Reruns, foreseeable future, yada yada yada. This post is a list of the top-ranking one hit wonders for each year from 1955 through 1986, with a couple of hyperlinks added.
1955: “Let Me Go Lover”/Joan Weber (four weeks at Number One)
1956: “Moonglow/Theme from Picnic“/Morris Stoloff (three weeks at Number One) To which William Holden and Kim Novak dance, in a scene that was pretty hot for 1956. The story is told that Holden was so nervous about the scene that he had to get drunk to complete it.
1957: “Rainbow”/Russ Hamilton (one week at Number 3) Hamilton was British—from Liverpool, actually; the flipside of this, “We Will Make Love,” was the hit in the UK. Hamilton’s Wikipedia entry says “it was due to the U.S. mistaking ‘Rainbow’ to be the A-side.” I’d bet on squeamishness over the A-side’s title.
1958: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”/Laurie London (four weeks at Number One)
1959: “Sea of Love”/Phil Phillips (two weeks at Number Two)
1960: “Alley Oop”/Hollywood Argyles (one week at Number One) This was the first song played on WLS when they went to the rock format that would last for 29 years.
1961: “Mexico”/Bob Moore (one week at Number 7) I don’t believe I’ve ever heard this. Moore was a session player in Nashville; this was from an album of south-of-the-border-flavored tunes.
1962: “Party Lights”/Claudine Clark (one week at Number 5)
1963: “Dominique”/The Singing Nun (four weeks at Number One) Another reason why the British Invasion had to happen.
1964: “Popsicles and Icicles”/Murmaids (two weeks at Number 3)
1965: “The Jerk”/Larks (one week at Number 5)
1966: “Psychotic Reaction”/Count Five (two weeks at Number 5)
1967: “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead”/Fifth Estate (one week at Number 11) Early evidence of the influence wielded on pop music by weed.
1968: “Fire”/Crazy World of Arthur Brown (one week at Number Two)
1969: “In the Year 2525″/Zager and Evans (six weeks at Number One)
1970: “In the Summertime”/Mungo Jerry (one week at Number 3)
1971: “Sweet Mary”/Wadsworth Mansion (one week at Number 7) One of my all-time favorite one-hit wonders.
1972: “Sunshine”/Jonathan Edwards (three weeks at Number 4)
1973: “Dueling Banjos”/Weissberg and Mandel (four weeks at Number Two) Just nosing out “Playground in My Mind” by Clint Holmes, which did a mere two weeks at Number Two. It was the 70s, and we couldn’t help ourselves.
1974: “The Entertainer”/Marvin Hamlisch (two weeks at Number 3)
1975: “Rockin’ Chair”/Gwen McCrae (one week at Number 9) Gwen was married to George McCrae, whose “Rock Your Baby” hit Number One in the summer of 1974. They’d be the answer to the greatest trivia question ever—name the only husband-and-wife one-hit wonders—were it not for George’s “I Get Lifted,” which spent a couple of weeks in the Top 40 in early ’75.
There’s more on the flip.
1976: “Junk Food Junkie”/Larry Groce (one week at Number 9)
1977: “Float On”/Floaters (two weeks at Number Two)
1978: “I Can’t Stand the Rain”/Eruption (two weeks at Number 18)
1979: “Pop Muzik”/M (one week at Number One)
1980: “Tired of Toein’ the Line”/Rocky Burnette (two weeks at Number 8 ) Probably the worst record on this list not recorded by a nun, although “Float On” bites pretty hard, too.
1981: “Sweet Baby”/Stanley Clarke and George Duke (two weeks at Number 19) Clarke was plenty famous already as a jazz bassist, including a stint in ’70s fusion supergroup Return to Forever, before his collaboration with keyboardist Duke, which resulted in some thoroughly generic light R&B.
1982: “Chariots of Fire”/Vangelis (one week at Number One)
1983: “Puttin’ on the Ritz”/Taco (two weeks at Number 4)
1984: “99 Luftballons”/Nena (one week at Number Two)
1985: “We Are the World”/USA for Africa (four weeks at Number One) I’m putting an asterisk next to this one, unusual as it was. “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer spent one week at Number One.
1986: “Friends and Lovers”/Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson (two weeks at Number Two) The same song had gone to Number One on the country charts earlier in 1986 under a different title, “Both to Each Other,” by Eddie Rabbitt and Juice Newton.
So, to sum up, nine artists who had only one Hot 100 hit took it to Number One: Joan Weber, Morris Stoloff, Laurie London, the Hollywood Argyles, the Singing Nun, Zager and Evans, M, Vangelis, and USA for Africa. (Jan Hammer would make it an even 10.) Of those, Zager and Evans topped the charts the longest, for six weeks, which would make them, by chart performance, at least, the greatest one-hit wonder of all time.
(Originally posted on September 21, 2007.)