Figuring out what makes a “hit” has been puzzling artists and record company executives since the start of the industry. Plenty of hits are catchy, well thought-out pieces, written by respectable artists or a breakout musician on their path to greatness. Yet not always; many unfortunate musicians fall under the category of “one hit wonder”, as they fail to follow up their one radio smash hit and spend the rest of their professional careers playing the same tired song set in front of a gradually diminishing crowd. While plenty of one-hit wonders are great songs, others aren’t so much, and we can be all too happy that their makers became footnotes in the book of music history. Here is a list of what are, in my opinion, some of the most annoying one-hit wonders:
Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65: The sci-fi-video-game-themed video, featuring blue aliens in crude and choppy CGI, is so dated that watching it feels like a time portal to the start of the millennium. Yet if you do choose to watch this video, be sure to mute it, otherwise the music will kill any nostalgia you thought you had for the 90s. The lyrics seem to just list off objects that are blue, and the chorus is literally “I’m blue da ba dee da ba di”, as if the writer couldn’t think of anything to say apart from the fact that he was blue, and even then his insight was astoundingly limited.
Who Let the Dogs Out – Baha Men: The only good thing you can say about this song is the clear energy behind it. Having been active since the late 1970s, the Baha Men sing this song with the gusto of a group realizing that their fifteen minutes of fame could end at any moment. Yet that end couldn’t come soon enough. Anybody who remembers late 2000/early 2001 could tell you how their blood boiled hearing this song come on the radio for the 10th time in the day.
Friday – Rebecca Black: The story behind this song is a tragic one. In all fairness, this wasn’t supposed to be a hit; it was released by the Ark Music Factory, a company where rich parents can spend a few thousand dollars to put their child in a heavily-autotuned song/music video. Plenty of these tracks, such as “My Jeans” or “Chinese Food”, have gained Internet infamy for how bad they are, yet none have reached the level of “Friday”, a song where the bridge literally involves naming off days of the week. Yet when it did go viral, “Friday” quickly earned the wrath of the Internet, forcing a thirteen year-old Rebecca Black into a negative spotlight which will most likely haunt her forever.
Barbie Girl – Aqua: While the Norwegian group Aqua were definitely in on the joke of making an annoying song about one of America’s most iconic toys to parody the greed and shallow materialism of American pop culture, they got pretty carried away. Stylized as a sort of dialogue between Barbie and her boyfriend Ken, the creepy growl of Ken’s singing makes you want to shoot your radio, while Barbie’s screeching vocals make you carry out the act.
U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer: Sampling a much better song (“Super Freak” by Rick James”), packed to the gills with unwarranted braggadocio and backed by an uninspired music video of MC Hammer dancing in front of a bunch of women, this song represents almost every reason people were hostile to rap when it first hit the mainstream. Yet what makes this stand out from so many other brag rap tracks was MC Hammer’s storied ill-advised financial decisions after his success, making him some sort of Greek tragic hero in a tale about responsible spending. Such outlandish spending decisions as putting 200 people on his payroll, building a $30 million house for himself and buying 19 thoroughbred racehorses, despite the fact that he failed to follow up his one hit, meant that Hammer’s fortunes quickly went up in flame.
Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice: Much as I hate myself for saying this, as one of the first white rappers with a mainstream audience, Vanilla Ice is actually somewhat historically significant. And if at the height of his career (i.e. this one song) Vanilla Ice were to die in a sudden motorcycle accident, he would possibly be remembered as such and earn a sort of cult following. Yet luckily, history was kind to us. Vanilla Ice didn’t die, went on to star in the mercifully forgettable film “Cool as Ice” and fade into obscurity before fate could turn him into a James Dean-esque hero for young rappers. People have since been able to look back at “Ice Ice Baby” and realize that solidly mediocre rapping about a shooting you witnessed as a teenager and how good you are at rapping, is nothing worth remembering.
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm – Crash Test Dummies: Despite Brad Roberts’ delusions, he’s not a particularly good singer. Don’t believe me? Listen to this song. When Roberts isn’t trying to croak his way through possibly (but probably not) meaningful lyrics, he’s starts humming “mmmmm”, as if he ran out of things to say. It almost sounds like some sort of highly conceptual Campbell’s soup commercial, where Roberts is trying to hum “mmm mmm good”, but arrived at the recording studio too hungover to actually record a decent version of it.
Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus: Before jump starting Miley Cyrus’ career as part of a desperate stunt to regain relevance, Billy Ray Cyrus created this uninspired schlock that takes the country music trope of being sad and distorts it into a Frankenstein monster of sorts that represents everything wrong with both country music and the 90s. Country music is a lot like horror movies: there’s some fantastic stuff out there, but you have to wade through a lot of garbage before you find it. Billy Ray Cyrus is definitely the latter.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Deep Blue Something: Catchy as this acoustic tune is, the lyrics are astoundingly stupid: a woman, fearful that she and her boyfriend have nothing in common, is contemplating breaking up. Yet he recognizes that they both like the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, which he claims is enough to save their relationship. The sentiment is nice, but it seems doubtful that one two-hour movie from the early 1960s is enough to save a relationship.
Butterfly – Crazy Town: With their frosted tips, lack of shirts, ill-advised tattoos and even iller-advised piercings, the band Crazy Town are pretty easy to hate. And if their appearance wasn’t enough to turn you off, the cheesy lyrics to their one hit, rich with enough obnoxious terms of endearment like “butterfly”, “sugar” and “baby” to make even Johnny Bravo blush, certainly is.