For almost all artists, having a hit on the US Billboard charts (most importantly the Hot 100 or pop chart) is a dream come true. The one-hit wonders may not have been able to duplicate their earlier successes, but at least they have had a hit on the Billboard Top 40, and that’s a great achievement. Many of the one-hit wonders went on with their own musical careers, moved on to focus on other projects, or fell off the radar completely.
A’Me Lorain (born Amy Trujilo) is an American singer. Formerly of the group The Family Affair, A’Me Lorain later attained solo success for her dance-pop single “Whole Wide World.” It became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Play chart and #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990. “Whole Wide World” also appeared on the soundtrack of the movie True Love.
But after only one massive hit, A’Me Lorain fell into total obscurity.
American rapper/beatbox artist Biz Markie literally struck gold with his single “Just a Friend.” Released in October 1989, it landed at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #5 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles charts. The success of “Just a Friend” helped Biz Markie’s second album The Biz Never Sleeps sell over a million copies and earn a gold disc status in 1990. The album even had a greater distinction when rock legend Lou Reed selected it as one of his “picks of 1989.”
But budding fame and success would prove to be a curse for Biz Markie. Not only was he seen as a novelty act, he was also later involved in some controversy. Pop singer Gilbert O’Sullivan sued Biz for stealing the sample of his song “Alone Again (Naturally)” on Biz’s 1991 album I Need a Haircut. This lawsuit severely hurt Biz Markie’s chances of a bigger commercial success, and from then on his career never quite recovered its old glory.
If you played the lottery during the 1990s, chances are you might have sung “I Wanna Be Rich,” perhaps as a good-luck charm. The song was performed by the R&B duo Calloway, which consisted of brothers Reginald and Vincent Calloway. They achieved their only Top 10 pop hit with the song, which was their third and final single of their album All the Way. “I Wanna Be Rich” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in early 1990s.
However, Calloway’s three following singles only managed to notch minor placings on the R&B chart. After the hits dried up, the brothers turned their focus on production work.
The now-defunct club/dance group Deee-Lite and their songs used to be really popular especially during the early to mid-1990s. Their song “Groove Is in the Heart,” the lead single off their debut album World Clique, rose to become a worldwide smash. It went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on Billboard’s dance charts. It also topped the Australian charts.
Deee-Lite also enjoyed other chart-topping dance hits such as “What Is Love,” “Power of Love,” “Good Beat,” “Runaway,” “Bring Me Your Love,” and “Call Me.” They disbanded in 1996, with all members going to their respective careers.
Faith No More is a California rock band who formed way back in the late 1970s. Despite their relative longevity on the music scene, it was only in the late 1980s and early 1990s that they began to attract some attention and chart action.
First, the single “We Care a Lot” became a minor smash. Then in 1990, they released a single called “Epic,” the single off their third album The Real Thing. Its unique combination of hard rock, funk, rap, and metal helped the single to climb all the way to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The “Epic” music video also received significant airplay on MTV. They also enjoyed other rock and alternative hits like “Midlife Crisis,” “Digging the Grave,” “I’m Easy”/”Be Aggressive,” and “Ashes to Ashes.”
Their album The Real Thing is now considered a classic metal album by critics and fans alike. Faith No More is still active up to the present, with Billy Gould, Roddy Bottum, and Mike Bordin being the longest remaining members of the group since its formation.
Hollywood band Faster Pussycat was formed in the midst of the glam metal/hair metal boom in the 1980s. They reached their peak a few years later with their second album Wake Me When It’s Over, released in 1989.
That very album marked Faster Pussycat’s departure from their original style to a blues-rock-influenced sound. It produced what would be their biggest hit “House of Pain,” which peaked at #28 on the Billboard pop chart in 1990. The single’s success helped Wake Me When It’s Over sell over a million copies and earn a gold disc.
However, when alternative rock exploded in the early 1990s, rock fans paid no more attention to Faster Pussycat’s trashy glam metal. The group split in 1993, but reformed in 2001 when the genre experienced a renewal of interest among music fans. The band has continued to tour extensively up to the present.
Toronto-born pop/dance/R&B artist Jane Child released a single called “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love,” which became a bona-fide hit in the spring of 1990. It reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #6 on hip-hop/R&B singles chart, and #5 on the dance singles chart.
Child, who is also remembered for her unusual fashion preference during that period — spiked hair, long braids and nose chain — released lesser hits such as “Welcome to the Real World,” and “All I Do.” Although she lay low for several years, Child has kept herself occupied by working on various projects, appearing in live appearances, and providing backing vocals.
Hip-hop and rap artist Mellow Man Ace (born Ulpiano Sergio Reyes) achieved the only Top 40 pop hit of his career with the single “Mentirosa.” The song is both sung in English and Spanish, and uses a sample from Santana’s “No One to Depend On” and “Evil Ways.” “Mentirosa” reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #15 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles in 1990.
Mellow Man Ace is also the younger brother of another rapper Sen Dog who is a member of Cypress Hill, where Ace himself is also an ex-member.
There are some instances when the cover version outperforms the original song — in this case, Sinead O’Connor’s version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The song was written by Prince for one of his side projects, The Family. It was released on the band’s only album (but not as a single) in 1985. Five years later, O’Connor’s arrangement of “Nothing Compares 2 U” became a massive hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100. It also went to #1 in the UK and in her native Ireland, as well as 14 other countries. Its iconic music video also won the Video of the Year on the MTV Music Awards.
Despite not being able to duplicate her monster hit, the outspoken and controversial singer has managed to maintain her career, releasing nine other albums and touring extensively.
Bingoboys are a trio of dance and hip-hop DJ’s from Vienna, Austria, formed in 1990. Their debut single “How to Dance” rose to #25 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s dance singles charts in 1991. The song contains samples of Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance,” Sylvester’s “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “Kiss” by Art of Noise (feat. Tom Jones); it also features the lead vocals of New York rapper Princessa.
Bingoboys went on to score a minor Billboard pop hit with “Borrowed Love,” also featuring Princessa.
English pop-rock singer-songwriter Chesney Hawkes notched his only major American hit with “The One and Only,” written by Nik Kershaw. The single barely made it to the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10 in 1991. It went to #1 on the UK singles chart. “The One and Only” was also featured in the opening credits of the Michael J. Fox flick Doc Hollywood. The single’s success made Hawkes a heartthrob for a time particularly in his homeland.
Despite several other minor hits in the UK, Hawkes has still maintained his status as a one-hit wonder. He is also an occasional actor.
In 1991, American freestyle singer and dancer Corina released her song “Temptation,” her fourth single overall and first single from her eponymous debut LP. The single climbed to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on Maxi Singles Sales chart. Her other next singles, however, failed to chart.
Corina is also an actress, having portrayed Frida Kahlo in the movie Cradle Will Rock (1999).
Having been an actress in the sitcom A Different World and the series Fame, actress Jasmine Guy also entered a singing/recording career. She released her self-titled debut album in 1990, which spawned three singles that included her biggest hit, “Just Want to Hold You.” That single peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #27 on the Billboard R&B singles chart that year. The album Jasmine Guy reached #143 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #38 on the R&B albums chart.
Despite a decent showing on the charts, Guy continued her acting career; she also has subsequently taken up directing.
The British-American dance-pop music trio is best known for their biggest hit “I’ve Been Thinking About You” in 1990. It was a number-one hit on both Billboard pop and dance singles charts, and #7 on the adult contemporary singles chart. It was also a big hit on the UK chart, reaching at #2.
Despite the enormous success of the song, however, the group slipped out of the mainstream. Their following releases failed to sustain their earlier success. After a change in lineup, Londonbeat went on to release several more albums and collaborated with the legendary composer and musician Deodato.
American freestyle and pop artist Timmy T (born Timothy Torres) reached the pinnacle of his short-lived success with his self-penned single “One More Try.” The ballad was a number-one hit on the Billboard pop chart and also reached #4 on the adult contemporary singles chart in early 1991. However, after releasing two albums, Timmy T fell out of the spotlight to focus on raising his own family.