Does the dying album mean more one-hit-wonders?

We’re seeing the slow death of the album as people show a preference for streaming individual songs. This could harken a return to the way the music industry was pre-c.1965 where singles ruled over albums. But what will this mean for the industry as a whole? If the industry (and music fans) move towards concentrating on individual songs and not an artists’ body of work, might we be entering into an era where one-hit-wonders are the norm?

Danny Fournier has some thoughts about how this might all go down.

Many believe that the album is dead. There are some holdouts that believe the album will never die, but thanks to iTunes and now the growth of streaming options like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music, we now live in a singles world.

In all the discussions and articles I’ve read or taken part in, there is one thing I’ve noticed that has never been brought up. Now that we are in a singles world and many have declared the album dead, will this new singles market lead to an increase in one hit wonders?

Wikipedia has a list of One Hit Wonders separated by the decades. In the 1980s they list 49 one-hit wonders (in the U.S.), in the 1990s there were 57, and 47 in the 2000s. The Wikipedia page wasn’t up to date when it came to listing one-hit-wonders from the 2010s but compiling the tracks listed in a variety of different Top One Hit Wonder lists found online (surprisingly none of the lists I found included Rebecca Black’s “Friday” (2011) or Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (2012), to date we have approximately 60 and with less than 2 years left in this decade are we on the road to having the most one-hit-wonders in a decade ever? I say “approximately” because any of the artists on these lists could potentially have another hit before the end of the 2010s.

Keep reading. (And excuse the fact that I’m quoted.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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