Every decade is defined by its music, especially its one-hit wonders. This is the music that seems to be everywhere. One-hit wonders are constantly on the radio, in movie soundtracks, commercials, TV shows, and even buzzing in our pockets as cell phone ringtones. They’re inescapable — until suddenly, they aren’t. And what was the name of that artist, again?
Some one-hit wonder artists capture lightning in a bottle, then quickly fade away. Others continue to release music, but their new songs never match the infectious power of that first big hit. Yet for everyone who loved grooving to that “song of the summer,” a one-hit wonder will always carry special nostalgia for bygone days.
As we enter a new decade, let’s look back on some of the best one-hit wonders from the 2010’s.
1. Gotye (ft. Kimbra) – “Somebody That I Used To Know” (2011)
Belgian-Australian musician Gotye crafted one of the best pop songs of the 2010’s, an emotional yet upbeat ballad featuring a memorable duet with New Zealand vocalist Kimbra. “Somebody That I Used to Know” dominated the airwaves for the first few years of the 2010’s and topped multiple charts around the world.
Gotye performed the song on Saturday Night Live and a cover version appeared on the musical show Glee, among other televised appearances. Despite his obvious talent and songwriting abilities, Gotye’s other singles have never reached the level of fame as “Somebody I Used To Know.”
2. Psy – “Gangnam Style” (2012)
With over 3.5 billion views on YouTube, “Gangnam Style” was more than a one-hit wonder from the 2010’s, it was a pop cultural landmark. Written and performed by Korean musician Psy, “Gangnam Style” included a signature dance that enamored millions. Even US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron performed the moves.
“Gangnam Style” inspired hundreds of remixes, covers, and parodies. But as 2012 wound down, the song gradually faded from popularity. Psy continues to record and produce music, yet no subsequent single has ever matched the global impact of “Gangnam Style.”
3. Meghan Trainor – “All About That Bass” (2014)
You can’t talk about one-hit wonders from the 2010’s without mentioning Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” Written by Trainor and songwriter Kevin Kadish, the 2014 pop song spent eight weeks on the Billboard top 100 and received two Grammy nominations.
Notable for its body-positive lyrics and playful video, “All About That Bass” was covered by multiple artists, including pop star Justin Bieber, and received widespread critical praise. Thanks to the hit single, Trainor’s debut album (on which “All About That Bass” appears) was certified triple platinum status by the RIAA. However, the young American performer seems to have been a one-hit wonder.
4. Carly Rae Jepson – “Call Me Maybe” (2012)
“Call Me Maybe” reached number one around the world, topping the charts in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Denmark, and many other countries. The song was also nominated for two Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year.
Written by Carly Rae Jepson and Tavish Crowe, “Call Me Maybe” skyrocketed Jepson to pop star status almost overnight. The song’s signature lyric (“here’s my number, so call me maybe”) quickly became a common reference in pop culture. Unfortunately, “Call Me Maybe” has proven to yet another song on the list of one-hit wonders from the 2010’s.
5. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee – “Despacito” (2017)
Recorded by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and featuring Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee, “Despacito” was a chart-topping hit in 47 countries and became the first Spanish song to top the Billboard top 100 since the “Macarena” in 1996. Fusing Latin pop and reggaeton beats, “Despacito” is widely considered one of the best songs in Latin pop history.
The catchy song received multiple awards and accolades, including several Latin Grammys and Billboard Music Awards. Because of “Despacito,” Yankee Daddy became the most-listened to artist worldwide on Spotify in July 2017, a first for Latin musicians. Soon after its meteoric rise to popularity, “Despacito” became the subject of countless covers, remixes, and parodies. However, despite the song’s success, both artists have returned to relative obscurity.
6. Hozier – “Take Me to Church” (2013)
One of the most soulful one-hit wonders from the 2010’s, Hozier originally recorded “Take Me to Church” in his parents’ attic. The struggling Irish musician released it as a free download before including the track on his 2014 self-titled debut album. Thanks in large part to streaming platforms Shazam and Spotify, “Take Me to Church” topped the charts in 12 countries.
The single spent 23 consecutive weeks at the top of the Hot Rock Songs chart and eventually crossed over into the Billboard 100, where it peaked at number 2. Although it launched Hozier’s career in the mainstream music industry, the singer-songwriter’s subsequent releases haven’t matched the cultural impact of “Take Me to Church.” Time