Who knows why an artist scores a hit once but never again. In some cases, the hit makers weren't even recording artists in the first place. Even if you weren't alive when some of these songs enjoyed their five minutes of fame, chances are you've heard them.
Head on over to the next page, where we start our list of 12 one-hit wonders.*
*Artists deemed one-hit wonders in the United States based on song positions on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart.
Better known as a country singer, Jeannie C. Riley became an overnight sensation with "Harper Valley P.T.A.," which topped both the pop and country charts. The song even spawned a variety show hosted by Riley in 1969, as well as a movie (1978) and television show (1981), both starring Barbara Eden.
Former Boston University coffeehouse musician Norman Greenbaum hit the top of the charts with "Spirit in the Sky." The record, which sold two million copies, soared to number three in the States and all the way to number one in the U.K.
"Disco Duck," a satirical disco song by deejay Rick Dees, went all the way to number one in 1976. Dees may be a one-hit wonder as a recording artist, but other musical artists hope to gain his attention; he is known around the world for his Weekly Top 40 Countdown radio show. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1999 and even earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
In 1976, right in the middle of his hit TV show Starsky & Hutch, David Soul, aka "Hutch," traded his tough guy image for that of a sweet-voiced ballad singer and it paid off. "Don't Give Up on Us Baby" shot all the way to number one on U.S. charts. Afterward, he released several more albums that were much more popular in the U.K. than they were in the States. Today, Soul lives in England and works in theater.
Debby Boone, daughter of 1950s icon Pat Boone, spent ten weeks on top of the charts with "You Light Up My Life." Who was she singing about? No mere mortal, it was God, according to Miss Boone. She may be a one-hit wonder on the pop charts, but Debby Boone has enjoyed a successful career as a stage actress and in the music biz with hits in both the country and Christian-music genres.
In 1980, a Minneapolis band named to poke fun at the concept of lip-synching spent four weeks at number one with their hit tune "Funkytown." The group had disbanded by 1983, but a few of the group's members lent their experience to Minneapolis's next big thing -- Prince's band, The Revolution.
Singer/choreographer Toni Basil took this song all the way to number one on U.S. charts and number two in the U.K. With its snappy beat, catchy tune, and peppy video, this 1980s classic has become a favorite with cheerleaders.
This protest song by German artist Nena came along toward the end of the Cold War. Although versions in both German and English ("99 Red Balloons") were released in the States, the German version proved more popular, floating all the way to number two. However, Nena could not duplicate the song's success and has not had a hit single outside of Europe since.
Originally written for another movie, "She's Like the Wind" reached number three on Billboard's Hot 100 after appearing in the blockbuster movie Dirty Dancing (starring Swayze and Jennifer Grey). The movie's soundtrack sold 11 million albums and remained on top of the charts for 18 weeks.
From the album Simple Pleasures, this upbeat song was featured in the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. The song stayed at number one for two weeks, making it the first a cappella song to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart. McFerrin continues to enjoy a successful career as a jazz musician, and "Don't Worry, Be Happy" lives on in television and movies.
British brothers Fred and Richard Fairbrass and their friend Rob Manzoli wrote this "corker" of a song over a pot of tea. Without the help of a record company, they got the song played on top radio stations, and it became a hit in 30 countries, going all the way to number one in the United States. The group may be off the radar in the States, but they are still releasing albums and touring in Europe.
In 1996, Spanish group Los del Rio occupied the top of the U.S. charts for 14 weeks with their catchy tune "Macarena," which had sold 11 million copies by 1997. The song even had its own dance, sparking a trend amongst the line-dancing set. VH1 ranks this song number one on their list of 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders.
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