• Akshat Vaidya

One-Hit Wonders in Music


Take on me by a-ha sits at over 1 billion views on Youtube as of August, and yet I couldn’t find any other song by a-ha that even hit 10% of views as Take on me.

One-hit wonders are not an uncommon entity that persists in the music industry, but I decided to delve more into the different aspects that makes an artist come up with a song that revolutionises the industry, but unlike the song, vanishes. Music journalist Wayne Jancik defines a one-hit wonder as "an act that has won a position on national, pop, and Top 20 record charts  just once."


However, it is evident that they earn bajillions because of these revolutionary songs. The sheer amount of fans that the artists develop over one hit is astounding. This sudden rise and fall of music intrigued me and I decided to go digging. I found out that according to a statistic taken 5 years ago: nearly half of all musicians that created a chart hit in the half-century in between 1955 and 2005 never did so again – 47.5 percent, to be exact. It is mind boggling to realise that most artists crash and burn within a year of their extreme success. 


Musical prowess is often viewed through a similar lens as a sporting ability. Elite footballers don’t really lose their talent, they just lose power and speed that those talents depend on as they age. The physical body gives out, but the instinct remains largely intact. I don’t think the same is true for musicians. Sure, the technical ability will always be there, or perhaps even increase with time, but chart success is overwhelmingly reserved for the young. It is evident that a fraction of these artists do have a plan. They would try to make as much profit on one IP and beat that dead horse till it stops paying off. 


Commercial Success, or I would say Prolonging success, is accomplished only when all the corporate and social stars align. It comprises of a plethora of components like sex appeal, stage presence, press savviness; but the most essential element is, arguably, being in tune with the mood of the masses – be it consciously or innately. Only when all of this (and arguably more) is accomplished, is an artist truly called successful. One-hit wonders are the epitome of these ‘stars’ not aligning. 


The Youth shapes the zeitgeist. It will shape this world. The youth is out there socialising, communicating and learning more than the last generation did or the one before that. They decide who gets to stay in the game and who gets benched. They are the endgame as of yet.


Of course, you can employ people to research and shape your image for you, helping you dodge your long-passed expiry date, like Madonna does so pathetically, but the public can smell a fake. Musical peaks, like youth, often come only once.


In the end, one-hit wonders are an accidental boon upon the industry (at least for the time being). Although they don’t promise to be a hit forever, they are still a part of music that stays with us (whether the artist does or not). I wanted to give a tribute to all these classic songs who have stayed with us even after years, how they’ve shaped our lives and end this article on a happy note.



One-Pun Wonders


Anyone remember the Baha- men? They never found out who let the dogs out. 

Ice- Ice Baby  by  Vanilla Ice was the first hip hop single to ever top the Billboard and yet Vanilla Ice melted in the coming years.

Gotye after his smash single started reminiscing about how Success was Something that he used to know.

It is kinda Rude how people treat Magic! nowadays.

What did Daddy Yankee say to Luis Fonzi when he didn’t get his Grammy?

Despacito por favor.

Someone call the fashion police. Panda (a black and white bear) by Desiigner (job that requires you to work with colors)  hit 582 Million views

TikTok is the result of people not head-banging to Keshas’ new songs.

Let's not worry about what the fox says but more about whether the fox lives.

We hummed about the Vengabus but it never came back.

 Though, We went to Ibiza and came back with another pandemic.






















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