Hip-hop has to be one of the oldest genres on the planet. The one to go through the most tonal shifts, the one to evolve the most, and more importantly, the one that has entertained the masses uniquely so often that we end up with more than a handful of one-hit wonders. While hip-hop is great, the reliance on a beat and catchy tune can make some songs dispensable. When they're here, they're here in your mind on a loop inside your head. But when they're gone, they're gone for good. That's exactly what it means to be a one-hit-wonder.
What's a One Hit Wonder?
Before we jump into our list, it may be best to go over the parameters of what we think a One Hit Wonder even means. Does it mean that it's no longer relevant today? I wouldn't say so. There are plenty of songs that are still relevant today that are considered one-hit wonder. No, a one-hit wonder is when a song releases, captivates the population, and then just as quickly as it came, the artist never produces something on the same level of quality again.
They hit it once, and it's a wonder how they hit it at all, and that same spark was never slapped again. So no, that doesn't mean the artist is bad, or that the song is. A one-hit wonder is simply one of the beautiful nuances of creating and following music. You never know what's going to appear, and you don't have any guarantee of producing the same hit twice.
So, while the term does have a negative connotation, think of it like this: a one-hit-wonder goes viral. It's almost a prerequisite. So even though the one-hit wonder is a temporary burst of fame, anyone would be happy to create one, even just once.
With all that out of the way, let's jump right into our top picks for one-hit wonders!
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby (1990)
Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice is probably one of the biggest and most well-known one-hit wonders in hip-hop history. The song was released in the 90's and quickly (as well as unsurprisingly) became an overwhelmingly massive hit. When it hit the fan, it reached top rankings in the US, UK and even Australia. The catchy beat, singable lyrics, and overall sass made it a great song for parties. In addition to the song itself doing well, the music video paired with it did stellar too. It reached viral status and became a phenomenon in and of itself.
However, circumstances more than public opinion led to Vanilla Ice's quick race into one-hit wonder-ness. His subsequent releases didn't stack up to the previous precedence. He also sampled both Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure without explicit permission. This threw him into controversy and gutted any attempts at reaching that level of stardom again.
MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This (1990)
MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" was another massive hit in 1990. It's still played at parties and weddings to this day. The song's iconic video featured Hammer's trademark dance moves and parachute pants. Its catchy chorus made it an instant classic.
Despite the song's success, MC Hammer's subsequent releases failed to replicate its popularity. His next album, "Too Legit to Quit," was a commercial disappointment. He struggled to remain relevant in the rapidly changing hip-hop landscape. However, MC Hammer's impact on the genre cannot be denied, and "U Can't Touch This" remains a beloved classic.
Young MC - Bust a Move (1989)
Young MC's "Bust a Move" was a massive hit in 1989. It won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance the following year. The song's upbeat tempo and catchy lyrics made it an instant party favorite, and it appears on radio stations still today.
Despite the song's success, Young MC was unable to replicate it with his subsequent releases. His follow-up album, "Brainstorm," failed to match the success of his debut. He faded into obscurity in the early 1990s. However, "Bust a Move" remains a beloved classic of the genre, experts often cite it as one of the greatest hip-hop hits of all time.
The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight (1980)
One of the earliest and most significant one-hit wonders in hip hop history is "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang. The song was released in 1979 and was the first rap song to achieve mainstream success. It was a huge hit, reaching number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and selling over 2 million copies. The song's success helped to establish hip hop as a viable genre and paved the way for many other artists. While it did well, there was no significant reason this song became a one-hit-wonder. Reception afterward simply didn't match the volume with Rapper's Delight.
Tag Team - Woomp! (There It Is) (1993)
In 1993, Tag Team released "Whoomp! (There It Is)," which became a massive hit. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for seven weeks. It also reached the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and the Hot Rap Singles chart. The song's catchy chorus and danceable beat made it an instant party anthem, and it continues to be played at events to this day.
Sir Mix-a-Lot - Baby Got Back (1992)
In 1992, Sir Mix-a-Lot released "Baby Got Back," which became a cultural phenomenon. The song's catchy chorus and risqué lyrics made it an instant hit, and it spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song's success also helped to launch Sir Mix-a-Lot's career, and he went on to release several other albums and singles. However, none of them achieved the same level of success as "Baby Got Back."
Psy - Gangnam Style (2012)
In 2012, Psy released "Gangnam Style," which became a viral sensation. The song's catchy beat and bizarre music video made it an instant hit, and it became the first video on YouTube to reach one billion views. The song's success helped to introduce K-pop to a global audience and paved the way for other Korean artists to achieve international success. However, Psy has yet to replicate the success of "Gangnam Style," and he remains a one-hit wonder in the United States.
Positive K - I Got A Man (1992)
In 1992, Positive K released "I Got a Man," which became a hit on both the rap and pop charts. The song features Positive K's back-and-forth conversation with a woman who is trying to flirt with him, but he is not interested because he already has a man. The song's catchy hook and playful lyrics made it a hit, but Positive K never achieved the same level of success with any of his other songs.
Montell Jordan - This Is How We Do It (1995)
In 1995, Montell Jordan released "This Is How We Do It," which became a massive hit and is still a classic party song today. The song's catchy beat and lyrics about partying and having a good time made it a hit, but Montell Jordan never achieved the same level of success with any of his other songs.