37 Best One-Hit Wonders Of The 90s

While the music scene is constantly changing with new trends and styles, we can’t forget one of the golden eras of music; the 90s.

We all know how great this period was at experimenting with innovative forms of music, but the thing it was best at was pushing out one-hit wonders like a factory conveyor belt.

These songs are recognized worldwide for their fantastic chorus lines and memorable tunes. The artists who sang them may have only had a short time in the spotlight, but that's all they needed to cement their legacy into road trips and karaoke nights for decades.

Here are the best one-hit wonders of the 90s.

“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia

Song year: 1997

The covers of this hit song are numerous, but the most well-known and highly praised is Natalie Imbruglia's 1997 iteration in her album Left of the Middle. And while she wasn't the song's original singer, she certainly did it the best.

Whether it's a staple in your break-up playlist or your go-to song when you're feeling melancholic, Imbruglia's “Torn” is a one-hit wonder from the 90s that still resonates today.

“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba

Song year: 1997

Those from the 90s and early 2000s can probably still hear the chorus to this song echoing in the back of their heads with that obnoxious yet incredibly catchy punch line. Yeah. You know the one.

It may be all they're known for, but Tubthumping was enough to put the name “Chumbawamba” in karaoke bars everywhere, and let's be honest: it was a pretty dang good song.

Motivational. Upbeat. Snappy. What else could you ask for?

“I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis

Song year: 1996

This one's for the hopeless romantics and romantically hopeless.

For some reason, whenever Donna Lewis' soft-spoken “I Love You Always Forever” comes on, the dopamine-filled feelings of nostalgia and romanticism come rushing in. It's quite the dreamy song, and while it takes a while to build up to that unforgettable bridge, the payoff is worth every second.

They really don't make music like they used to, do they?

“She's So High” by Tal Bachman

Song year: 1999

Wait, this wasn't a 2000's song?? Indeed, the '90s barely caught it by the cusp (though it certainly sounds like it belongs to the early 2000s).

Tal Bachman's “She's So High” was an anthem for high schoolers and college students across America when it came out. Even today, it's still widely known for its pleasantly poppy lyrics and rockin' guitar strumming.

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O'Connor

Song year: 1990

“Nothing Compares 2 U” was originally written and composed by the legend himself, Prince. Several years after the song's 1985 release, Sinéad O'Connor did a cover of the song, which would go on to become a global sensation.

This beautiful rendition is a profound message entailing a lost lover of sorts and gets perfectly captured with O'Connor's mild yet meaningful voice. Twas a bittersweet symphony, and one that nothing else can quite compare to.

“Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve

Song year: 1997

Speaking of bittersweet symphonies, “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve is another one for the history books.

While pretty much every one-hit wonder on this list is known for a single or multiple defining lyrics, this one is the exception. The most prominent aspect of this song is actually the violin accompaniment in the background.

Of course, we have to admit that the dragging voice does bring a certain charm to the melancholy melody and the music video of the singer walking down a city street is indisputably iconic.

“Wonderwall” by Oasis

Song year: 1995

“Wonderwall” is one of the top-learned songs on the acoustic guitar and a globally recognized one-hit wonder certified with platinum and gold. To this day, it remains the band's most well-liked song and gets endlessly covered by live musicians everywhere.

Perhaps it's the unique monotonous tone of the voice or those quintessential guitar chords, but you can't deny that “Wonderwall” is a symbolic one-hit wonder shrouded in accolades and terrible group singing on long car rides.

“Save Tonight” by Eagle-Eye Cherry

Song year: 1997

Why were so many one-hit wonders released in 1997? Was this the year that every new artist decided to drop incredible singles they'd never be able to follow up?

Jokes aside, Eagle-Eye Cherry's “Save Tonight” stands tall as a 90s alt-rock juggernaut. In addition to the memorable bridge, the song received critical reception for its expert use of electric guitar licks and catchy acoustic riffs to create a truly unique sound.

“Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

Song year: 1990

Under Pressure? No, it was just ice.

If the cheesy rap scene of the 90s had a face, it would undoubtedly be Vanilla Ice. No one would take you seriously if you released this song today, but for the time, it was probably “cool.” Probably.

Still, while we find this one-hit wonder hilarious today, we must admit its pure catchiness is endearing, and we can never dislike the song.

“Can't Touch This” by M.C. Hammer

Song year: 1990

If Vanilla Ice is the face of cheesy 90s rap, then “Can't Touch This” is the dance he's doing. Coincidentally, these two hits were released in the same year, making them unofficial brothers in arms.

