Talk:List of 1980s one-hit wonders in the United States

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Definition of a "one hit wonder"[edit]

Since I just removed Rush and Grateful Dead from this list again, I think I will explain my reasoning.

My definition of a "one hit wonder" is something like this:

A "one hit wonder" is an artist who had only one notable song, and was then forgotten, and who is only remembered for that one hit, and only remembered by people familiar with music from the one-hit-wonder's era. A one hit wonder is inevitably assosciated with their hit.

This is a somewhat fuzzy meaning, and a stricter meaning is needed to minimize edit wars. However, this proposed meaning does not convey the essence of the above meaing:

A "one hit wonder" is someone who only had one top 40 Billboard hit

This is not a reasonable translation of the above definition of "one hit wonder". For example, what comes to mind when you think of "Jimi Hendrix"? You proably start thinking about his masterful guitar playing, his contributions to rock and roll, his untimely're probably not thinking about his one song that happened to become a Billboard hit, "All along the Watchtower". What comes to mind when you hear "That singer Tiffany" or "That band Men Without Hats"; in both cases, the one hit those two bands had ("I Think We're Alone Now" and "Safety Dance") comes to mind. It's a somewhat insulting term; it implies that the artist in question has made no contributions to music beyond their one hit. This is why I have remapped the term to something which more reflect's an average person's internal definition of "one hit wonder":

A "one hit wonder" is someone who only had one top 40 Billboard hit, and who has had less than three top 40 albums in their musical career.

This is a better heuristic (Plain English: "This works a lot better") for determining what is and is not a "one hit wonder", since it better reflects the reality that a lot of very notable artists, who are more album-oriented than single oriented, and hence have few (sometimes only one) hit singles, are not one hit wonders.

To support my argument, from the article One-hit wonder:

The term one-hit wonder does not, however, usually refer to performers who have had only limited chart success but whose importance spans beyond sales charts. Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, The Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop and Radiohead have each had only one song in the top 40 positions of Billboard Magazine’s list of most-played pop songs, yet none is considered a one-hit wonder because each has created other work that, while not as initially commercially successful, has had significance to popular music.

Samboy 06:44, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree completely with Samboy and I think many of the entries in this article are ridiculous. Artists like the Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa had huge and enduring critical success/cult followings throughout their careers, and treating them as "one-hit wonders" completely misrepresents them. This also goes for artists like Roger Daltrey and Donald Fagen, who had numerous hits with the Who and Steely Dan, respectively. The fact that they only actually had one top 40 hit is a technicality. Westknife (talk) 09:22, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

The problem with this page is that it redefines the term ‘hit’. A song does not need to be in the Billboard Top 40 Pop chart to be a hit. It's a ridiculous stretch which would suggest that countless artists who topped other charts regularly never had hits. The issue here is that the page title needs to be changed to reflect its actual content, which is a list of artists with a single entry on the Billboard Top 40 Pop chart, not a list of one-hit wonders.Skyhawk0 (talk) 09:23, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

I must chime in to agree with those who call this list or at least some of the entries ridiculous. Emmylou Harris for instance. 12 Grammys is not indicative of a "one hit wonder". not to mention the Country Music Hall of Fame,the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee College of Music. Why not end the debate and eliminate the italicized artists? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:12, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

RUSH is no "one-hit wonder".[edit]

Perment Waves made it to number 4, before Moving Pictures made it to number 3. Exit...Stage Left, Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows, all made it to number 10. Roll The Bones hit number 3, and Counterparts made it to number 2. The band has had 15 top 40 Billboard albums, albums, not singles mind you.

Here are their 16 RIAA platinum certifications:

  • Fly by Night
  • 2112 - 3x
  • All the World's A Stage
  • A Farewell to Kings
  • Hemishperes
  • Perment Waves
  • Moving Pictures - 4x
  • Signals
  • Power Windows
  • Exit...Stage Left
  • A Show of Hands
  • Chronicles - 2x
  • Roll the Bones
  • Chronicles - (video)
  • Rush in Rio - (video) 4x
  • Archives

Plus they had 8 more additional GOLD album cetifications.

"Take Off" was done as a weekend joke, like Major League Baseball players doing a commercial, or a off-season softball charity event. It, like the movie, wasn't meant to be too serious.

