of a hit as it did. The song was a part of Anderson's eight-hour long avant-garde performance piece United States, and its success resulted in her label eventually releasing the whole thing as a box set. Despite much critical acclaim, Anderson never had another pop hit anywhere in the world. She was married to Lou Reed for the last 5 years of his life.
Arty new-wavers Scritti Politti scored a #11 hit in the US in 1985 with "Perfect Way". Despite critical acclaim, praise from Elton John and David Bowie, and a strong cult following that adored frontman Green Gartside's quirky, intellectual lyrics, the band never made the Top 40 there again. This is despite the fact that one of their later singles, 1988's "Oh Patti (Don't Feel Sorry for Loverboy)", featured a solo from Miles Davis, who was a fan of the group. They had several hit singles in their native UK, and continued to be a concert draw into the 2010s.
The Members are remembered in their native UK as a Two-Hit Wonder for their pair of 1979 Punk Rock hits "The Sound of the Suburbs" and "Offshore Banking Business". In the United States however, success didn't come for them until 1981, after they had undergone a Genre Shift to new wave pop-rock. Their song "Working Girl" was an early MTV staple and made it to #34 on the mainstream rock chart, but it did not chart back in the UK. The band split two years later and had no further hits in either country.
Sniff 'n' the Tears scored a #15 hit in the United States with "Driver's Seat" in 1979. The song is very well-known in their native UK as well, but a problem with EMI's pressing plant meant that the single was not available following the band's appearance with the song on Top of the Pops and it peaked just outside the Top 40, stalling at #42. With the exception of a minor hit in the Netherlands with "One Love", the band never charted ever again.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood reached #10 in the US with their song "Relax" in 1984. It was also their last Top 40 hit there. Back home in the United Kingdom, Frankie were nothing short of a phenomenon that year; Their first three singles - "Relax", "Two Tribes" and "The Power of Love" - were all massive #1 hit singles (for five, nine and one week(s), respectively), becoming only the second act in UK history to reach the top with their first three singlesnote The other group are from Frankie's native Liverpool, although they're not the band you're thinking of, but fellow British Invasion act Gerry & The Pacemakers. Their album Welcome to the Pleasure Dome was the fastest selling debut album in UK history, and remained so until 1993. Despite "Relax" being a huge radio and MTV hit in the US, the other two songs were not major hits. "Two Tribes" only got as far as #43 on the Hot 100 in the US, and "The Power of Love" didn't chart at all. Their fourth single, "Welcome to the Pleasuredome", was the last time Frankie saw the Hot 100, making it to #48.
Double (pronounced "Doo-blay") became the first musical act from Switzerland to notch a Billboard Hot 100 entry when their sophisti-pop tune "The Captain of Her Heart" reached #16 in 1986. The song was also a Top 10 hit across Europe. The band never made the American charts again, and their only other chart entry on the UK charts afterwards didn't come close to the Top 40 there.
Kajagoogoo had a top 10 hit all around the world in 1983 with their debut single "Too Shy". Despite making #5 in the US, the band never had another hit there and were later so identified as a one-hit wonder there that a later Saturday Night Live skit poked fun at them by claiming they had released a greatest hits album containing only the one song. In their native UK, where "Too Shy" went all the way to #1, Kajagoogoo had four more top 40 hits, including two top 10s, but their success was fleeting at home as well. At the height of their fame, the band fired its lead singer Limahl and continued on without him for two more albums that weren't as successful as their first. After his ouster, Limahl had a hit in both the US and UK in 1984 with The NeverEnding Story theme. He had another Top 20 UK hit with his 1983 solo debut "Only For Love," but it didn't come close to the heights of "Never Ending Story" and did not make the Top 40 in the US. Bassist Nick Beggs, who took over as the band's frontman from Limahl, later had a long career as a session musician and is a stalwart on the Progressive Rock scene.
Arty/progressive new waversSplit Enz were pretty successful in their native New Zealand as well as Australia, where they had nine Top 40 hits. In the UK and US, however, their only song that became a hit was "I Got You". The song was a #12 hit in the UK and a #53 hit in the US, but the two countries didn't see any real hits from them ever again. Despite this, however, lead singer Neil Finn would have more success in both countries as the frontman for Crowded House.
Wall of Voodoo had a #58 hit in the US with "Mexican Radio". The band was particularly notable for the fact that percussionist Joe Nanini played old pots and pans in lieu of a real drum kit, which gave the song a rather unique sound compared to other new wave songs of the era. The group never had any other US hits due to their sound being too left-field.
Lead singer Stan Ridgway would later have a big hit of his own in the UK in 1986 with "Camouflage", which told the story of a seemingly-invincible United States Marine who saves a young private during the Vietnam War. Despite endorsement from Stewart Copeland, it was Ridgway's only big hit.
Box of Frogs was a new wave side-project of The Yardbirds featuring three of the original members of that legendary band. Despite their pedigree, the band only had one chart hit with "Back Where I Started", which peaked at #14 on the mainstream rock chart in 1984 and featured a guest guitar solo from fellow Yardbirds alum Jeff Beck. Box of Frogs broke up a few years later, and "Back Where I Started" subsequently made its way into the Yardbirds' concert setlists when that band reunited in 1992.
Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the co-leaders and principal songwriters for the new wave band Squeeze, recorded an album together after the band broke up in 1982. Their debut single as Difford & Tilbrook, "Love's Crashing Waves", reached #52 in the UK in 1984. Because Difford and Tilbrook are the only constant members of Squeeze, this duo album is considered by the band's fans to be a Squeeze album in all but name. Two years after they released the album, Squeeze reformed and Difford & Tilbrook deactivated their duo project. While they still occasionally tour as a duo, they've never recorded another album together outside of Squeeze.
Mental as Anything were one of Australia's most popular new wave bands, and scored a dozen top 40 hits in their native country. Elsewhere in the world, however, their only major hit was 1985's "Live It Up", which reached #3 in the UK and #6 in Germany in 1987 following its appearance in Crocodile Dundee.
Hipsway scored an international hit in 1986 with "The Honeythief", which reached the Top 20 in the UK, US, Ireland, and Italy. However, it was also the Scottish group's only hit in all of those countries. Band member Johnny McElhone previously had several UK Top 40 hits as a member of Altered Images earlier in the '80s, and would go on to have even more as the bassist and co-leader of Texas, which he formed after Hipsway broke up.
What is This? are probably best remembered today for their connection to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, in that both bands were co-founded by guitarist Hilel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. Slovak and Irons even left the Chili Peppers before their debut album to stick with What Is This?, which had landed a major label record deal and they felt would be the more commercially and artistically successful enterprise. They both later rejoined the Chili Peppers, but Irons stuck around with What Is This? for their only chart hit: A sophisti-pop cover of The Spinners' soul classic "I'll Be Around", which reached #62 on the Hot 100 in 1985. Although the song's success earned them a spot on American Bandstand, they broke up shortly after its chart run. Singer Alain Johnannes later found success as a member of Eleven and Queens of the Stone Age.
The Belle Stars were an all-female new wave band formed by former members of the ska group the Bodysnatchers (who are listed on the reggae/ska tab on the main page). The band had several hits in the UK, but none at all in the US until 1989, three years after the group had broken up. That's when their 1982 cover of the Dixie Cups' "Iko Iko" reached #14 in the Hot 100 after it was featured in the hit movie Rain Man. The Belle Stars' former lead singer Jennie Matthias did a promotional tour of the States for the song after it became a hit, but the band did not get back together following their belated success.
The Passions reached #25 in the UK with "I'm In Love with a German Film Star" in 1981. The sparse post-punk song was written by lead singer Barbara Gogan about a former roadie for The Clash she knew who had started acting in German films. It turned out to be the band's only chart hit.
Alien Ant Farm had a major hit in 2001 with a cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal". Despite "Movies" charting in a few markets and "Glow" going top 5 in New Zealand while doing nothing everywhere else, they are remembered only for their cover. Interestingly, Croatian duo 2Cellos covered "Smooth Criminal" over ten years later on Glee and it became their only Top 40 hit as well.
Rap Metal band Crazy Town had a number one hit in the US in 2001 with "Butterfly". It was also their only single ever to reach the Billboard Hot 100. While the song also topped the alternative chart, their only other entry there was 2002's "Drowning", which missed that chart's top 20.
Guano Apes are hugely successful in their native Germany and continental Europe. However, their only song to travel across the Atlantic was "Open Your Eyes", which peaked at #24 on Mainstream Rock and was used in several films. After that, they were never heard from by American audiences again, as that was their only entry on any American chart whatsoever and they only play a show in the U.S. once in a blue moon.
Disturbed is not usually considered a one-hit wonder, but Device, the side project of frontman David Draiman, are known mostly for the song "Vilify."
Trapt had two #1 singles on mainstream rock ("Headstrong" and "Still Frame"). Today they're only remembered for the former song, which peaked at #16 and was their only Top 40 hit on the Hot 100. Trapt saw a brief return to the spotlight in 2020, not so much for their music as for frontman (not that) Chris Taylor Brown's controversial political views, and then dropped back into obscurity like nothing happened.
