Top 20 Best 90s One Hit Wonders



Top 20 Best 90s One Hit Wonders

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny & Mark Sammut
Don't lie, you loved these songs when you first heard them. For this list, we'll be looking at the best one-hit wonders released between 1990 and 1999. Our countdown includes “Baby Got Back”, "Torn", “Closing Time”, “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, “Steal My Sunshine”, and more!

Top 20 Best 90s One-Hit Wonders

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Best 90s One-Hit Wonders

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best one-hit wonders released between 1990 and 1999. While many of these artists have released other popular songs, they’re best known for these hits.

Which 90s one-hit wonder is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “What’s Up?” (1993)

4 Non Blondes
There aren’t many go-to karaoke songs as enduring as this hit by San Francisco rock outfit 4 Non Blondes. It starts mellow but works its way up to a chorus that demands you to sing along. Singer Linda Perry’s lyrics about struggling in your 20s resonated with listeners, and her impassioned vocals reminded them that things will be okay. “What’s Up?” soon went up the charts, becoming a surprise hit on pop radio and reaching number 14 on the U.S. Billboard charts and number one in multiple countries. It remains popular today as well, with its music video netting one billion views and counting on YouTube. But only a year later, 4 Non Blondes called it quits. What goes up must come down.

#19: “Baby Got Back” (1992)

Sir Mix-a-Lot
Some songs have cryptic lyrics that can be interpreted in many different ways. “Baby Got Back” is not one of those songs. Sir Mix-a-Lot has a fondness for large derrieres, and he won’t deny it. This incessantly catchy song topped the Billboard charts for five weeks and became the second-highest-selling song in the U.S. in 1992. It even won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. While the concept may seem crass and many of the lyrics are rude, the song has an overall message of body positivity that we can hopefully all get behind, no pun intended. We like this song, and we cannot lie.

#18: “Stay (I Missed You)” (1994)

Lisa Loeb
One non-blonde who was in her feelings in the 90s was Lisa Loeb. “Stay (I Missed You)” is a passionate pop-and-folk rock ballad about post-breakup regret. And its success can be partially attributed to actor Ethan Hawke. A friend of Loeb's, Hawke introduced Ben Stiller to her music, and he included the song on the soundtrack for classic Gen X comedy "Reality Bites." Loeb made history with this song, as she was the first artist to hit number one on the Billboard charts without a record deal. Does that make this an indie rock song? We think so.

#17: “Ready to Go” (1996)

If there was ever a song that called for a dance party and a moshpit at the same time, it’s this one. "Ready to Go," by English rockers Republica, mixes a brash punk attitude with groovy techno beats, creating a song with an energy you couldn’t find just anywhere. With lead singer Saffron's vocals at the forefront, the song’s momentum never lets up. The most famous version of the song is actually a remix, but it proved to be the most successful, reaching number 13 on the UK Singles Chart and performing well in Ireland, Belgium, and Iceland. Republica went on hiatus in 2001 before reuniting in 2008. However, they haven't released any studio albums since 1998. Could they have any new material “ready to go”?

#16: “Whoomp! (There It Is)” (1993)

Tag Team
Want to show off the quality of your car’s subwoofers in the 90s? When it comes to bass-boosted pleasure, it’s hard to beat “Whoomp! (There It Is),” the hit single by Atlanta rap duo Tag Team. “Whoomp!” is an ode to good times and sharp rhymes, with members DC the Brain Supreme and Steve Rolln and the Miami Bass sound keeping the party going. It also helps to have a hook as catchy as this one. “Whomp!” reached number two on the Billboard charts, and while Tag Team couldn’t replicate the song’s success, it still stands as one of the most important popular hip-hop songs of all time. Can you dig it? We can dig it.