RUSH, and for that matter the Greatful Dead don't belong on any one-hit wonder list. WikiDon 20:49, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

PS One-hit wonders don't: sell 30,000,000 albums, have 10 major-venue world-wide concert tours over 30-years.

Technically they can. Lists of one-hit wonders of the 1960s in the USA often include acts who were huge worldwide but who only had one hit in the US. For example, the Easybeats were the most popular Australian rock band of the 1960s and were huge in the rest of the English speaking world but only had one hit in the USA. Likewise, the Small Faces were an extremely important band in rock history and a huge selling band in the UK and Australia but a one-hit wonder in America. The opposite applies as well - acts like Paul Revere and the Raiders, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Bob Seger were one hit wonders in the UK.

As for the Dead, I could see them being included, as they only had one top 40 nationwide hit ("Truckin'" in 1970 was top 40 in California but nowhere else in the US). Even though the appearance of a veteran well-established act like the Dead (or Frank Zappa) on a one hit wonder list seems incongrouous, technically it could be defended. (This was written by User:

While I don't have charting information available, Grateful dead has had a number of gold and platinum records in the US (Name, time of certification):
  • The Grateful Dead (1971/11)
  • Europe '72 (1972/12) 2x (1981/08)
  • American Beauty (1974/07) P (1986/10) 2x (2001/08)
  • Workingman's Dead (1974/07) P (1986/10)
  • Terrapin Station (1987/09)
  • Shakedown (1987/09)
  • Built To Last (1990/01)
  • Without A Net (1990/11)
  • Hundred Year Hall (1997/01)
  • Aoxomoxoa (1997/05)
  • Dozin' At The Knick (2000/03)
  • Live/Dead (2001/08)
  • The Golden Road (2001/11)
  • Ladies & Gentlemen... The Grateful Dead (2002/01)
  • Skeletons From The Closet (The Best Of The Grateful Dead) P (1986/12) 2x (1994/06) 3x (1995/01)
  • In The Dark (1987/09) 2x (1995/08)
  • What A Long Strange Trip It's Been - The Best Of The Grateful Dead (2001/08)
Source: [1]
One hit wonders do not have 17 gold and platinum records and have records become certified gold long after the band breaks up. Samboy 05:06, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Here's another one-hit wonder item worth noting with regard to the Dead: Can a band that's enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame really qualify as a one-hit wonder??? I think not.


Yes. The both band's only have 'one' Top-40 singles: Rush's "New World Man" and Grateful Dead's "Touch of Grey". Sadly these were the only songs by either to hit the Top 40. Hey, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Frank Zappa are in the Hall of Fame and both only have one Top 40 hit (Zappa's is more interesting, as he had a hit with a satirical novelty song that appealed to the exact people that he was spoofing ("Valley Girl")) Doc Strange 18:57, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Zappa had TWO hits. "Valley Girl" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:52, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Dennis DeYoung[edit]

I wouldn't call Dennis DeYoung a one-hit wonder either. He was the main man, along with Tommy Shaw, behind STYX. Tommy wrote the blue-collar songs like Renegade, Miss America, Too Much Time On My Hands, and Blue Collar Man

  • Singles Dennis wrote:
    • Lady, number 6
    • Come Sail Away, number 8
    • Babe, number 1
    • The Best of Times, number 3
    • Mr. Roboto, number 3

The group had 12 gold albums, including 5 go plantinum.

I think the issue here is that we really shouldn't call people who were members of a famous band who have had one hit in their (oftentimes brief) solo careers "One Hit Wonders". I think it is a matter of changing Wiki's heuristic to take this in to account. Another 1980s example is Frida from Abba, who only had one solo hit (See the "I Know there's Something Going on" entry on this list) Samboy 22:17, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Bryan Ferry? Roger Daltrey?[edit]

As solo artists, yes (although this is questionable in terms of Ferry). In terms of their overall output, neither one could be considered a "one-hit wonder". The same would go for Robin Zander.

The reason these people on this is because we haven't updated our heuristic to account for solo artists who have had only one hit in bands with more than one hit. Bryan Ferry, IMHO, is much more well-known in the UK than he is in the US; I don't think Roxy Music ever had a hit in the US. Roger Daltry definitely falls under the category of "Member of a famous band who only had one top-40 hit as a solo artist", however. The way I have been handling these artists is by adding a note of their non-Solo status besides their entry. Samboy 23:20, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Jane Wiedlin needs to come off this list, too. She had tons of hits, it's just that all of the others were as a member of The Go-Gos.