Drowning Pool had five top ten hits on the Mainstream Rock charts and ten other top 40 hits there. Despite an impressive backlog of hits on that format, to the greater public, the only song they are remembered for is their very first single, "Bodies." It also made them bonafide one-hit wonders in the UK, where its #34 peak made it their only Top 40 entry.
Quarashi, a rap-metal group from Iceland, scored a #27 alternative hit in 2002 with their single "Stick 'Em Up", which appeared on the soundtracks to a few popular video games. After that, they had no further chart success.
Cold had a few hits on rock radio in the 2000s, but lead singer Scooter Ward has two charting entries as a featured artist—the biggest one being "Far Away" by Breaking Benjamin, which hit #1 on the mainstream rock charts in 2020. The other one was 2001's "Inside Out (Can You Feel Me Now)" by Reveille, where he was billed as "Scooter from Cold". Reveille never had any other hits on mainstream rock radio.
Rap-rock singer Richy Nix had a 2010 rock radio hit with "In My Head" and was never heard from again afterwards.
The Dwight Twilley Band, a power-pop act from Tulsa, burned up the charts in 1975 with "I'm On Fire", but failed to find a follow-up hit and disbanded three years later. Dwight Twilley himself became a one-hit wonder as a soloist with 1984's "Girls".
Former Dwight Twilley Band member Phil Seymour, who sang backup on Tom Petty's hit "American Girl", scored a top 40 hit of his own 1981 with "Precious to Me". Sadly, he died of lymphoma 12 years later.
Eighties alt-rockers The Plimsouls garnered a minor hit with "A Million Miles Away" after it appeared in the classic Valley Girl soundtrack. The band promptly broke up after that, though, and has reformed sporadically ever since.
Quietdrive are mostly known for their Power Pop cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time", which was popularized through its use in John Tucker Must Die. Despite peaking at only #102 on the Billboard Hot 100 it did receive a good amount of airplay.
Semisonic (which began as a side project for members of the Minnesota alternative band Trip Shakespeare) is known almost exclusively for their 1998 hit "Closing Time". The song never reached the Hot 100 due to chart rules at the time, but reached #11 on the radio airplay chart and #1 on the modern rock chart. They never hit the American pop charts again, but had a couple more minor rock chart entries, and their followup single "Secret Smile" was a bigger hit in the UK than "Closing Time" was there. Frontman Dan Wilson later wrote hit singles for Dixie Chicks, Adele, and Dierks Bentley. Drummer Jacob Slichter wrote an entertaining book called So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummers Life, which provides an inside account of their One Hit Wonderdom.
Todd Rundgren is hardly considered a one-hit wonder, but two of his groups were: Runt, behind "We Gotta Get You a Woman", and Utopia, behind "Set Me Free".
Nine Days released a few underground independent albums before releasing a mainstream album and striking up a hit with "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)". However, due to Executive Meddling causing them to leave their label, their follow-up song "If I Am" performed more poorly, and the band would never have mainstream success again.
Despite a long, critically acclaimed but otherwise commercially unsuccessful career, Power Pop group Fountains of Wayne never matched the success of their 2003 #21 hit single, "Stacy's Mom" (which provides the trope of the same name). They did have two minor alternative hits before "Stacy's Mom", but that was their only entry on the Hot 100. Guitarist and co-leader Adam Schelsinger later won an Emmy for writing the songs for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Schlesinger died from COVID-19 complications in 2020, and the rest of the group reunited for a virtual tribute concert a year later.
A very unique example: Fastball have had only one top 40 hit: 1999's "Out of My Head." However, they are far, far better remembered for their 1998 hit "The Way," which was never released as a single but was a significantly bigger radio hit than "Out Of My Head" would be. Today, Fastball is remembered almost exclusively for their first hit and isn't uncommon to see "The Way" in a one-hit wonder retrospective. "Out of my Head" only re-emerged once it got Sampled Up by Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello in "Bad Things".
Tommy Tutone are remembered for one of the catchiest songs of the '80s: "867-5309/Jenny." Since it was viewed as a novelty song, the public didn't accept them as a hot new band. Interestingly enough, in 1980, their song "Angel Say No" hit #38, which technically disqualifies them as one-hit wonders, but from a pop-cultural standpoint does not.
The Romantics had two top 40 hits, the #3 "Talking In Your Sleep" and the quickly-forgotten #36 "One in a Million". While "Sleep" isn't completely forgotten (the song has a trope named after it), it isn't nearly as iconic as their debut single "What I Like About You," which fizzled out at #49 but has been revived through recurrent play and its usage in movies and TV. Thus, many younger audiences regard them as a one-hit wonder for the lattermost song.
American band The Connells had a surprise Top 20 hit in the UK with "'74-'75" in 1995. That was their only song to chart in the UK, but they had four Top 40 hits on the Billboard Modern Rock chart back home, including two songs reaching the top five. Interestingly, none of those songs were "'74-'75".
Tonight scored a #17 hit in the UK with the catchy "Drummer Man" in 1978. Their follow-up single "Money (That's Your Problem)" fizzled out at #66 and two more singles didn't chart at all. By January 1979, the band was done and had broken up without releasing their (already recorded) debut album.
British band The Records made it to #56 in the US in 1979 with their song "Starry Eyes", which is now widely considered by music critics to be one of the greatest Power Pop tunes ever recorded. No further chart success followed on either side of the Atlantic.
Bram Tchaikovsky, a band led by the same-named former keyboardist for The Motors, had a #37 hit in the US in 1979 with "Girl of My Dreams". The band's lack of further success greatly annoyed Tchaikovsky, and he left the music industry altogether after they broke up in 1981.
Marshall Crenshaw has had a long career that has been admired by critics, but his only Top 40 hit was "Someday, Someway" in 1982. He's had more success as a songwriter, most famously for "'Til I Hear It from You" by the Gin Blossoms.
One of Crenshaw's best-known songs, "You're My Favorite Waste of Time", was a UK Top 5 hit for Scottish singer Owen Paul in 1986. Paul's career came tumbling down shortly thereafter: He and his band were involved in a particularly embarrassing incident on the BBC show Pebble Mill at One where they were supposed to mime the song, but couldn't hear the track and stood around while it played. It was ultimately his only hit: He had a falling out with his record label shortly thereafter and didn't release his second album until 2002.
The Click Five had a #11 hit in 2005 with their song "Just the Girl" before they disappeared into obscurity... except in Southeast Asia, where they've maintained a huge fanbase.
The Knack scored a #1 smash in 1979 with their debut single "My Sharona". Their next two singles both made it into the Top 40, but they were almost immediately forgotten and criticized for being thinly veiled re-writes of "Sharona". By 1980, the band were has-beens with a rock-bottom reputation, and they broke up two years later.
Crabby Appleton had a #36 in 1970 with "Go Back" and were never heard from again.
The New Radicals released one album, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, and managed one hit single, "You Get What You Give" (which only peaked at #36). The single itself only found success because of a media firestorm over the closing lyrics of the song, which bashedBeck, Hanson, Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love, though frontman and Face of the Band Gregg Alexander claimed he had written this section for the song as a test to see whether the media would focus on the important political issues mentioned in the prior lyrics, or the petty celebrity-dissing. Manson responded by threatening to crack Alexander's skull open because he didn't want to be used in the same sentence with Courtney Love, while Alexander later reportedly apologized to Beck for the lyric when they met each other by chance in a supermarket. Also, Gregg Alexander was getting frustrated by the fact that no one would play any other singles chosen by the band, and broke it up to avoid becoming a one-hit wonder (which, poetically, then solidified the band's reputation as a one-hit wonder). Their second single, "Someday We'll Know", had minor success, but it did not chart and they're usually considered a "one-hit" instead of "two-hit". That's probably because the version of "Someday We'll Know" sung by Mandy Moore and Jonathan Foreman, made for the A Walk to Remember soundtrack is more well-known. Gregg Alexander went on to find success as a producer/songwriter, writing the #5 hit "The Game of Love" for Santana and Michelle Branch, and nabbing a Oscar nomination for the song "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (which he co-wrote with fellow New Radicals member and former child actress Danielle Brisebois).
Scottish group Pilot scored a #5 pop hit in the US with their single "Magic" in 1974. In their native UK, they're remembered as a Two-Hit Wonder: "Magic" made it to #11 there, and they followed it up in 1975 with the #1 hit "January". Two follow-up singles barely cracked the top 40 and they never charted again anywhere in the world after 1976. Despite "January"'s UK success, they're probably better known around the world as the band who did "Magic" instead.
Swirl 360, a band led by twin brothers Denny and Kenny Scott, made it to #47 on the Hot 100 with their 1998 debut single "Hey Now Now". Despite the song's success, particularly on radio, the band never scored a follow-up hit due to Mercury Records (a then-PolyGram-owned company) merging with Universal Music Group, who then proceeded to stop promoting their album and then dump them shortly afterwards.
