Best Rock Songs by One-Hit Wonders

Songs you all know from the bands you may not remember.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
Best Rock Songs by One-Hit Wonders
0

Crazy Town – Butterfly

Looking back, it's actually surprising that Crazy Town's "Butterfly" was the group's only hit. Limp Bizkit had already proved that the rap-rock formula could work, and the song's release coincided with Linkin Park's debut album, Hybrid Theory. Clearly, American youth couldn't get enough of this stuff.

YouTube preview picture

Hoobastank - The Reason

All emo kids gather ‘round to take a trip down memory lane with this hit. It was a long, drawn-out, sad sound, but you felt it and it moved you! Hoobastank was responsible for the one hit wonder known as “The Reason.” After all, who can really forget a name like Hoobastank in the dead heat of 2004?

YouTube preview picture

Semisonic - Closing Time

“Closing Time” is American alternative rock band Semisonic’s most recognizable hit to date. Unlike many typical one hit wonders, it’s not that strange or quirky – it’s a fairly typical alternative song, but while people tend to either love it or hate it, nearly everyone knows it. It has remained popular in the years since its release and been featured in several television shows and movies.

YouTube preview picture

4 Non-Blondes - What's Up

Only forming in 1984, this band had a very short lived career. They hit the big time in 1993 with their only major single What's Up. Linda Perry left the band in 1994 to begin a solo career and shortly afterwards the band packed up.

YouTube preview picture

Chumbawamba - Tubthumping

Prior to signing to a major label and releasing this humongous party hit, Chumbawamba were, astonishingly, a socialist collective known for writing anarchist-punk songs and actively opposing racism, big business, war, and homophobia. Even if you hated "Tubthumping", fans of political folk music would do well to go and explore the band's impressive back catalogue.

YouTube preview picture

Blind Melon - No Rain

In 1993 it seemed like MTV played nothing but Aerosmith's Alicia Silverstone videos, Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" and Blind Melon's "No Rain." The latter group was a hippie grunge band from California that seemed like the next big thing. They played at Woodstock 1994 and had a massive radio hit with "No Rain," but lead signer Shannon Hoon was hopelessly addicted to drugs and he died on tour in October of 1995.

 

YouTube preview picture

The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony

Here's a good lesson for all young bands out there: If you're going to borrow part of a song, don't take it from the Rolling Stones. They're a little litigious. They have good lawyers. They will destroy you. The Verve learned this the hard way when used a symphonic version of the Stones' 1965 hit, "The Last Time," on their 1998 hit, "Bitter Sweet Symphony." The band originally negotiated with ABKCO Records to split the proceeds down the middle, but when the label heard the finished song, they sued for everything. They felt the group took too much of the melody. The Verve lost, and the song credits flipped to Jagger/Richards, even though Ashcroft wrote all the lyrics and he used the sample in a pretty novel way. All the tension didn't exactly help band relations, and they split in 1999.

YouTube preview picture
Remember any better one hit wonders? Share your entries in the comment section below.

