Have you ever heard a commercial or musical cover of a song from back in the 90s and thought to yourself, “I loved that song! What ever happened to that guy?” Well you haven’t heard much, if anything, from these artists again because they fall into the exclusive club phenomenon known as one hit wonders. These folks produced songs that were unexpected successes and catapulted them to super stardom then poof, they disappeared never to be heard from again. At least not in the mainstream. Some artists were brand new to the music scene while others could be considered veterans and fortunately hit the jackpot after toiling away for years.
But what exactly makes these artists so successful? What is the anatomy of a one hit wonder? Technically speaking, these are artists whose hit songs peaked in the top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. But perhaps it's something more subjective than that. Based on artists who fall into this category, their success appears to be a combination of perfect timing, a different and intriguing sound when compared to their contemporaries and other mainstream artists and the songs get you moving (many of these hits were club anthems), thinking and relating. Above all else they’re fun. In some cases, the artists aren’t taking themselves too seriously and they’re doing what they enjoy. Perhaps this approach to making music is the magic sauce that brings together the ingredients required for widespread appeal. They’re not expecting anything in return so they don’t limit themselves.
Some of these one hit wonders were never heard from again in the US or faded into obscurity altogether but there are others who have gone on to enjoy wild success in the European market. Of this group it’s possible they faded from the American spotlight despite trying to recreate their former success. They were unable to do so because the magic of their hit just couldn’t be repeated, it was perfect for that point in time and nothing will compare to it. That’s not to say that the songs faded into obscurity. Some of these hits can still be heard today, whether in the club, a commercial, a movie soundtrack or even covered by another artist. Many of these songs have proven that they themselves have staying power.
24 Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart (Then)
Back in 1990 Deee-Lite, made up of Supa DJ Dmitry aka DJ Dmitry, Lady Miss Kier and Towa Tei, burst onto the music scene with “Groove is in the Heart” from their debut album World Clique. It rocked our airways and was accompanied by a psychedelic music video that showcased funky fashion and even funkier dance moves. The song topped the American charts at #4 and stayed on top of the charts for 23 weeks.
Towa Tei left the group prior to the release of their 3rd studio album, Dewdrops in the Garden and was replaced by DJ Ani.
23 Deee-Lite Now
Following the split, the members all embarked on solo careers. Lady Miss Kier, Deee-Lite’s vocalist, moved to London to begin a solo song writing career and became a DJ. They’ve previously stated that chances of a reunion are unlikely. Sorry Deee-Lite fans! However, there’s a bit of a silver lining. As of 2012, Lady Miss Kier was performing Deee-Lite tributes.
22 Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy (Then)
21 Right Said Fred Now
While they’ve released six follow-up albums since Up over the years, they’ve all been big hits in Europe and the UK versus the US. In addition to new albums, they’ve toured at length in Europe and performed at the 2006 FIFA world cup opening ceremony. Ultimately, Rob Manzoli left the group in 1997 followed by the brother taking a break from the industry.
20 Haddaway – What Is Love (Then)
19 Haddaway Now
More recently, Haddaway released a new single called "Up and Up" in 2012 which, based on its upbeat tempo and catchy chorus, managed to become a top 20 hit in the US. As a single, “What is Love” has proven that it has staying power, it’s been remixed and covered many time over the years by various artists: Eminem and Lil Wayne sampled it in 2010 for the song “No Love” and Canadian singer Kiesza remixed it beautifully with piano accompaniment in 2014, among many others.
18 Charles and Eddie – Would I Lie To You? (Then)
This dynamic duo consisted of Charles Pettigrew and Eddie Chacon. Their hit single “Would I Lie to You” was fun and sweet and the video that accompanied it came off as innocent and not at all like how things have become in the current music era. If you were a young girl in the 90s, hands up if you loved the promise the words of the song held. It was a refreshing take on the same old love story. And don’t get me started on Eddie’s hair, gorgeous.