The Monroes reached #59 on the Hot 100 and #20 on the mainstream rock chart in 1982 with "What Do All the People Know?". The band followed it up with a five-song EP, but then their label folded shortly thereafter and they never recorded again.
Tal Bachman, the son of Bachman-Turner Overdrive guitarist Randy Bachman, scored a hit of his own in 1999 with "She's So High". While the song reached #14 in the US and #30 in the UK, he had no further hits in either country. He had two more minor hits in his native Canada, and that was it for him there too. He hasn't released a new album since 2004.
The British rock band The Outfield is an interesting subversion; not only did they have several Top 40 hits during the late '80s, but they're not a British One-Hit Wonder in America, because they neverhad huge success in Britain, but their Signature Song "Your Love" is the only song of theirs that still continues to recieve radio airplay to this day. Their other hits are only known to fans of the band.
The German emo rock group Tokio Hotel hit #19 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart with "Ready, Steady, Go!" in 2007, a English Remake of their German hit "Übers Ende der Welt". "Ready, Steady, Go!" also got Tokio a win for the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, beating out Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Jordin Sparks (though it's mostly because that year, voting was open to the public, and their huge-at-the-time-fanbase stuffed the ballot full of votes in their favor). Afterwards, however, they largely faded into obscurity outside of their native Germany.
The Power Ballad "Kayleigh" by Marillion is their only entry on the singles charts in America (even though it still didn't make the top 40). They have had other hits in Europe, but "Kayleigh" is still their best-known song. It's a bit of a departure from their usual style, so it comes under the Black Sheep Hit category.
Queensrÿche reached #9 on the Hot 100 in 1991 with "Silent Lucidity". The soft, orchestral ballad was a Black Sheep Hit for the band, who were better known for their concept albums and technical prog metal sound. While "Silent Lucidity" was their only Hot 100 hit, Queensrÿche had multiple entries on the Mainstream Rock chart before and after it.
Rush actually had a Top 40 hit with the song "New World Man" from their 1982 album Signals. Which is weird since the general public know them more for their signature songs "Tom Sawyer", "Limelight", and "The Spirit of Radio" than the aforementioned hit.
Rush had countless hits over on the Mainstream Rock charts; Enough so that guitarist Alex Lifeson was able to score a single chart entry for his side-project group Victor in 1995. Their song "Promise" reached #18 on that chart. The group was a one album wonder, and Lifeson never recorded under that name again.
The Mars Volta had a #7 hit on the Billboard modern rock charts and a #20 hit in the UK with "The Widow"; The song even crossed over to the Hot 100 and made it to #97. It was also their only hit on any of those charts, although two of their previous singles just barely missed the UK Top 40. The band's predecessor, At the Drive-In, also only have one hit on their record: 2000's "One-Armed Scissor". Despite their rabid following, ATDI broke up right around the time the song was becoming big, and their label didn't promote followup single "Invalid Litter Dept." too well as a result.
The Dutch band Focus are mostly remembered for their 1973 top 10 instrumental hit "Hocus Pocus". They had another minor hit with "Sylvia", but it's mostly forgotten today.
Legendary power trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer sold millions of records and played to packed houses throughout the 1970s, but made it into the Top 40 only once, and then just barely. "From the Beginning" (from their third album Trilogy) peaked at #39 in October of 1972, making them officially one-hit wonders. In the UK they are probably best known for the edited single version of their Aaron Copland cover "Fanfare for the Common Man".
After having broken up at the end of the '70s, Emerson and Lake reunited, but replaced Palmer, who was too busy with Asia, with Cozy Powell, thus forming the new supergroup Emerson, Lake & Powell. The group had a big rock hit in 1985 with "Touch & Go", but they went their separate ways very shortly afterwards.
A couple of years later, Emerson and Palmer got back together, but Lake was replaced by the little-known Robert Berry. They named their new band 3, had a #9 rock hit with "Talkin' Bout", and then broke up a year later.
Greg Lake was the only member of the group to find any solo success, thanks to his 1975 Christmas smash hit "I Believe In Father Christmas". It remains one of the most beloved holiday songs in the UK, but his solo career never took off.
The Moody Blues are very much not considered one-hit wonders, but the short-lived union of Justin Hayward & John Lodge were with the #8 UK hit "Blue Guitar" in 1975. In the States, the duo's biggest success was instead with "I Dreamed Last Night", but it didn't become a hit. As a soloist, Justin Hayward saw his only notable hit with "Forever Autumn" from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.
The supergroup GTR, which featured two of the most famous guitarists in all of prog rock in Steve Howe of Yes and Steve Hackett of Genesis, reached #14 in the US in 1986 with "When the Heart Rules the Mind". The band only released one album and broke up the next year. Incidentally, the song marks the only time that Hackett ever performed on a US Top 40 hit.
Argent made it to #5 in the US in 1972 with their song "Hold Your Head Up" and never saw the inside of the Top 40 again. The band had one more hit in the UK, with "God Gave Rock and Roll to You", which is better known stateside for its 1991 cover by Kiss. Namesake keyboardist Rod Argent already had several hits in the 1960s as a member of The Zombies, while lead singer Russ Ballard became an in-demand songwriter, writing hit singles for artists like America and Santana.
10cc are certainly not a one-hit wonder, but the band's precursor Hotlegs were with 1970's novelty song "Neanderthal Man."
In the 1980s, 10cc frontman Graham Gouldman joined forces with singer Andrew Gold (of Lonely Boy fame) and put together the supergroup Wax (not to be confused with the band who did California). They scored a #12 hit in the U.K. with Bridge to Your Heart. They also had a minor U.S. hit with Right Between the Eyes" at #43 (#60 in the U.K.), but nothing else after the two songs. They returned to their usual careers afterwards.
Manfred Mann is not considered a one-hit wonder, but his 1970's group Manfred Mann's Earth Band, usually is, for their chart-topping cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light." The group had another minor hit with fellow Springsteen cover "Spirit in the Night," in which nowadays the Boss's original is the best-known version.
Mashmakhan, a rock fusion band from Quebec, had a minor hit in late 1970 with "As The Years Go By". While that was all anyone in North America knew of them, they were enormously popular in Japan.
Can are one of the most critically acclaimed and influential bands of the 1970s, but were (and still are) best known as an album act as opposed to a singles-driven one. Nonetheless, they managed to become one-hit wonders in two different countries with two different songs. "Spoon", from their seminal 1972 LP Ege Bamyasi, made it to #8 in their native Germany when it was released as a single the year before. Then, in 1976, the disco-influenced Black Sheep Hit "I Want More" made it to #26 in the UK.
Porcupine Tree were one of the most popular prog-rock bands of the 1990s and 2000s, and are often given credit for keeping the genre afloat and relevant during the alt-rock era. Like most prog bands, singles and radio success were not priorities for Porcupine Tree and they only had one significant chart entry anywhere in the world; Their song "Shallow" reached #26 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts in 2006.
Saga were one of the most popular neo-prog groups of the 1980s, noted for incorporating new wave and AOR elements in their sound. The band had several hits in their native Canada and on the then-new Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, but only "On the Loose" cracked the top 40 of the Hot 100, reaching #26 in 1981. Their commercial success in North America only lasted for a few more years after that, but they have remained successful in Europe, and Germany in particular.
Dave Stewart (not that one) and Barbara Gaskin, former members of prog rock bands Egg and Spriogyra respectively, made it all the way to #1 in the UK in 1981 with their stripped-down avant garde cover of Lesley Gore's early '60s hit "It's My Party". Stewart had already had another UK Top 20 hit with a similarly experimental cover of Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?" with The Zombies' Colin Blumstone on lead vocals, but Gaskin never made the Top 40 again.
The Canadian band Klaatu had an unusual reason for their brief moment of fame: there was a bizarre rumor going around that they were The Beatles in disguise. Although many bands from the '70s were significantly influenced by the Fab Four, the unknown band's songcraft and production were so close to the real deal that some journalists and fans were convinced there were clues about their "real" identity on their debut album. The band's label, Capitol Records, didn't help matters by releasing effusive statements on the rumors. In 1977, at the height of the rumors, the band had their only chart hit with the spacey "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft", a #62 Hot 100 entry. The song became an even bigger hit when The Carpenters covered it the same year. Eventually, the band's real identities were discovered and public interest waned when they didn't turn out to be the Beatles after all. They never had another American hit, but they do have a sizable cult following that endures to this day.
A familiar name in one-hit wonders happens to be Norman Greenbaum, whose "Spirit in the Sky" hit #3 in 1970.
Four years prior to scoring his only hit, Greenbaum was a member of the psychedelic-rock band Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band, whose song "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago" hit #52 on the charts.
The glammy new wave band Doctor and the Medics scored their only hit with a cover of "Spirit in the Sky" in 1986. The original song "Burn", and a cover of "Waterloo" did not do as well.
Procol Harum began their career in 1967 with the smash-hit single "A Whiter Shade of Pale". Even today it's almost the only one of their songs that gets airplay, though to be fair they did have two or three other hits (including an orchestrated rendition of "Conquistador"). But despite releasing ten subsequent albums in the 60s and 70s, and making a comeback in the 90s, it's annoying that only that one song tends to get remembered nowadays.
