Are "one-hit wonders" a thing of the past?

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Is it just me or is this no longer a thing anymore? It seems like anyone who's broken through now has an endless line of Swedish producers and video editors willing to work with them & the way the YouTube/Spotify algorithms work, any follow-up single, even if it's total trash, is guaranteed to get a ton of views. I like Lil Nas X as much as you folks but all his videos have 100M+ views which is nuts. Meghan Trainor has like 15 different music videos. Even Tones and I have had several videos last year that hit 8 figures! Back in my day these follow-up singles would get played twice on MTV and then never mentioned again until Michael Ian Black's head zipped across the screen screaming "hey remember TRICKY TRICKY by Lou Bega!??!" on something called "I Love the 90's!! Part 71!" Who was the last true one-hit wonder? Was it PSY? Rebecca Black??!?

frogbs, Thursday, 1 April 2021 18:50 (one month ago) link

it was Crazy Frogbs

Blick, Bils & Blinky • Let's Skip The Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:04 (one month ago) link

i take no pleasure reporting this, but scientists have found a crazier frog

— patrick (@lunch_enjoyer) January 10, 2021

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:06 (one month ago) link

I don't think Rebecca Black's "Friday" was really a hit, in the traditional radio chart sense.

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:08 (one month ago) link

i can think of several that should have been one hit wonders.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:12 (one month ago) link

Agreed, but if they had been counting youtubes at the time, it would have been. I miss the early 2010s days of Gangnam Style and the Fox. It seemed at the time that we'd get a novelty one-hit wonder every year, but then they kinda disappeared. Baby Shark was huge of course, but that's not the same. Or am I just being rockist about it?

peace, man, Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:13 (one month ago) link

my theory is that loveless has never actually been remastered

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:16 (one month ago) link

lol

peace, man, Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:17 (one month ago) link

my theory is that remastered loveless will be a one hit wonder.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:35 (one month ago) link

it was Crazy Frogbs

nb that the bs-free Frog had four #1 singles and even his second album went top 5 in Canada and top 40 in the US

I miss the early 2010s days of Gangnam Style and the Fox. It seemed at the time that we'd get a novelty one-hit wonder every year

Psy had five albums (one that went #1), four #1 singles, and another four top 5 singles before Gangnam Style. He's had three #1s, a #2 and a #3 since (and several "US World" #1s).

armoured van, Holden (sic), Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:19 (one month ago) link

I don't really know who Ella Mai is but it looks like she had one big #1 in 2018 and her followup didn't do much (it does have 10m YouTube views but is that even a lot these days? "Boo'd Up" has 449m.)

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:27 (one month ago) link

That's an odd example. "Boo'd Up" peaked at #5 in the U.S., and "Trip" peaked at #11. I heard both on the radio.

jaymc, Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:49 (one month ago) link

And "Trip" has 113m YouTube views. Which follow-up are you talking about?

jaymc, Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:51 (one month ago) link

Psy wasn't a one-hit wonder. His follow-up singles "Daddy" and "Gentleman" remain huge for pre-teens, due to use in videogames etc.

everything, Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:54 (one month ago) link

Oh sorry was not reading carefully, there were indeed two Ella Mai hits

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:02 (one month ago) link

Harlem shake was 2012 and a true one hit wonder if anyone is.

Judi Dench's Human Hand (methanietanner), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:03 (one month ago) link

All the best one hit wonders have complementary dances: The Macarena, Crank That, Harlem Shake, Gangnam style. Perhaps we should be mourning the death of choreography.

HuskerDoolittle, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:10 (one month ago) link

yeah Psy definitely felt like one of the first of a new sort of pop star, the whole purpose of his videos are to get meme'd and gif'd into oblivion so I can definitely see him being huge among very online young people, whereas to me he felt like a very traditional sort of one-hit wonder - one massively overplayed single everyone knew, then the follow-up "Gentlemen" which was basically the same song and much less popular. I remember hearing it a few times when it first came out but never since.

of course having a bunch of hits in Korea prior to complicates matters

frogbs, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:11 (one month ago) link

Carly Rae Jepsen

self-clowning oven (Murgatroid), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:11 (one month ago) link

I feel like YouTube makes it weird, like Lil Nas X's new video is getting so much hype but at the end of the day, 10 years from now no one is going to give a shit about that song, Old Town Road is going to be what people think of

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:15 (one month ago) link

and I do think there's a larger point there about how pop culture has changed in the last 10 years - every post-Firework Katy Perry video just looks like a series of gifs to me, I Think You Should Leave seems designed from the ground up to get quoted a bunch on Twitter, etc.

frogbs, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:16 (one month ago) link

Gotye has to be one of the starkest examples. Their singles discography on Wikipedia is a straight line of 1s on top a graveyard of endless dashes.