#15: “Closing Time” (1998)

If you’ve ever been at a bar past last call, they might have tried to get rid of you by playing this. While the lyrics of this song, by Minneapolis rockers Semisonic, are ostensibly about shooing away bar patrons, frontman Dan Wilson has indicated the song is a metaphor for childbirth. And his girlfriend just so happened to be pregnant when he was writing it. With its relatable lyrics, catchy riffs, and stand-out hook, "Closing Time" topped the Billboard Modern Rock chart. Semisonic broke up a few years later before reuniting in 2017. As they say in the song, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

#14: “Torn” (1997)

Natalie Imbruglia
It may surprise you to learn that Natalie Imbruglia’s most famous song isn’t technically a Natalie Imbruglia song, at least, not originally. Three versions of “Torn” were previously recorded, one by Danish pop singer Lis Sørensen, another by American rock band Ednaswap and by American-Norwegian singer Trine Rein. But it’s the Australian singer’s pop-rock rendition that became the most popular. How popular? It’s the 85th highest-selling song of all time in the United Kingdom as well as the overall most played 90s song. We hope Imbruglia wasn’t feeling “out of faith” after seeing how much people loved her version of the song.

#13: “Jump Around” (1992)

House of Pain
If there’s one 90s group who lived up to their name, it’s House of Pain. The Los Angeles rap trio scored a hit with their single “Jump Around,” which is full of sharply delivered threats and boasts from rapper Everlast. The song also features great old-school production from DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill. Although the tone is aggressive, it’s still the kind of song you could put on at a party. The song jumped up on the charts, reaching number three in the U.S. and doing well in countries like the Netherlands, Ireland, and Sweden. House of Pain split a few years later when Everlast went solo. But this song is still pure hip-hop pleasure.

#12: “Return of the Mack” (1996)

Mark Morrison
Breakup songs have a proud history in popular music, and few genres do them better than R&B. “Return of the Mack,” by British singer Mark Morrison, was part of the new jack swing wave of the 90s, with Morrison’s heartfelt crooning about a former lover playing over groovy production. New wave band Tom Tom Club is prominently sampled on the beat, which gives the perfect mix of rhythm and emotion. The song received an im-mack-culate reception, hitting number two in the U.S. and number one in the U.K. Morrison has experienced various legal challenges since the release of the song, but “Return of the Mack” shows he can make it through hard times.

#11: “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” (1996)

Los del Río
The “Macarena” and its accompanying dance remain popular to this day. But to really appreciate how massive this song was, you needed to have been around in the 90s. Created by Spanish pop duo Los del Río, the song really took off after the Bayside Boys remixed it, with English verses added. Topping the Billboard charts for 14 weeks, it became so big that politicians were dancing the "Macarena" at the 1996 Democratic National Convention. While some might have seen the song’s success as being a fad, there’s no denying just how infectious it was and continues to be.

#10: “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (1997)

The Verve

While all four of The Verve's albums experienced some degree of success in the UK, the Britpop band had to wait until their third project, "Urban Hymns," to score their solitary hit in the States. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" is a densely packed melodic epic that's nearly perfect from beginning to end. Laced with sharp lyrics that juxtaposes excellently with the song's fantastic music video, the track makes brilliant use of an infectious riff from Andrew Oldham's cover of The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time," a sample that resulted in some legal squabbles.

#9: “Tubthumping” (1997)


Debuting in 1985 in the UK punk rock scene, Chumbawamba released eight albums before scoring their big crossover hit, a feat they would never really attempt again. "Tubthumping" is the bar jam to end all bar jams; an explosive rock song with a contagious main chorus, scarce verses that do not get in the way, and memorable vocal hooks courtesy of Lou Watts and Dunstan Bruce. "Tubthumping" is not representative of most of Chumbawamba's songs, so it's hardly surprising that the band never scored another major hit in the States.

#8: “You Get What You Give” (1998)

New Radicals

Despite only peaking at number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, the New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" feels like the definitive song of that late '90s' post-Nirvana period when music adopted a slicker and sunnier sheen. A tightly written pop-rock track that constantly shakes things up throughout its 5-minute runtime, "You Get What You Give" mixes socially conscious themes with melodies for days. The final verse's celebrity callouts can overshadow the rest of the song, which is a shame since this entire track should be remembered and celebrated. The New Radicals split up soon after the song’s release, but their one album is definitely worth a spin.