"In the Year 2525" by Zager and Evans holds the dubious honor of having been number one on both the U.S. and UK charts, with neither of those charts ever seeing another song by them. The song itself is also often mocked, but that's neither here nor there.
The Avant-Garde hit #40 in 1968 with "Naturally Stoned". After they broke up, group member Chuck Woolery struck it big in the completely unrelated field of Game Show Host (Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble, Love Connection, Lingo). Incidentally, he dabbled in country music during his earliest years of hosting Wheel.
(The Crazy World of) Arthur Brown with "Fire", which charted at #1 in the U.K and #2 in America, most likely due to Brown donning a flaming helmet during live shows and for the song's famous intro ("I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!"). Despite some attempts, he never achieved the same chart success, though he still remained a popular underground act during the late 60s and early 70s.
The Count Five scored a #5 hit in 1966 with "Psychotic Reaction," and that's about it for them.
Dutch rockers The Shocking Blue topped the Hot 100 with "Venus", which was later Covered Up by Bananarama. It was their only Top 40 hit, but "Love Buzz" (which didn't chart) is also quite well-known for being covered up by Nirvana.
Iron Butterfly is only remembered for their hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", which peaked at #30. Their only other charting singles, "Soul Experience" and "In The Time of Our Lives" peaked at #75 and #96 respectively, and are almost entirely forgotten today.
"Incense and Peppermints" by Strawberry Alarm Clock, a B-side (not even sung by a member of the band), that went all the way to #1. The band managed another Top 40 hit soon after, "Tomorrow", but it is now largely forgotten. Nothing else by the band ever made even a dent, and they aren't even known for their live shows. Came outta nowhere, hit the top and utterly vanished. Except for guitarist Ed King, that is. He went on to have considerably more success when he joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in the early 1970s.
Psychedelic garage band The Seeds are widely considered to be progenitors of punk rock, and were namechecked as an influence by countless rock groups, from The Ramones to The Smashing Pumpkins. But the band just had one Top 40 entry: "Pushin' Too Hard" which reached #36 in 1967.
Jimi Hendrix is the most influential guitar player of all time and is hardly considered a one-hit wonder in the eyes of the public. However, he technically only hit the Top 40 once in his short life with his cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower". Fortunately, he's fondly remembered for other songs such as "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe", "Foxy Lady", "Fire", "Voodoo Chile", and his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Vanilla Fudge had their only Top 40 hit in 1967 with a psychedelic remake of The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On".
Love are often hailed as one of the best and most influential bands to come out of the California psychedelic scene. Despite their acclaim, they managed just a single top 40 hit: "7 and 7 Is", which peaked at #33 in 1966. That being said, they're probably better remembered for another song, "Alone Again Or", which barely scraped the Hot 100.
People! scored a #14 hit in the US in 1968 with their cover of The Zombies' "I Love You". Lead singer Larry Norman quit the band shortly thereafter and became much better known as one of the earliest and most iconic Christian Rock performers.
Janis Joplin qualifies twice: as lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, which had a #12 hit in 1968 with "Piece of My Heart" (they continued for quite a while after her departure), and as a solo artist two years later with the #1 "Me and Bobby McGee" — recorded only a few days before her death. However, Joplin is considered a rock icon despite her short life. "Piece of My Heart" was originally released by Aretha Franklin's sister Erma Franklin, for whom it was her only hit.
Crazy Elephant scored their only Top 40 hit in 1969 with the #12 entry "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'". The group actually didn't exist at all, but were a studio ensemble assembled by bubblegum pop pioneers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz of Super K Productions. The duo claimed the band was formed by a group of Welsh coal miners, but in reality, they were a bunch of veteran studio musicians. Crazy Elephant never made the Hot 100 again after "Gimme", and the project evaporated by 1970.
The Music Explosion, another Super K project, were actually a real garage band discovered by Kasenetz and Katz instead of one they developed in the studio. The band also only had one hit, with the #2 smash "Little Bit O'Soul" in 1967. Their follow-up "Sunshine Games" made it to just #63 and that was the last time they ever made the Hot 100.
The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, a supergroup consisting of musicians from several Super K acts, scored a #25 hit in 1968 with "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)". The project never made the charts again under this name. However, The 1910 Fruitgum Company and The Ohio Express - who participated in the recordings - each had several major hits in the 1960s as separate entities.
Portugal The Man is moderately popular on the alternative side, but their only song to chart on the Hot 100 is their surprise 2017 hit "Feel It Still". "Live in the Moment", the follow-up to "Feel It Still", followed its predecessor to the top of the Alternative Songs chart, but it gained no traction anywhere else.
The neo-psychedelic band Blind Melon had only one hit, "No Rain," best remembered for its memorable video of the girl in the bee costume. The band had some hits on alternative radio, but any chance of matching that success was permanently derailed by the death of lead singer Shannon Hoon in 1995 from a cocaine overdose. It's also a textbook case of their biggest hit being at odds with their usual style.
Spirit were a highly influential and important band in the 1960s psychedelic rock scene, but their only Top 40 hit was "I Got a Line On You", which reached #27 in 1968. The band's three other Hot 100 entries didn't come anywhere close to the Top 40.
Blue Cheer took their cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" to #14 on the Hot 100 in 1968. While the band proved influential on artists who came after them, with their heavy guitar sound providing an early basis for heavy metal and the rest of their catalogue retaining a cult following, "Summertime Blues" would remain their only hit single, and though its parent album Vincebus Eruptum charted at #11, none of their others came remotely that high.
The Rattles were successful in their native Germany in the 1960s as a British Invasion-influenced beat group, but following a Genre Shift into psychedelic rock they achieved their one international hit with 1970's "The Witch".
The Rezillos' only Top 40 hit in the UK was, humorously enough, "Top of the Pops". The song's #17 peak resulted in them being invited to perform it on the same named programme. Guitarist Jo Callis would go on to have much more success after he joined The Human League in 1981.
999 made it to just #40 on the UK Singles Chart in 1978 with their song "Homicide". They never got any higher than that with subsequent singles.
Belgian singer Plastic Bertrand had a Top 10 hit in the UK - and a Top 50 hit in the US - with the French-language tune "Ça plane pour moi" in 1978. Interestingly, Bertrand does not perform the vocals on the song despite being credited as the artist; They're actually performed by producer Lou Deprijck. No other hits followed for Bertrand in any Anglophone countries. He later represented Luxembourg at the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest...where he finished at a rather poor 21st place.
Stewart Copeland of The Police - under the name Klark Kent - scored a #48 UK hit with "Don't Care" in 1978. It had actually charted before The Police themselves had any hits of their own, and earned him a spot on Top of the Pops. Copeland released four more singles and an EP under the Klark Kent name, but none of them charted. Luckily for him, however, the Police finally took off in early 1979 and garnered him more attention than his solo singles ever did.
Irish American Celtic punk band Black 47 scored a #27 hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart in 1993 with their Signature Song "Funky Ceili (Bridie's Song)". Despite their intensely devoted following, they've never managed another chart entry.
Havana 3AM, a rockabilly-influenced band led by Paul Simonon of The Clash, reached #6 on the Modern Rock chart in 1991 with their song "Reach the Rock". The band didn't last long and splinted apart after its lead singer Nigel Dixon died in 1993 and Simonon quit shortly thereafter. Their guitarist Gary Myrick continued the band with new members, but that version of the group did not have any hits and eventually broke up.
The Doll scored their only UK Top 40 hit with "Desire Me" in 1978. The band broke up two years later, with guitarist Jamie West-Oram going on to enjoy more chart success with his next band The Fixx.
Southern California punk band Face to Face reached #39 on the Billboard alternative chart in 1995 with their single "Disconnected". The song had been released on indie punk label Fat Wreck Chords in 1993 and had become a big local radio hit in Los Angeles before spreading across the country. The charting 1995 version was a re-recording that is prefaced on their major label debut Big Choice with a self-aware comedy skit parodying its appearance. Face to Face never had a hit like that again, but they have continued to be a respected name in the punk world.
Rocket from the Crypt reached #12 in the UK in 1996 with "On a Rope". Despite their critical acclaim and sizeable influence on later punk and post-hardcore bands, RFTC never reached the top 40 again in any other country. That includes their native United States, where "On a Rope" missed the modern rock chart entirely.
Sheriff had a #1 hit in their native Canada in 1983 with "When I'm With You"; it only peaked at #63 in the USA. In 1989, a New York DJ added "When I'm With You" to his playlist, which reignited interest in the song. It topped the USA charts five years after they disbanded, and was their only song to enter the Hot 100.
After "When I'm With You" became a hit, there was naturally a lot of interest for Sheriff to reform and go out on tour. However, only two of the band's five members were interested. Instead, those two members formed Alias, who became a Two-Hit Wonder (their biggest hit was the #2 smash "More Than Words Can Say"), and broke up after a single album.
Stealers Wheel ("Stuck In The Middle With You") broke up after their one hit, freeing lead singer Gerry Rafferty to become a moderately successful solo act in the middle to late 1970s ("Baker Street", "Right Down The Line", "City to City" and others).