Judi Dench's Human Hand (methanietanner), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:17 (one month ago) link

I thought about Carly Rae and Lorde but they both became critical darlings whose follow-up albums were very highly rated (both are bolded on RYM) so it doesn't quite fit. Goyte on the other hand...oof

seems like 2013 was maybe the last gasp for this sort of thing

frogbs, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:25 (one month ago) link

Carly Rae also had that Good Time song with Owl City

Kim, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:26 (one month ago) link

That song is completely great and my kids love it

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:30 (one month ago) link

The problem is if we say "Well this ceased to be a thing past 2013" then by definition the people with hits past then are still perfectly plausible future hit-makers

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:31 (one month ago) link

Lorde also had two top-ten hits in the US ("Team" went to #6).

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:31 (one month ago) link

it's a lot harder to "break" a new artist because streaming has produced a certain stagnancy in both chart movement and listening habits. So when something does slip through, it makes sense to run with that momentum in a way that wasn't quite as necessary ten years ago.

boxedjoy, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:31 (one month ago) link

"play that funky music" by vanilla ice went to #4

but he's still a one hit wonder imo

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:35 (one month ago) link

nearly every "one-hit-wonder" gets a single run-off hit, there should be three classes really (true one-hit / big hit + forgotten followup / absolutely not one-hit despite what Americans think)

--
xp

after the experience of being one-hit-wonder internationally famous from the third album by his bedroom project, Gotye deliberately returned to playing drums in his power-pop trio that self-releases their own records.

(before Somebody That I Used To Know, "Gotye" would play a 1200-cap venue on tour maybe twice a year apart, and the other band would play to 150-200 people two or three times a year.)

armoured van, Holden (sic), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:40 (one month ago) link

lots of inarguable OHWs happen to have aftershock successes, though I do think frogbs might be right about streaming dynamics changing things profoundly. When people were flipping for Old Town Road I was very puzzled that no one seemed to be calling him a novelty OHW, but I guess they were right and I was not

rob, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:41 (one month ago) link

there should be three classes really (true one-hit / big hit + forgotten followup / absolutely not one-hit despite what Americans think)

Yeah, this one of those perennial normie podcast type discussions* - like the definition of "novelty song," and who belongs in the RRHOF.

(*which I enjoy!)

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:42 (one month ago) link

wikipedia sez "A one-hit wonder is a musical artist who is successful with one hit song, but without a comparable subsequent hit.[1] The term may also be applied to an artist who is remembered for only one hit despite other successes"

rob, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:42 (one month ago) link

ah-ha get the distinction of inspiring that second sentence

rob, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:43 (one month ago) link

I absolutely misinterpreted one-hit wonder as "novelty song" at the beginning of this thread.

peace, man, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:45 (one month ago) link

I feel like YouTube makes it weird, like Lil Nas X's new video is getting so much hype but at the end of the day, 10 years from now no one is going to give a shit about that song, Old Town Road is going to be what people think of

― Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, April 1, 2021 4:15 PM (twenty-seven minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

don't necessarily disagree about the overall gist, but "montero" is also the #1 song on spotify with 2.35 million streams per day (700k more than justin bieber's new monstrosity, which is in turn 700k more than the #3, cardi b's "up")

voodoo chili, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:48 (one month ago) link

Eh I dunno if that song has legs ok but I doubt it

It's way easy to rack up curiosity streams or on a big pop or rap playlist, way different than someone going to a store

Also a lot of people go to the US charts playlist so it's sort of a self fulfilling prophecy

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:51 (one month ago) link

yeah I haven't watched the video yet but probably will at some point despite not caring for OTR

rob, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:52 (one month ago) link

yeah idk if the song will stand the test of time or whatever (if lil nas keeps up his popularity, it will probably live on as an important moment in his career), but i think it's likely a multi-week number one, and it's not just youtube

xp

voodoo chili, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:54 (one month ago) link

ah-ha get the distinction of inspiring that second sentence

^ classic "absolutely not one-hit despite what Americans think." A-Ha had at least a dozen international hit singles in their first few years, and occasional top tens for two decades afterward

armoured van, Holden (sic), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:55 (one month ago) link

I think it has to be a territory-specific consideration. Right Said Fred were also true one-hit wonders in the US, but not the UK (etc.)

