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These may very well be the top one-hit-wonders of all time

Radio Insight, a newsletter that follows the radio industry’s relationship with music, embarked on a project for One Hit Wonder Day (which is September 25, if you want to circle that on your calendar for next year) to determine the top one-hit-wonders of all time.

To do this, they created what they call the Lost Factor ratings (the methodology is explained here.) When all the numbers were crunched, this is their definitive list and their “Lost Factor” rating out of 100.

  1. Percy Faith, “Theme From ‘A Summer Place’” (1960, LF 100) [NOTE: Percy Faith was Canadian)
  2. Paul Mauriat, “Love Is Blue” (1968, 99)
  3. Hugh Montenegro, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (1968, 93)
  4. Sensations, “Let Me In” (1962, 93)
  5. String-A-Longs, “Wheels” (1961, 93)
  6. S/Sgt. Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Berets” (1966, 91)
  7. Brothers Four, “Greenfields” (1960, 88)
  8. Mar-Keys, “Last Night” (1961, 84)
  9. Rebels, “Wild Weekend” (1963, 85)
  10. Inez & Charlie Foxx, “Mockingbird” (1963, 82)
  11. Ray Charles Singers, “Love Me With All Your Heart” (1964. 82)
  12. Chantays, “Pipeline” (1963, 80)
  13. Sounds Orchestral, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (1965, 75)
  14. Divine, “Lately” (1999, 70)
  15. Natural Selection, “Do Anything” (1991, 69)

Breaking things down further, here’s a look at one-hit-wonders from the 70s (quoted directly from here.)

  1. Bobby “Boris” Pickett, “Monster Mash” (1973, 63)—Ironically, the top song of the ’70s is from the ’60s as well. While Pickett’s one-hit-wonder status isn’t in dispute, the Lost Factor ranking is, because of the song’s annual resurgence. So this list will go to 11 for anybody who doesn’t include him.
  2. Chakachas, “Jungle Fever” (1972, 50)
  3. Bazuka, “Dynomite” (1975, 49)
  4. Clint Holmes, “Playground in My Mind” (1973, 45)
  5. Bells, “Stay Awhile” (1971, 44)
  6. Daddy Dewdrop, “Chick-a-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)” (1971, 34)
  7. Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps, “Baby Face” (1976, 33)
  8. Dean Friedman, “Ariel” (1977, 32)
  9. Silver, “Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang” (1976, 30)
  10. Mac & Katie Kissoon, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” (1971, 30)
  11. Dennis Coffey, “Scorpio” (1972, 29) — follow-up “Taurus” went to No. 18, but I feel OK about declaring it “not a hit” (especially since this is the bonus song)

Now let’s look at the 80s.

  1. Buckner & Garcia, “Pac-Man Fever” (1982, 59)
  2. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, “Hooked on Classics” (1982, 45)
  3. Charlene, “I’ve Never Been to Me” (1983, 31) – if it had been a hit upon its initial 1977 release, “I’ve Never Been to Me” would have just made the ’70s list
  4. Vangelis, “Chariots of Fire (Titles)” (1982, 30)
  5. Stars on 45, “Stars on 45 Medley” (1981, 26)
  6. John Schneider, “It’s Now or Never” (1981, 19)
  7. Boys Club, “I Remember Holding You” (1989, 16)
  8. Arcadia, “Election Day” (1986, 15) — Some will be reluctant to include a Duran spinoff, so I’ve extended this list as well
  9. Jan Hammer, “Miami Vice Theme” (1985, 12)
  10. Charlie Dore, “Pilot of the Airwaves” (1980, 12)
  11. Frank Stallone, “Far From Over” (1983, 8)— technically tied with Ray, Goodman & Brown’s “Special Lady,” but as the hitmaking Moments of the 1970s under another name, they technically count even less than Arcadia.

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 38514 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “These may very well be the top one-hit-wonders of all time

  • I make Jasper from the Simpsons singing his original lyrics to A Summer Place my ringtone every Memorial Day until Labor Day.

  • One hit wonders? What about Lorne Green with “Ringo.”?

  • I would have thought Barry McGuire’s, Eve of Destruction would have made that list… such a great song.


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