The music industry is a strange and unique beast. In the majority of instances the most dedicated and talented members of our musical society make it to the big time, but this is not always the case. Sometimes talentless hacks get cherry picked based on other irrelevant factors, and sometimes, amazing musicians get overlooked. Every year artists think they have won the lotto with a #1 single, but for one reason or another they just cannot stay at that level. This is where the phenomenon of the ‘one hit wonder’ comes into play.
In a capitalist world, we are all obsessed with success and failure. With most things, the people that deserve the rewards rise to the top while the others flounder. This is the way things should be. It is the best system in the world. The one hit wonder shakes that foundation and creates an occurrence that has interested music fans for years. Numerous countdowns on VH1, Max and the late Channel V frequently put the microscope on these strange entities such as MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This, The Baha Men’s Who Let The Dogs Out? and Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart. However, One Hit Wonders are not segregated to the 1980s. They are happening right now in front of our very eyes, but most people won’t be able to notice until enough time has passed. This list will attempt to look at our current musical spectrum and isolate who has already passed their used by dates and who will be on those countdowns in ten years time.
On a side note, this list is not saying these artists are not talented or that they did not deserve their stardom. Some of these bands still have loyal fanbases. This list is only looking at mainstream success.
#5 – Hozier
One Hit Wonder – Take Me To Church (2014)
2014 was not the best for songs of substance. All we had to digest was endless Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass and Pharrell’s mind numbing Happy. Then along came Hozier. Remember that guy; the one that looked like the love child of Tommy Wiseau and Adam Driver? His hit single Take Me To Church satisfied sensible music fans and allowed them a few minutes of serenity on hit radio every time it came on. Even the music video was interesting. It was all dark, grainy, black and white and depicted a heart-breaking love story between two men. This was back when gay marriage was first earning victories, before it was even legalised in America. The Irish singer was everywhere! He even did a melancholy rendition on Jimmy Fallon, which is like having Morrissey on Sesame Street. People loved it! So what happened?
In many ways Hozier was never meant for fame. His gangly 6’5 frame and wispy hair still does not match the intended image of today’s stars. He has even admitted himself that he was never expecting the level of fame he received. This is simply a case of an artist of substance coming from left field with a powerful song that sweeps people off their feet. His song gained a life of its own and soon people identified more with its message than the artist himself. Hozier never even appears in the music video once. People loved the song, not him. This is evident with his attempted follow up song Someone New. Radio stations tried to push it, but it soon dropped out of rotation. It did not have the same aura that Take Me To Church had and people had already forgotten about the haunting song. It did not even make the top 100 singles of the year on the ARIA charts, which is pretty damming since #Selife by the horrible Chainsmokers came in at #100. It is sad, but that’s the music industry. We say goodbye to an interesting folk singer from Ireland in favour of acts like Pitbull, Ariana Grande or Iggy Azalea. Speaking of which…
#4 Iggy Azalea
One Hit Wonder – Fancy feat. Charlie XCX (2014)
Sing this song right now… What part did you sing? I will bet my life you sang the hook by Charlie XCX, which in itself is a rip off of Gwen Stefani. Can you even remember any lines from Iggy Azalea’s ‘rapping’ (a term I use very loosely)? Just try and imagine ‘Fancy’ without Charlie XCX…
Iggy Azalea is a perfect case study on how to ruin your career and reputation just through your behaviour alone. Let’s just forget her cringe inducing ‘rap voice’ for now, which sounds more like a stereotypical sassy black woman than an Aussie sheila from Mullumbimby. The female version of Vanilla Ice just cannot stop being in the headlines for her undeserved diva antics. From feuding with superior, yet admittedly insane artist Azealia Banks, to cancelling her first nation wide tour due to a ‘lack of interest’, to saying she is a victim of racial abuse, Iggy Azalea has not done herself any favours in the public eye.
What perhaps hurt her most was the failed collaboration with Britney Spears on the song Pretty Girls. The song of course, bombed dismally. So what did Iggy do? What she has done throughout her entire career, blame everyone else for her own failures. Iggy Azalea directly pointed the finger at pop-icon Britney Spears for the songs’ insipid performance.
Record labels have said that the song was Britney’s, but Iggy stormed in and acted as if it was hers all along. She was impossible to work with on set, even ordering Britney around, instructing her on what to wear and how to move. There were also fierce arguments about the credits, with Azalea demanding it be labelled as a collaboration rather than a simple feature on her part.