But yeah. We all know this one. It doesn't matter if the first time you heard the song was on the radio or in Shark Tale; it's an undeniable part of your life, and all you can do is dance to it.

Fortunately, the “Can't Touch This” dance was and still is one of the smoothest dances to ever get created.

“Closing Time” Semisonic

Song year: 1998

Along with Billy Joel's “Piano Man” and Journey's “Don't Stop Believing,” “Closing Time” by Semisonic is one of the essential bar classics reserved to get played towards the end of the night. It's literally in the name, after all.

When it debuted, it ranked high on the charts in the US and certain parts of the world, but its legacy wouldn't “end” after its run on the radio (which still technically hasn't ended). It received an Emmy nomination the following year and would get featured in countless pieces of televised media decades after release.

Ironically, while the song is about endings and new beginnings, it never seems to follow its own advice.

“Breakfast at Tiffany's” by Deep Blue Something

Song year: 1995

This upbeat alternative rock hit was a nod to a 1961 film of the same name and told the story of two dissonant lovers trying to make things work despite having nothing in common. The use of repetition in this song is the key to how it plays out, and lyrically it's fun to sing along to.

“Breakfast at Tiffany's” might be the band's only notable song, but it's all they needed to solidify themselves on music charts worldwide.

“How Bizarre” by OMC

Song year: 1996

Composed and sung by New Zealand group OMC, “How Bizarre” was a one-hit sensation with a pleasant personality and calming atmosphere. The artist's soft talk-singing and the background trumpets make this piece a treat for the ears, and although the melody is relatively simple, the song's vibes couldn't be further from lackluster.

What's truly “bizarre” about this song is how it's remained popular almost three decades later. It's made numerous cameos in various movies and TV shows and has recently become a viral song on the popular social media platform TikTok.

Not that we're complaining.

“Macarena” / “Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)” by Los Del Rio

Song year: 1993

Do you want to talk about viral sensations that won't die no matter how many times you sing the song and dance the dance? You can't have that discussion without talking about the “Macarena.”

The “Macarena” by Los Del Rio is a strange case of a song that was popular when it came out and has since maintained a steady stream of notoriety. Even today, the tune gets played on cruises, children's birthday parties, and various events across the United States.

It's probably because the lyrics are contagiously catchy, and the dance is always fun but we won't see this song go away anytime soon, if ever.

“What's Up?” by 4 Non-Blondes

Song year: 1993

We all love “What's Up?” for a whole bunch of reasons. For one, the song is simply immaculate. The acoustic repetition and the electric guitar strumming make a great background to the full-bodied vocals of 4 Non-Blondes lead singer Linda Perry.

Furthermore, the song delivers a high degree of energy, despite being a slow-paced tempo. It's one you love to sing and one you can't help but sing when it comes on the radio.

Yeah, He Man's “version” of “What's Up?” is a foundational building block to internet culture, but we're going to have to take our hat off for the original, which never seems to disappoint.

“Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies

Song year: 1994

“Possum Kingdom” was an alternative rock hit in America, and although it never hit a wider global audience, it's still often regarded as one of the best one-hit wonders of the 90s.

Vibrant and full of harsh electric guitar noises, the Toadies were on to something when they created this signature sound. Sure, many have tried to replicate what they had done, but none hit close enough to home without deviating too much from their style.

All we can do is listen to this track on repeat, daydreaming of a possum kingdom.

“B*tch” by Meredith Brooks

Song year: 1997

It's hard to use curse words in the title of your song and find viral success, but Meredith Brooks pulled it off better than anyone else. She smashed the quota as her hit song rose to number two on the billboard top 100 and held that position for four weeks. Eventually, it would rank 79 in VH1's “100 Greatest Songs of the 90s” and receive numerous awards.

So what's so great about this song? Well, for starters, the sassy lyrics are timelessly applicable to any age and are more relatable today than 20 years ago. There's also something satisfying about how the song progresses into the bridge and delivers an impactful chorus.

“Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of…)” by Lou Bega

Song year: 1999

You might not recognize the song from the start, but once it reaches that iconic string of lines, you'll instantly say, “oh, I know this one.”

Combining mamba and jazz with elements of Latin pop, Lou Bega's “Mambo No. 5” is a strange mix, but it’s one that works. Also, the reception it received was insane. In addition to topping the charts in over 20 different countries and getting certified in platinum and gold worldwide, it brought the mamba genre back into the spotlight, a style of music that hadn't been prominent since the 50s.

“No Rain” by Blind Melon

"No Rain" by Blind Melon

Song year: 1992

Another highly-ranked song on various global charts is “No Rain” by Blind Melon.

