One-hit wonders are glorious creatures, aren’t they? They pop in, share their gem with the world, and then magically disappear. Sure, they’d love to have more hits (who wouldn’t?), but they can rest comfortably knowing that they brought something magical into the world. Thanks guys!
We’re head over heels in love with one-hit wonders here at AUX and in the mood to gush about ’em. As you may have noticed, it is now Internet Law™ that at least every third post appearing online be ’90s affiliated, so we’ve put together a 19-track collection of remarkable ’90s one-hit wonders.
It’s time to feel one-hit wonderful.
Jane Child – “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love”
Sporting the baddest nose chain in the game at the turn of the ’90s, Jane Child blessed the globe with the swirling, dirty, neon pop magic of “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love.” Think Robin Sparkles if she elected to get darker but didn’t feel like going the Robin Daggers route. Ideal for the sort of dancing where you fling yourself around the bedroom while slamming your fists on the wall WITH PURPOSE.
Deee-Lite – “Groove Is In The Heart”
It’s kinda bullshit that Lady Miss Kier wasn’t immediately made the head of a royal family after this tumbled out. On “Groove Is In The Heart,” Deee-Lite’s supremely stylish vocalist offered up regal grace and a monarch’s authority while serving as our host. As any cardiologist worth their stethoscope can tell you, Deee-Lite’s groove remains embedded into our hearts a quarter-century on. That Q-Tip feature? First fucking rate. Anyone that disagrees should be dropped into the heart of the ocean.
Wreckx-n-Effect feat. Teddy Riley – “Rump Shaker”
“All I want to do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom And a poom-poom, JUST SHAKE YOUR RUMP!” Completely blowing Sheryl Crow away in the “All I Wanna Do” idea sweepstakes, Wreckx-n-Effect can generate an immediate butt wagglin’ party whenever this tune is played at the appropriate volume. Sir Mix-A-Lot (FACT: not even a real knight) has scored more love thanks to “Baby Got Back,” but “Rump Shaker” tops it in nearly every category. Legend had it that Pharrell (a.k.a. THE ARTIST ONCE KNOWN AS SKATEBOARD P) contributed some production touches to this funky classic in his pre-Neptunes days. The actual story is that Pharrell wrote Teddy Riley’s lyrics on the track. Still neato, though.
Positive K – “I Got A Man”
Oh Positive K, will you ever find love? Our not as slick as he thinks hero tries his darndest to entice a sexy lady on the endlessly quotable hip-hop duet “I Got A Man.” “I’ll tell you that I want you, and tell you that I care,” offers the horny MC. “My man says the same except he’s sincere,” replies the object of his affection. Amazing. Adding a super strange twist to this whole thing is the quirk that Positive K recorded the female portion of the song as well with the pitch changed in the studio. Essentially, you’re hearing Positive K reject Positive K for four minutes. Be sure to have a nice think about that next time you’re baked.
(Secret Time Travel Idea: Go back in time and create a comic strip starring ambitious lothario Positive K.)
Adina Howard – “Freak Like Me”
Delightfully filthy and unimpeachably awesome, Adina Howard makes it crystal clear she has no time for lame-o dudes that are shit-tier lovemakers. This R&B masterpiece is Adina letting the world know that she needs a partner that can unleash the freak in her. Even if you come across the radio edit, “Freak Like Me” offers up such pure badass lust that it will melt any church within a five mile radius. It’s a track that’s so damn sexy that it’s borderline intimidating to bone to. The Sugarbabes version isn’t half bad either.
Skee-Lo – “I Wish”
The important thing to remember about “I Wish” is that Skee-Lo’s wishes are all very reasonable and you could 100000% trust him with a magic lamp. That’s a good dude, right there. In some circles “I Wish” could be considered novelty adjacent, but really it’s just a short guy pouring his heart out while simultaneously crafting a party jam that’s worthy of its own line of stamps. How many 6’9” rappers can say that? IF YOU SAY SHAQ YOU NEED TO SCAT, SKITTLE, SCABOBBLE.
Edwyn Collins – “A Girl Like You”
Roughly a decade removed from the dissolving of Scottish post-punk heroes Orange Juice, Edwyn Collins blessed us with “A Girl Like You.” A nice blend of alluring, sexy and sinister, this cut wouldn’t sound a touch out of place at a shadowy underworld dinner party. “You’ve made me acknowledge the devil in me/ I hope to God I’m talkin’ metaphorically/Hope that I’m talkin’ allegorically/Know that I’m talkin’ about the way I feel,” sings the coolest cat in the room. This tune plus Gin Blossoms’ “Til I Hear It For You” are the reason you still keep that Empire Records cassette in your parents’ garage.
Spacehog – “In The Meantime”
Spacehog frontman Royston Langdon is known for two things: 1) Being Liv Tyler’s husband for a spell, and 2) Crafting the blissfully stoned alt-rock anthem “In The Meantime.” That’s a legacy any sensible person would kill for. There’s also a side legacy in somehow making “there’s a girl that fits the crime” sound like “itza good pizza pie!” for whatever reason. Tremendous.