All this from a 26-year-old from a country town in Northern New South Wales, who made it big on the coattails of an actually talented, yet dull artist, Charlie XCX. Her follow up album has continually been pushed back farther and farther into the abyss. Is anyone really asking for another Iggy Azalea album? I didn’t think so…
#3 – Gotye
One Hit Wonder – Somebody That I Used To Know feat. Kimba (2011)
Somebody That I Used To Know was overplayed as hell in 2011. People simply could not escape it in 2011. Pair with this the horrible message of the song, and it certainly set an incredible challenge for Gotye to try and push out another hit. He did not…
This song holds the key to the problems millennials face with relationships. The song begins from the viewpoint of a man in a relationship, or more a man-child since he is a sook about the whole thing. But of course, everything is all about him and how he is feeling. What is his problem, you ask? He is not getting laid enough. He’s ‘addicted to a certain kind of sadness’. This refers to monogamy in this song. This could also be seen as a form of self-indulgent pity, which Stephen Fry famously said is the least attractive human trait. Ste Someone at a party might have hit on him and his is so obsessed with this idea of a non-monogamous relationship (like that’s normal) that he dumps Kimbra and says that he was ‘glad it was over’. She tries to make it easier by saying ‘I guess we can still be friends’, but she ultimately cuts him off like any normal person would. So what is his reaction? ‘You didn’t have to cut me off! You didn’t have to stoop so low!’ Stoop so low? You dumped her! She has changed her number because you are calling and texting her a million times a day, probably at two in the morning.
But what is her side of the story? Kimbra is the rational one and says, ‘you know, I have thought about all the times you have screwed me over. I thought about how you turned around and said that I was the bad guy for wanting a stable relationship, and that I was ‘holding you down’. I don’t want to live that way.’ Then she tries to call him on his BS by asking, ‘are you going to get hung up on this and turn me into ‘someone that you used to know’ and write some sappy song about me?’ But what is his response? What is his answer for being a complete sleaze? ‘Wehhh, but you didn’t have to cut me off!’
This song is a horrible example for modern relationships and especially the role of women in today’s society. Poltical and social analyst Gavin McInnes has a terrific video about this song. As McInnis says, “This song is a young man and a young woman trying to reinvent sexual freedoms and saying that relationships are a myth, but ultimately being slapped in the face by reality.” This whole song is depressing, especially since it’s coming from a 36-year-old man, in Gotye. A bit of maturity would go a long way. Put a ring on it, fellas.
#2 Foster The People
One Hit Wonder – Pumped Up Kicks (2011)
Pumped Up Kicks was everywhere in 2011. Every try hard with a guitar thought they were being edgy by covering the song in a bar where no one cared. Everyone was looking forward to more bubblegum electro-pop from the L.A band. But, this was not to be the case.
Fans certainly got more, but it wasn’t exactly what they expected. Foster The People’s 2014 follow up album Supermodel did absolutely nothing for them. Even die-hard fans were disappointed with it. Recently, tensions have built up so much that the original bassist, Cubbie Fink, has now left the trio.
The catchy bass-line of Pumped Up Kicks was infectious and was being whistled by every hipster from here to Greenwich Village. However, the carefree melodies were hiding something sinister. The song was actually about a school shooting. The mainstream music fans reacted like a person who was enjoying their dinner suddenly being told they’re eating human meat. I will give Foster The People points for writing about an interesting topic in an accessible way, similar to M.I.A’s Paper Planes, but the effect ultimately backfired on them in the long run.
#1 Florence + The Machine
One Hit Wonder – Dog Days Are Over (2009)
Whoa there, Nelly. I can already hear the angry hoards ganging up on me for putting Flo in the number one spot, but hear me out. I actually quite like Florence + The Machine. Her 2009 album, Lungs was massive. I bet 90% of you have it somewhere in your abandoned iTunes library, before you moved on to Spotify like everyone did. In fact, most of the songs have been permanently ruined for me due to being overplayed. If I hear another tattooed, shaved head special snowflake play Kiss With A Fist, I am going to scream.
If you look at the album as a whole, Dog Days Are Over is really the only song that went global. In the States, it was the only single from Lungs that made it into the charts, peaking only at #21. Even in her own United Kingdom, her only #1 hit across her career, Spectrum, was due to a remix by someone else, Calvin Harris, in 2012. If you also take a look at all of the major awards Flo has won, they have been either for Dog Days Are Over or Lungs. If we are speaking mainstream success, Florence + The Machine were really only a phase we all went through in high school.
This is further exemplified when we look at her follow up albums. People were hoping for her second album, Ceremonials (2011) to do well, but it was only met with mixed reviews. The single that did the best was Shake It Out, which only hit #12 in the UK. That song has quickly faded and would never be the tune people would sing when they think of the redheaded songstress. Even her third album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015) was pushed out of this world, but it quickly dwindled into the crowd. All three of her albums have done well with her fans, but the overall quality of each offering has reduced each time. In a self-made ‘best of’ play list, Lungs would simply dominate, with only a slight peppering of her more recent works. Unless you are a major fan, it has been quite easy to forget about Florence + The Machine. The odd timing of her releases, her rare international touring and the crowding of the market have all passed her by. She is still loved by so many, but she is quickly becoming a nostalgia act people put on once in a blue moon and say ‘Aw yeah, Florence + The Machine, she was pretty good. I remember making out with Jessica Hooper in Grade 8 to You’ve Got The Love.” It is probably unfair to say she is a one hit wonder, but I really hope she can replicate the magic of Lungs, and that’s something that I unfortunately don’t think will happen. Lighting doesn’t strike twice.