17 Charles and Eddie Now
Now 50 years old and living in LA with his wife Sissy Sainte-Marie, Eddie is grateful for, as he puts it, his 15 mins of fame but doesn’t want to be defined by it or live with the expectation that he needs to accomplish the same levels of fame as he did in the 90s. Along with his wife they formed the duo The Polyamorous Affair in 2009. Their music has been featured on hit TV shows such as Ugly Betty, Dexter and NCIS: Los Angeles.
More recently Eddie has switched his focus and has embarked on a career as a photographer and is known for his esthetic.
16 Chumbawamba – Tubthumping (Then)
Chumbawamba was formed in 1982 in the UK and was initially made up of Allan "Boff" Whalley, Danbert Nobacon, and Lou Watts. However, over the years, members have varied which has lent to the group’s versatility and their ability to entertain and excite their fans during concerts.
15 Chumbawamba Now
14 Len – Steal My Sunshine (Then)
13 Len Now
After a failed follow-up single, “Feelin' Alright”, Len was released from their label. Coincidentally Marc now works at EMI publishing and is a producer there. His sister Sharon now lives in the UK.
12 Tatyana Ali – Daydreamin’ (Then)
11 Tatyana Ali Now
Tatyana has continued to pursue her acting career and in 2005 appeared in the film Glory Road. From 2007 – 2013 she had a reoccurring role on the popular soap opera The Young and the Restless as Roxanne. Since then, she’s gone on to be featured in shows such as Love That Girl! and Second Generation Wayans.
She’s also continued to focus on her musical career and has been featured on tracks by artists such as Anthony Hamilton and will.i.am.
10 Des’ree – You Gotta Be (Then)
9 Des’ree Now
2003 saw the release of a new album, Dream Soldier, but due to its commercial failure, Des’ree was eventually dropped from her record label. This might have contributed to the fact that she hasn’t released any new music since 2003. However, in 2011 she collaborated with Julie Langton-Smith to sing a lullaby on a sleep therapy CD (Sleep Talk Lullaby).
8 K.P. & Envyi – Swing My Way (Then)
7 K.P. & Envyi Now
In 2005 K.P. was featured on "Close Range" but Sick Beav and in 2003 Envyi was featured on “Do It, Don’t Stop” and “Come Runnin” on Lil Zane’s The Big Zane Theory album. In the same year they reunited for the song "Put Cha Hands Up" which was featured on Jermaine Dupri’s album Young, Fly & Flashy, Vol. 1.
It seems a new decade brought about a need for change because Envyi is now known as Sioux Lane and released an album titled Tell Me Why in 2009 and competed on BET’s gospel reality show Sunday Best.
6 DJ Kool – Let Me Clear My Throat (Then)
5 DJ Kool Now
4 Skee-Lo – I Wish (Then)
3 Skee-Lo Now
Since its debut, “I Wish” has been used in a number of commercials. Most recently one for the Toyota RAV4 Super Bowl ad where the RAV4 Genie grants a family’s wish to have the car. It was also hilariously covered by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake during their History of Rap 5 compilation on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Speaking of covers, it’s been remixed and covered by Kevin Hart and Ice Cube for their movie Ride Along, Far East Movement for the film Ping Pong Playa and many others. Skee-Lo may be classified a one hit wonder but his song has proven that it actually has staying power almost 20 years after its release.
Skee-Lo released his third studio album in 2012 called Fresh Ideas under his own label, SkeeLo Musik. His second album, I Can’t Stop, was released in 2002. While both albums have been well received, neither has reached the heights of “I Wish” in the US.
2 Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hot Stepper (Then)
1 Ini Kamoze Now
“Here Comes the Hot Stepper” is another hit that has proven that is has staying power. It can still be heard in commercials and movies (most recently Everest and Neighbors) to this day.
At the age of 58, Kamoze shows no signs of slowing down and is still performing and putting out records. Tramplin' Down Babylon was released earlier this year and Bus the Earth will be released shortly. “Trample”, the first single from Tramplin' Down Babylon, sounds promising with an easy vibe reminiscent of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved”. He also has an official YouTube channel featuring lyric videos for fans of his music who want to sing along.
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