Stealers Wheel actually did have another Top 40 hit, "Star," but it was from the same album as the first hit.
"Baker Street" is sometimes considered an example on its own, but Gerry Rafferty certainly didn't intend it that way, and the song's distinctive sax break was improvised by session saxophonist Raphael Ravenscroft. Ravenscroft, for his part, has said that there are better works to remember him for, especially as he recorded the entire sax part in the wrong key.
Henry Lee Summer had a small slew of minor hits (none higher than top 30), but is only remembered for "Wish I Had A Girl" even in the Mid West (US), right here in his home town. Ouch.
Don't forget, "Hey Baby" actually charted a bit higher than "Wish I Had A Girl."
Many artists well-known for being in successful groups and bands were one-hit wonders solo, like John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers (even though the latter had several country hits).
Stories hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart with their cover of Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie." A follow-up, "Mammy Blue," only managed to chart in the mid-40s. The group split soon after. End of Stories.
Aerosmith isn't a one-hit wonder at all, but lead singer Steven Tyler scored a #35 hit in 2011 with "(It) Feels So Good", due to a sales boost when Tyler performed the song on American Idol. Tyler was also a one-hit wonder on the country format in 2015, when he took "Love Is Your Name" to #19.
Tom Cochrane hasn't touched the charts outside Canada since "Life Is A Highway" in the early 1990s. He's a bit more popular at home, though.
Not only that but Tom's pre-solo career band, Red Rider, were also one-hit wonders, with "Lunatic Fringe", which never charted on the Hot 100. Again, Red Rider had much more success back in Canada.
Although Warren Zevon has a strong cult following, his only top 40 hit was 1978's "Werewolves of London."
Kid Rock is not a one-hit wonder in any genre not even through his on-again, off-again relationship with Country Music, where he has had two hits: "Picture" in 2002-03 and "All Summer Long" in 2008. However, with those two songs, he has created two (or three) one-hit wonders in unusual ways:
As Kid did not release his music to iTunes (until the mid-2010s), he created one-hit wonders out of two different covers of "All Summer Long" by karaoke band soundalikes: one by the Hit Masters, the other by The Rock Heroes, both of which climbed into the Top 40 of the Hot 100 (#19 for Hit Masters, #29 for the Rock Heroes). Obviously, neither group saw chart action again.
"Picture" was originally recorded as a duet with Sheryl Crow, but due to Kid's label being unable to reach an agreement with Sheryl's, the official single edit replaced Sheryl's part with a new vocal track sung by Allison Moorer, the sister of country and Americana singer Shelby Lynne. While most stations continued to play the Crow version anyway, the song was credited on all charts to "Kid Rock with Sheryl Crow or Allison Moorer", thus giving Moorer her only major chart hit to date. (Averted with Crow, who has a total of three hits on the Hot Country Songs charts.)
Faith No More had several Top 40 hits on rock radio and in Europe and Australia, but only one pop hit back home: "Epic", which peaked at #9. While "Epic" is the only song most mainstream listeners will recognize, the band has a devoted cult following and was a massive influence on Alternative Metal.
By no means is The Who a one-hit wonder. However, frontman Roger Daltrey only managed to get one hit out of his Solo Side Project: "Without Your Love", which peaked at #20.
Swedish rock band Europe had two smash hits in 1987: the hard-rock song "The Final Countdown" and the ballad "Carrie", but in the USA, these days they're remembered almost exclusively for the former.
Although they're popular in the Christian community, We As Human are only known to mainstream audiences for "Take The Bullets Away", a collaboration with former Flyleaf frontwoman Lacey Sturm.
British rock singer Wayne Fontana hit #1 in 1965 with "Game of Love". His band, The Mindbenders, had another hit a year later without him.
Eric Burdon was hugely successful as the frontman of The Animals, but his only hit without them was "Spill The Wine", a song he recorded with his band War. In a reverse Breakup Breakout, War would go on to have phenomenal success throughout the 1970s without Burdon.
Before Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds became the two-hit wonder they are known as today, they were members of garage rock group The T-Bones, noted for the instrumental "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)."
When Fleetwood Mac went on hiatus in the early-to-mid '80s, their members pursued solo careers of varying success. While Stevie Nicks became a big solo star, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie only had one big hit each: "Trouble" and "Got a Hold on Me", respectively.
Several Fleetwood collaborators have become one-hit wonders by association. Walter Egan had his only hit with 1978's "Magnet and Steel", which Buckingham and Nicks provided backing vocals for. Robbie Patton had a hit in 1981 with "Don't Give It Up", which was produced by McVie and featured Buckingham on guitar (his unsuccessful follow-up, "Smiling Islands", featured Nicks' vocals). Patton returned the favor by writing Fleetwood's #4 hit "Hold Me".
Styx are not one-hit wonders by any stretch of the imagination, but its two frontmen Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw are on their own, with "Desert Moon" and "Girls With Guns" respectively. Technically, however, they are in the U.K., as their sole U.S. #1 "Babe" was also their only Top 40 chart entry on the other side of the pond.
Rhode Island rockers John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band had a top 10 hit in 1984 with "On The Dark Side" from the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack. While they had a few other minor hits afterwards, "On The Dark Side" (a.k.a Emperor Palpatine'sfavorite song) is the only one that is still remembered today.
Studio group The Assembled Multitude had a top 20 hit in 1970 with their version of The Who's overture from the rock opera Tommy. Naturally, they never had another hit afterwards and broke up.
Tampa-based rock band Blues Image are known for their 1970 top 5 hit "Ride Captain Ride" and absolutely nothing else.
Stiltskin topped the UK charts in 1994 with "Inside" after its use in a Levi's jeans advert. Their follow-up single "Footsteps" barely cracked the top 40, and they disbanded after one album. Vocalist Ray Wilson would later have a brief stint with Genesis.
Led Zeppelin was quite possibly the biggest music act of the '70s and is most certainly not a one-hit wonder. However, a very weird variation of this happened to guitarist Jimmy Page. He had a credited appearance as the guitarist in Puff Daddy's Rap Rock reworking of "Kashmir" made for the Godzilla (1998) soundtrack called "Come with Me". It became a Breakaway Pop Hit, reaching #4 on Hot 100. Since Page was never a solo artist and he was never credited for another single, he never appeared on that chart again.
Page also was a member of the one-hit wonder supergroup The Firm, best known for their 1986 hit "Radioactive".
The Larsen-Feiten Band had a 1980 hit with "Who'll Be The Fool Tonight". Member Buzz Feiten later became known for inventing a guitar tuning system.
Nielsen/Pearson, who hit #37 in 1980 with "If You Should Sail". Reed Nielsen later became known as a country songwriter.
The Young Rascals were not one-hit wonders, but frontman Felix Cavaliere was with 1980's "Only a Lonely Heart Sees".
Elton John is not a one-hit wonder by any stretch of the imagination, but his 1975 #1 song "Philadelphia Freedom" was the only hit of his to be credited to The Elton John Band.
Eddie Schwartz is primarily known as a songwriter, having penned three #9 hits, including the iconic "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", but as a singer, he had a minor 1982 hit with his own "All Our Tomorrows". His chart credits go well into the 2010s, as Glee and Pitch Perfect both had covers of "Best Shot" that charted.
Scottish singer Ali Thomson, who had a hit in 1980 with "Take A Little Rhythm" and nothing else afterwards. He wrote a minor hit for Gary Wright before vanishing into obscurity.
Canadian guitarist Aldo Nova gained fame in 1982 for his hard-rocking hit "Fantasy". He never found any further success as an artist, and moved to backstage work, penning hits for Céline Dion and Clay Aiken, among others.
Dutch rocker Vandenberg had a 1983 hit with "Burning Heart" and nothing else. He later joined the ranks of Whitesnake.
British rock band Status Quo had a single Top 40 hit in the United States with their debut single "Pictures of Matchstick Men" in 1968. After a Genre Shift from psychedelic rock to a boogie-influenced hard rock sound, the band became massive stars in their home country. Although they've had over 50 Top 40 hits in the UK - the final one coming in 2008 - the band was never able to find another crossover hit in America again.
"Matchstick Men" was also a rock one-hit wonder for Camper Van Beethoven, who topped the Modern Rock chart with their cover in 1989. CVB were stars on college radio in the 1980s but were one of many such bands for whom the Modern Rock chart debuted just a little too late to fully document their success on the nascent alternative radio format. In fact, the band broke up shortly after the song became a hit.
Funk-rockers Dan Reed Network scored a #38 Hot 100 hit in 1988 with their song "Ritual". The band are also one-hit wonders in the UK with a completely different song, "Stardate 1990", which #39 there in 1990. They would be all but forgotten today if a Chicago musician named Billy Corgan hadn't met bass guitarist D'Arcy Wretzky after one of their concerts, argued with her about whether the band they just saw was any good and subsequently invited her to join a band he was putting together.
Dr. John has had a long, colorful and acclaimed career and is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, but he's only had a single Top 40 hit: The 1973 #9 smash "Right Place, Wrong Time".