Despite the happy-go-lucky tune and cheerful style, the song tackles themes of depression based on the singer's own experiences. It shows how a simple composition of instrumentals and singing can have a much more complex meaning than what you see on the surface.

And even if it's not a song you directly relate to, you have to admit that it's pretty soothing to listen to.

“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer

Song year: 1997

“Kiss Me” was a hit single by Sixpence None The Richer, which received international success for its alt-rock sound that often got compared to the iconic English band, The Sundays.

With romantic themes and a dreamy style, “Kiss Me” has become an intricate part of 90s movie soundtracks as it got used in the 1999 romantic comedy She's All That, as well as in the teen drama Dawson Creek.

“Barbie Girl” by Aqua

Song year: 1997

“Barbie Girl” isn't on this list because of its deep, complex lyrics or ground-breaking musical style. No, we've placed Aqua's super-hit on our list because of how undeniably iconic, world-renowned, and endlessly fun it is.

Regardless of how out of style this genre of music becomes, fans continue to sing this song like there's no tomorrow simply because it's a blast to do so.

When you're looking for a shamelessly brazen song to audaciously scream at your next karaoke night, people will sigh and then laugh as you choose “Barbie Girl.”

“What is Love” by Haddaway

Song year: 1993

Considered a staple in Euro-pop and classic electro-dance, Haddaway's “What is Love” is a funky mix of suave vocals and synthetic beats. It topped the charts in quite a few countries on debut and has since received numerous accolades, most of which come from America.

You'd think a song like this would've died out by now, but it has been kept alive and revived by popular culture on numerous occasions through TV, video games, films, a Weird Al Yankovic parody, and that infamous Jim Carrey Saturday Night Live Sketch.

“MMMbop” by Hansen

Song year: 1997

You can't talk about one-hit wonders without mentioning Hansen. These kids had a short time in the spotlight, but they made the most of it with one of the catchiest choruses ever and an addictively sweet melody.

This song was by far Hansen's most successful tune as it reached number one on the charts in 12 countries, two Emmy nominations, a number 20 spot on VH1's “100 Greatest Songs of the 90s”, and seven platinum certifications. And that's just the surface.

“Inside Out” by Eve 6

Song year: 1998

Popular amongst the American rock and alternative rock communities, “Inside Out” by the band Eve 6 was a sensational hit across the states. It's a solid rock track with a lot of emotion behind it and those slick electric guitar licks we love from the genre.

Classic rock songs like this make us want to take a time machine back to the 90s.

“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind

Song year: 1997’

Yet another 1997 one-hit wonder that still veers its head in baseball stadiums and at events everywhere, “Semi-Charmed Life” is that happy-go-lucky jam we love to listen to when we're good and happy.

The song received a positive reception from popular magazines such as Rolling Stones and Washington Post and ranked pretty high on the charts. Most known for being a gleeful and “sunshine-y” track, Third Eye Blind's hit is a cherished rock anthem even to this day.

“I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

Song year: 1988/1993

While this song technically debuted in 1988 in the UK, it wasn't until 1993 that it got released in America. Given how much of a beloved song it is, we'll count it. Plus, it didn't reach critical reception until later, anyway.

Frankly, “I'm Gonna Be” is a pretty goofy track at its base, but that's why we love it. It has the innate ability to illuminate any dreary car ride or karaoke night and is the ultimate feel-good track.

In addition to the one-hit wonder's billboard success, it has been featured in various forms of media and has had a prominent cultural impact over the years. The Proclaimers also released another version in 2007, where they replaced the word “walk” with “roll” since two of them were in wheelchairs.

“Jump Around” by House of Pain

Song year: 1992

How could we forget this classic 90s hip-hop groove? We didn't. Three decades later, no one can.

“Jump Around” was a globally successful rap track that became a significant player in the influence of rap and hip-hop. Once this high-energy, fun song comes on, you can immediately recognize it from that unique siren sound that echoes throughout and those simple yet iconic chorus lines.

Like most rap songs from the time, it is highly regarded as cheesy by today's generation, but that doesn't stop anyone from playing or loving it.

“Here Comes The Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze

Song year: 1994

Jamaican musician Ini Kamoze employed a unique fusion of hip-hop and reggae to create his most well-known hit, “Here Comes The Hotstepper.” While many people may not know the song by its name or the artist, it has a famous chorus we just can't get enough of.

The song gets recognized by many lists as one of the best songs of the 90s and has made many appearances in online and televised media.

“Show Me Heaven” by Maria Mckee

Song year: 1990

With relatively high performance in worldwide billboard charts and overall positive reception from critics, “Show Me Heaven” by Maria Mckee was most successful in the UK, becoming the country's 6th highest-selling single in 1990.