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:57 (one month ago) link

chart positions seem like kind of a bad way to classify this, a follow-up single that hits #4 then falls off the next week is something no one's gonna remember the next year. and a lot of well-known stuff never really charted well at all, for example I learned the other day that ELP's highest charting hit here was "From the Beginning" which hit #39

indeed "Old Town Road" was the song that got me thinking about this since it's the closest thing to the 90's-style great crossover novelty hit I can think of. obv he's super good at social media and I think that factors into it a lot. like "Old Town Road" obviously is great but the way he kept dropping new remixes and teasing a big budget video (which came out after it already spent a couple months at #1 iirc) felt like a new paradigm for how things are gonna work now. his strategy now seems to be dropping short clips of upcoming songs to build up hype making it an event when the full song/video actually does come out. kinda feels like how everyone went bonkers over 15 seconds of "Get Lucky" playing during an SNL commercial...maybe that's the way to do it in 2021

frogbs, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:00 (one month ago) link

sic, to be fair, this was the article I was quoting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_one-hit_wonders_in_the_United_States

rob, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:01 (one month ago) link

sic, to be fair,

^new board description ;)

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:02 (one month ago) link

chart positions seem like kind of a bad way to classify this, a follow-up single that hits #4 then falls off the next week is something no one's gonna remember the next year.

sure, but lil nas x looks like he's gonna have another multi-week #1 less than two years after spending 18 straight weeks at #1.

voodoo chili, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:07 (one month ago) link

Eh I dunno if that song has legs ok but I doubt it

It's way easy to rack up curiosity streams or on a big pop or rap playlist, way different than someone going to a store

Also a lot of people go to the US charts playlist so it's sort of a self fulfilling prophecy

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:10 (one month ago) link

i mean all this one hit wonder talk aside, comparing pre- and post-streaming charts just doesn't work

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:10 (one month ago) link

xp
hm that post is suspiciously similar to your previous hit post

rob, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:11 (one month ago) link

Let's wait until we say RIP to Olivia Rodrigo.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:12 (one month ago) link

yeah M@tt just dropped a radio edit and expects it to count as a second hit

I think it has to be a territory-specific consideration. Right Said Fred were also true one-hit wonders in the US, but not the UK (etc.)

only as long as the US is excluded from being one of the territories considered

chart positions seem like kind of a bad way to classify this, a follow-up single that hits #4 then falls off the next week is something no one's gonna remember the next year.

yeah, that's a prime example of why you need the subdivisions. Morrissey-style placing on the follow-up single doesn't even count as a run-off hit.

on the other hand, it's hegemoniacal American radio playlisting that consigns many genuine follow-up hits to the memory hole

armoured van, Holden (sic), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:15 (one month ago) link

haha sorry my phone is weird

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:16 (one month ago) link

I did think of a genuine recent one hit wonder!

Desiigner - Panda

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:16 (one month ago) link

even desiigner had a slight follow-up hit (timmy timmy timmy turner)

silento (watch me whip!), now that dude was a one-hit wonder.

voodoo chili, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:23 (one month ago) link

omi - cheerleader, another genuine one-hit wonder

voodoo chili, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:23 (one month ago) link

This was certainly a one hit wonder, only in Japan though I guess. Wikipedia lists no less than 6 follow-up singles, none of which charted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct6BUPvE2sM

gordon whippoorwilltrap (Matt #2), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:23 (one month ago) link

did ilovemakkonen ever do anything else?

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:24 (one month ago) link

i don't sell molly no more is a stone cold classic

Judi Dench's Human Hand (methanietanner), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:27 (one month ago) link

Well, I’ll be very surprised if that “Wellerman” fella has another hit, so

Mark G, Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:28 (one month ago) link

TBH Tones and I is a one hit wonder outside of Australia by any meaningful definition of the word. Though it's still early for her.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:50 (one month ago) link

Also, Dram/Shelley is totally a one hit wonder. Yes, "Cash Machine" has 27 million Youtube views but that compares to 417M for "Broccoli" and he has never had any other song chart, not even on the rap charts.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:53 (one month ago) link

Drake disappears a lot of rappers after stealing their life essence for hits of his own, it's true.

Judi Dench's Human Hand (methanietanner), Thursday, 1 April 2021 22:59 (one month ago) link

This was certainly a one hit wonder, only in Japan though I guess. Wikipedia lists no less than 6 follow-up singles, none of which charted.

^^ Pikotaro - PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen)

just listened to this for the first time, it rules

armoured van, Holden (sic), Thursday, 1 April 2021 23:49 (one month ago) link

show it to a 6-year old and you'll get to hear it every single day of the year

frogbs, Friday, 2 April 2021 01:33 (one month ago) link

another 2013 one - Magic!

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Friday, 2 April 2021 02:34 (one month ago) link

another 2013 one - Magic!

I wish it were true: two platinum and one gold followup singles.

armoured van, Holden (sic), Friday, 2 April 2021 03:02 (one month ago) link

2015: Rachel Platten & "Fight Song"...the follow-up went #1 Adult Contemporary but only #37 Pop, and subsequent follow-ups only got to #21 & #17 A/C.

"what are you DOING to fleetwood mac??" (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 2 April 2021 03:13 (one month ago) link

there's a decent number of acts that have one huge crossover pop hit then only impact alternative or adult contemporary radio from there on out. besides rachel platten there's also, like, lukas graham or walk the moon.

a few who were truly never heard from again after their big hit (at least in the states/to my knowledge):

Nico & Vinz - Am I Wrong
Kent Jones - Don't Mind
Arizona Zervas - Roxanne

these are recent enough that it's not a sure thing, but...

