A site where I get to complain about music I don't like.
We all love one hit wonders. Whenever a band manages to achieve one hit, they stay in our minds forever, usually because they are such a product of the time. We have the classic one hit wonders, like Nena and Chumbawamba, and the artists who aren’t but we think of them as though they are, like A-ha and MC Hammer. But then there are the bands that just don’t feel like one hit wonders, but are. These are bands that, either through influence or sound, are surprising in their history on the charts. So now, we start…
The Top 20 Most Surprising One Hit Wonders Pt 1: 20-11
Special mention to Radiohead, who, despite being one of the biggest bands who ever lived, has only two top 40 hits, “Creep” and “Nude”.
I put them pretty low on the list, because they’re not nearly as big as others on here, but it’s certainly surprising. While most of the bands from the late 90s have come and gone, Incubus is still around, making the same music as they did when they first had success with Make Yourself. But even though they are one of the biggest alternative bands around right now, their only hit is “Drive”, an acoustic ballad. Even their most famous song, “Wish You Were Here” didn’t make it into the top 40. Why is this, I’m not sure, but if you have an acoustic ballad on a heavier album, don’t release it as a single.
19. Thin Lizzy
If you think of Irish music, and weren’t raised on punk, you think of U2. But Thin Lizzy is also up there. Influencing many metal bands with their guitar-driven sound, and having one of the best live albums ever with Live and Dangerous, you’d expect them to be huge. But no. Their only hit state-side was “The Boys are Back in Town” off of Jailbreak. Not even their other main hit “Whiskey in a Jar” managed to break through. But, hey, it’s proto metal. And metal isn’t exactly radio fodder.
18. System of a Down
You probably remember System of a Down as the most interesting band to come out of the late 90s. Featuring 4 armenians who were insanely talented, including one of the greatest singers of all time, Serj Tankian, they remain one of the three Nu Metal bands who you’re still allowed to like, mostly because they aren’t Nu Metal (The others being Slipknot and The Deftones.) Now you’re probably thinking their one hit was “Chop Suey” due to being their most famous song. But actually, their biggest hit was “BYOB”, later in their career. It’s unusual to see a bands one hit not be their signature song, especially with a band this popular.
17. Folk Implosion
Yeah, Folk Implosion had a hit. You know why? Because it was in a movie. While it’s surprising a band this deliberately lo-fi had a hit at all, it’s not surprising at all its from the soundtrack to a 90s movie, Kids. Back in the 90s, lots of movies had soundtracks composed entirely on what was considered “hip” at the time. So, of course, they had to get The Folk Implosion in at some point, which became a hit. But what’s surprising is the movie it came from Kids. It’s not a movie that would create hits.
16. T. Rex
Along with David Bowie, T. Rex is the face of Glam. With some of the most classic songs of the 70s, like “Bang a Gong” and “Children of the Revolution”, they were on the way to being big, until Marc Bolan died in a tragic motorcycle crash. But for the longest time, they didn’t have a single hit. Who can you thank for having their one hit wonder? The Duran Duran spinoff Power Station’s cover of “Bang a Gong”. After this, “Bang a Gong” became a hit 14 years after it was first released on Electric Warrior. Just goes to show, even if you don’t exist anymore, you can still become a one hit wonder.
Meshuggah is a technical Death Metal band. I think that sums up why it’s surprising they have one hit. But their song “Bleed” actually managed to become a success, especially when it’s a band this deliberately exclusive. But really, they’ll never have another hit. This is pretty much a definite statement. Not much to say but technical death metal.
Now, to be sure, Prog rock isn’t exactly the type of music that churns out hits. Until the eighties, it was very unlikely to hear any on hit radio stations. But I don’t think Rush has that excuse. For most of their career, they’ve been much closer to Pop than other prog mainstays like Yes or Jethro Tull, and so are perfect for radio. But, instead, only one hit. Now, you might think it’s something like “Tom Sawyer” or “Limelight”, but no.It’s actually “New World Man”, a song that’s not as well known as others by Rush. And peaking at #21, it wasn’t that big of a hit, either. At least it fit the sound of the times.
Muse, along with Coldplay and Radiohead, are the face of Alternative music. And really, Rush has the perfect sound for radio, with silly bombast rocking everywhere on the mix. And since they’re one of the biggest names in music now, even opening for U2, you’d expect lots and lots of hit. But their only hit was “Uprising”, which, just like Rush, peaked fairly low in the top 40, at #37. You’d expect a band like this to have lots of hits. But nope.
12. Garth Brooks
It’s likely that no country artist has been quite as massive a success as the forever terribly dressed Garth Brooks. With more country hits than probably anyone else, you’d expect massive success on this side of the radio too, or at least “Friends in Low Places”. But what happened is a little more complicated. In 1999, Brooks was planned to star in a movie about a fictional musician named Chris Gaines. But while he made an album around the concept as a fake greatest hits, along with playing as Gaines on an episode of SNL hosted by him, the movie never came to fruition. And through making more of a pop album then anything else, he got a hit in the ballad “Lost in You”.
Beck is one of the most unusual musicians who managed to actually become a success. After being literally homeless, he suddenly hit it big with his album Mellow Gold, and with the hit “Loser”. After that, he quickly became one of the most versatile artists to perform since the 60s, switching between everything ever. But while some of his albums were hits, like Odelay, he never had a hit like “Loser” again. Probably because random rapping was really big in the 90s. I can’t explain it. I wasn’t even alive.