Technically, one hit wonders are those musicians who scored a hit but failed to follow it with another. While that’s accurate, it doesn’t describe one-hit wonders as we’ve come to regard them today. Plenty of cult and career artists have managed to make a single song commercially successful; no one would call Caifanes or Manu Chao one-hit wonders, yet they technically have only placed one of their songs on the charts.
One-hit wonders are oftentimes novelty songs, boasting lyrical and musical hooks that are too big and dumb to fail. There’s a sort of naïveté and willingness to be silly that is often tied to these songs, which makes them easy to make fun of, but also adds some charm. At this point, no one is dancing “La Macarena” earnestly but the mere sound of the beat drop makes everyone laugh and get down on the floor, no matter if it’s at a wedding or a punk show. Same goes for most of the songs below.
Below, check out some of the most wonderful, confusing and delightful one-hit wonder acts – plus enjoy many more on our playlist.
Las Ketchup - Asereje
Although this nonsensical song can be cited as a textbook example of a one-hit wonder, “Asereje” is actually a masterpiece – hear me out. As explained by Twitter user @Kueaff last year, the song is the tale of a wasted individual stumbling to his/her favorite bar to hear their favorite song: Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” – but because the protagonist is high, they can’t sing the song correctly, and by doing so, Las Ketchup avoid getting sued for using someone else’s tune. Brilliant move.
Gerardo - Suave Rico
In 1991, commercial rap exploded with Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, but who would have thought that one of the most successful and notorious Latino songs would be spawned from that genre? Ecuadorian rapper Gerardo Mejía played up his Latino identity to the point of becoming a caricature. Nowadays Gerardo is a pastor, according to Wikipedia.
Los Del Río - Macarena
Nothing about this song should work. It’s a two-chord rumba song written by two 50-year-old Spanish songwriters at the height of grunge and gangsta rap. And yet, it spent 14 weeks at number 1. The song will live forever at any social gathering where organized dancing is involved.
Azul Azul/King África - La Bomba
The 90s saw a wave of artists releasing instructional dance songs that became huge hits. “Bomba” has the distinction of becoming a hit twice for different artists, once for its original songwriters, Bolivia’s Azul Azul and again for Argentine dance act King Africa, making both acts one-hit wonders and thus, breaking some kind of record.
Tam Tam Go - Atrapados En La Red
How do you write a guaranteed hit song for the bourgeoning internet age? Spanish pop rock act Tam Tam Go tried their hand with a chorus that was as cringeworthy as it is catchy. Mostly known by those who remember the song as “te di todo mi amor arroba punto com,” the rest of the lyrics are smarter than that.