Ernie Isley, the virtuoso guitarist for R&B legends The Isley Brothers, scored his only solo chart hit in 1990 with the hard-rocking "Back at Square One", a #31 entry on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
British blues-rock band The Temperance Movement had a hit in 2015 with "Take It Back" and nothing else.
Holy White Hounds, an Iowa-based rock band, saw fleeting success in 2016 with the song "Switchblade".
Billy Falcon had a #35 hit with "Power Windows" but never saw any chart again.
Looking Glass were a popular rock band on the Jersey Shore. They hit it big in 1972 with their #1 hit "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)". That was the last time the band saw any mainstream success; "Brandy" proved to be a Black Sheep Hit, as the soft-rock sound of it stood out from their rawer rock-and-roll material they normally played. A follow-up "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne" stalled at #33 and they never saw any chart again. The group slowly metamorphosized into the hard-rock band Starz, who would score a #33 hit of their own with "Cherry Baby" before disappearing again. Elliot Lurie, the frontman of Looking Glass, would later find some more success with production work, but not as a singer.
Blind Canadian rock and blues guitarist Jeff Healey hit #5 in 1989 with "Angel Eyes" but had no other hits in the US. However, he was more popular in his native country and had several hits on rock-specific charts.
Steely Dan is not a one-hit wonder, but co-bandleader Donald Fagen had a #26 hit in 1982 with "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)".
David & David reached #37 on the Hot 100 with their debut single "Welcome to the Boomtown" in 1987. The song also made the top ten on the mainstream rock chart, where they had two more hits, but "Ain't So Easy" was the only other one to make the Hot 100 and it stopped short of the Top 40 at #51. The duo split shortly thereafter, but they were both part of the songwriting collective that contributed songs to Sheryl Crow's hit 1993 debut album Tuesday Night Music Club.
Daughtry are definitely not one-hit wonders in their native United States, where they have had eight top 40 hits. In the UK however, like most acts discovered on American Idol they never caught on, other than having their hit "What About Now" reach #11 due to its use on The X Factor and a cover version from Westlife being released around that time.
Chris Spedding had an illustrious career as a session guitarist, and played on classic albums such as Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Schmilsson, Brian Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets and Tom Waits' Rain Dogs. Although Spedding also released several solo records, his only hit anywhere was "Motor Bikin'", which made it to #14 in the UK in 1975. His only other hits as a lead artist were during his time as the guitarist for the children's group The Wombles in the mid 1970s.
Japanese rock group Godiego reached #37 in the UK in 1977 with their theme song to the television series The Water Margin, which had been dubbed in English and aired on the BBC. The band's British success was helped by the song being in fluent English, and their lineup also featured two American members. However, those aspects did not help them score any more hit singles in the UK. These days, Godiego is better known in the West for their soundtrack to the surrealist horror comedy Hausu and their theme songs for Monkey and Galaxy Express 999 than they are for "The Water Margin".
The Kingston Trio are not one-hit wonders, but group member John Stewart had his only major hit with "Gold", a #5 hit in 1979. Stewart also wrote "Daydream Believer", a #1 hit for The Monkees in 1967, and recorded his own version in 1971, but it was not a hit.
While Danish jazz guitarist Jørgen Ingmann was popular in Europe, both as a solo artist and with his wife Grethe (the duo was the winner of the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest), he is only remembered for one hit in North America: his cover of "Apache", which reached #2 in the U.S. and #1 in Canada in 1961. Elsewhere, the song was a big hit for U.K. instrumental group The Shadows; the original recording by Bert Weedon only made #24 in the U.K. and is now an obscure curio.
Thunderclap Newman reached #1 in the UK and #37 in the US with their 1969 debut single "Something in the Air". The band never charted again in the US, while their followup single "Accidents" missed the UK Top 40. Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch later joined Wings, which had plenty of chart success in both countries.
Sanford Townsend Band had their only hit in 1977 with "Smoke from a Distant Fire". Nothing else charted, and they were never heard from again.
Lee Michaels was known for his prolificacy on the Hammond organ and had multiple popular albums. However, his only major chart hit was "Do You Know What I Mean" which hit #6 in 1971. A cover of Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get a Witness" only barely notched top 40.
Rock and Roll
Doo-wop group The Monotones are known entirely for their 1958 hit "The Book of Love".
"Sea of Love" by Phil Philips (not to be confused with American Idol winner Phillip Phillips). One of the most recognizable songs of the late 1950s, Phil Philips received little in the way of royalties from it and never had another hit song.
It was also a hit for The Honeydrippers the post-Led Zeppelin supergroup of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. While they had another hit chart in the bottom half of the top 40, "Rockin' at Midnight," it wasn't that much of a hit.
Huey "Piano" Smith is remembered pretty much exclusively for "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu".
The Big Bopper, aka J. P. Richardson, is a rather unfortunate example brought about by his death. After he scored a hit in 1958 with "Chantilly Lace", his follow-up "Big Bopper's Wedding" petered out at #38 and was quickly forgotten. He died in the same plane crash as Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. "Chantilly Lace" was later Covered Up by Jerry Lee Lewis, with whom the song has become more associated, but Richardson also wrote "White Lightning" by George Jones and "Running Bear" by Johnny Preston (later Covered Up by Sonny James).
Bill Parsons is one of the most unusual cases of a one-hit wonder ever documented. He had a #2 hit with "The All American Boy" in 1958, but it was actually recorded by his friend Bobby Bare intended as a demo for him. His record label decided to use the original Bare version instead but erroneously released it under Parsons' name. Bare resurfaced as a successful country star in the mid-'60s, but Parsons was never heard from again.
Donnie Brooks was a rockabilly singer who had a #7 hit in 1960 with "Mission Bell". His follow up "Doll House" stalled at #31, killing his momentum. He was well-respected enough in rockabilly circles to enter the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, however.
One of the most popular rock and roll instrumentals of the late '50s is "Raunchy", which managed to be the only major hit for both Nashville studio musician Bill Justis and acclaimed R&B pianist Ernie Freeman.
Johnny Burnette may not be the most iconic rock and roller of the '50s, but he was no one-hit wonder. However, his brother Dorsey Burnette and son Rocky Burnette were, with "In The Spring" and "Tired of Toein' The Line", respectively.
Jumpin' Gene Simmons (not to be confused with Gene Simmons of KISS, who claims his stage name is a Shout-Out) had his only chart success with the #11 "Haunted House" in 1964. Simmons was more successful as a touring artist, and co-wrote Tim McGraw's Breakthrough Hit "Indian Outlaw". "Haunted House" also made one-hit wonders out of The Compton Brothers, whose cover got to #11 on the country music charts five years later.
Guitarist Tommy Facenda is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps, but he only had one hit as a solo artist, with 1958's "High School USA". The song made the Top 40 in an unusual fashion; Facenda recorded 28 different versions of the song featuring high schools from different areas of the United States (The original version of the tune featured schools from the part of Virginia where he grew up and was released in areas that didn't receive a special version). The sales from all of the different versions of the single were rolled into one, resulting in a #28 chart peak. His followup "Bubba Ditty" went nowhere, and he quit music in the early 1960s, later becoming a firefighter.
The Kingsmen (not to be confused with a later group that became famous with "Louie, Louie") was a spin-off group made up of members of Bill Haley and His Comets in 1958 who recorded as the Kingsmen as a side project. The group scored a surprise Top 40 hit in the US with the instrumental "Week End", even going so far as to perform it on American Bandstand. It was their only chart hit and the Comets made no further recordings under this name.
Carl Perkins is one of the architects of rock and roll, but his only Top 40 single came in 1956 when his iconic "Blue Suede Shoes" made it to #2. His highest peak on the pop charts after that was the #67 "Your True Love". Perkins did, however, go on to have several more hits on the country chart up through the mid-1980s.
The Nashville Teens had only one hit in the US with "Tobacco Road". The band was more successful in their native England. To most rock fans, they're probably better known for backing Jerry Lee Lewis on his Live at the Star Club! record - widely considered to be one of the greatest live albums ever released - than they are for their only hit.
Don Fardon was the first artist to record "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)", later Covered Up by Paul Revere and the Raiders. Fardon never had another hit.
John D. Loudermilk had only Top 40 pop hits with "Sittin' in the Balcony", which was Covered Up by Eddie Cochran, in 1957 (Loudermilk's version was credited to Johnny Dee); while he had another Top 40 hit with "Language of Love" under his real name, it was quickly forgotten. He was also a one-hit wonder in Country Music when "That Ain't All" hit #20 in 1965. Loudermilk was far more successful as a songwriter, including the #1 country hits "Abilene" by George Hamilton IV, "Waterloo" by Stonewall Jackson, and "Talk Back Trembling Lips" by Ernest Ashworth. Coincidentally, several of his compositions were also responsible for one-hit wonders, including "Tobacco Road" and "Indian Reservation", as listed above, "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning, and "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" by the Casinos (see the "Pop" subpage for the latter two).
The Champs are not nearly as well known today as their only #1 hit, a little thing they quickly jammed together in the studio to fill the B-side of their first single. It consists of a Latino beat, a dirty sax solo, and a text of a single word: "Tequila!" The group made a few other minor top 40 hits afterwards, none of which are remembered today.
Terry Stafford is known almost entirely for his debut single "Suspicion" in 1964, which Covered Up a song first recorded by Elvis Presley as an album track. While he hit #25 with "I'll Touch a Star", it was quickly forgotten. Stafford had minor success as a Country Music artist, including the original version of "Amarillo by Morning", later Covered Up by George Strait.
The Royal Teens were the group who originally asked the question "Who Wears Short Shorts?" with "Short Shorts", a #2 R&B hit and #3 pop hit in 1958. Their other major hit was "Believe Me" in 1959, but since it was not used in Nair commercials, it fell into obscurity. Two of the members moved on to bigger things: keyboardist and co-founder Bob Gaudio quit shortly after "Believe Me" to become one of The Four Seasons and guitarist Al Kooper (a member circa "Believe Me") went on to play with Bob Dylan and form The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Tony Sheridan recorded a rock & roll version of the traditional Scottish folk song "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" in 1961 that was released only in Germany, where he had built up a following. The song made #32 there, and didn't chart anywhere else. That is, until his backing group on the song, The Beatles, became international superstars just a few years later. "My Bonnie" was reissued, this time credited to "The Beatles with Tony Sheridan", and made it to #48 in the UK in 1963 and #26 in the US in 1964. It was his only major hit in either country, and he's best remembered now as an associate of the Beatles than for his recordings.
The Ramrods had a #30 U.S. and #8 U.K. hit in 1961 with an instrumental rock arrangement of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky". Their other two singles, "Loch Lomond Rock" and "War Cry", failed to chart. They were the first rock group to feature a female drummer (Claire Lane) in an otherwise all-male lineup. note There were several groups in the U.S. and abroad that shared the "Ramrods" name; the one-hit-wonder group was from Connecticut.
The only chart entry for Harold Dorman was 1959's "Mountain of Love". The song was later Covered Up by Johnny Rivers and Charley Pride among others.
Reel Big Fish hit the charts with "Sell Out", but got Screwed by the Network when it came to releasing a follow-up single. This was later lampshaded by the band in the song "One Hit Wonderful". That being said, the band has been popular even without chart success, with their most viewed video on Youtube not even being "Sell Out", but a cover of "Take on Me" (whose original performer is on the New Wave folder above).
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, although a cult name in the ska-punk genre, only had one notable radio hit with 1997's "The Impression That I Get". The song reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and #23 on the pop airplay chart, and was also a top 20 hit in the UK and Australia. Their follow-up "The Rascal King" went top 10 on alternative radio but did not make the same "impression" as its predecessor, as it did not crossover to pop radio and was an even smaller hit internationally. The Bosstones remain a major regional touring act in their native New England, but they never had another national hit.
Southern Rock/Country Rock
The Georgia Satellites went to #2 with "Keep Your Hands to Yourself". They had a few more hits on the Mainstream Rock chart, but most are obscure today. This song is notable for being one of the few Southern rock songs in 1986, a total antithesis to the Bon Jovi generation. After the group broke up, frontman Dan Baird became a one-hit wonder on his own with 1993's "I Love You Period".
Black Oak Arkansas had a top 40 hit in 1974 with "Jim Dandy (To the Rescue)". While they would remain a popular live act for a few more years thanks to their eccentric lead singer "Jim Dandy" Mangrum (reputedly a role model for David Lee Roth's stage antics), it would be their only major charting single.
Despite being a major radio hit at the time, Molly Hatchet's 1980 single "Flirtin' with Disaster" actually missed the top 40 and peaked at #42. The song has remained a classic rock radio staple. The band had three other low charting songs on the Hot 100, none of which made it past #80.
Shortly after the release of "Flirtin' with Disaster", Molly Hatchet frontman Danny Joe Brown left the band to form the redundantly namedDanny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band. That band scored a #12 hit on the mainstream rock chart with "Edge of Sundown" in 1981. Brown broke up this new band in 1982 after only releasing one album and rejoined Molly Hatchet, staying with them until a stroke caused him to retire from music in 1995.
Outlaws had a hit in 1975 with "There Goes Another Love Song". While they also hit top 40 a few years later with a cover of "Ghost Riders in the Sky", it failed to leave much of an impact, and while the Epic Rocking "Green Grass and High Tides" was popular on album-oriented radio (and saw a revival in popularity after its inclusion in Rock Band), it was never released as a single. Guitarist Henry Paul later went on to greater success in The '90s as the lead singer of the Country Music band Blackhawk, whose original lineup included fellow one-hit wonder Van Stephenson (see the Pop page) and occasional Outlaws member Dave Robbins.
The Bottle Rockets made it to #27 on the Mainstream Rock chart with "Radar Gun" in 1995. Despite remaining a popular live draw, this was their only chart entry.
B. W. Stevenson took "My Maria" to #9 in 1973. The 1996 cover version by country duo Brooks & Dunn would later become the better known version. "My Maria" was Stevenson's followup to his Spring 1973 release "Shambala", which had the rotten luck of coming out at the exact same time as a competing version by the much better-known group Three Dog Night, which made it all the way to #3 while his version stalled at #66.
Head East are remembered for their classic rock hit "Never Been Any Reason" and nothing else. They also charted in 1978 with a cover of Russ Ballard's 'Since You Been Gone', but since it peaked at #43 (ironically higher than "Never Been Any Reason" got), it failed to have a lasting impact and the version recorded by Rainbow the next year is considerably better known.
Son Volt had a #10 Mainstream Rock and #25 Modern Rock hit with "Drown" in 1995. which was their only charting single. They've retained a cult following, but are probably best remembered as the other band that formed out of the breakup of vaunted alt-country group Uncle Tupelo, the other being the much better-known and more successful Wilco.
The SoutherHillmanFuray Band, a supergroup consisting of J.D. Souther, Chris Hillman of The Byrds and Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield and Poco, made it to #27 on the Hot 100 with "Fallin' in Love" in 1974. The band was short-lived, as the three musicians had personality conflicts with one another. They split up just a year after their hit, with the members going back to their other projects.
The three artists all became one-hit wonders of their own in 1979. J.D. Souther reached #7 with his own song "You're Only Lonely". His only other major chart hit was providing duet vocals on James Taylor's #11 hit "Her Town Too." Chris Hillman got back together with former Byrds Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark in the creatively named trio McGuinn, Clark, & Hillman, who hit #33 with their single "Don't You Write Her Off". Finally, Richie Furay had a #39 with "I Still Have Dreams", the title track of his third solo album.
The Monkees had plenty of hits, but former Monkee Michael Nesmith saw the US Top 40 only once: "Joanne", which peaked at #21 in 1970. However, he is considered a pioneer in the country-rock genre and is also noted as an early adopter of both home video and the music video. In the UK, he achieved one-hit wonder status with a different song, "Rio", which peaked at #28 there in 1977.
Boston cowpunk group Scruffy the Cat were fairly popular on college radio in the late 1980s, and are often considered to be a significant influence on later Alternative Country bands. They only made the Billboard charts once, when their not particularly country-sounding song "Moons of Jupiter" peaked at #23 on the then-new alternative chart in 1988. The band broke up shortly after the song's success.
Blue Rodeo had only one chart entry in the US with "Til I Am Myself Again", which reached #19 on the modern rock chart and #37 on the mainstream rock chart in 1990. They were far more successful in their native Canada, where they've had many hit singles on the pop, country and rock charts and a string of gold or platinum albums.
Whiskeytown were an influential band on the Alternative Country genre, but their only chart entry was "Yesterday's News", which reached #35 on the mainstream rock chart in 1998. Lead singer Ryan Adams embarked on a successful solo career after the band broke up two years later.
The Rossington-Collins Band was formed by four former members of Lynyrd Skynyrd a few years after the 1977 plane crash that killed three of their bandmates. The new group's first single "Don't Understand Me" reached #50 on the Hot 100 in 1980, but that would be their only entry on that chart as their career was short lived. They would only last two more years and one more album before internal friction split the band in half: Gary Rossington and RCB lead singer Dale Krantz formed the Rossington Band, while Allen Collins and the other two Skynyrd alumni formed the Allen Collins Band. Neither band scored any hits of their own.
Silver had a #16 Hot 100 hit in 1976 with "Wham Bam" but had no further chart entries. However, most of the members would see success by other means after the band broke up: Keyboardist Brent Mydland later joined The Grateful Dead, while drummer Harry Stinson became a session musician in Country Music. Bassist Tom Leadon (Brother of Eagles co-founder Bernie Leadon) had previously been a member of Tom Petty's pre-fame group Mudcrutch, and rejoined that band when it reformed in 2007. Lead vocalist John Batdorf (son of Country Music singer Earl Scott, also a one-hit wonder) previously had a few minor hits as Batdorf and Rodney.
