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The Best One Hit Wonders for Your iPod

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Ah, one hit wonders – songs that allow bands and artists to be famous for about thirty seconds. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, or shut off the radio in a fit of rage each time one airs, if you like music there is really no escape: one hit wonders are part of the musical world. Some are worth forgetting altogether – ahem, Do the Bartman – but others are well worth a listen, or fifty. The following is our selection of the best one hit wonders to put on your iPod. Trust me, your friends will be jealous.


"I’m Too Sexy": There is nothing quite as humorous as a man vocalizing his sexiness, sans a man who is not at all sexy doing it. Right Said Fred brought ego to a new height with this 1992 hit. I’m Too Sexy not only taught us what the heck a cat walk is, but it also topped the American charts for three whole weeks. Yes, three… seriously.


"Tainted Love":  If you ever feel like you’ve got to run away, like you’ve got to get away, you are not alone. This song by Soft Cell was released in 1981. Rumored to have been recorded in just a day and a half, "Tainted Love" reached number 8 on the US charts, a chart where it remained for a then-record 43 weeks. Not bad for 36 hours of work.


"Macarena": If the "Macarena" taught us one thing, it taught us that we can have a song stuck in our heads for months at a time, without actually knowing the words. Recorded by Los del Rio, a Spanish music group, "Macarena" was the biggest hit for a duo that had been around for decades.  This song went multi-platinum and sold over four million copies in the United States. "Macarena" also did well in Australia and – adopting the tell tale sign of musical success – came with its own dance.


"Come on Eileen":  A song still popular among lovers of eighties music, "Come on Eileen" virtually turned into come on let’s sing. Released in 1982, this song was the best selling British single of the year. Performed by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, "Come on Eileen" also saw success in the US: it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in April 1983.  Today, it remains one of the most well known and beloved One Hit Wonders of all time.


"Ice Ice Baby": Alright Stop. Collaborate and listen. Anyone who says they don’t know the words to "Ice Ice Baby" is either too old or lying. Vanilla Ice’s best known cube was released in 1991. A song that “borrowed” rifts from Queen and David Bowie’s "Under Pressure," "Ice Ice Baby" heated up the airwaves and hit number one on the Billboard charts. Possessing fans from everywhere, this song was even nominated for a Grammy. It ultimately lost to MC Hammer’s "U Can’t Touch This".


There is really no end to One Hit Wonders. As long as there is music, there will be groups that are only able to eke out a single success. Yet, despite what the title One Hit Wonder insinuates, these songs remain a part of musical history. We may as well cooperate and put them on our iPod; they are stuck in our heads for life, whether we like it or not.

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About JM Jordan

  • “Do the Bartman” is not the most profound piece of music ever, but it’s actually a decently written legitimate song, unlike most of these selections. There’s just nothing to Right Said Fred compositionally.

    “Ice Ice Baby” however is an under appreciated song. There’s a lot of foolishness about the supposed ripping off of the Queen song, but it’s just one stupid bass riff – for which they get paid royalties. Vanilla Ice had a completely different song. Also, it turns out that “Ice Ice Baby” is a perfectly good Chuck Berry car song. Who knew?

  • Oops, that’s Macarena not Marcarena by Los Del Rio. I’ll correct it for you with my godlike editorial powers – but a big yah boo sucks to author and editor!

    And, from a non-US perspective, the artists of all of these songs, except Vanilla Ice, were not one hit wonders.

    Call me pedantic!

  • Al, give me a break, “I’m Too Sexy” is a classic!

    The most grating of these tracks to my ears is “Come On Eileen”. It marked the hideous transition of Dexys Midnight Runners from underground Soul heroes to cheesy mock-Celtic loons. *Shudders*

  • zingzing

    “come on eileen” may have been dexy’s midnight runners’ only hit here in the states, but in the u.k., they were major stars. and actually, they were one of the more interesting bands of the early 80s. their first album was total northern soul, then they went even more late-60s soul, putting together a ike & tina-like review thing that never got around to the studio, before kevin rowland got sick of soul and decided to put out an irish folk album. that’s where “eileen” is from, obviously. as chris says, it’s their worst album.

    it was such a massive hit everywhere that rowland got a bit scared of it, and didn’t know what to do to follow it up. so he holed up for a while, decided he had to do something, put on some ivy league sweater and made “don’t stand me down,” which is one of the absolute finest 80s albums. if you’ve never heard it, and you like soul music and folk music and rock music, i really really recommend this album.

    rowland recorded through his writer’s block, cutting in spoken word bits, fumbling with being unable to express himself in words, mashing everything he could think of into a song. it’s early, so i’m having a bit of trouble… it’s just something you have to hear. i get obsessed with “don’t stand me down” from time to time.

  • Well you know the kind of people who think Dexys were one hit wonders? The kind that use expressions like “come on let’s sing”

    Dexy’s and Soft Cell one hit wonders *snort* I’ve never heard such nonsense.

  • Hard to believe, but Vanilla did have another top 10 hit: a remake of “Play That Funky Music.” (shudder)

  • sean Paul Mahoney

    Great Article!
    I Can’t Wait by NuShooz, To Be Real by Cheryl Lynn, Nasty Girl by Vainity 6, Oh Sheila by Ready for the World, Ring My Bell by Anita Ward and Bust a Move by Young MC are also I-Pod worthy!

  • Joe Mama

    More Today Than Yesterday by Spiral Starecase

    Sugar Sugar by the Archies (no, Dante’s Tracy was with the Cufflinks).

    Heck, the late 60’s early 70’s were full of 1-hit wonders.