One Hit Wonder

As the summer winds down, and the air gets cooler, I am reminded of “Call Me Maybe”, the inescapable song of the summer. It was everywhere, and parodied by everyone. Carly has been drilled into my brain and it will forever remind me of Summer 2012.

It got me thinking,if Carly will be known for anything other than this song. Can she be classified as a one hit wonder?

Technically no, due to the success of “Good Time”  So I set upon making a quick list of what I considered one hit wonders.

My quick 5 minute thinking session produced the following list.

Sisqo “Thong Song”

Baha Men “Who Let the Dogs Out”

Vanilla Ice “Ice Ice Baby”

Rick Springfield “Jessie’s Girl”

Los Del Rio “Macarena”

Lou Bega “Mambo No.5″

Billy Ray Cyrus “Achy Breaky Heart”

Upon showing my list to my friends, they quickly pointed out that my list was flawed. So what makes a one hit wonder?

Classifying a one hit wonder is tricky since there are many definitions. A one hit wonder is a Top 40 hit, a song that is huge in the music industry with one single, but is unable to repeat the achievement.

But in the U.S a “pure” one hit wonder is an artist that manages only one song on the Billboard Hot 100 regardless of the songs peak position.

Sisqo had various other singles in the Top 100, as a solo artist and a group member of Dru Hill.

The Baha Men had three singles in the Top 100 including “Who let the Dogs out”.

Rick Springfield had 5 Top 10 hits on Billboard.

Lou Bega had two singles on the Top 100 including Mambo No.5

Billy ray Cyrus had 7 entries in the Top 100

Even Vanilla Ice had Two Song on the top 10 and a total of four songs on the Top 100, yea four!

Los Del Rio is the only artist that had one song on the charts, but multiple versions of their one song was charted.

What someone pointed out to me is that my list is composed of one particular hit that the artist is well known for, even if they make other singles. This might be the case for Carly Rae Jepson.  She has scored a second hit with Owl City  with “Good Time”, but how many people will not think Carly as synonymous as  “Call me Maybe”.  How much of a success is the second single of an artist if its riding the coat tails of their current hit?

If the U.S definition is applied to my list, several artists will be excluded.

Additionally Jimi Hendrix had one Top 40 Hit, “All Along the Watchtower” in 1968.  The Grateful Dead’s top hit was “Truckin” in 1971 at #64 until 1987’s “Touch of Grey” top at # 9.

But we cannot consider them a OHW.

An artist can have a hit single, and release other tracks and have fans buy that single due to the success of their first song. This could possible give the artist two hit singles, or even a hit album, but never achieve the same success. There are plenty of artist who had their album rise on the charts in anticipation of their album drop,only to have it chart off after its debut.

This begs the question, how strict can we be with the follow up single to consider an artist a OHW? Should it chart on the Top 100? 40? Or 10? An artist can releases a second single within four months of the current hit and have it charts well. After its success wears off, they are not able to achieve the same feat.

Additionally if the Top 100 or Top 40 is used as a measure of a hit, then there arises a limitation. There are many genres that don’t make the Top 40.

Kylie Minogue is considered a hit artist around the world, but on the charts she has two Top 10 hits. Many jazz artists, Soul artist, Cristian Contemporary artists, Metal artist and so on only chart a few Top 40 hits, but they are successful in their own genre. They could not be considered as a OHW.

This brings to mind the current hit “Gangum Style” by Psy. After the novelty wears off and without a follow  up hit single, he will be condemned to the status of OHW here in the U.S, even though he has found success elsewhere.

Most recently, Foster the People “Pump up Kicks” peak at # 3, but the band failed to achieve that same success with their second single.

Many artists, like Goyte (“Somebody That I used to Know” #1), Weezer (“Beverly Hills” #10), Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”, # 1), D4L (“Laffy Taffy”, # 1), and most notably Daniel Powter (“Bad Day” #1) have never achieved the same success as their hit singles.

So how should a OHW be measured? What are other OHW artist that have meet those requirement?

While many people use different barometers to measure a true OHW, it can be agreed upon that the artist can no longer produce a hit single, or cannot step out of the shadows of their only hit.


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