Charlie Ryan is known entirely for his 1960 hit "Hot Rod Lincoln", his only chart entry in the US. A cover that same year for the pop format was the only major Hot 100 entry for Johnny Bond, who fared more successfully on the country music charts. The song was Covered Up twelve years later by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, who remained a popular album and touring act but saw no major chart activity otherwise.
Fire Town reached #18 on the alternative chart in 1989 with "The Good Life". The alt-country group broke up shortly after that, but guitarist Doug Erikson, drummer Butch Vig, and engineer Steve Marker later saw considerable success as three-fourths of Garbage.
Babylon Zoo scored a major hit in 1996 with their first single "Spaceman". It was chosen to accompany a Levi's jeans advert shortly after it was released, which arguably promoted the single more than the jeans: it went to the top of the charts in 23 countries, and their album release, The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes, charted all round the world on the strength of it. By the time their next album was finished, three years later, EMI were no longer prepared to spend significant sums promoting it, and the Zoo's frontman was not prepared to make up the difference on the promo circuit. In the end, the album didn't chart and the band sank without trace. It didn't help that the Levi's advert only contained the remixed first 30 seconds of the song, which led to some electronica and dance music fans unknowingly buying a song that opened with the aforementioned Alternative Dance beat before segueing into a neo-psychedelic space rock song. If anyone on the street remembers the song, it's generally that part they'll remember. It should also be noted that Babylon Zoo did have two other UK top 40 hits besides "Spaceman", the top 20 "Animal Army" and the top 40 "Boy with the X-Ray Eyes". However, neither song charted outside the UK, while Spaceman was a top 5 hit in over 15 countries, most of which it also hit #1.
Failure reached #23 on the modern rock chart and #31 on the mainstream rock chart in 1996 with their single "Stuck on You". The band broke up not long after that but reconvened for a critically acclaimed reunion album in 2015, which unfortunately produced no singles. Frontman Ken Andrews went on to become a prolific mixing engineer and session musician, working with artists like Paramore and Tenacious D.
Spacehog reached #32 in the US and #29 in the UK in 1996 with their single "In the Meantime". While the glammy space rock band would have a couple of American rock radio hits after that, they never made the pop Top 40 in either country again.
The Tornados were the first British group to send a single to number one on the American charts in 1962 with "Telstar", a composition of the English independent Record Producer Joe Meek. It's one of the first successful space rock singles, and it's their only hit on that chart (they had a couple of further hits on the UK chart in collaboration with Meek). Meek himself was sued for plagiarism by French film composer Jean Ledrut, who claimed it sounded too similar to his composition "La Marche d'Austerlitz" from Austerlitz* in spite of the fact that the film wasn't released until 1965 in the UK, which makes it rather unlikely that Meek would've been aware of it. The case was thrown out three weeks after Joe Meek committed suicide in 1967.* Fortunately, there is no truth to the common folklore that he committed suicide due to the lost royalties. He continued to produce successful records, including another chart-topper in the Honeycombs' "Have I The Right?" in 1964.
The Buggles only had one hit in the US, and only just, when "Video Killed the Radio Star" made #40 at the end of 1979. Two years later, the song became famous as the first video ever played on MTV at 12:01 AM on August 1, 1981. The band had a few more hits in their native UK before calling it a day (notably the #16 "Living in the Plastic Age"), but even there, they're remembered mainly for "Video". The duo also had a brief stint with Yes around 1980, recording an album with this lineup after Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman briefly quit. Frontman Trevor Horn later became famous as a Record Producer with a well-known signature sound and several hits to his credit (he also formed another group, The Art of Noise, which had several hits throughout the 80s). The other member, Geoff Downes, became the keyboardist for the prog-rock band Asia, and rejoined Yes in 2011.
Synth-pop revivalists Future Islands scored a #37 entry on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2014 with their single "Seasons (Waiting for You)". The song's success was spurred by a star-making performance on The Late Show with David Letterman that March, which ultimately went viral. By the end of 2014, the song was one of the most critically acclaimed singles of the year, topping the best-of lists of several major music websites and magazines. The band never reached the same levels of buzz again. Their 2017 single "Ran" actually charted higher on Billboard's Adult Alternative chart than "Seasons" did (#19, compared to #27 for "Seasons"), but it never crossed over to the main alternative chart and has largely faded into the shadow of "Seasons".
In 2012, Gotye had a massive crossover hit with "Somebody That I Used To Know." It was the biggest song of the year, but nothing else he's done has even come close. In fact, in most countries, it's his only chart entry. Although he has yet to release a follow-up album, it's unlikely he'll ever have another big hit, due to his left-field style. The same could be said for his song partner Kimbra: her duet vocals on "Somebody That I Used to Know" are her only chart entry in most countries, although both of her albums have been critically acclaimed and she's had some minor hits in her native New Zealand.
Harold Faltermeyer scored a #3 hit in the US and #2 in the UK with "Axel F", a.k.a. the theme to Beverly Hills Cop. He never touched the US charts again, and his only other UK hit came a few months later with "Fletch Time" at #74. However, he is better known for his film scores for other successful movies, including Chevy Chase's Fletch films, and more famously for Top Gun, which he composed the "Top Gun Anthem" for.
Robert Hazard is mostly known for two reasons: writing Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (and recording his own demo of it in 1979), and his #58 solo hit in 1983 with "Escalator of Life".
American synthpop revivalists Iglu & Hartly had a #5 hit in the UK and a Top 40 hit on the American alternative chart in 2008 with "In This City". Unfortunately for them, their career was destroyed less than six months later when frontman Jarvis Anderson was arrested following a particularly embarrassing incident during the South By Southwest Festival. The incident overshadowed the band's music, their follow-up singles were all flops, and they never released another album.
Nik Kershaw had a minor hit in America with "Wouldn't It Be Good" at #46 in 1984, and had no other Top 75 hits there afterwards. In his native UK, however, he was one of the most successful singers of The '80s, with eight Top 40 hits (four of them Top 10), and even Elton John called him "the best songwriter of a generation". He technically had another hit in the US through other means, namely by writing "The One and Only" for Chesney Hawkes, who himself is an example of this trope, see the Pop folder.
Dennis Lloyd, the pseudonym of Israeli singer Nir Tibor, had a popular 2018 hit with "Nevermind". It hit #3 on alternative and #86 on the Hot 100.
French synthpop band M83 had a worldwide hit in 2011 with "Midnight City," which peaked at #34 in the UK and #8 in their native France. Its success in the US was mostly limited to alternative radio, only peaking at #72 on the Hot 100. However, it still gets plenty of recurrent airplay on alternative radio and was eventually certified Platinum in the US. While M83 are an influential band in the indie rock scene, "Midnight City" was their only major charting hit anywhere in the world.
French synthpop band Magazine 60 are remembered solely for their 1984 Gratuitous Spanish hit "Don Quichotte (No estan aqui)", which reached the Top 10 in their native France and even cracked the Top 60 in the US.
Men Without Hats are another band largely remembered as a classic '80s one-hit wonder despite not technically being one. Their memorable 1982 single "The Safety Dance" made it to #3 in the US and #6 in the UK. Despite that song remaining their only Top 40 hit in the UK, they had another hit in the US in 1987 when "Pop Goes the World" reached #20. The band had several more hits in their native Canada, but that was it for them internationally.
German synthpop singer Alice Merton had a big hit in 2018 with "No Roots", going top 10 in several countries and even hitting #1 on American alternative radio. Her follow-up "Lash Out" barely charted. Ironically, it was co-written by Dave Bassett, who wrote three American one-hit wonder songs ("Second Chance", "Fight Song", and "Ex's & Oh's")
Gary Numan is often considered to be an archetypal one hit wonder in the United States, for "Cars". In Europe (especially the UK), however, he was one of the most popular recording artists of the late 70's and early-to-mid 80's. One of the few American Gary Numan superfans in the 80's was Trent Reznor, who credits Numan as a massive influence for Nine Inch Nails.
Before Numan launched his solo career, he was the frontman for Tubeway Army. The new wave act topped the UK chart with "Are 'Friends' Electric?" in June 1979. By the time the song finished up its four week run at #1, the band had broken up, and no followup was released. Just a few weeks later, Numan put out "Cars" as his debut solo single.
In 1981, Numan decided to temporarily retire from live performance, and the members of his former backing group formed a new band called Dramatis. That group scored a #33 UK hit that year with "Love Needs No Disguise", which featured Numan on guest vocals. Dramatis never made it back to the top 40 and disbanded shortly thereafter, with some of the members returning to Numan's band by 1983.
Soft Cell's cover of "Tainted Love" was the only song they were really known for in the US. In the UK, however, while "Tainted Love" is still easily their best known song, they are much more popular.
White Town - the one-man band of Indian-born British musician Jyoti Mishra - scored a massive worldwide hit with his song "Your Woman" in 1997. It was a #1 hit in the UK, a Top 10 hit all across Europe and a Top 30 hit in the US (with a Top 5 entry into the Billboard Alternative Songs chart as well). In most of these markets, it was also his only chart entry. His follow-up "Undressed" only charted in the UK and it flopped badly and failed to reach the top 40 there.