The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 897: Alt-Rock One-Hit-Wonders of the 90s, part 1

Artists who manage to have one and only one hit songs are often the butt of jokes. Getting tagged as a one-hit-wonder certainly can be a career-killer. But let’s turn this around: How many hits do you have?

There is so much music out there, so much competition for our attention, that if you manage to break through all the noise just once, that should be considered a giant victory. And remember, too, that thanks to streaming and the tens of millions of songs available at our fingertips, today’s artists are not only competing with their peers and contemporaries but with the whole of humanity’s history of recorded muisc.

So let’s consider being a one-hit-wonder a genuine accomplishment. And while that artist might burn brightly and then quickly fade, it is possible that one song is all you’ll need to set you up with some nice royalty cheques for the rest of your life. So what if you’re the answer to a trivia question?

Some of these acts, however, are gone forever. Others have moved on to other things. And others keep plugging away, hopping that lightning strikes twice.

Here are some stories of alt-rock artists who hit it big exactly once.

Songs heard on this program:

  • Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Scooby Snacks
  • Marcy Playground, Sex and Candy
  • Semisonic, Closing Time
  • Chumbawamba, Tubthumping
  • Mazzy Starr, Fade into You
  • The La’s, There She Goes
  • Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta
  • Spacehog, In the Meantime
  • The Flys, Got You (Where I Want You)

As usual, Eric Wilhite has done a playlist for us. (For some reason, Harvey Danger isn’t on Spotify. Go figure.)

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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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