One-hit wonders who rocked

Sept. 25 is National One-Hit Wonder Day. Here’s a list of some bands that made it big – just briefly. 


‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell (1982)

The song “Tainted Love” was originally recorded in 1964 by American artist Gloria Jones. Originally a commercial flop, the single was purchased by British DJ Richard Searling in 1973 while on a trip to the U.S. Searling played the track in clubs in Northern England, where the “Northern soul” movement was popular.

English vocal-and-synth duo Soft Cell recorded a version of the track in 1981, which shot to the top of the UK charts and then the U.S. charts as well – staying 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, a record at that time.

In 2006, Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” sampled the iconic hook of the song.


‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor, 1982

Sylvester Stallone wanted to use Queen’s song “Another One Bites the Dust” as the theme song for Rocky III. When Queen declined, Stallone asked American rock band Survivor to write a song for the movie. The result was “Eye of the Tiger” – their best-selling hit of all time. It spent 15 back-to-back weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.

‘What’s Up?’ by 4 Non Blondes, 1993

The phrase “What’s Up” doesn’t actually appear in the lyrics for thi song – it was given the name “What’s Up” so that record stores wouldn’t confuse the track with “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. The all-woman band only produced one record – “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” in 1992 before breaking up in 1994. Founder and vocalist Linda Perry went on to have a very successful songwriting career, writing hit songs for Christina Aguilera, Pink, Gwen Stefani, and other artists. 


‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba (1997)

British rock band Chumbawamba credited a pub for the inspiration for “Tubthumping”. The band was living in Leeds at the time, near a bar called “Fforde Grene”, and had a next-door neighbor who would patronize the bar every weekend, falling down drunk while trying to get back into his house. 


‘Take On Me’ by A-ha (1985)

Norwegian synth-pop band achieved huge success with their 1985 hit “Take On Me” – largely thanks to the song’s creative music video, which featured a live-action animation sequence. The video took six months to create and took home six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

‘La Bamba’ by Los Lobos, 1987

Los Lobos covered “La Bamba” – a Mexican folk song, famously recorded by Ritchie Valens in 1958 – for Valens’ 1987 biopic, La Bamba. Los Lobos’ version was the fourth non-English language song to top the Billboard Hot 100.



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