143 comments sorted by best / new / date

    GR84
    While The Verve may have had only one MAJOR hit, please don't discredit them as a one hit wonder, as a whole Urban Hymns is one of the best albums of the 90's, one of my absolute favorites, have you listed to that thing its damn near perfect!
    bastos.diogo
    This news post turned ridiculous right at the very end. Not only are Verve's earliest records (A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul) superior to Urban Hymns - which is, in itself, one of the finest records of the nineties - in reality Bittersweet Symphony was a UK #2 and The Drugs Don't Work was their UK #1, so technically a bigger hit than Bittersweet Symphony (I guess it's counting the US charts only?). Either way, Verve did not disband in 1999 as stated in the news post, they released Forth in 2008 (guess what? it was also a UK #1).
    johnny08
    Came here to say the same thing. The verve were by no means 1 hit wonders, lol. Check out the album Urban Hymns and then come back to us. Noel Gallagher even wrote the song "cast no shadow" about the lead singer Richard Ashcroft.  Also, the song "drugs dont work" is arguably more popular than "bittersweet symphony".   
    GR84
    Well said, well said, glad to see another appreciator of this album
    johnny08
    Had to say something.....its somewhat of an insult to call them "one hit wonders". :/
    fromzero
    In America that's the only song I've ever heard.
    Jamie_W
    Well in terms of 'hits', Lucky Man, The Drugs Don't Work, Sonnet and History are all pretty well known songs. But go and listen to The Rolling People, All in the Mind, Gravity Grave, Life's An Ocean, Man Called Sun, She's A Superstar, This is Music.... they've got shed-loads of great tunes. BSS, and indeed most of Urban Hymns, is not actually representative of their overall sound.
    Jazzmandtk
    Damn near perfect indeed, came here to post the same.   Even if we take the beautiful, lesser-known songs like Space and Time and Velvet Morning out of the mix, there are still tons of classics that can be considered "hits."  Along with The Drugs Don't Work, which is quite ubiquitous in the UK given its release at the time of Princess Diana's death, they also had a huge hit with Lucky Man.  They then had a moderate hit with Sonnet; lots of people know that song. Ridiculous to call them a one-hit-wonder.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    It's like saying Nirvana is just a one hit wonder.
    Eifler121
    It's not at all like that.
    Jamie_W
    It is. Nirvana had a stellar catalogue of songs, but only really Teen Spirit is known by everyone. Verve are known for BSS by all, but had WAY more to them than that. That's the problem here with the term one hit wonder, it implies a very short career in the limelight that is built around a single song. Teenage Dirtbag by Wheetus is a classic example. Neither Verve or Nirvana fit that.
    Eifler121
    Whether you like them or not, they are the epitome of a one hit wonder. I love Blind Melon to death, but that doesn't change what they are to the rest of the world.
    PiricsiRemus
    By that line of thinking for the rest of the world Metallica is a one hit wondder also there's Nothing else matters and that's it fro a lot of people who don't listen to their music.
    Eifler121
    Not at all. Blind Melon's success is nowhere near the level of Metallica. They're as true a one hit wonder as they get.
    HardAttack
    How about Two Princes by The Spin Doctors?
    Or Headstrong by Trapt?
    And Hoobastank had Crawling In The Dark too, so they're a two hit wonder.. Great song, actually.
    Eifler121
    Yeah, Hoobastank had a couple of songs, and if you played a b-day action sports game on the PS2, they were fucking Led Zeppelin.
    javdoc
    Spin Doctors also had Little Miss Can't Be Wrong.  So, they are technically 2-hit wonders....
    HardAttack
    Never heard that song on the radio before, but I have heard 'Pocket Full of Kryptonite' on a couple of retail store radio stations once or twice. Either way they're an underrated band without a doubt.
    xsk3l3t0rx
    they also had a kickass cover of "have you ever seen the rain?" by creedence clearwater-revival off the "philadelphia" soundtrack. good stuff!
    BadBatou
     They have 4 records, 2 of them are actually killers (EMFH and FOF). It's a really good rock band  
    Zero_Sound
    Tag43
    Such an underrated band. Rubberneck was great, but their follow-up Hell Below/Stars Above really is one of the best albums I've ever heard.
    Widmer
    Toadies are awesome! Can't wait to see them again in October!
    CrazyAce#7
    I think they're criminally underrated! They instantly became one of my favorites when I first heard Rubberneck. Mister Love got me hooked and I love Hell Below/Stars Above maybe even better than Rubberneck
    THE BULGE
    The rolling Stones weren't involved in the verve litigation. Basically the verve made the record and used an obscure stones sample. Realising they had to get permission they approached jagger n Co but found out the rights to all of the stones early back catalogue was now owned by their old cut throat manager who had theM by the short and curlys earlier in their career and agrred to terminate their management contract ifbtuey signed all their royalties for stuff up to that point over to him. The stones went on to even bigger success, the verves legal team approached him cautiously and he straight up offered them 50/50 which they jumped at. What they were actually offered was 50/50 writing credits ie ashcroft / jagger. All the money for the album went to the stones old manager. Interesting story actually.
    Wiencon
    Blind Melon are one hit wonders? Both of their albums with Shanon are some of the most underrated works ever IMO
    Zero_Sound
    As good as they may have been its about singles that became hits on the radio.
    theman6
    Do you know what a hit is? You said it yourself, it's underrated, we're talking about successful singles
    GR84
    I agree, and there is a big difference between a one hit wonder, and an album band. Just cause the radio picked only one, doesn't mean a band doesn't have a rich catalog of songs,
    Eifler121
    Yes. But they're underrated nonetheless, and therefore they are one hit wonders.
    fafa1234
    Lit - My Own Worst Enemy
    Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta
    Eve 6 - Inside Out