Roxy Music had their only hit in the US with "Love Is The Drug" in 1976. TheFountainhead 23:52, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Modern English[edit]

Modern English never had a hit; "I Melt With You" flopped everytime it was released.Carolaman 23:08, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, Modern English never made it to Top 40, but only two singles appeared on Hot 100. Their singles are "I Melt With You" (#78, 1983/#76, 1990) and "Hands Across The Sea" (#91, 1984). TheSkinsAdded (talk) 05:09, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Foreign countries statistics in U.S. list[edit]

Revert war between Romeo Void and Mel. Let's start the discussion and iron this thing out. The List is titled "List of 1980s one-hit wonders in the United States". Therefore this list does not concern any country other than the United States. I believe a paragraph could be added to the top mentioning that artist contained on the list may have other hits and more success in foreign countries. The list should not be cluttered with tons of foreign country info, as that is not it's intent. BabuBhatt 08:29, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I think that this is incorrect; we should be thinking of readers. It's true that, by following the links in each case, one could usually discover (sometimes with some difficulty) which of the artists had had other successes elsewhere — but why should we make the reader do that when a few short comments here will make it easy to see at a glance? The claim that the list is "cluttered with tons of foreign country info" doesn't stand up; there are relatively few entries with extra info, and in each case it's a short sentence. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 12:52, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Thoughts general and specific[edit]

The notion of a "one-hit wonder" as used in this and other articles is, as pointed out by User:Samboy above, very misleading and non-standard. Given that we seem to be stuck with it, though, the article should at least make its use (and deviation from normal usage) clear, and give relevant information. For example, when a person or band has in fact had other hits, but in different charts, that should be mentioned; when a person or act has had other hits under different names, or in different bands, that should be mentioned. This is all relevant to the "on-hit wonder" tag.

Other details of single or musicians aren't relevant, and can be found in the specific articles; that someone is well-known in another field, for example, is irrelevant to their being a one-hit wonder. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:32, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Men Without Hats[edit]

What about Men Without Hats with their one major hit "Safety Dance"? They did have a minor hit with "Pop Goes the World", but it may have not made it to the Top 40.

Yup, "Pop Goes the World" hit #20. Doc StrangeMailboxLogbook 15:43, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Objections and Definiitons[edit]

First of all, I'd like to object to two of the bands/artists form this list. Midnight Oil, which is was very well known both in australia and in progressive rock circles worldwide, produced over 10 albums and made a clear contribution to punk and mainstream rock. Also, David Foster has worked to produce and help write hit songs for so many famous artists (click his link for more info) and contributed so much to pop music. Neither of them are true one hit wonders.

Obviously this whole discussion leads to the talk about definitions. Not that I completly disagree with Samboy's definition, but it leaves out that they may have been famous in certain genres or made important contribution to music, or gained popularity after the band has broken up. Also, on one of the other pages relating to one hit wonders, possibly the main article I have seen other definitions. I believe that Samboy had the right idea talking about associating bands with songs and vice versa. However, there must be a consistent policy throughout Wikipedia even if it allows for exceptions or is not based on hard facts. Random89 00:51, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Utopia, Set Me Free[edit]

I removed this song from the list. Utopia was a band founded by Todd Rundgren who had a number of top albums and even classic songs before starting this band. His classic songs, including "Hello, Its Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends", have been covered by a number of artists including Robert Palmer and Rod Stewart. As for the actual band Utopia - at that time, top 40 was not considered a good barameter of a band's or song's worth since AOR was much more en vogue. Utopia got a lot of airplay on Album oriented rock stations with their songs "Caravan" and "Love is the Answer". Now it could be that Utopia didn't get a lot of airplay in all AOR stations because that market was so stratified. It just so happened that I grew up in one of the five largest AOR markets. "Love is the Answer" was covered later by England Dan & John Ford Coley and was a top 40 hit.--10stone5 22:04, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, "Set Me Free" is Utopia's only Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 to date. So they stay. A sidenote has been added to discuss that it was formed and fronted by Todd Rundgren; hence Utopia is itacilized. Holiday56 (talk) 13:40, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Felix Cavaliere, Only a Lonely Heart Sees[edit]

