If you think about it, the ‘90s were the Golden Age of One-Hit Wonders, although we’re pretty sure you can say that about every decade other than the one you’re currently living in. From the grungy one-hit wonders from the early ‘90s to the pop sensations of 1999, there were plenty of bands and artists that struck gold with one song and then never had another hit again. Here are some of our all-time favorite one-hit wonders from the ‘90s.
Fun fact: this 1997 hit was often misidentified as “I Get Knocked Down”, thanks to its super catchy chorus that repeats the line “I get knocked down, but I get up again” over and over again. This song could be heard on repeat around the world, which launched the group into the limelight. Unfortunately, their next album (WYSIWYG) would prove to be pretty inaccessible to the general public, probably due to its weird name and the fact that it was made up of 23 short tracks that blended together into a weird musical collage with no potential singles to speak of.
Semisonic- “Closing Time”
Although the song is likely still played at bars across the U.S. at 1:55AM each night, the band continued to make music until an indefinite hiatus in 2006, but were never able to capture the same success as this hit single. If anything, Semisonic taught budding musicians and bands that the only thing you really need to have a successful single is a catchy chord progression, a strong chorus that everyone can sing along to, and a phrase that’s repeated over and over again so it’s seared into the brains of listeners. Yep, that’s “Closing Time” in a nutshell.
Len- “Steal My Sunshine”
Most would think the group fully intended this song to be a single, especially since the happy song is so darn catchy, but Len didn’t even release this song as a single until after the radio had already been playing the song for four months. Talk about a happy coincidence, right? Though nothing was ever heard from Len again, the Constanzo siblings (Marc and Sharon) still release music together and released a more hip-hop leaning album in 2005. Regardless, this song will always have a top spot on our feel good summer playlists.
Lou Bega- “Mambo No.5”
Though this song isn’t entirely original (German pop star Lou Bega revitalized an older jive dance song by adding his own lyrics and structure to the tune), it definitely deserves a top spot on our one-hit wonders list. At the close of the ‘90s, you simply could not get away from this song, and the unforgettable listing of numerous women’s names (Shout out if your name was on the list!) Unfortunately, this would be the end of Lou’s success–as much as he tried, he just couldn’t recapture the popularity of this song.
Baz Luhrmann- “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”
“Does this even count as a song, since it’s just Baz Luhrmann talking the entire time?” you might ask. Well, it was played on pretty much every radio station in 1998, so we’ll include it on this list for good measure. Another fun fact: Baz Luhrmann isn’t even a musician, he’s a director and screenwriter, known for Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet who briefly ventured into the music industry with this spoken word piece. Filled with valuable advice and touting the importance of sunscreen, this song should be listened to at least once a year by everyone; it’ll uplift you when you’re feeling down and help put things into perspective.
Deep Blue Something- “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
Perhaps the best example of a band that exploded onto the music scene out of nowhere, and then vanished into thin air without a trace. Can you name another song by Deep Blue Something? Even better, did you even know this song was written by a band named Deep Blue Something? Probably not. This alt-rock group actually did release another single (“Josey”) which made it to the UK Top 40 but didn’t chart at all in the United States.
Whether you love these songs or hate them, one thing is for sure–the ‘90s were packed with great one-hit wonders. Are we missing one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments, and check back for more of our favorite one-hit wonders from the ‘80s, ‘00s, and 2010s! You might even be able to find some sheet music from your favorite artist or band in the sheet music section of our online store!