Music History

A Selection of Alt-rock One-Hit Wonders from the 2000s

[Here’s a guest post by Phoeby Baxter, who went back through some charts to find some one-hit-wonders of the 2000s. Such lists are always contentious because many of these bands also had other popular songs. That may be true, but what matters is chart placement. Yes, they may have been also known for other tracks, but they only charted with these. Feel free to comment as you see fit. – AC]

A term “one hit wonder” refers to either legendary bands or singers whom people mostly know for a single hit. Yes, there are certain alternative rock bands that have already retreated to darkness after releasing an only song. Alongside with this, one-hit wonder deserves not least attention than other hits by the prominent musicians. These songs still are very popular. That is why we need to remember these hits. Therefore, we give you alternative rock one-hit wonders of the 2000s. It is high time for you to find something exceptional in these great songs.

“The Impression That I Get”

  • Album title: Let’s Face It
  • Band: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Release date: January 27, 1997
  • Record date: 1996
  • Length: 3:14
  • Genre: Ska Punk
  • Label: Mercury Records

This marvelous song by The Mighty Mighty is considered the band`s most fruitful and widespread melody. After releasing, “The Impression That I Get” immediately topped the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 2014, this song received Gold in digital sales – seventeen years after its issue.

“Bitter Sweet Symphony”

  • Album title: Urban Hymns
  • Band: The Verve
  • Release date: 16 June 1997
  • Record date: 1996
  • Studio: London Olympic Studios
  • Length: 5:58 (album version) 4:33 (radio edit)
  • Genre: Baroque pop, Britpop
  • Label: Hut
  • Producers: The Verve, Martin “Youth” Glover

Bitter Sweet Symphony” is a prominent hit by The Verve. The song is grounded on an Andrew Oldham orchestral variant of “The Last Time” composed by The Rolling Stones. It has the same main theme, thus being surrounded with plagiarism charges. As a result, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were added to the list of authors. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” instantaneously topped all charts in the USA. Moreover, MTV played the music video of the song regularly. At 1998 MTV Awards, the “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was selected for Best Group Video and the Best Alternative Video. In 1999, it was voted for Grammy for Best Rock Song.

“Closing Time”

  • Album title: Feeling Strangely Fine
  • Band: Semisonic
  • Release date: March 10, 1998
  • Record date: mid-1997
  • Length: 4:33
  • Genre: Alternative rock, post-grunge, power pop
  • Label: MCA
  • Producer: Nick Launay

Closing Time” is Semisonic`s signature song. Dan Wilson composed this Grammy-nominated best rock song in 1999. It immediately topped Modern Rock Tracks. “Closing Time” is dedicated to people leaving a pub when it is high time to close. Critics say that Wilson wrote this song in the hope of parenthood. This one hit wonder is regularly used on radio stations such as TX and KDGE. For example, some US radio stations had been playing “Closing Time” on a circle from November 16 to Nvember17, 2016, to indicate the end of the alternative rock era.


  • Album title: The Guest
  • Band: Phantom Planet
  • Release date: February 2002
  • Record date: 2001
  • Length: 3:14
  • Genre: Power pop, indie rock
  • Label: Epic
  • Producers: Tchad Blake, Mitchell Froom

For the very first time, people heard “California” on episode 8 of “Fastlane” TV-show. After it, the band got much devotion when it became the heading melody on the triumph “The O.C.” TV-show. The song itself is dedicated to driving on Route 101 in the USA. This amazing one hit wonder became extremely popular in the UK, Austria, Ireland, and Italy. The musicians of Phantom Planet told that they were happy to be born to compose just one amazing single.

“You Get What You Give”

  • Album title: Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too
  • Band: New Radicals
  • Release date: November 10, 1998
  • Record date: 1998
  • Length: 5:00
  • Genre: Pop, power pop, rock
  • Label: MCA Records
  • Producer: Gregg Alexander

You Get What You Give” is the most successful single from “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too” LP. Being an international hit, it was ranked #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. The song was also very popular in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand. In one of his numerous interviews, U2 top guitarist David Howell Evans told that he should have composed “You Get What You Give” single.