Same general concept as above. Caveliere was previously a member of The Young Rascals who, of course, had one of the top, top 40 hits of all time, Good Lovin', in 1966. Cavaliere also wrote the hit People Got to Be Free.--10stone5 00:06, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Donald Fagen, I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)[edit]

Gone. Same as above. Steely Dan, co-writer on "Do It Again" - 6, "My Old School" - 63, "Reelin' in the Years" - 11, "Rikki Don't Lose that Number" - 4 and many more hits.--10stone5 00:28, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Chrissie Hynde, "I Got You Babe"[edit]

Same thing. Pretenders, short list - "Stop Your Sobbing" #65, "Brass in Pocket" #14, "Back on the Chain Gang" #5, "2000 Miles" - - - #15, "Don't Get Me Wrong" #10 --10stone5 00:28, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, those are for The Pretenders. Not for Chrissie Hynde. Solo tracks by members of charting bands count as songs by them and not by the band. Doc StrangeMailboxLogbook 15:43, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Ric Ocasek, "Emotion in Motion"[edit]

Solo songs - "Something to Grab For" #47, "Jimmy Jimmy" # 25, "Emotion in Motion" #15 - and of course he wrote all those songs for The Cars.--10stone5 00:33, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

"Jimmy Jimmy" never made it to Top 40, as well never made it on Billboard Hot 100. TheSkinsAdded (talk) 04:50, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Lots of wrong entries[edit]

This list is downright bad. Someone keeps re-adding obviously flawed entries, including: Sheila E, Steve Perry, and Arcadia, all of whom had multiple top 40 hits.

  • Yeah, someone is trying to keep to the letter of the law. Obviously, none of those you mentioned should be on this list - other than because of lack of research.--10stone5 18:04, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

It's DepressedPer who keeps adding the erroneuous additions. And on Ocasek, Felix and the others: "Those in italics are artists with only one Top 40 hit, but either had other songs chart on genre-specific charts or have had success and influence within their genre or the annals of popular music." They are technically one-hit wonders as solo artists. Don't let your opinions of them motivate you to remove. ۝ ۞ ░ 00:22, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree with the original premise, that this list is inaccurate. Regarding just one of the artists in question, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, here is an entry on the group -- "Becker and Fagen began composing songs together, hoping to become professional songwriters in the tradition of the Brill Building ... Gary Katz ... suggested that Becker and Fagen form a band as a way to record their songs, and Steely Dan ... was formed shortly afterward." Here's how Steely Dan songs are credited in -- "Rikki Don't Lose That Number Composed By Walter Becker/Donald Fagen." There are numerous hits cited by this site including 'Any Major Dude Will Tell You', 'Black Cow', 'Dirty Work', 'Do It Again', 'Doctor Wu', 'Don't Take Me Alive', 'Everyone's Gone to the Movies', 'Glamour Profession', 'Hey Nineteen', 'Janie Runaway', 'Josie', 'Kid Charlemagne', 'Midnight Cruiser', 'My Old School', 'Night by Night', 'Only a Fool Would Say That', 'Parker's Band', 'Pearl of the Quarter', 'Peg', 'Razor Boy', 'Reelin' in the Years', 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number', 'Rose Darling', 'Show Biz Kids', 'Sign in Stranger', 'Time Out of Mind'. All of these were top hits. All these songs list ---> Composed by: Walter Becker, Donald Fagen.--10stone5 21:36, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Here's an entry directly from Wikipedia on Donald Fagen -- ""Reelin' in the Years" is a song performed by the band Steely Dan. It was written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. It was also the #11 Pop single for 1973." --10stone5 18:42, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
So? "IGY" is still his only hit UNDER HIS OWN NAME. Hits with Steely Dan count as hits with Steely Dan, and not towards Fagen's solo career. Doc StrangeMailboxLogbook 15:42, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
And I completely agree with you. I mean, should we really exclude artists just because they were part of famous bands? Come on, Frida, Ric Ocasek, Donald Fagen and Dennis DeYoung all only had ONE SOLO HIT. Was Frida credited alone to performing "Dancing Queen"? No. ABBA did that, and they are the ones who are not one-hit wonders. Was Donald Fagen alone credited to performing "Reelin' in the Years"? NO. Steely Dan did that, and they are not one-hit wonders. Was Dennis DeYoung alone credited to performing "Renegade"? NO. Styx did that, and they are not one-hit wonders. So they all stay until they get another solo hit. Holiday56 (talk) 15:22, 12 September 2009 (UTC)


