Hit ParadeSlate

Hit Parade: One and Done Edition

Why A-ha and Dexys Midnight Runners are one-hit wonders—but Vanilla Ice and Men Without Hats aren’t.

“Spirit in the Sky.” “Tainted Love.” “Come On Eileen.” “Bust a Move.” “Ice Ice Baby.” “Macarena.” The artist behind one of these chart smashes is not a one-hit wonder. Can you guess which one?

“One-hit wonder” is a popular term in our culture—and not just in music: sportscasters, Wall Street analysts and news anchors all use it. But what does “one-hit wonder” actually mean on the pop charts? Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy has thought a lot about this—and he has rules to determine who’s really a one-hit wonder. They might surprise you: Dexys Midnight Runners? They’re a one-hit wonder. Men Without Hats? Nope, not fair. Lou Reed? Yes. Marky Mark? No. In this episode, Chris breaks it all down, explaining why “Take On Me” is a pop classic but A-ha are still only one-hitters in America.

Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch.

Listen to the music we discussed in this episode: