Music has played a prominent role in society for centuries and has always influenced popular culture. From the emergence of rock and roll in the late 50s to the grunge scene of the early 90s, music has guided the fashion, communication, and attitudes of many eras. Well-known artists have always had the biggest impact on society, but there are also some famous one hit wonders that have helped to shape popular culture as we know it.
by Bobby McFerrin
This 1988 one hit wonder has become a catchy, light-hearted tune that continues to find its place in American culture. The song was briefly used in Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign until McFerrin protested the usage, and has been heard in dozens of movies, advertisements, and television shows. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is still a popular cover song by artists from all genres.
Released in 1997 by British punk band Chumbawumba, “Tubthumbing” has become an iconic pub song in popular culture. The one hit wonder is the theme song of the World Cup 98 video game and has been covered by a number of artists, including Alvin and the Chipmunks. Astronaut Sandra Magnus woke up to “Tubthumping” before the final flight of the Space Shuttle in July, 2011.
by the Surfaris
Since the original release of this one hit wonder in 1963, “Wipeout” has appeared in nearly 2-dozen different films and television shows, as well as several video games. It reached number 12 on the Billboard charts in 1987 when it was remade by the Beach Boys and the Fat Boys, and was also covered by Animal from the Muppets. The brassy instrumental sounds of “Wipeout” are a common part of high school football games.
An unforgettable music video played a big role in making “Take on Me” a one hit wonder in the US. The video, combining comic book animation with live action, aired for a month before the song was released on radio. “Take on Me” was number 10 on Billboard’s top 100 songs of 1985 and has been covered by a variety of bands in several countries, including a French punk version and a South Korean pop singer’s rendition.
by House of Pain
Still a dance club favorite, “Jump Around” debuted in 1992 and has become part of many traditions in popular culture. The one hit wonder is Brian Wilson’s theme song during Giants games and is associated with North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball as well. The Wisconsin Badgers have brought the most recognition to “Jump Around”, even incorporating the title in some unofficial team clothing.
Music will always be a part of society. Certain songs will continue to earn unforgettable positions in culture. The 5 famous one hit wonders mentioned above will live on through the decades to come as they repeatedly shape popular culture as we know it.