Rock’s Two-Hit Wonders

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One-Hit Wonder Songs Are Way More Famous, But I’ve Found Some Good Two-Hit Wonder Songs, which is better than one-hit wonders!

When you search for one-hit wonders on the Internet, you find pages of articles that list musicians who produced one hit song. When you search for two-hit wonders on the Internet, you find pages of articles that list musicians who produced one hit song.

No, I didn’t make a typo at the end of the second sentence above. When you search for two-hit wonders, you will find a list of ONE-hit wonders. Here are the results when you type “two hit wonders rock n roll” in the Google search function. At the bottom of the page, “Searches related to two hit wonders rock no roll” lists top 1 hit wonders, one hit wonders of the 2000s, one hit wonders 2016, one hit wonders 70s, one hit wonders of the 60s, one hit wonders 2010s, one hit wonders 2015, and one hit wonders of the 80s and 90s.

What’s going on here? Does Google have a Math problem, not understanding the difference between one and two? What’s going on is that far more music fans talk about one-hit wonders than two-hit wonders. For generations, the topic of one-hit wonders has been very popular. There is literally a book on one-hit wonders — “The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders” — and many people can instantly sing songs sung by performers who were one-hit wonders. Hey, that “sing songs sung” wording is grammatically accurate!

Right now, you might be singing “Dancing In The Moonlight” or “Blinded By The Light” or “Seasons In The Sun” or “Spirit In The Sky” or “Love Hurts” or “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or “Mississippi Queen.” You might not know instantly that those songs were performed respectively by King Harvest, Manfred Mann, Terry Jacks, Norman Greenbaum, Nazareth, Twisted Sister, and Mountain, but you know the words of their only hits as well as their names.

Now, try to sing a song by a two-hit wonder. If you’re like most people, you can’t. It sounds wrong to say that one-hit wonders and their songs are more memorable than two-hit wonders and their songs, but it might be true.

Do you want to read a list of rock ‘n’ roll two-hit wonders? Well, it took me a while, but I found several two-hit wonders. Lists of two-hit wonders are so scarce that all genres of music are grouped into the same lists while lists of rock ‘n’ roll one-hit wonders are common. In fact, the songs listed above were all on one of those lists.

The below list is based on three lists of two-hit wonders compiled by Rolling Stone magazineBeat, and a business website called Business Insider. Business Insider? Yeah, I told you two-hit wonder lists were rare. Many of the artists on the lists I found sing non-rock ‘n’ roll songs, but I made every effort to include singers who also perform rock ‘n’ roll music. Nevertheless, the below list doesn’t include several singers who were on the above lists including Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Tone-Loc, Dido, Dream, Janis Ian, and Young M.C. because they didn’t sing rock.

In the music industry, a song is a hit when it makes the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The below two-hit wonder list is in chronological order based on the year of the performer’s first hit song and includes the performer and both of the performer’s hit songs. The second song was often a hit in a different year than the first song. Each song’s Billboard Hot 100 ranking is in parenthesis.

CHRIS’  LIST OF ROCK’S TWO-HIT WONDERS

1966:
? and the Mysterians:
 “96 Tears” (No. 1); “I Need Somebody” (22)
The Left Banke: “Walk Away Renee” (5); “Pretty Ballerina” (15)

1973:
Golden Earring: 
“Radar Love” (13); “Twilight Zone” (10) . These are my favorite two.

1976
Blue Oyster Cult ” (Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (12);  “Burnn’ for You” (40)

1983:
Quiet Riot: 
“Bang Your Head” (31); “Cum on Feel the Noize” (5)
Men Without Hats: “The Safety Dance” (3); “Pop Goes the World” (20)

1984:
Dead or Alive: 
“You Spin Me Round” (11); “Brand New Lover” (15)
Animotion: “Obsession” (6); “Room to Move” (9)
General Public: “Tenderness” (27); “I’ll Take You There” (22)

1985:
A-ha: 
“Take on Me” (1); “The Sun Always Shines on TV” (20)

1986:
Cutting Crew: 
“Died In Your Arms” (1); “I’ve Been In Love Before” (9)

1989:
Tesla: 
“Love Song” (10); “Signs” (8)

1990:
Jesus Jones:
 “Right Here, Right Now” (2); “Real, Real, Real” (4)
The Rembrandts: “Just the Way It Is, Baby” (14); “I’ll Be There for You” (17)

1991:
Ugly Kid Joe: 
“Everything About You” (9); “Cat’s in the Cradle” (6)

1997:
Paula Cole: 
“Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” (8); “I Don’t Want to Wait” (11)

2001:
Five For Fighting: 
“Superman” (14); “100 Years” (28)

2005:
KT Tunstall: 
“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” (20); “Suddenly I See” (21)

2009:
3OH!3: 
“Don’t Trust Me” (7); “My First Kiss” (9)
Owl City: “Fireflies” (1); “Good Time” (18)

The musicians on my list produced four No. 1 hits — “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, “Take on Me” by A-ha, “Died In Your Arms” by Cutting Crew, and “Fireflies” by Owl City. It seems remarkable that a musician who produced a No. 1 hit could only produce one more song that was ranked as a hit, but several musicians who had a No. 1 hit never produced even one more hit.

So what song that was sung by a two-hit wonder are you singing now that you have read my list? You are welcome to tell me — and give me feedback on this article — ROCK ON!

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