One Hit Wonders
of the 90s
By Mike Diez
Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like wearing those elephant pants once again. Some days I’m really tempted to rock those babies once more, put a chain on my wallet, step into my Superstars and walk the street in my Oakleys. Alas, better judgement would always prevail. And although I have fond memories of these getup, I know that, with the exception of Superstars (and arguably Oakley), these horrid fashion relic would never again see the light of day.
Aside from truly laughable wardrobe, the 90s has also seen its share of incredible one-hit wonders. Incredible in the sense that these songs were inescapable then; jeez, were they ever. Stars were built to last back then, unlike these days when even talentless hacks can have their share of the limelight.
Here is a list of some 90s one-hit wonders to jam to as you debate in your head whether those elephant pants need to see the light of day. Unlike those pants, these songs are actually not bad.
OMC – How Bizarre
Released in 1995, this rap-mariachi hybrid made millionaires out of OMC band members. As old tales of new-found fame and ill-advised financial management go, internal squabble did the group in. Vocalist Paul Fuemana embarked on a solo career soon after. He was not able to release even one album since. He died in 2010, leaving behind this incredibly catchy tune as his legacy to the world.
Lou Bega – Mambo #5
“Ladies and gentlemen…” with that recognizable intro, Lou Bega was able to turn this 1940’s classic all his own. It was the tail end of the 90s, and “Mambo Number 5” ushered in the turn of the century with a little bit of Monica, a little bit of Erica, a little bit of Rita, a little bit of Tina, Sandra, Mary and Jessica. Bega must have burned himself out afterwards, as he was not able to have another hit after this fling with the charts.
House of Pain – Jump Around
This song was the party anthem of 1992. To this day, the song is instantly recognizable. You can still catch the tune being played in sports arenas. Frontman Everlast became a one-hit wonder himself when upon disbanding the group he found his own 15-minute of fame with the hit song “What It’s Like” in 1998.
Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
Mention Eagle Eye Cherry, and “Save Tonight” will surely come up. It’s the only hit he’s ever had. Discerning music fans would know that he’s the half-brother of Neneh Cherry (who herself was a big name in the 90s). Even more discerning fans would know that Eagle Eye Cherry is his real name. What a hoot. Or maybe his parents were, hence the name.
The Verve Pipe – Freshmen
“Freshmen” was such a hit for The Verve Pipe that they recorded it a number of times just to keep the streak going. First released as a somber acoustic track in 1992, the band re-recorded it in 1997. They probably thought they had something here, so they re-recorded it three more times that year, with a version recorded with another producer, another version for radio, and another version with slightly reworded lyrics. In hindsight it was probably a great idea, as the song became the anthem of a generation who would later on push the emo genre to mainstream success in the new millennium.
The Breeders – Cannonball
The Breeders was formed as a supergroup of sorts in the late 80s. Breeders’ vocalist Kim Deal, who was the bassist of 90s superstars The Pixies, formed the group together with Tanya Donelly, frontwoman of another stellar band from the 90s, Throwing Muses. However, soon after the single “Cannonball” was released, Donelly opted out. Despite the single being a hit among grunge fans, The Breeders never really took off. Nirvana tried to raise their popularity by having The Breeders as their front act in 1992, but not even Nirvana can take them to 7th heaven.
Haddaway – What is Love
House music became huge in European clubs in the 90s, and Haddaway found a perfect vehicle to ride that wave with “What is Love”, released in 1993. The song would later find itself being immortalized even more when Saturday Night Live cast members Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell would use “What is Love” in their sketch The Roxbury Guys. By the time the movie A Night at the Roxbury came out, everyone was already bobbing their heads on to their car windows every time the song plays on the radio.
Chumbawamba – Tubthumping
Were they really singing “Pissing the night away?” Perhaps in the context of the band as a bunch of anarchists, the line can be considered tame. They were quoted once in an interview that they are happy when cops get killed, and advised their fans who can’t afford to buy their CDs to steal them from large chains such as HMV and Tower Records (RIP). Guess they’re happy now. ###
Which one-hit wonder act of the 90s are you most fond of? Share them with us below!