Published on September 25th, 2012 | by Alan Cross


Why I Won’t Be Celebrating One-Hit-Wonder Day

Apparently today is when we’re supposed to salute acts who have had one–and just one–chart hit. Not me.  Why?  Because the concept of a one hit wonder (hereafter referred to as a OHW) is just too damned fuzzy.  The definition of a OHW is both too narrow and too broad.

An infographic in today’s Toronto Sun lists the following songs as OHWs:


  • “Whip It”/Devo
  • “Take on Me”/a-ha
  • “Tainted Love”/Soft Cell
  • “She Blinded Me with Science”/Thomas Dolby
  • “Nothing Compares 2 U”/Sinead O’Connor
  • “Wonderful”/Everclear


See the problem?  If you’re remotely familiar with any of those acts, you’ll know that they’re famous for more than just the one song yet they’re lumped into the same categorie as ilk from Los del Rio (“The Macarena”), Carl Douglas (“Kung Fu Fighting”) and Rick Dees (“Disco Duck”).

And look some of these other supposed OHWs.  Blind Melon fans will fight to the death if you suggest that the only song that mattered from them was “No Rain.”  “Jump Around” is the only important song from House of Pain?  What about the other (British) chart hits for Dexy’s Midnight Runners beyond “Come on Eileen?”  And Dee Snider has to be pissed about being called a OHW for “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

So what does qualify as a geniune OHW?  Consulting Wikipedia, there are no fewer than 15 caveats and definitions.  You try and figure it out.

But don’t let me stop you.  If you want to spend the day listening to dreck like “Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band, 1976), “How Bizarre” (OMC, 1996) and–ugh–“Cotten Eye Joe” (Red Nex, 1994), fill yer boots.  Just beware of the earworms and the brain damage.



About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Related Posts

2 Responses to Why I Won’t Be Celebrating One-Hit-Wonder Day

  1. Adam says:

    The most criminal was saying the Verve only had one tune. It's for people who've only known commercial radio and arena bands.

  2. Doug says:

    Nine Days gets lumped in as a One Hit Wonder for Absolutely (Story Of A Girl) but If I Am off the same record is just a big of a hit. Let alone all of us fans who love the records too bad the singer is teaching English in Rode Island now or maybe that is a good thing I guess we will have to wait and see what the students put out in the next decades.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