Top 5 One-Hit Wonders That Defined the ’10s

Every decade has its one-hit wonders. The term originated in the 1950s, and was used to describe a band that released one well-charting song before breaking up or fading into obscurity. It cemented its place as household jargon in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, as it was used to describe acts like Free, a-ha, and Spacehog. The one-hit wonder experience is amusingly  portrayed in the 1996 Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do!, which is about the rapid rise and fall of a fictitious band, The Oneders, from rural Pennsylvania.

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While the term isn’t thrown around quite as much as it once was, the industry trend continues to this day. From Foster the People to AWOLNATION, here are five one-hit wonders who left a short-but-sweet mark on 2010s music.

1. Foster the People (“Pumped Up Kicks“)

Foster the People burst onto the alternative scene in 2010, with the single “Pumped Up Kicks.” The hipster classic is centered on distorted vocals and shuffling drums. It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, arriving ahead of the album Torches, which also featured smaller hits like “Helena Beat” and “Call It What You Want.” But Foster the People quickly faded into obscurity after that record, and “Pumped Up Kicks”’ mainstream appeal eventually dwindled when listeners realized the lyrics were sung from the perspective of a high school shooter.

2. Passenger (“Let Her Go“)

Passenger’s tender 2012 single “Let Her Go” is a coffee shop classic. The metaphor-heavy lyrics about missing a dead ex are poignant. But the English folk project never followed the success of that song, which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even so, “Let Her Go”’s beauty lives on.

[RELATED: 4 One-Hit Wonders That Defined the ’00s]

3. Vance Joy (“Riptide“)

“Riptide” is such a recognizable hit that it’s absurd to think Vance Joy never had another one near its caliber. The semi-autobiographical song has an epic, almost-nautical feel. It only peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, but one will hear its jaunty chords strummed by hobbyist guitarists for years to come.

4. AWOLNATION (“Sail“)

AWOLNATION quickly found fame when the single “Sail” blew up on alternative radio stations and YouTube in 2011. The gruff electro-rock hit peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, and racked up over 400 million YouTube plays after a fan-made video went viral. But the Los Angeles outfit hasn’t reached that same level of success since. AWOLNATION’s second-most popular single on Spotify has almost 700 million fewer plays than “Sail” as of this writing.

5. Of Monsters and Men (“Little Talks“)

Icelandic rockers Of Monsters and Men took over alternative airwaves in 2011 when they released the single “Little Talks.” The song is about a couple who can’t seem to hear each other out. It features a neo-baroque arrangement, heavy on the horns. While they didn’t hit the same stride again, “Little Talks”’ soaring trumpet line and flowery lyrics are a timeless relic of the early days of radio-friendly indie rock.

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