Every artist on this list should now have an entry, unless I missed any that weren't properly disambiguated. Chubbles 03:12, 13 September 2007 (UTC)


With such a massive list, are there any referrences that say they were a "one hit wonder"? I mean for example, one hit wonders usually fade away quickly, hence the "one" part of it but there are some on this list who have an established and still strong fanbase (and I mean an actual one, not a fanbase of like 50, I mean millions). Now of course I know that its based on chart positions as we all know for example that The Grateful Dead became massive and still are to this day but what I'm basically asking is are there referrences that call them "one hit wonders"? Stabby Joe (talk) 23:23, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Weren't "Truckin'", "Casey Jones", "Mexicali Blues", "Sugar Magnolia", "Uncle John's Band", and "Friend of the Devil" hits for the Dead years before "Touch of Grey"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:55, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Adding notes[edit]

Jim Capaldi needs a "C8" note in his entry, since his singles "It's All Up to You" and "Love Hurts" were both Top 40 hits in the UK. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to add the coding for the "C8" without messing up something else on the page. Help?--Martin IIIa (talk) 16:43, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Ridiculous list[edit]

So this is what qualifies as a one hit wonder? So somebody who's had a No.40 hit is a one hit wonder as long as they've had no other top 40 entries? What happens if thay also had a No.41? The latter may even outsell the former, thus actually being their biggest hit. Who decided this as being the criteria anyway- do we have a source for this whole thing?--Tuzapicabit (talk) 23:22, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

No. Only artists who had only Top 40 hit. TheSkinsAdded (talk) 04:55, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Asterisk information[edit]

Conforming to List of 1970s one-hit wonders in the United States, I added a bunch of asterisk information. With this one edit all of that content was wiped out. There is a lot of controversy as to what constitutes a "one hit wonder" and these asterisks can help serve key borderline situations; people who had made appearances in the top 40 in other guises, people who were successful in other arenas but had the one technical appearance on the top 40 and personal relationships with others with the same achievement. So rather than getting into an edit war, lets hear some discussion. Does this belong, or should we be deleting this content? Trackinfo (talk) 09:21, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Request on Clean-up the Articles on 1950s one-hit wonders, 1960s one-hit wonders and 1970s one-hit wonders[edit]

I saw the bunch of 1950s one-hit wonders, 1960s one-hit wonders and 1970s one-hit wonders lists that it looks like irrelevant and trivial as well as info on each artist's career. For example, 1970s one-hit wonder Dave Loggins is being Kenny Loggins's cousin have any relation to him having only one Top 40 hit. Both three articles are not yet ready to clean-up. Can articles on 1950s one-hit wonders, 1960s one-hit wonders and 1970s one-hit wonders remove completely unreferenced and trivial section, change to 'sortable' and clean-up? TheSkinsAdded (talk) 04:40, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Dancing in the Street?[edit]

Can David Bowie and Mick Jagger's cover of "Dancing in the Street" count? Like I know David Bowie had at least 2 other hits with different people, but the problem is that they weren't duets, they were groups Bowie was working with. David Bowie did a duet with Tina Turner but it failed to reach the top 40. Mick Jagger had another hit with a group (like Bowie) which was The Jacksons, but not a duet of course. In 1976, Elton John and Kiki Dee (despite Elton John being a worldwide sensation and still is, and Kiki Dee being a two-hit wonder) were a one-hit wonder with their only hit that had them together as duet, that hit was "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". "Dancing in the Street" was both David Bowie's and Mick Jagger's only hit together as a duet (and duets entirely, despite working with groups that have gained hits together, but as duets, "Dancing In the Street" was their only hit duet). I don't know if this should count, is there anything that contradicts this? -- (talk) 11:46, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

Inclusion criteria -- see 2010s discussion[edit]

Please take part in the discussion about inclusion criteria which is underway at Talk:List of 2010s one-hit wonders in the United States#Inclusion criteria. Thank you. Binksternet (talk) 04:14, 6 September 2017 (UTC)

One-hit wonder inclusion criteria[edit]

If you're interested in the topic, your comments would be appreciated at Talk:List of 2010s one-hit wonders in the United States#Inclusion criteria where there is a discussion with sweeping ramifications about whether the "one-hit wonder" articles will be based on charting songs or on artists described in sources. Binksternet (talk) 15:27, 18 October 2017 (UTC)