#7: “How Bizarre” (1995)


Sometimes all it takes to make a song instantly unforgettable is a single line, and this one-hit-wonder has two of them. Released by New Zealand's OMC, "How Bizarre" is a breezy track with nearly indecipherable lyrics all connecting to a brilliant main chorus. Accompanied by a summery instrumental, Pauly Fuemana, the lead vocalist, combines the oddly catchy "How Bizarre" hook with bright background vocals by a group of female singers. All these elements combine to create a truly peerless track, at least in terms of uniqueness. OMC never came close to having another hit in the States, but “How Bizarre” is quite the exception.

#6: “Mr. Vain” (1993)

Culture Beat

Eurodance was a reliable source for one-off commercial hits during the '90s, and few of the genre's success stories compare favorably to "Mr. Vain." The track's pulsating electro beat instantly conjures up images of German raves, with the bass and keyboards adding extra dimensions to the instrumental. While lyrics don't tend to be a big focus of Eurodance, "Mr. Vain" has more going for it than just an earworm chorus. Tying everything together is Tania Evans, whose strong and confident vocals manage to make "Mr. Vain's" somewhat clumsy English work in the song's favor.

#5: “Sex and Candy” (1997)

Marcy Playground

As post-grunge took hold of the rock scene, the airwaves started to be flooded with moody but less aggressive songs. For the band's only charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, Marcy Playground released the evocative "Sex and Candy," a short and slow-paced rocker with somber vocals. Often attracting comparisons to Nirvana, "Sex and Candy" mixes suggestive lyrics with radio-ready friendliness. The chorus's opening line is one of the most memorable of the late '90s, while the song's surreal music video splendidly complements "Sex and Candy's" tone and mystique. Marcy Playground created something special with their one bonafide hit.

#4: “No Rain” (1993)

Blind Melon

The rock scene of the early '90s consisted of far more than just grunge, and Blind Melon's hit stands out as a prime example of that. “No Rain" has a loose, almost jam session feel to it, and the track incorporates psychedelic influences into what is otherwise a familiar alternative rock sound. Although quite a happy song, lyrically "No Rain" deals with depression and alienation, elements reflected in its iconic music video. As great as the track is, "No Rain" might not have been as massive of a hit without its accompanying Bee Girl video.

#3: “Steal My Sunshine” (1999)


Released right before the end of the '90s, "Steal My Sunshine" reflects just how much the music landscape had changed throughout the decade. A pop-rock blast that sprinkles in elements of hip hop, Len's summertime anthem combines a sugary sweet hook with clever verses that add depth to the overall package. Making expert use of a sample of Andrea True Connection's "More, More, More," "Steal My Sunshine" jumps back and forth between two singers, Marc and Sharon Costanzo, as the song paints a picture of a hazy summer rave. Len would go on to release a few more albums, although none would spawn a single as big as "Steal My Sunshine."

#2: “Informer” (1992)


It's difficult to imagine that "Informer" could have topped the Billboard Hot 100 in any other year besides 1993, and even then it was controversial. Released by Snow, a Canadian musician, "Informer" fuses reggae and hip hop while lyrically covering a range of topics, including police raids and the vocalist's musical influences. Except for one unforgettable and somewhat confusing verse in the chorus, "Informer's" lyrics can be difficult to understand, although Snow's flow keeps the track moving along nicely. Although Snow scored a few more hits in Canada, "Informer" is his lasting legacy in the rest of the world.

#1: “What Is Love” (1993)


Now, this is a debut single. Love is probably the most overused topic in music, but this Eurodance classic distills the theme down to its essence, asking a universally relatable question that manages to be both direct and profound. Haddaway's soulful vocals bring a lot of weight to the bursts of verses, while the beat maintains an intense rhythm that is impossible to resist. Haddaway might not have scored another timeless hit in the U.S., but "What Is Love" lives on in dance clubs, on the airwaves, and in pop culture.