For every artist that manages to make a lasting career in music, there are a couple of hundred more that don’t. But even if they fail to maintain their fame, one-hit wonders have still managed to leave us with some irresistible pop moments over the years. If you’ve forgotten more about Blu Cantrell, Fountains of Wayne, or Wheatus than you ever knew in the first place, take a walk down memory lane as we look at 10 of the best one-hit-wonder songs of the noughties.
10. Nizlopi – The JCB Song
Nizlopi, an English folk duo consisting of Luke Concannon and John Parker, made a splashy but solitary entry into the UK top 10 in 2005 with The JCB Song, a song about a little kid trying to escape the school bullies by driving around with his dad on his JCB. It’s very cute, very sweet, and very, very, 2005. Even if cute’s not your thing, it’ll take a stone-cold heart not to be singing along to ‘I’m Luke I’m 5 and my dad’s Bruce Lee Drives me round in his JCB’ by the end.
9. Blu Cantrell – Hit ‘Em Up Style
In 2001, R&B singer Blu Cantrell hit the charts with Hit ‘Em Up Style, a song that extolls the virtues of hitting up cheating men for as much money as possible. The lyrics might be bitter, but it led to plenty of sweet success for Cantrell, who hit number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. After that, it was all downhill for the singer, but at least she managed to snag a Grammy nomination before she disappeared for good.
8. Fountains of Wayne – Stacy’s Mom
Fountains of Wayne released their first single in 1996; 7 years later, they made it into the top 40 for the first time with Stacy’s Mom, which peaked at number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top 10 in Ireland and the top 20 in the UK and Australia. The song, which The New Yorker described as the “second-catchiest song ever written about a girlfriend’s parent,” after “Mrs. Robinson,” became the group’s only big hit.
7. Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag
Released as the lead single from Wheatus’ self-titled debut album in 2000, Teenage Dirtbag became one of the biggest hits of the noughties, spending four weeks at the top of the charts in Australia and reaching the top five in Ireland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In 2011, it made a surprise reappearance in the UK charts, a feat it accomplished again in both 2012 and 2013. To date, it’s sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Wheatus, on the other hand, never had a big hit again.
6. Sandi Thom – I Wish I Were a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)
The fact no self respecting punk rocker would be seen dead with flowers in their hair seems to have escaped Sandi Thom’s notice, at least judging from this annoyingly catchy tune from the mid-noughties. Released as a single in 2006, it topped the charts in the UK, Australia, and Ireland. Despite harsh criticism from numerous members of the music industry and press (writing for the Guardian, Charlie Brooker went so far as to describe Thom as the musical antichrist), the song ended 2005 with a nomination for Record of the Year.
5. Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal
Taking on one of the darkest, grittiest, and most loved songs in Michael Jackson’s catalog was a brave move for Alien Ant Farm, and one that took them into the charts for the first time. Released in May 2001, Smooth Criminal spent 8 weeks at number one in Australia and reached number one on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. For all the song’s success, the band were never able to reach the same heights again, fading back into obscurity shortly after.
4. Babycakes – 3 of a Kind
3 of a Kind’s Babycakes was every shade of awful, but for whatever reason, noughties audience couldn’t get enough of it, taking the song (which writer Liana ‘Miz Tipzta’ Caruana has said was inspired by the 1989 made-for-TV movie Baby Cakes starring Ricki Lake) to the top of the charts in the UK. 3 of a Kind never released another song again… something that, considering the diabolically cringe-worthy video that went along with Babycakes, is probably no bad thing at all.
3. Daniel Powter – Bad Day
This saccharine-sweet pop confection gave Canadian Daniel Powter a global smash hit in 2005, topping the charts in the US, reaching the top five in dozens more countries, and becoming the most played song on the radio in Europe. With platinum certification from Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom and multiple awards under his belt, Powter seemed on the brink of mega-stardom. But fame is a fickle thing, and by the following year, we couldn’t have picked him out from a line-up if we’d tried.
2. Baha Men – Who Let the Dogs Out
Back in 2000, Baha Men were surfing the top of the charts around the world with Who Let the Dogs Out, a Grammy award-winning smash hit that, over 20 years later, we’re still trying to shake from our heads.
1. Nine Days – Absolutely (Story of a Girl)
Several unremarkable albums into their career, Nine Days hit the big time in 2000 with Absolutely (Story of a Girl), an upbeat pop ditty that took them to number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US and reached the top 10 in Canada and New Zealand. But while the song stirred up mainstream interest in the band for the first time in their career, it didn’t last – by the time they released their follow-up single If I Am, we’d already forgotten all about them.