Seven Lost One Hit Wonder Classics from the 90s
WORDS BY JASPER BRUCE
The one-hit wonder occupies a special place in all of our hearts. It's a musical shape-shifter; sometimes good for a laugh, sometimes good for cruising with your mates, and always good to remind us to “stop, collaborate and listen” (in that order).
Whilst there are probably 1000+ amazing tracks that could fit the bill of lost “one-hit wonder” classics, there was undeniably one period of musical history that yielded some truly iconic and overlooked bangers. I speak, of course, of the 1990s.
Strap in. To paraphrase Chumbawumba, “you'll be singing, when you're reading”.
#7: HOW BIZARRE- OMC (1995)
Kiwi group OMC's lone hit perfectly tows the line between serious and silly in, well, “bizarre” fashion. OMC is an acronym for “Otara Millionaires Club”, a shout-out to one of the poorer suburbs of Auckland and the hometown of the band. The video clip alone makes this track worth its salt. I mean, unannounced breakdancing, Hawaiian shirts and jarring lighting shifts? I’m sold.
#6: YOU & ME SONG- THE WANNADIES (1994 AND THEN AGAIN IN 1996)
No list of one-hit wonders would be complete without a Scandinavian super-hit. The Wannadies' “You & Me Song” was such a signature of the Swedish group's catalogue that they decided to re-release it in 1996. That turned out to be a good move, as the track burst into the UK top 20 upon re-issue. It even got a 15 second shout-out in Baz Luhrmann's film Romeo & Juliet. It remains an upbeat tune truly worthy of montage sequences and road trip playlists alike.
#5: ASSHOLE- DENIS LEARY (1993)
Unlike the artists behind most one-hit wonders, Denis Leary doesn't appear on “Where Are They Now?” TV specials. The man behind “Asshole” spends his time as a comedian, actor, and that sabertooth tiger in the Ice Age film series. The track can only be described as a rant with musical accompaniment. The somehow catchy chorus, which is basically just “I'm an asshole” repeated over and over again, and the overall gritty energy of the hit, won the hearts of Triple J listeners when it topped the first ever Hottest 100 countdown. The bombastic tune beat out Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to take out the top honour.
#4: CAN YOU DIG IT?- THE MOCK TURTLES (1991)
The Mock Turtles turned up in 1991 to ask listeners if they could “dig it” before promptly disappearing, presumably due to their overwhelming level of satisfaction with the answer fans provided. The single surged into the top 40, a feat that could not be equalled by any of the group's later offerings. With '60s inspired vocals and moving bass lines to match, perhaps the band fronted by Steve Coogan's brother (I wish I was making that up) would have been “dug” even more if they had posed their timely question twenty-five years earlier.
#3: NO RAIN- BLIND MELON (1992)
In the year after Denis Leary “used public toilets and pissed on the seat”, Blind Melon delivered a powerfully emotional track that many look back on fondly. It's even gotten to the point where people have tried to deny that Blind Melon are a one-hit wonder, which I suppose would mean that “No Rain” isn't as ‘lost’ as some of the other songs on this list. Even so, the track's understated melancholia and the way it seems to have slipped past radio airplay in our times (get on it, Triple M), makes it a justified inclusion.
#2: PLACE YOUR HANDS- REEF (1997)
Some may claim that Reef are not actually a one-hit wonder, but this track remains their only single to chart in the Top 40 outside their native UK, so I'm going to count it. “Place Your Hands” blends southern rock influences, driving bass lines and questionable vocal technique to make for a classic pump-up track. Incidentally, Reef are currently preparing to support Coldplay in their June UK stadium tour. If I were them, I'd be placing my hands on the exit door as soon as Chris Martin's lads take to the stage.
#1: BRIMFUL OF ASHA- CORNERSHOP (1997)
“Grim poodle basher? Bream noodle sanger?” The enigmatic lyrics of this track's chorus stump shower-singers even to this day. “Brimful of Asha” is in fact a commentary on the Indian film scene, the eponymous “Asha” being a well-known playback singer in hundreds of Bollywood flicks. It wasn't until Norman Cook, a.k.a, Fatboy Slim, re-mixed the track in 1998 that it rose to fame both in England and internationally. To this day, the track has cemented Cornershop's place as one of the most successful British-Indian rock bands of all time.