    coastral
    Eve 6 - Here's to the Night << I think is their best known song other than this one.
    Vasarious
    Man I haven't given eve 6 a proper listen in years, I used to love their stuff. Never the most substantial music but I loved his way with words
    Zero_Sound
    all three have awesome albums/songs but just didn't become popular. got to love the 90s.
    fafa1234
    Yep, I was in a cover band back then and we covered a lot of songs like these.  I'm trying to remember more of them...
    xsk3l3t0rx
    eve6 also had "here's to the night" lit also had "miserable" both are 2-hit wonders.
    Zero_Sound
    Phaneron
    Three songs from this album were number 1 on the rock charts and Enemy from the next album was a hit as well. Forgotten band (one of my favorites as evidenced by my avatar) unfortunately but not a one hit wonder.
    Zero_Sound
    I used to love this album but I don't remember hearing any other tracks but this one on the radio. oh well...guess i'll get downvoted.
    Eifler121
    Good one. It's not easy to almost sound like Soundgarden. Days of the New 1 and 2 are pretty cool.
    Zero_Sound
    DanTheHobbit
    I hate the fact that Nada Surf is a one-hit wonder. "Let Go" is such an amazing record for "Paper Boats" alone.
    Jazzmandtk
    Let Go is amazing.  Love Paper Boats, but Inside of Love is a damn near perfect pop-ballad.  Glad to see some love for this album on here.
    Zero_Sound
    Yeah I like a couple of their albums. Nothing really beats this song though.
    Dr_Sittles
    Butterfly is horrible. If it wasn't for the Red Hot Chili Peppers sample no one would have cared. The only good thing about that song is that another band basically created the music for it. 
    Jamie_W
    Fuck me, The Verve one hit wonders? That shows you know absolutely NOTHING about this band. Urban Hymns is their weakest album.
    drummerboyjosh
    Are we not going to bring up the elephant in the room that is All Star? Failing that, in all seriousness, Steal my Sunshine was a banger of a hit.
    -Davo
    didn't semisonic also have a second hit? 
    zylphidsoul
    I think it is "Secret Smile". Really good song...
    -Davo
    It was 'singing in my sleep', but yes, three hits then. Not sure people who write these articles actually spend seven seconds on the internet to see if their bullshit has facts to back it up.
    MurphySanders7
    [deleted]
    MurphySanders7 · Jul 18, 2017 04:37 PM
    Vasarious
    Alot of bands of the era got stuck with that label, be it for having a few dark/emotional songs, songs with misinterpreted lyrics, or touring with bands also considered emo. The one that grinds my goat the most is that coheed and cambria are sometimes considered emo.
    zack2k
    I'm a big fan of Hoobastank, their first hit was Crawling in the Dark, Running Away, Same Direction, and Disappear. But for the Hot 100 Yes they are one hit Wonder but for the Rock Charts? They seems to be decent in the mid 00's.
    nickcash
    What a crap list. The Verve are not a one hit wonder Crazy Town had another fairly big hit - Revolving Door Hoobastank had many songs, even a Spiderman soundtrack - even Crawling in the Dark was a great song.
    MusicMan24
    I wouldn't say Hoobastank is a one hit wonder. There's Crawling in the Dark, Out of Control, Same Direction, etc.
    PiricsiRemus
    Fuck offf with the Verve as one hit wonders they probably had the best reunion album of any major rock band out there.
    geddoo
    Saying The Verve are one hit wonders because of Bittersweet Symphony is like saying Soundgarden are one hit wonders because of Black Hole Sun. Both helped shape and were highly regarded in their respective genres (Britpop vs Grunge), released some incredible albums and had great comeback albums. As for one hit wonders: Soul Asylum - Runaway Train, The Connells - '74-'75, The Beta Band - Dry The Rain, Mr.Big - To Be With You (they also had Wild World, but that's a cover), Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag (also A Little Respect, but that again was a cover)
    tomaxandxamot
    Argent's "Hold your head up" - arguably the BEST 1 hit wonder - look up the tab, great song to play on guitar, everyone knows it and everyone forgets it - until you start rocking it.  
    wylde1994
    Would Puddle of Mudd count? Imo everything they did after Come Clean never had the same impact as songs like "Blurry"...it kinda went a bit down hill for Wes after that album came out
    Keyworks Kid
    I was actually introduced to Hoobastank through the PS2 game "Aggressive Inline". The intro video with "Crawling in the Dark" was all it took for me to get hooked. Sure, they didn't have that many hits, but I wouldn't call them a one hit wonder. 
    adslam3
    Minus p.o.d., that game had a great soundtrack as far as my memory goes
    Keyworks Kid
    Hoobastank, Reel Big Fish, Sublime, The Vandals, Student Rick, Saliva, and P.O.D. were on it as far as my middle school memory serves. There were a few more, but I'd have to Google them to remember. I didn't mind P.O.D. being on their myself, although they could have picked a different song. Either way it was a killer soundtrack for a relatively unknown game. 
    fafa1234
    I wouldn't say Reel Big Fish is a one hit wonder...
    Keyworks Kid
    I was naming the bands on the "Aggressive Inline" soundtrack. No, RBF are definitely not a one hit wonder (One Hit Wonderful?) band. 
    coastral
    I don't know but.. Crazytown got "Drowning" & "Revolving Door" as their other hits: Drowning
    Revolving Door
    Hoobastank -  got well known for Crawling in the Dark too Crawling in the Dark
    & Semisonic -with Chemistry & Singing In My Sleep were sure hits also Chemistry
    Singing In My Sleep
    ben_hall_x2
    Was hoping for popular by Nada surf or wheatus. God damn early thousands teen movies built so many one hit bands
    JamesThommo
    The Verve?? You mean Glastonbury headliners and the band who has one of the best UK selling albums ever?? One hit wonders??? I want what this guys smoking
    Mons0n
    i actually began listening to blind melon after reading this post and realised i knew a lot of songs from them but never knew who they were... thanks ug ps: the verve is more than a one hit wonder band
    OriginOfFeces
    Most of the songs in the comments are basically uninspired grunge guys that were late to their games, post-grunge or Brittish pop/rock obviously inspired by Oasis...