SAINt JHN - Roses
Lil Mosey - Blueberry Faygo
24kGoldn ft. Iann Dior - Mood <--- i know, i know, this was a huge song but the two artists are struggling to make anything else connect whatsoever despite both being basically an a&r's wet dream

(technically arizona zervas is quite recent too but i feel fairly confident in saying no one will ever care about anything he releases again)

artists that some would hesitate to label one hit wonders b/c 'real music':

Hozier - Take Me To Church
Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still

artists who probably wouldn't have even gotten the first hit w/o the assist from the non-one-hit-wonder featured act:

Natalie La Rose ft. Jeremih - Somebody
R. City ft. Adam Levine - Locked Away

dyl, Friday, 2 April 2021 04:11 (one month ago) link

dyl takes this thread home!

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Friday, 2 April 2021 04:17 (one month ago) link

btw it's stagnation primarily at radio, not streaming, that has made it so difficult to break new artists in the states these days. i would argue that if radio had not decided to basically ignore the streaming charts around 2015 or whenever, they would probably have had a healthier turnover of hits in the past several years -- and gosh, maybe the top 40 format wouldn't be hemorrhaging younger listeners and declining in ratings every year for the past half-decade.

as it is now, as a new artist you have to break out with something as massive as like "mood" or "drivers license" in order for radio to get on-board in a remotely timely fashion -- hits big enough that a semi-successful followup is nearly assured. (btw, olivia rodrigo's new song is out today. i haven't heard it yet, but even if it sucks it'll probably do something.)

the ones screwed over by this arrangement are ppl like, idk, trevor daniel, who gain some mid-tier but respectable momentum arising from their social media (tiktok) + streaming virality but only reach medium rotation at radio like 5 months later after the pd bozos' audience research finally comes back and informs them that shocker, the hit song is indeed a hit song, and meanwhile the streaming kids have already moved on. followup single comes out and, oops, no one cares anymore. tate mcrae's "you broke me first" is at peak exposure on the radio right now when it should have been like three months ago if not even earlier. does she even have a chance at a semi-successful followup?

dyl, Friday, 2 April 2021 04:39 (one month ago) link

Was sceptical about this premise, but after looking at this list there may be a good point here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_one-hit_wonders_on_the_UK_Singles_Chart

This is quite a run of one-hit wonders in just two years, and nothing since then

Storm Queen 16 November 2013 "Look Right Through"
Sam Bailey 28 December 2013 "Skyscraper"
Route 94 15 March 2014 "My Love"
Borgeous 22 March 2014 "Tsunami (Jump)"
Magic! 9 August 2014 "Rude"
Nico & Vinz 16 August 2014 "Am I Wrong"
Lilly Wood 6 September 2014 "Prayer in C"
David Zowie 16 July 2015 "House Every Weekend"
Rachel Platten 3 September 2015 "Fight Song"

I think this might just be a side effect of less artists being in the charts, 2015 is (iirc) the time when streaming started to be significantly included in the figures and we went from having 45-or-so number ones per year to 15-or-so.

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 2 April 2021 11:30 (one month ago) link

iHeart needs to die before airplay charts will feel adventurous again.

billstevejim, Friday, 2 April 2021 15:17 (one month ago) link

Which will probably take a while since the three labels seem pretty content with their current system of "career artist investment only."

billstevejim, Friday, 2 April 2021 15:19 (one month ago) link

There were a handful of one-album-wonders in the 2010s -- Fetty Wap comes to mind. But this is mostly a dead concept as well.

billstevejim, Friday, 2 April 2021 15:44 (one month ago) link

I've gotten the impression that Makonnen has been pretty prolific as a behind-the-scenes writer for others. And he did a record with Lil Peep.

And I feel like DRAM has a crossover fan base regardless of huge hits (between the Badu collab, Tiny Desk, etc).

I hate the assumption that having one giant hit confers a responsibility to continue having giant hits, and that it's somehow shameful if lightning doesn't strike twice.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 2 April 2021 15:56 (one month ago) link

Also I feel like streaming + algorithms has made it *more* likely to have one unrepeatable hit, since something can blow up on TikTok or whatever and listeners may have no interest in following an artist, or even know who the artist is. Everything's just a song on a playlist.

Also there are huge streaming hits with millions of plays that will never make radio.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 2 April 2021 15:59 (one month ago) link

The landscape just feels more adventurous and exciting when a handful of breakthrough artists can emerge every couple months in a way that hints at a broadly shared experience. Whether or not they can repeat their success shouldn't matter; if people like the music they'll continue listening.

billstevejim, Friday, 2 April 2021 20:52 (one month ago) link


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