Seemingly in no time at all, another decade has come and gone. Many trends and artists came about seemingly out of nowhere; some of which made lasting impacts and some of which have quietly faded into obscurity. With those have come, some truly memorable one-hit wonders, as well as some which are criminally underrated. This is a list of my favorite one-hit wonders from both sides of the coin.
‘According to You’ (2010)
This one is a bit of a reach, as it came out in December 2009. It didn’t reach its peak, however, until March 2010 when it landed at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, so this feels like the best entry to start with. With spunky, sassy lyrics similar to Avril Lavigne and a killer guitar solo that wouldn’t be topped until a later entry on this list, the former Michael Jackson guitarist knocked this hit out of the park with a hooky chorus that my inner, bratty pre-teen still can’t get enough of.
This ranks so high on the list not because it’s the best or most successful — neither is true by a long shot — but it was the song that inspired me to curate this list. While it was technically bubbling under, reaching only as high as 102 on the Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at 24 on the US Mainstream Top 40 chart. I remember this bittersweet dance jam being all over the radio before quickly disappearing. Wallace’s follow up single — “Keep Me Crazy” — wasn’t nearly as successful, but at least he can remember when he had this minor hit.
‘Shut Up and Dance’ (2015)
Walk the Moon
Full stop, the best song of 2015. Peaking at No. 4 on the Hot 100, this unforgettable piece of pop-rock perfection told the story of being irreparably changed by one girl on the dancefloor and never seeing her again. The ‘80s feel of the guitars and the thumping bass was probably part of the reason this song got so much radio play, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even if you’re sick of this song, give it another spin. There won’t be any holding back once this jam gets started.
Gotye feat. Kimbra
One of the strangest number one hits of 2011, but also one of the best. From the moment it hit my ears, I knew it was an instant classic. The lyrics are set up as a conversation between two people with vastly different ideas as to why their relationship ended set against minimalist instrumentation. Its haunting melodies round out the track and make it almost hard to talk about because this song is just so perfect. It topped charts all over the world and became another victim of radio overplay, but for good reason: it’s just that great.
‘Feel It Still’ (2017)
Portugal. The Man
A surprise hit if I’ve ever seen one. When “Feel It Still” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot in 2017, it felt like a breath of fresh air against the trap beats and lethargic melodies that defined the rest of the year. Its bouncy bassline combined with an addictively bouncy guitar track, as well as a collaboration with Vitamin Water, helped this track break Portugal The Man out of its indie mold and into the mainstream. They haven’t had another hit since, but it certainly wouldn’t be unwelcome.
‘Call Me Maybe’ (2012)
Carly Rae Jepsen
No one-hit wonder list is complete without this cheesy, bubblegum earworm. After topping charts all over the world, this song was endlessly referenced, covered and meme’d. You couldn’t escape hearing about it no matter how hard you tried. Her second hit on Owl City’s “Good Time” was the last of her time in the top 10, which is a huge bummer considering the excellence of her 2017 album “Emotion.” How “Cut to the Feeling” didn’t come anywhere close to the heights of “Call Me Maybe” will always be a mystery to me, but at least we’ve still got this hit.
‘I Don’t Care’ (2012)
Icona Pop feat. Charlie XCX
Who could forget this absolute banger? The Swedish, electro pop duo brought the club to radio with help from guest-spot darling Charlie XCX, who had her own hit with “Boom Clap” a couple years later. Whether you were on the dancefloor, in the car on the way home from school or getting ready for a long shift at work, Icona Pop didn’t care what anyone thought and invited listeners to do the same. To put it simply, I love it!
‘Ex’s and Oh’s’ (2015)
Speaking of absolute bangers, here’s one you’ve likely forgotten. “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King peaked at No. 10 in 2015 because of King’s raspy delivery and fuzzy guitars straight out of the ‘90s. King laments the return of old partners who had more investment than she ever did with a detached attitude perfect for a summer drive down a dirt road or lounging at a beach party with your closest girlfriends. This was her only solo hit before collaborating with Dierks Bentley on “Different for Girls,” and I think she deserved a lot better.
‘Gangnam Style’ (2012)
Psy’s inescapable No. 2 hit was as popular on as an internet meme as it was on radio. You couldn’t gently toss a rock without hitting someone who was doing the dance. While he’s had only very minor chart success since, this was a humongous global introduction to K-pop. Not only was it a YouTube behemoth, racking up 3.5 billion views, but it could be considered a huge precursor to the monster, global success of BTS, Monsta X’s English language collaboration with French Montana and A.C.E’s appearance at this year’s Oscars afterparty. Talk about impact!
‘Take Me to Church’ (2014)
As a young woman coming to terms with her bisexuality and questioning her relationship with God, this was a heavy one for young Penny Rae. Even if you never struggled with the themes of this track, it peaked at No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 by its own merits of being unique and powerful. Its sharp lyricism against appropriately dreary instrumentation carried angst and depression that wouldn’t have been out of place during the emo boom of the early aughts. Overall, just a phenomenal song that still haunts six years later.
Do you remember these one-hit wonders? What are your favorite one-hit wonders from this past decade? Use the hashtag #2010OneHitWonders to start the conversation.