There will always be those tracks that get our feet tapping time and again but after finding success with a huge smash hit some artists simply vanished into obscurity. Here we take a look at just some of those one hit wonders that got us up on the dancefloor but were the first and last taste of major success for the artists behind them, from way back in the 60s up until the noughties.
Fire – 1968
This big hitter saw success for psychedelic rock band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in August 1968. The group topped the charts in the UK and America and although it earned them a gold disc selling over one million copies, they failed to make any further dent on the charts after this.
Sugar Sugar – 1969
October 1969 saw The Archies reach the heady heights of fame with this well-loved hit. Classed as a bubble gum pop group, they hit the number one spot in the States, remaining there for four weeks and eight weeks in the UK charts but this was to be the limit of their success. The track was rerecorded by legendary soul singer Wilson Pickett in 1970.
Spirit in the Sky – 1970
Norman Greenbaun wrote and recorded this hit and it featured on his album of the same name. Selling over two million copies ensured the track reached gold record status. Spirit in the Sky was a big hit in the USA, Australia and the UK, with Rolling Stone magazine placing it in their top 500 all-time greatest hit list but Norman had little success following this brief taste of fame. Doctor and the Medics later rerecorded it as well as Pop Idol’s Gareth Gates.
Kung Fu Fighting – 1974
Although Carl Douglas may not technically be a one hit wonder, enjoying a measure of top 40 chart success after this track, this massive 70s hit was so successful that it overshadowed his subsequent works. Hitting the number one spot in the States and the UK, with sales in excess of 11 million copies globally, this track in which Douglas paid homage to the popular Kung Fu films of the day was enough to get any party going for sure and still is.
Barbados – 1975
Released in May 75, Typically Tropical’s hit was in the UK top singles chart for a period of eleven weeks, occupying the top spot for a week. It also made the charts in Ireland, Australia and South Africa. Subsequent offerings “Rocket Now” and “The Ghost Song” failed to make the charts, cementing the group’s one hit wonder status. The Vengaboys reached number one with a renamed version of the hit “We’re Going to Ibiza” in 1999.
Uptown Top Ranking – 1978
Jamaican reggae partnership Althea and Donna found unexpected fame with this massive track back in February of 78 when the pair were just 17 and 18 years old. The girls were said to have recorded the tune as a bit of a giggle, but when radio DJ John Peel accidentally played it during his popular Radio One show, he was subsequently inundated with requests for it, making it an instant smash hit. After sitting for eleven weeks in the chart; one of which at the top spot, the duo then disappeared into obscurity.
Ring My Bell – 1979
Originally written by Fredrick Knight for eleven-year-old gospel singer Stacy Lattisaw, this catchy tune eventually saw Anita Ward rise to fame in February 79 in the form of a disco hit. Having signed to a new record label, Stacy lost out and Anita was offered the track, which was to be her only major chart success.
Together We Are Beautiful – 1980
This love song was originally recorded in 1979 by one Steve Allan, reaching number 67 in the UK charts but it took Fern Kinney to unintentionally make it a massive number one hit the following year. The track was initially on the B-side of “Baby, Let Me Kiss You” until DJs picked began playing it on air, propelling it to the top spot.
Pump Up the Volume – 1987
Nominated for a Grammy, this hit was the only offering from MARRS and is widely regarded by some as significant for Acid House music in the UK. A collaboration between 4AD – A R Kane and Colourbox, who each had a measure of individual success, no further hits were forthcoming from them as a group.
The Stonk – 1991
It is doubtful that comic duo Hale and Pace were terribly upset to find themselves labelled as one hit wonders following this offering, since the pair only recorded the track for Comic Relief and as such met their aim. With the help of legendary Queen guitarist Brian May and an appearance by Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean in the video, this number one hit raised £100,000 for the charity and featured the lovable comedian Victoria Wood on its B-Side. The pair returned to what they did best following its success.
Touch Me – 2001
Portuguese House DJ Rui de Silva along with vocalist Cassandra Fox, had a hit with this track in January 2001, being the first from his homeland to top the UK charts. The hit remained in the charts for fourteen weeks, selling over 300,000 copies and the DJ was nominated for best breakthrough artist at the Dance Star Awards in the same year but little has been heard of him since.
Do You Really Like It – 2001
June 2001 saw British DJ Pied Piper and the Masters of Ceremony rise to the top spot in the UK charts with this big hitter. The UK Garage collaboration did record a follow up but it was never released.
The Ketchup Song – 2002
Spanish family all-girl pop lovelies Las Ketchup released this memorable hit in October 02. Formed by flamenco producer Manuel “Queco” Ruiz, the girls sold 7 million copies of this offering but could not reach the same level of success subsequently. Nothing has been forthcoming from the group since 2006 but the ladies still perform in their native Spain.
Baby Cakes – 2003
This is the sole offering from UK Garage trio 3 of a Kind. Nicholas Gallante (aka Devine MC) Liana Caruana (aka Miz Tipzta), and Marc Portelli (aka Marky P) may have thought they were headed for lasting fame, since they recorded the track the very day they all met but although a further track was in the pipeline it never materialised. Nicholas now earns a living as a party planner.
We No Speak Americano – 2010
Electro Aussie House band Yolanda Be Cool, along with producer DCUP found success across Europe, America and Canada with this hit in the summer of 2010. Taking their name from a line in the 1994 dark movie Pulp Fiction, the group went on to release two further singles in 2014 and 2015 but neither of these made the charts.
Don’t Go – 2011
UK Singer-Songwriter Josh Kumra from Swindon, teamed up with Tottenham rapper Wretch 32 for this track, co-writing it for Wretch’s debut album “Black and White” and providing the vocals for the number one hit. Although Josh still writes and supports other artists, he has been unable to top the success he found with Don’t Go.
It’s My Birthday – 2014
Philadelphia singer Cody Wise is likely best remembered for his collaboration with mega hip hop star Will-i-am. Recorded in July 2014, the track reached the number one spot in the UK and Australia’s top ten. Wise still indulges in his other passion, that of theatre production.
Rude – 2014
Canadian reggae fusion band Magic! found chart success with this offering in August of 2014. Describing themselves as heavily influenced by Bob Marley and his Wailers, as well as Brit rock band The Police, the group; who hail from Toronto, found themselves occupying the coveted number one slot in several countries globally with Rude. Magic! Have gone on to have some success in their native Canada but nothing quite like the accomplishment they found with this track.
Am I Wrong – 2014
Norwegian pop duo Nico & Vinz; know previously as Envy, initially enjoyed success across Scandinavia with their hit Am I Wrong, which was produced by big hitter Will-i-am for the pair. When it was internationally released the track went on to top the charts in the UK, America, New Zealand, Canada and Australia and elsewhere. The first successful chart topping hit by a Norwegian group since A-ha, Nico & Vinz’s subsequent track “In Your Arms” peaked at a mere number 90 in the charts when they released the follow- up.
Prayer in C – 2014
French-Israeli singer Lilly Wood and the Prick released this track on their 2010 “Invincible Friends” album. It found chart success in 2014 when it was remixed by German producer Robin Schulz who released it as a free download initially and it topped the charts in Europe and beyond. Subsequent albums have had little success outside of French speaking nations.
House Every Weekend – 2015
Brit DJ and record producer David Zowie achieved chart success with this summer hit in the UK and Ireland in July 2015 and it also topped the Dance music chart. It was the first number one track to reach the top spot after chart publication moved from a Sunday to a Friday. To date, Zowie has not released any new material. Although listed here as a one hit wonder, we could be being a tad unfair, since we’re only in 2016. Time will tell if he remains a one hitter.