Mckee's singing in this track is simply fantastic, and a symphony of pleasant background instrumentals makes everything come together. It's something you would play at a wedding, and you can't get any purer or more beautiful than this.

“Informer” by Snow

Song year: 1992

This hit reggae track was renowned for its smooth lyrical flow and snappy drum beat. The horns add a “pop” that makes the song feel jazzy, and although most of the words are unintelligible, that doesn't stop us from mumbling along.

Despite the initial idea that non-English songs wouldn't be successful amongst a predominantly pop audience, “Informer” exceeded expectations and rose high in the charts around the world. It received praise from various critics and was received exceptionally well in Europe.

Even if we can't understand what's going on with the lyrics, we love “Informer” nonetheless.

“The Freshman” by The Verve Pipe

Song year: 1997

Not to be confused with The Verve, who sang another one-hit wonder on this list (Bittersweet Symphony), The Verve Pipe was an alternative rock band most well-known for their hit single “The Freshman.”

The song peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and covered the controversial topic of abortion. It's an intense and meaningful composition with driving guitar riffs and a steady progression to the bridge.

“The Freshman” isn't something to listen to when you're happy, but when you need a good cry, you can bet it's on the top of your playlist.

“One of Us” by Joan Osborne

Song year: 1995

Roach Parisien compared this song to Neil Young's style as a simple, faith-based tune with pleasant vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. It topped the charts in four different countries and made the top 100 in at least 20 more.

Joan Osborne is otherwise unknown by current music listeners, but her iconic line (you probably know the one) still stands today as it gets constantly referenced in pop culture and other songs.

Although “One of Us” made its debut by Osborne, it was actually written by Eric Bazilian, who once admitted he wrote it to “impress a girl.”

“Steal My Sunshine” by Len

Song year: 1999

“Steal My Sunshine” was an indie pop song by Canadian alt-rock band Len. It's another one of those bright, feel-good tracks with positive lyrics and vibrant undertones.

It was produced early in 1999 and became a staple of all 90s music as a sensational one-hit-wonder. Funnily enough, the group was given $100,000 to shoot the music video, which they used to fly to Dayton Beach and buy tons of alcohol. They shot the scenes there, but it makes you wonder how much they actually used to produce the video.

“Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground

Song year: 1997

Probably the most well-known post-grunge song of the 90s, “Sex and Candy,” was a commercial hit in the United States and certain parts of Europe (and Australia).

With slow, psychedelic melodies and trawling vocals, the track delivers an impressively captivating measure filled with memorable lyrics and complete singability. It's a song punk rock kids and classic rockers can both enjoy.

“Whoomp! (There it is)” by Tag Team

Song year: 1993

No way we were going to leave this one out.

No matter how often the song provocatively pops into parties and large-scale gatherings, we can't deny its catchiness and sheer unadorned charisma.

“Whoomp! (There it is)” was highly successful on the US Billboard Top 100 charts, peaking at number 2 and remaining in that spot for the end-of-the-year charts.

What song could have possibly outdone the popular and impactful hip-hop track? Unfortunately for Tag Team, it just happened to release its hit single the same year as Whitney Houston released “Will Always Love You,” so yeah. The song understandably and impressively took a number 2 spot in 1993.

“Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn

Song year: 1991

“Walking in Memphis” received an Emmy nomination in 1992 and was Marc Cohn‘s only song that made the top 40 (13th spot) in the US Billboard Hot 100 ranking.

It's a lovable tune with a beautiful piano accompaniment and addictively appealing vocals. It got covered by Cher in 1995 and Lonestar in 2003. In an interview, Cohn stated that his hit track was autobiographical and had heavy Jewish-gospel inspirations.

Additionally, several songs were based on “Walking in Memphis,” including the Saturday Night Live parody “Walking in Staten.”

“You Get What You Give” by New Radicals

Song year: 1998

Last but not least, we've got the power pop, alt-rock one-hit wonder “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals. Considered the 67th greatest one-hit wonder of all time by VH1 and used for Doug Emhoff's walk-off during Joe Biden's 2021 inauguration, the song has a long-lasting legacy to this day.

Once you get down to it, this song has incredibly unique vocals and complex lyrics, which were adored by the media during its time. It ranked pretty high on global charts and remains a profound part of the 90s, even over two decades later.

It doesn't get more 90s than this, does it?

Top One Hit Wonders Of The 1990s, Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it! These were our picks for the best one-hit wonders of the 90s!

It just goes to show that even though we can go back to this golden era of music, we can still enjoy the plethora of fantastic hits birthed from this amazing time.

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