Top 5 One-Hit Wonders That Defined the ’00s

Apple released the iPod on October 23, 2001. The single, now digitized and portable, became more disposable. In the days of the Sony Walkman, a CD had to be handled with care. It was something you could maybe scratch, or drop, or lose altogether. And it came in a case with a booklet of artwork, song lyrics, and credits. To music fanatics, at least, it was a valuable commodity! But the iPod was a music player and it stored data. A song being processed into 0’s and 1’s suddenly took music into the territory of simply “content.”

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The one-hit wonder phenomenon is nothing new in pop music. Critics tend to deride pop as disposable overall, and the prevalence of the one-hit wonder is often used to prove that claim. So with singles coming and going more than ever in the ’00s, the decade certainly ended up with its fair share of one-and-dones.

Oftentimes artists are unfairly lumped into the one-hit wonder category; perhaps they literally qualify for that club, but many have continued releasing great music regardless of their pop chart status. Each song below was a gigantic hit, and helped define the sound of the ’00s. Some of them facilitated short careers, while other artists used their one “hit”—which, incidentally, is one more than 99.9 percent of music hopefuls get—to continue making music regardless whether they’d top the charts again. 

1. Bad Day” by Daniel Powter

Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” was the biggest single of 2006. It spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The tune was most famously used as the elimination song on American Idol and, true-to-life, it was Powter’s own entry and elimination song on the charts. Powter never returned to the Hot 100, and was named by Billboard the Top One-Hit Wonder of the 2000s.

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You’re faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life’s been way off line
You’re falling to pieces every time
And I don’t need no carrying on

Cause you had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around

2. Butterfly” by Crazy Town

The Rick Rubin-driven rap-rock hybrid genre that began in the ’80s was alive and well in the ’00s. Crazy Town sampled the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Pretty Little Ditty” and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with the result. And, like a butterfly, the band flittered away from any future chart participation. 

Come my lady
Come, come my lady
You’re my butterfly, sugar baby
…Butterflies in her eyes and the looks to kill
Time is passing, I’m asking could this be real

3. You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt

Before his career in music, James Blunt served in the British Army. “You’re Beautiful” was the third single from his début album, Back to Bedlam. A ballad about seeing an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend on the London Underground, “You’re Beautiful” became ubiquitous in 2006, hitting No. 1 in America in March of that year. In Blunt’s rather morose song, written with Sacha Skarbek and Amanda Ghost, he ultimately loses the girl. 

You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful
You’re beautiful it’s true
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you
But it’s time to face the truth
I will never be with you

[RELATED: Top 5 One-Hit Wonders That Defined the ’10s]

4. Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley

“Crazy” was a massive hit for Gnarls Barkley, the soul duo made up of Goodie Mob’s CeeLo Green and producer Danger Mouse. “Crazy” peaked at No. 2 and was nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year. But while both Green and Danger Mouse have enjoyed plenty more success individually, Gnarls Barkley did indeed just have the one big hit.

I remember when
I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions have an echo in so much space

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Possibly

CeeLo Green is now a cultural icon and Danger Mouse is one of the biggest producers in music, working with Adele, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Norah Jones, and ASAP Rocky. Danger Mouse has won six Grammy Awards and been nominated 22 times. Green, a former judge and coach on NBC’s The Voice, has five Grammys and 18 nominations. 

5. Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega

Lou Bega, a German singer, fell in love with Cuban dance music as a teenager while vacationing in Miami. His music combines the sound of the ’40s and ’50s with modern beats and programming. 

Bega sampled a 1949 song recorded by Pérez Prado that was also called “Mambo No. 5.” “Mambo No. 5 (a Little Bit of…)” was released in late 1999 and peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but stayed high on the chart for months. Bega made his one big hit count, mamboing with every lady who would have him in the song and video:

A little bit of Monica in my life
A little bit of Erica by my side
A little bit of Rita’s all I need
A little bit of Tina’s what I see
A little bit of Sandra in the sun
A little bit of Mary all night long
A little bit of Jessica, here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man

Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images

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