Throughout the years there have been tons of one-hit wonders. Some one-hit wonders are more memorable than others. Songs like “I’m Too Sexy” and “Baby Got Back” are still popular songs to this day. Other one-hit wonders are forgotten as soon as their hype is over. Here are a few one-hit wonders that have been forgotten over time.
1. “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree
“You Gotta Be” is a 1994 R&B song written and performed by British singer Des’ree. It is one of those songs that you haven’t heard in years but once it comes on you remember all the lyrics. The song was everywhere in the mid-1990s. It became a top 40 hit around the world and reached #5 on the United States Billboard charts in 1995
Des’ree released a remix of “You Gotta Be” in 1999 and which was used in a Ford Focus advertising campaign. The song became a smash hit once again. It peaked at #10 in the U.S and was even the #1 hit in Spain for 2 weeks. After the hype died off, Des’ree failed to reach the same level of success that “You Gotta Be” gave her.
2. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers
“I’m Gonna Be” is better known as “500 Miles” and was released by the Scottish duo The Proclaimers. The Proclaimers are made up of twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid. The song has an interesting history that many people are not aware of.
“I’m Gonna Be” was released in 1988 and was the lead single on the album Sunshine on Leith. It reached #1 in Iceland that same year and reached #1 in Australia and New Zealand in 1990. The song was not released in the United States until it was featured in the 1993 movie Benny & Joon. “I’m Gonna Be” became an instant hit reaching the top 10 on the U.S. and Canadian Billboard charts.
The song is still in many U.S commercials and movies today. Unfortunately, The Proclaimers could not produce another big hit like “I’m Gonna Be”. That does not stop the band from making songs and touring the world. The band still tours and plays their hit song to their loyal fans.
3. “Cars” by Gary Numan
The synth hit “Cars” by English musician Gary Numan was a huge hit when it was released in 1979. The song was the lead single on his debut album The Pleasure Principle. It was his first release after leaving the band Tubeway Army. “Cars” was more poppy and less darkwave than the songs he released with Tubeway Army.
“Cars” hit #1 in the UK and Canada while hitting #9 in the United States. Even though the song is Gary Numan’s only hit song, he views the song as mediocre and describes it as “average”. Gary Numan is known as a synthwave/darkwave legend and is an underground music icon but never found stardom in mainstream music. This might be due to the fact that he decided to go back to his darker roots after the hype of “Cars” died down and left pop music behind.
4. “Butterfly” by Crazy town
During the early 2000s, the music industry was flooded by rap-rock and young hard rock bands trying to ride the wave of fame bands like Limp Bizkit help create. One of those bands was Crazy Town. There only hit “Butterfly” debuted in 1999 but did not become a hit until 2001.
“Butterfly” was actually the third single that they released from their album The Gift of Game. The first 2 singles, Toxic and Darkside, were heavier rock songs that flopped with mainstream audiences. “Butterfly” was more of a rap-rock ballad that was much more mellow than their other singles. The song blew up and hit #1 on the U.S billboards charts and other pop charts around the world. The band continued making music but couldn’t produce another big hit like “Butterfly”. The band broke up in 2003 but got back together in 2007. Now the band goes by the name Crazy Town X.
5. “Loving You” by Minnie Riperton
This 1975 love song was recorded by the mother of famous comedy actress Maya Rudolph, Minnie Riperton. It was written by Riperton and Richard Rudolph (Maya Rudolph’s father) and was produced by Stevie Wonder who was a big fan of Riperton’s music. Stevie Wonder was signed to a different record label than Riperton so he was credited on the album under the name El Toro Negro (Spanish for the black bull).
When the song released in 1975, it became a smash hit. It rose to #1 and remained on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 18 weeks. Unfortunately, like many other one-hit wonders, Minnie Riperton could not reproduce a hit that could live up to “Loving You” and died from cancer in 1979. “Loving You” is still very popular today and has been covered by many popular musicians. The song is still played in many movies and TV shows to this day.
6. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 smash hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was actually inspired by a quote from an Indian mystic named Meher Baba. He used the expression “Don’t worry, be happy” and often printed them on cards and posters. Bobby McFerrin saw the quote on a poster and decided to write a song about it.
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” was actually the first a capella (a genre of music made without instruments) song to ever hit #1 on the U.S pop charts and other music charts throughout the world. Bobby made the whole song by himself by recording the vocal rhythm and overdubbing the lyrics over them. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” won Bobby McFerrin the Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards.
7. “Because I Got High” by Afroman
“Because I Got High” by Afroman had a strange journey back when it came out in 2000. Afroman was a relatively unknown rapper until he released “Because I got High”. He would distribute his albums through his concerts since he wasn’t signed by a major record label at that time. Later that year, the infamous website Napster got a hold of the song and allowed people to download it off their website.
After Napster posted the song on their website, “Because I Got High” was everywhere and was even the theme song for the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Universal Records decided to sign Afroman after hearing the song and released his first album on a major record label titled The Good Times. The album had “Because I Got High” and “Crazy Rap” known better as “Colt 45 and 2 Zig Zags”. After the album was released, Afroman struggled to make another hit song. He released many albums after The Good Times, including a Christmas record, but none of the songs were as successful as “Because I Got High.”
8. “What’s Up?” By 4 Non Blondes
An interesting fact about the 4 Non Blondes 1993 hit “What’s Up” is the phrase “what’s up” is not in the song at all. Many people remember this song as “What’s Going On?” instead of “What’s Up”. The band decided to call the song “What’s Up” instead of “What’s Going On?” because they didn’t want anyone confusing the song with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”
“What’s Up?” was the second single on the 4 Non Blondes debut album Bigger, Better, Faster, More! The song was popular in the United States and hit number 14 on the Billboard charts but found even more success in European countries. The song hit #1 in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, and many more countries overseas.
The 4 Non Blondes couldn’t find success in any of their later albums and broke up in 1994. Their vocalist Linda Perry decided to go solo and write songs for many famous musicians such as Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani. “What’s Up?” is now a favorite song for karaoke singers (usually sung horribly) and is in many movies, tv shows, commercials and more.
9. “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals
The New Radicals’ song “You Get What You Give was the single for their late 1998 album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too. The song only hit #36 in the Billboard Hot 100 list but hit #1 on the US Adult Alternative chart. The song had a lot of success in other countries as well as reaching #1 in Canada and New Zealand.
The song was also a bit controversial when it was first released. “You Get What You Give has lyrics criticizing many political issues and celebrities of the time period. Funny enough, dissing celebrities such as Beck and Marilyn Manson was more of an issue to the media than the political commentary. Marilyn Mason even said he would, “crack his [the singer Gregg Alexander] skull open if I see him.”
The New Radicals broke up only a year after their hit song debuted. The singer, Gregg Alexander, decided to team up with the band’s keyboardist, Danielle Brisebois, and write songs for up and coming artists. The 2 were actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2015 for their work “Lost Stars” which was featured in the film Begin Again.
10. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve
Anyone who was around in the late 1990s knows the smash hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by British rock group The Verve. It is said to be one of the defining songs of the era. What people know don’t is the song and band had a very bittersweet rise to success.
When the song was released in 1997, it became an instant hit across the world reaching #12 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 and making it in the top 5 in many European countries. The song uses a sample from the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time” which caused a few legal issues. The Verve was able to gain the right to use the sample from the recordings copyright holder but was not granted permission to use the sample by the former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein who owned the copyrights to all Rolling Stones songs before 1970. The only problem was the song was already released with the sample featured in it before the band was given permission by Klein.
Klein decided to sue The Verve for plagiarism which was settled out of court. Unfortunately, the band had to give Klein all the royalties for the song and had to add Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to the songwriting credits. The law battles took a toll on the band and they decided to break up in 1999. The band has gotten back together and disbanded a number of times since then never reclaiming the success of Bitter Sweet Symphony.