The Best One Hit Wonders Of The 90s (Most Popular Playlist)

It’s an unfortunate reality that not everyone can make it to the top of the music industry. Sometimes artists will have staying power and establish a career that spans decades with multiple hits and award-winning albums. But for the rest, success can be fleeting.

In this list, we look at some of the greatest one hit wonders from the 1990s. Spanning a multitude of genres, these memorable tracks helped define the 90s, even if the artists behind them never found continued success.

Table of Contents

Aqua – Barbie Girl

One of the most beloved and equally reviled songs from the 90s is this sugary sweet bubblegum pop dance hit from the Danish-Norwegian group Aqua. This was their breakthrough single, topping the charts in the UK and Australia and the top 10 in the US.

While they did release a couple more successful singles from their Aquarius album, they could never replicate the phenomenal success of Barbie Girl. A cheeky and infectious tune that helped pave the way for European groups to break into the US. To this day it’s still one of the top 90s karaoke songs.

Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby

At the very start of the 90s, a revolution was coming. Rap and hip-hop were gaining momentum as a genre of a new generation. While steeped in African American roots, the first breakthrough hip-hop track came from Robert Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice.

The smash hit Ice Ice Baby topped the Billboard charts and several charts worldwide. Unfortunately, Vanilla Ice never found further success after this breakthrough hit but did find renewed fame from hosting The Vanilla Ice Project on the DIY Network. Truly one of the best songs of the 1990s.

Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

British rock group Chumbawamba exploded to international fame with this party anthem with a powerful chorus lead. Tubthumping was the only real success the group experienced and propelled them to superstardom.

The group was already on their 8th studio album when they finally attained commercial success. But despite no further success, the band is proud of how popular the track has become, and if you’ve ever been to a party when this one drops, you can see why they would be proud. A fantastic track that’s one of the best party songs of the 90s.

Lou Bega – Mambo No 5

This Latin Pop tune was a huge commercial success in 1999 and was the lead single from Lou Bega’s debut album. It reached number 1 in a staggering number of countries, including the US, UK, Oceania, and across Europe. It has gone on to become a wedding playlist mainstay. 

The song samples the Damaso Perez Prado song of the same name from 1950. This a perfect example of taking something old and giving it new life. He did go on to release several follow-up albums but was never able to replicate the success of Mambo No.5.

Mark Morrison – Return of the Mack

In the middle of the 90s, Mark Morrison was starting to make a name for himself with a string of moderately successful releases, but then in March of 1996, he rocketed to stardom with Return of the Mack.

It topped the charts in the UK and climbed into the top 10 of many countries worldwide. It reached number 2 on the US Billboard charts and went Platinum selling 1.4 million copies. One of the greatest one hit wonders of the 90s.

All-4-One – I Swear

You don’t often see a song covered so quickly, but that is exactly what happened with I Swear. Originally released in 1993 as a country music song by John Michael Montgomery, it was subsequently covered by the American R&B group All-4-One in 1994.

The smooth R&B groove resonated with audiences, and it went on to hit number 1 in the US, Australia, Germany, and Canada, to name a few. The group did go on to have a few more releases, but they will forever be associated with this anthemic ballad.

Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart

Billy Ray Cyrus has had a rather illustrious career spanning decades, with 16 studio albums and 53 singles. While he has had other hits on the Billboard Hot Country Song chart, Achy Breaky Heart was something unique and special.

Whether you love it or hate it, this song managed to bridge the gap between country and pop and was a massive success selling 1 million copies in the US. It is also credited as the song to send line dancing into the mainstream. An impressive string of achievements for a one-hit-wonder.

Jennifer Paige – Crush

The year was 1998, and the world was about to be introduced to the smooth and expressive vocal talents of Jennifer Paige. Her first single, Crush, was a breakthrough hit that reached number 3 in the US. It also hit number 1 in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Jennifer Paige released a few more singles from her debut album, but they never matched the success of her debut single. Subsequent albums also didn’t fare too well, but she is still producing new music to this day.

Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

This alternative rock song from the Canadian band Crash Test Dummies was a huge success internationally. It peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard charts and sold 700,000 copies. It also reached number 1 in several countries, including Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Belgium.

