Top 20 Cheesiest One Hit Wonders of the 1990s



Top 20 Cheesiest One Hit Wonders of the 1990s

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
Admit it, you love these cheesy one hit wonders. For this list, we'll be looking at the most ridiculous and/or melodramatic songs from bands/artists with one universally recognized song. Our countdown includes “Whoomp! (There It Is)”, “Mr. Vain”, “Tubthumping”, “I'm Too Sexy”, and more!

Top 20 Cheesiest One Hit Wonders of the 1990s

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Cheesiest One Hit Wonders of the 1990s.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most ridiculous and/or melodramatic songs from bands/artists with one universally recognized song. Remember that being on this list doesn’t mean we think a song is bad.

What’s your favorite cheesy ‘90s hit? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “Whoomp! (There It Is)” (1993)

Tag Team
There are countless ‘90s hip-hop songs examining complex topics like socio-economic struggles and relationship difficulties. Then, there’s this song, which is pretty much just about being the best at having a good time.“Whoomp! (There It Is),” by Atlanta duo Tag Team, is a classic of Miami bass, but it’s far more family-friendly than your average 2 Live Crew song. Even nearly 30 years later, we can’t resist the thick rhythms of this song nor screaming the hook at the top of our lungs. Whoomp! there it is, and we hope it never goes away.

#19: “MMMBop” (1997)

Okay, so maybe it was kind of annoying when it was on the radio seemingly every hour of every day. But 25 years later, “MMMBop” still holds up amazingly well. Band of brothers Hansons’ pop-rock classic went number one in multiple countries, no doubt helped by a chorus that’s catchy no matter what language you speak. However, despite the song’s sunny demeanor, the lyrics are actually pretty deep if you pay attention. Isaac, Taylor, and Zac, sing about how important it is to cherish our relationships. They might have been young, but these brothers were definitely wise.

#18: “Sex and Candy” (1997)

Marcy Playground
After the grunge explosion of the early ‘90s came the dawn of post-grunge: bands that emulated Nirvana and Pearl Jam but who tended to lean in a more melodic direction. While "Sex and Candy" is no "Smells Like Teen Spirit," it still stands as a ‘90s alt-rock classic. Sure it might be hard to take a song called “Sex and Candy” seriously. But Minneapolis’ Marcy Playground keeps things chill. Lead singer John Wozniak sounds like Kurt Cobain without quite as much angst, and every strum of the guitar and hit of the drums feels cleansing. This song? It surely is a dream.

#17: “Rico Suave” (1990)

You can probably name a dozen rappers each from New York, Los Angeles, or Atlanta. But how many do you know of that are from Ecuador? Gerardo helped bring Latin hip hop to prominence with this jam about a man who’s not shy about his success with the ladies. Although he might be bragging, he’s so charismatic about it, we don’t mind. Gerardo became so associated with this song, we sometimes forget his stage name isn’t actually “Rico Suave.” Latin rappers have done some amazing things over the decades, and Gerardo deserves our respect for helping bring more diversity to the genre.

#16: “Jump” (1992)

Kris Kross
There are two things we’ll forever remember Kris Kross for: their fondness for backwards clothes and their chart-topping hit “Jump.” Despite both being 13 when this single dropped, rappers Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac weren't kidding around. And neither was Jermaine Dupri, who provided the song's hard-hitting but still danceable beat. Sampling classic artists like the Jackson 5 and James Brown, "Jump" kept things fresh even by looking to the past. And while it might be old-school, it's still as enjoyable now as it was then. If there’s any song that demands you get moving, it’s “Jump.”

#15: “One of Us” (1995)

Joan Osborne
Usually, songs about God are heard in church, not on top 40 radio. But American singer Joan Osborne brought the charts to the light with "One of Us.” In this top-five hit, Osborne speculates about a world in which God was indistinguishable from any average mortal. Some might take offense to God being likened to "a slob like one of us," and the message is completely unsubtle. But this song still gave us something to think about, which we can't say for all the songs on this list. Heaven help us: we still love this song.

#14: “Informer” (1992)

We got Snow in August. That was the month Canadian reggae artist Snow dropped “Informer,” a hit bigger than his glasses in the song’s video. Mixing reggae and hip-hop, "Informer" is a song decrying snitches. But we had to hear it a few dozen times before we could start to parse what Snow was saying. Despite the song’s party-ready and fairly ridiculous sound, it actually has some pretty serious origins. Snow wrote the song while incarcerated, before he had any kind of musical career. Who knew “a licky boom boom down” had such personal meaning?

#13: “Mr. Vain” (1993)

Culture Beat
If you attended a dance party in the ‘90s, the question wasn’t if they would play “Mr. Vain,” but when. This hit from German group Culture Beat had everything for a house anthem: a steady kick drum pulse, an energetic synth melody, and gorgeous vocals, courtesy of vocalist Tania Evans. And if things weren’t already poppin,’ member Jay Supreme comes through with a great rap verse. "Mr. Vain" has no time to slow down, throwing everything at you at once and then some. Even if we're not at the club, we feel obligated to dance whenever it's on.

#12: “Steal My Sunshine” (1999)

There are plenty of reasons to look forward to summer, including an excuse to listen to “Steal My Sunshine.” While this hit from Canadian band Len is great any time of year, it’s perfect for a hot day. With its sunny lyrics and beat, it’s as infectious as a ‘90s song can get, especially with its sampling of Andrea True Connection’s disco classic “More, More, More.” The vocal contrast between raspy Marc Costanzo and his sister Sharon’s sweeter vocals is another highlight. We’re going to put this song on L-A-T-E-R this week, or just right now.