Donna Lewis – “I Love You Always Forever”
Christ, that bridge. I turn to rubble when it gets to that part. It feels like I’m ascending to heaven and being exploded into 10 million pieces with a twist of waiting patiently in the optometrist’s office as the piano whacks in. “I Love You Always Forever” is triple caramel coated pop enchantment from someone that we never heard from ever again. Could Donna Lewis be the Zodiac Killer? Possibly! We’ll never know because she’s evaporated into the Lite FM ether before we could look into what her deal was. Or maybe she just came with only one hit in the bag. Either way, she should be happy that 99.9% of the pop listening public would have an impossible time naming a bad Donna Lewis song. Y’know, cuz they only know the one. (PIPE DOWN “WITHOUT LOVE” MEMORY HAVERS! YOU’LL BLOW THIS WHOLE BLURB!)
The Wonders – “That Thing You Do”
In a tasteful move, The Wonders (or Oneders if you prefer) politely duplicated their one-hit wonder status in That Thing You Do! with a real life hit single. Penned by Fountains of Wayne songwriter Adam Schlesinger, this irrepressibly peppy power-pop number has the mystical quality of sounding as though it tumbled through some sort of time portal equipped with a ’90s gloss filter. Somehow “Lovin’ You Lots and Lots” failed to catch on with the public.
The Cardigans – “Lovefool”
“So I cried and I begged you to…” If you’re going to devastate your audience, you might as well be chipper about it. Nina Persson plays the role of a (Nina) pers(s)on that’s desperate to cling to a doomed relationship even if the other’s half moved along. It’s probably the most Swedish pop smash you could ask for outside of Mats Sundin’s 2002 chart-topper “Skarsgårdian Smörgåsboard (Cock Thumpsberg Death Mix).” “Lovefool” is such a shimmering work of art that it’s almost unfair to the other pop numbers that came out around the same time. It’s even better if you sing your lungs out to it while sobbing uncontrollably in front of a mirror.
White Town – “Your Woman”
Oddly familiar yet completely new, it was like “Your Woman” was dropped off from another galaxy with a bow and a note that reads “This has topped the Rigel 7 charts for the past 30 weeks. Enjoy!” Sure, it was actually Jyoti Mishra weaving magic with a remarkable taste in ’30s era samples, but it still sounds like a universe unto itself.
Mark Morrison – “Return Of The Mack”
When will the Mack return again? We’ve all been worried sick and setting a plate for him at every single dinner. “Return Of The Mack” showed that super cool mystery R&B guys from the UK can get their heart broken sometimes and the results are the stuff of legend.
IMPORTANT: We must never forget that Mark Morrison once hired a lookalike to do his court-appointed community service while on tour.
Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn”
Jesus may have turned water into wine, but could he turn THIS into THIS? Weep in awe of Imbruglia the Redeemer. The original Ednaswap version of “Torn” is a shitcaked monstrosity (maybe that’s a bit harsh), but Natalie Imbruglia’s version is an absolute miracle.
Speaking of “Torn,” why dump billions of dollars into weapons for the military when you can just blast this tune in the direction of our future enemies? They’ll be floating in a puddle of their tears and penning “I’ve made a huge mistake and I miss you” emails in their Gmail drafts in no time. Conflict resolved, zero bloodshed and we can all smile while wet checks while air guitaring as the song comes to a close.
Jimmy Ray – “Are You Jimmy Ray?”
We’re all kinda Jimmy Ray when you think about it. We’re meaner, leaner, ain’t no inbetweener, etc. Good Lord, how amazing would pop have been if they let this nouveau retro weirdo gunslinger into the mix full time? (Even better: If his dancing duo from the video stuck around forever.) Can you unpack what the hell is going on with “Are You Jimmy Ray?” beyond bizarre brilliance? Of course you can’t. No one can. Just know that this is a cosmic gift and EVERYBODY JUMP BACK TURN AROUND NOW LET’S DO IT AGAIN!!!
Pras feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Mya – “Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)”
“Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)” made perfect sense at the time, but geez Louise it sure seems batshit fucking crazy roughly two decades on. It’s a soundtrack cut from Bulworth (“MORE RAPPING SENATOR WARREN BEATTY!” demanded late ’90s America) that has the least popular Fugee reworking “Islands In The Stream” with Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Mya in tow. The end product is first fucking rate complete with Pras ripping through Warren Beatty’s flesh in the accompanying video.
Stardust – “Music Sounds Better With You”
As far as French dance supergroups go, you could certainly do worse than the combo of Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe, and Benjamin Diamond. When these three combined their powers to become a Megazord by the name of Stardust, we got the unshakeably enchanting “Music Sounds Better With You.” It’s the sort of disco sorcery that prompts a lot of confident head bopping and hip loosening the moment its claws sink in. Good times, dude.
New Radicals – “You Get What You Give”
“GIVE IT TO ME NOW!” Gregg Alexander delivers one of the best (if slightly deranged) commencement speeches in all of pop with this galaxy-sized call to arms. Would you trust a suspicious looking adult in a bucket hat with your future? Probably not, but for five-ish minutes of soaring dorkout pop-rock anthem thrills we totally did. “You Get What You Give” has sort of a Tumblr ready sheen to it in 2015 even if the shopping mall rebellion of the video feels ancient and its shameless sloganeering has burnt every lyric into your brain.
Len – “Steal My Sunshine”
Leave it to Toronto’s premier vaguely incestuous brother-sister combo (plus pals!) to teach the world the true meaning of summer. Snotbubble pop for no good young’uns and anyone else that wanders into its feel good haze. Come for the expertly employed Andrea True Connection lift, stay for the butter tarts.