In an interesting twist, Crash Test Dummies were already big stars in their home country with their debut album, but their compatriots did not embrace the second album featuring this release. Since then, they continued to make music but will always be remembered for this often-hated song.

Tag Team – Whoomp! (There It Is)

Released in 1993 by the rap duo Tag Team this funky Miami Bass track was a party favorite that translated to commercial success. It climbed all the way to number 2 on the Billboard charts and performed well overseas.

It has cemented itself as a part of pop culture history thanks to being a go-to choice for advertisements, movies, and sporting events. Despite this, Tag Team never found further success after the release of this debut single.

Macy Gray – I Try

This soulful track from Macy Gray was the second single from her debut album. Released in 1999, it closed off a decade of fantastic music with one of the most unique and engaging voices to hit the scene.

It peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard charts. Overseas it reached number 1 in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. It also won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal. Macy Gray is still performing and recording new material and making appearances in several films.

Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back

For some reason, songs about butts always experience commercial success, and the 90s were no different. You could likely place the title of “Most Iconic Butt Song” on this hit from Sir Mix-a-Lot. It was released in 1992 as part of his third album.

It topped the charts in the US and reached the top 10 in Australia but had mediocre success elsewhere. An anthem for all the women out there with a voluptuous posterior, and it’s still a crowd-pleaser to this day. 

Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Deep Blue Something hit the big time with this radio-friendly rock-pop hit. Released in 1995, Breakfast At Tiffany’s climbed to number 5 on the US Billboard charts despite some less-than-favorable critical reviews.

It also went double platinum in the UK, selling 1.2 million copies. Despite this huge level of success, the band never managed to put together a successful follow-up and eventually drifted apart, with the members moving on to other projects.

Tom Cochrane – Life Is A Highway

Throughout the 70s and 80s; Tom Cochrane was the lead singer and songwriter for the Canadian rock band Red Rider. But as the 90s began, he decided to pursue a solo career. His first release was Life Is a Highway, and it was an instant success.

It hit number 1 in his home country of Canada. It also reached number 6 in the US and was a top 10 hit in Australia and New Zealand. Several albums and singles followed, but they only performed well in Canada, leaving Life Is A Highway as his only international hit.

Len – Steal My Sunshine

Nothing says summer like this lighthearted and breezy alternative rock hit from Len. Steal My Sunshine was from their third studio album, which went on to be a massive hit, and reached Platinum status in the US with 1 million copies sold.

The duo stayed together and continued to record new material but struggled to follow up on the success of Steal My Sunshine. While no longer recording material, this release is a fantastic summertime jam that will surely bring a smile to your face.

Olive – You’re Not Alone

Trip-hop or downtempo is a unique blend of electronic music and hip-hop with a healthy dose of inspiration from breakbeat, soul, and R&B. Perhaps one of the most successful examples of this genre is this one-hit-wonder from Olive.

You’re Not Alone went to number 1 in the UK and Scotland and cracked the top 10 in several countries. It was later covered by German trance producer ATB and has since become a classic anthem of club culture of the early 2000s.

House of Pain – Jump Around

The American hip-hop trio House of Pain released three albums in the 90s, but they are most known for their hit single Jump Around. It went Platinum in the US with 1 million copies sold and is their most successful release.

It’s an interesting blend of hip-hop, rap, and rock. It also includes an iconic siren sound. Some find this song annoying due to that repeating siren sound, but its commercial success proves it had more fans than detractors.

Better One Than None

One hit wonder can often have a negative connotation. After all, these artists have often spent years honing their craft, and when they finally break through, they seem unable to reach those lofty heights again.

But they have all left an indelible mark on the music industry and cemented themselves as part of the pop-culture zeitgeist, plus just one hit can set you up for life. While they may not experience that same level of success again, they should be proud of making it that high in the first place.

Watch The Full Playlist

The full playlist with every song in this post can be watched via the video below or directly on our YouTube channel.

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Article by Robert Calabrese
Article by Robert Calabrese

Robert has over 15 years of experience working in the digital marketing industry. From a very young age he was influenced by music theory as part of his education and played a variety of instruments. From there, his passion moved into electronic music and the equipment used to create it. Using his education and experience, Robert started his own digital marketing company and successfully operates his business in the music industry.

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