#11: “Cotton Eye Joe” (1994)

Need any further proof that the ‘90s was one of the weirdest decades of all time? Rednex, a Swedish dance group, released a techno version of a pre-Civil War American folk song and it became an international sensation. We wouldn't think to mix fiddles and banjos with pulsating club beats. But Rednex’s approach somehow proved irresistible, even if we might be embarrassed to admit it now. Where did this song come from? Clearly some very creative minds. Where did it go? If we’re being honest, it’ll probably always be a part of us.

#10: “We Like to Party! (The Vengabus)” (1998)

Another Eurodance group that took the world by storm, at least for a moment, was Vengaboys. The Dutch group had a few hits to their name. But none permeated our collective consciousness quite like “We Like to Party.’ Its pro-celebration message is timeless. But the most enduring aspect of the song is its over-the-top synth melody. You know the one. Trying to get this song out of your head is like trying to get sand out of your shoes after a day at the beach. The Vengabus was coming, and we just had to get on.

#9: “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” (1998)

Eiffel 65
Listen up, here’s the story about an Italian dance song that was everywhere in the late ‘90s. "Blue" is about a guy in a world where everything is blue, including himself. That's not exactly what you'd expect to be the subject of a club banger. But Eiffel 65's knack for catchy hooks and melodies made us all think blue, in a good way. The chorus might’ve been mostly nonsensical, but who says things need to make sense to be good? We do have to say that the music video still creeps us out a little, though.

#8: “What Is Love” (1993)

There are some questions that will likely never be answered, including the one at the center of this dance hit by Haddaway. It’s not clear if Haddaway is actually asking what love is or if he’s just speaking rhetorically. But what is clear is how this song became such a big hit, with its thick grooves, classic hook, and “whoa-oh-oh” backing vocals. Its music video, featuring Haddaway being pursued by a trio of women, including a vampire, is also classic. We don’t know what love is, but we know we love this song. Baby, don’t hurt us.

#7: “Tubthumping” (1997)

While English band Chumbawamba started out as a politically-minded punk band, their biggest hit was more suited for dancing than moshing. In its own, more accessible way, “Tubthumping” can be seen as a political song. The lyrics are about standing up in the face of adversity, after all. And we’re always in the mood to sing along to the chorus, especially if we’ve had a bad day. Chumbawamba’s message resonated with many, as “Tubthumping” topped the charts in multiple countries. This is a song that reminds us of both the good times and the better times.

#6: “Barbie Girl” (1997)

Many sweet childhood memories involve Barbie dolls. But this song, from Danish pop group Aqua, isn’t quite so innocent. In “Barbie Girl,” member Lene Nystrøm likens herself to the famous doll, with fellow member René Dif as her Ken. And what they talk about isn’t exactly G-rated. Mattel sued label MCA Records for trademark violation and alleged negative effects on Barbie’s image. This case was thrown out, and Mattel later ended up making a music video with a new version of the song. Of course, certain lines, like the one about “hanky-panky” were taken out.

#5: “Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)” (1999)

Lou Bega
If your name is Monica, Erica, or any of the other names mentioned in “Mambo No. 5,” we understand you might have mixed feelings about this song. But in terms of delightful ‘90s cheese, “Mambo No. 5” is a 10. Building off an instrumental from Cuban artist Dámaso Pérez Prado, first released in 1950, “Mambo No. 5” is shamelessly corny and endlessly fun. Bega sounds like he’s having the time of his life, even breaking out into laughter. We don’t need to listen to this song often, but “a little bit” always does the trick.

#4: “Baby Got Back” (1992)

Sir Mix-a-Lot
There have been plenty of popular songs about butts over the years, but none have proved quite as enduring as this classic from Sir Mix-a-Lot. Pretty much every part of this song is legendary by now, from its opening dialogue between two valley girls to the bass-boosted beat, to the song’s iconic opening lines, as well as other lyrics. And even though it’s fairly raunchy, how can you not love a song that promotes body positivity the way this one does? “Baby Got Back” is still a classic, and there’s no ifs, ands, or butts about it.

#3: “Ice Ice Baby” (1990)

Vanilla Ice
As embarrassing as it might be to admit now, “Ice Ice Baby” was how many of us were first introduced to hip-hop. But as cheesy as this song is, it’s also part of history, as it was the first hip-hop song to hit number one in the U.S. The “Under Pressure”-sampling beat is obviously iconic. But credit must also be given to Mr. Ice himself, who’s so confident in his delivery, we can’t help but like him. He might not have the cred of 2Pac or Eminem, but for a minute, this self-described “lyrical poet” was our favorite rapper.

#2: “I’m Too Sexy” (1991)

Right Said Fred
At first, “I’m Too Sexy” seems rather arrogant. After all, isn’t it a song about a guy bragging about how physically attractive he is? While, technically, that’s true, the song is more about mocking vanity, especially in the fashion industry. It’s also an absurdly fun song, with its groovy beat and deep vocals, which one reviewer likened to “Elmer Fudd on steroids.” “I’m Too Sexy” topped the charts in various countries. And its influence continues to this day. In 2021, Drake scored another number one with the Right Said Fred-sampling “Way 2 Sexy.” The ‘90s will always be with us.

#1: “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” (1995)

Los del Río
If you were around in the ‘90s, it might have seemed like “Macarena” and its accompanying dance came out of nowhere. But it actually took a few years for it to become a sensation. Latin pop duo Los del Río first released the song in 1993. Then, in 1995, the Bayside Boys remixed the song, making it both more danceable and bilingual with the addition of English lyrics. A year later, it became the hit we all know and yes, love. Topping the U.S. charts for 14 consecutive weeks, "Macarena" was a song that you couldn't avoid unless you lived in a cave in Antarctica. And even then, it wasn't guaranteed. But we love it and the dance all the same. Hooray Macarena!