Modern One-Hit Wonders (and their Parodies)

I’ve been covering bands for the last few weeks. Kind of like in a concert, when the band gets going, and plays a bunch of songs in a row without stopping. But it’s time to slow back down a bit, get back into a groove of talking about music, as well as bands.

This week, I wanted to talk about one-hit wonders. Usually, figuring out what songs are one-hit wonders requires a good deal of time to pass, so that you can look back and say that, “yep, none of their other songs ever made it big.” However, I think that makes it fun to speculate about which recent songs will end up as one-hit wonders, as the artists fade into the night.

I think that today’s day-and-age has an interesting twist to the one-hit wonder as well: YouTube and the Internet. Now, the songs are potentially big not only just as a song, but as a music video people can watch, share, and interact with. It’s the fact of interaction that I think can point the way to the one-hit wonders: songs where there’s a ton of parodies and other interaction leading to the popularity (or notoriety!) and life of the one song, but not to the artist’s career overall.

I think that in the past, Weird Al Yankovic almost single-handedly had this same effect with some songs – and may still today, with his new album. Time will tell! But let’s look at a few songs that I think are going to go down in history as one-hit wonders, and some of the parodies that lead me to think that way!

Call Me Maybe

Remember this song? Annoyingly catchy and all over the place, and I remember being surprised that it wasn’t an artist I had really heard of before – it seemed like a Katy Perry song or something like that. However, part of why this song was big was because there were so many parodies of it. I tried to avoid this one as best I could, so I don’t have a parody that stood out in my mind or that I remember. Instead, here’s a link to a basic search for parodies of this song:

The top five parodies that came up have roughly 272.5 million views between them. That’s a lot of views. And there are a bunch more parodies! Oh, and the original song has 577.5 million views. Just looking at Carly Rae Jepsen’s VEVO, I see a few other songs with a decent number of views… but nothing to touch this one song. Will history remember her as a one hit wonder? My sources say maybe.

Somebody That I Used to Know

Here’s another song that blew up, was hugely popular, and had a video which people loved to parody: “Somebody that I used to know” by Gotye. This one has 533.7 million views just for this one version.

And it’s a really artistically interesting video, and it’s a vocal duo which is always popular and different, and it’s just this interesting and unique sound… songs that meet those sorts of qualifications often don’t live up to expectations with the rest of an artist’s work. It seems to be the same with Gotye.

There’s one parody of this song I definitely remember, which was really well done both for content, topic, and for copying the art style of the original video. This one is great, if you’re any kind of Star Wars fan!


Maybe not as popular as the songs above, but “Sail” by Awolnation is a fun song. Again, it fits in the category of songs with such a unique sound that you don’t want to copy it with all of your music – but then, it makes your other music so different that people aren’t interested.

At least, I can assume that’s what happened here. After clicking “like” on Pandora with this song, I keep getting more versions of “Sail” – ones from single albums, remixes and other versions, all of these – but not really anything else by Awolnation. It’s like they only made the one song – the very definition of the one-hit wonder.

I’ve seen this song done in a number of videos with cats, but this one is great because it goes for the whole length of the song, and is just a ton of cat clips to go with it. If you like cat videos, this parody is for you: this song seems made for cat reactions.



Here’s one of the most contentious songs of recent years – young Rebecca Black uploaded “Friday” to the collective hatred of the Internet. The song sits now at 70 million views, and almost 1.4 million dislikes (to 380,000 likes). However, this is a second version of the song – according to Wikipedia, it had an original version with much more than that.

And, like the other songs, it ended up with a lot of parodies – I especially remember the Death Metal Friday version. Definitely worth a laugh.

However, Rebecca Black was 13 at the time. I cannot imagine putting something on the Internet at that age that garnered that many views, much less that much of a negative reaction. Heck, I wasn’t putting anything online at 13 – I am that far removed from the situation. So how has Rebecca Black turned out?

This video from the fine brothers over at the Fine Bros gives us a hint of an answer. It was great that they got Rebecca Black herself on to react to her own reaction video – a way to give her a voice and to say, hey, that was one of the most ridiculous learning experiences life can throw at you. I think that she has a chance, still, to have a music career, so maybe we shouldn’t write her off quite yet – or, like the negative criticism might suggest, write her off before she even started.

How about you – what other songs and artists do you think we’ll look back on and call one-hit wonders? Let me know in the comments below! And check out my other music posts on Sourcerer here!

6 thoughts on “Modern One-Hit Wonders (and their Parodies)

  1. Firstly, I think it must suck to be a one-hit wonder. Imagine all that time spent trying to catch your big break, then you think you get it – and then you just disappear. It must be a killer to the ego.

    I know Iggy Azaela has been around a bit, but “Fancy” will probably be the apex of her fame. I even like that song. “Rude” by Magic will definitely be the end for them.

    But I may not be a good authority. Back in the day, I was sure Maroon 5 would go the way of the dinosaurs. Now everywhere I turn I see Adam Lavigne!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would have to agree – actually being a one-hit wonder would be super depressing! And some seem to be and make great comebacks, or a band dissolves but the artists keep going…

      I think you’re spot-on with Fancy – especially given that it’s just gotten the Weird Al treatment…

      Thanks for sharing some predictions!


  2. Naked George Lucas! Noooo!

    Do you think these songs will stack up as time goes by? Most are recent, so there’s still some affection for them. When I think back on songs that were popular in high school, though (as I bet almost all of these are), none of them stuck around. They came out, hypnotized us with a beat or catchy lyrics, and then we slowly woke up, wondering what we had just listened to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I missed this comment, sorry!

      I don’t know with these if they’ll stick around. In some cases, I almost hope not. But still, when we think of these artists, will these be the only songs we think of? Maybe.

      And Friday is a good cautionary tale for the ages…


  3. Pingback: My Favorite Band – The Broken Bells | Sourcerer

  4. Reblogged this on DBCII and commented:

    Next up of my music posts – lots of videos! How can you spot a one-hit wonder in advance? Incredibly difficult! I try to do it by spotting a few songs with a lot of parodies – like maybe our interest had more to do with our ability to repurpose the song than in the song itself!


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