“Stacy’s Mom”

  • Album title: Welcome Interstate Managers
  • Band: Fountains of Wayne
  • Release date: September 29, 2003
  • Studio: Stratosphere Sound (New York)
  • Length: 3:19
  • Genre: Pop Rock
  • Label: S-Curve
  • Producers: Chris Collingwood, Adam Schlesinger

Stacy’s Mom” is another alternative rock one-hit wonder of the 2000s. It became the Fountains of Wayne’s highest-charting single in the United States (#21 on Billboard). Furthermore, this hit entered TOP-10 in Canada, Ireland, Australia, and the UK. “Stacy’s Mom” was also selected for Grammy for Best Vocal Pop Performance. Unfortunately, “Stacy’s Mom” was the single popular song by Fountains of Wayne.

“Wherever You Will Go”

  • Album title: Camino Palmero
  • Band: The Calling
  • Release date: June 4, 2001
  • Record date: 2001
  • Length: 3:29
  • Genre: Post-grunge, Alternative rock
  • Label: RCA
  • Producer: Marc Tanner

Wherever You Will Go” has been the unique and up-and-coming hit of The Calling. After its release, this one-hit wonder for 23 successive weeks topped Adult Top 40. Later, the Billboard magazine called this hit #1 of the era on the Adult Pop Charts. According to a songwriter Aaron Kamin, with years “Wherever You Will Go” becomes more related to our lives as the world has transformed lately. It is the real anthem of sadness.

“Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”

  • Album title: The Madding Crowd
  • Band: Nine Days
  • Release date: 2000
  • Record date: 2000
  • Length: 3:11
  • Genre: Alternative rock, power pop
  • Label: Epic
  • Producers: Nick DiDia

Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” entered TOP-10 with plenty of charts, counting the Billboard Hot 100 chart (#6). The lines of “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” depicts John Hampson’s feelings to his sweetheart, regardless of her sorrow and tears. At that time, this single became a never-ending testimony of love between Hampson and his fiancée.


  • Album title: The Gift of Game
  • Band: Crazy Town
  • Release date: November 13, 2000
  • Record date: 1999
  • Length: 3:36
  • Genre: Rap rock, hip-hop
  • Producers: Josh Abraham, Bret Mazur

Butterfly” is another famous one hit wonder. It immediately became #1 in many countries including the USA. “Butterfly” has a tune of the prominent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers melody “Pretty Little Ditty” released in 1989. In 2009, Billboard ranked “Butterfly” #3 for the greatest one-hit wonders of the 2000s.

“Young Folks”

  • Album title: Writer’s Block
  • Band: Peter Bjorn and John
  • Release date: 7 August 2006
  • Record date: 2006
  • Length: 4:38 (album version), 4:05 (single version)
  • Genre: Indie pop, sunshine pop, folk pop
  • Label: Wichita
  • Producers: Peter Bjorn and John

Young Folks” is one of the most famous alternative rock one-hit wonders of the 2000s. It also featured Victoria Bergsman as a vocalist. Popular Swedish indie rock band Peter Bjorn and John is proud of this masterpiece. Since the end of 2006, it has received widespread airplay on such the USA radio stations as KNGY (San Francisco) and KNHC (Seattle). This song is known for its whistling. The part of the single has a tune resembling the Eastern riff.


Now you get some more information about alternative rock one-hit wonders of the 2000s. Of course, this list is not complete. You fulfill it according to your preferences. However, these songs have made a significant impact on the further development of alternative rock.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “A Selection of Alt-rock One-Hit Wonders from the 2000s

  • Not sure The Verve (and some of the others on this list) count as “one-hit wonders”. “Bittersweet Symphony” might be their biggest hit, but it’s not hard to come up with other songs by then that were popular. “Lucky Man” leapt to mind as soon as I saw the entry here, for example.

  • Stacy’s Mom by Fountains Of Wayne was written in the style of the Cars. One can hear ‘Just What I Needed’ among other Cars’ riffs in the song.


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