The 1990s was one of the most diverse periods of music history. The rise of Grunge rock, the mainstream acceptance of country music, Gangsta rap penetrating into the suburbs…the 90s had something for everyone!
But, like every other decade, the 90s also had its share of “One Hit Wonders.” Those artist who were able to reach staggering heights of popularity with a hit track but were never quite able to duplicate that success again.
Please Remember 2 things:
- This is a list of “One Hit Wonders” (So bands and artists such as Pearl Jam or Alanis Morissette won’t appear because they had more than one successful hit in the 90s)
- Obviously any “Best Of” list is extremely subjective
Here is my list of the Best One Hit Wonders of the 1990s!
Tubthumping by Chumbawamba (1997)
I can’t even count the number of nights we spent consuming ‘Vodka Drinks‘ to this Chumbawamba hit in my friends’ Courtney and Nicole’s dorm room in 1997!
Unbelievable by EMF (1991)
I tried to find out how much money EMF (which stands for Epsom Mad Funkers if you were curious) made off the licensing of Unbelievable, since it has been appearing in TV and radio commercials for over 3 decades now, but couldn’t find it anywhere. If you know, please let me know in the comments!
Macarena by Los Del Rio (1993) Remixed by The Bayside Boys (1995)
Was it possible to be cool in 1996 if you didn’t know the dance moves to the Macarena? Probably, but knowing this dance helped.
The song got the group ranked the “No. 1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of All Time” by VH1 in 2002.
So if that answer ever appears on the quiz show Jeopardy, you’re welcome.
This song also makes a previous appearance on my list of TOP 25 SONGS THAT MAKE WHITE PEOPLE DANCE!
The Freshman by The Verve Pipe (1996)
Ironically, I was a freshman at Oakland University (Michigan) when this song by The Verve Pipe hit the radio waves and was forced in the dorms to hear this track more times than I care to remember.
Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison (1996)
According to ExtraChill.com, Return of the Mack is “a song about bouncing back from a breakup better than ever. Today this is something that we would call a “glow up” phase where one is able to process things, learn, grow, and come out the winner in the relationship, even if they were the one who got dumped.”
I’m not familiar with “glow up” but I will take their word for it. I’m so out of touch that I still use terms like “Neat” and I’m pretty sure I still have Jock Jams 1992 CD somewhere in my car.
No Rain – Blind Melon (1992)
Blind Melon found a hit with the bumblebee costume selling video for No Rain, but lost momentum after the death of lead singer Shannon Hoon in 1995.
Don’t do drugs kids.
Steal My Sunshine – Len (1999)
Canadians Len and Marc Costanzo barely qualified for this list with their 1999 release about depression and how the actions and inactions of others can get you feeling blue.
How Do You Talk To An Angel – The Heights (1992)
This was the theme song to the FOX TV show The Heights about a fictional band that was also not-so-creatively named The Heights.
The show was such a flop that FOX canceled it after only 3 months, which not so coincidentally was 1 week after the song fell from the #1 position on the Billboard chart.
Barbie Girl by Aqua (1997)
I thought this entire album was actually pretty good.
All the tracks definitely had the same feel and beat to them as the successful Barbie Girl track but only the track titled after the Hasbro toy property became a hit.
If you were curious, the Aqua Barbie Girl song will NOT be appearing in the upcoming Margot Robbie film, per Variety.
Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus (1992)
Believe it or not, there was once a time where Miley’s father was the more commonly known member of the Cyrus family.
And, believe it or not, for a brief magical moment in time, women actually found a mullet like this sexually attractive.
The 90’s were a crazy time…
Tootsie Roll by 69 Boyz (1994)
The butterfly? Uh Uh, That’s old. Let me see your Tootsie Roll!
Fortunately for talent impaired dancers like me, the Tootsie Roll, much like the Macarena, came complete with instructions on how to perform it!
Now let me see you dip a little bit!
Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle (1995)
Bob Carlisle wrote this song for his daughter Brooke’s 16th birthday and it has been bringing fathers’ eyes to tears during Father/Daughter dances at weddings ever since…
Bad Boys by Inner Circle (1993)
The most shocking thing to me about this list is that Bad Boys by Inner Circle was released in 1993.
I always associated this song and the reality TV show COPS with the late 1980’s for some reason.
Bitch by Meredith Brooks (1997)
Meredith Brooks (and song co-writer Shelly Peiken) released Bitch in 1997 which unfortunately was after the successful debut of Alanis Morissette. This resulted in Brooks be labeled as an “Alanis Clone” by multiple music critics and Brooks was never really able to shake that label off.
Honorable Mention: Jump Around by House of Pain (1992)
Jump Around was by no doubt a one hit wonder for the rappers House of Pain, but I included it as an Honorable Mention because they later reinvented themselves as Everlast and had another one hit wonder in 1998 with What It’s Like. So they are really kind of a “Two Hit Wonder.”
Obviously there were plenty more One Hit Wonders in the 1990s. What were some of your favorites from the last decade of the 20th century that I missed?
Let me know in the comments!
What a swell, groovy, neat-o list! Lol.
My favorites out of these that you mention are definitely “Return of the Mack,” “No Rain,” “Jump Around,” and “Steal My Sunshine.” And yes, Bob Carlisle still makes me tear up with “Butterfly Kisses.”
the 90s were the best time for one hit wonders!
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definitely a diverse era.
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Great list! I heard each of these tunes in my head as I read your post. The 90s were definitely a weird period of time for music.