It was an interesting decade for music. Given that the musical landscape and the way people consume music have arguably changed more in the last decade than ever before, it means that for some people, music is even more available than in the past. These days, you don’t even have to save your pocket money to buy a song – everything can be streamed or downloaded in a matter of seconds.
Whether a song stays on your playlist for more than a few weeks is another question – and for us, that’s what a modern one-hit-wonder represents.
Of course, the definition of a one-hit-wonder varies for everyone; for the purpose of this list, we’ve settled on “Yes, we know they may have other songs. Yes, we know they’re probably nice people. Yes, we know they undoubtedly deserve more than to be included on “pared down” lists like this one.
But can you name another song by the following artists within 5 seconds?
(You can find a Spotify playlist at the end of the article.)
“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
“Pumped Up Kicks” is electropop in its purest form. The debut single by US band Foster the People was released in 2010 and took the Billboard charts by storm. There it reserved the third place with its cheerful melody.
Behind it, however, was a dark lyric that hinted at a killing spree. However, this was denied on the part of the band. After the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the state of Connecticut in 2012, some U.S. radio stations took the song from the program.
With their biggest success to date, the band was nominated for “Best Rock Video” at the MTV Video Music Awards and “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” at the Grammy Awards. Various series and films followed in which the song was heard.
“Barbara Streisand” by Duck Sauce
In September 2010, the ultimate dance hit with the name of the famous singer “Barbara Streisand” was released. Already in the following month, the popular club track of the American-Canadian DJ duo Duck Sauce took first place in the single charts in six European countries. In Germany and England, the 2010 the-greatest-the-greatest-one-hit-wonders-of-all-times-of-all-time stormed up to number 3.
The song, which consists only of the lyrics “Barbara Streisand” and an extensive “Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo,” still invites today to hum along with a. Number 1 at iTunes Germany and the nomination at the 54. Grammy Awards in the “Best Dance Performance” category are among Duck Sauce’s biggest achievements.
The name of the song was chosen at random and only served to amuse fans.
“Too Close” by Alex Clare
Take some blues-jazz material, add some dubstep beats, mix it all with cool polyrhythms and synthesizer sounds and let an impressive soul voice ring out and voilà: Ready is the Rock anthem. Not quite.
Too Close” by British singer-songwriter Alex Clare first became known after Microsoft knocked on his door to use the song in the advertising campaign for the new Internet Explorer 9. As a result, Alex Clare sang his way to № 1 on the German charts overnight.
In the song, the Orthodox Jew from London goes in for closeness and distance and hung up his apron as a trained chef for it. This earned “Too Close” a nomination for “Best British Single” at the 2013 Brit Awards.
“Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye & Kimbra
Sad, heartbreaking, and yet infinitely passionate: This is how the million-seller by the Belgian-born and Australian-raised singer Gotye could be Performed. Not that there haven’t been numerous songs about painful breakups before, “Somebody That I Used To Know” has that certain something.
Accompanied by a sampled acoustic guitar, a wooden xylophone, and electric sound, Gotye starts the song with a calm voice until he finally picks up speed and literally screams out his disappointment with his ex. As a highlight, the falsetto voice of the New Zealand singer Kimbra interferes with her view on the relationship.
№ 1 on the Billboard charts, one gold, 51 times platinum, and two Grammy Awards for “Best Pop Duo” and “Best Album of the Year” make “Somebody That I Used To Know” the surprise song of the 2010s.
“Take Me To Church” by Hozier
“Take Me To Church” is less about religion and more about freedom and humanity and sexuality. Here, the Irish singer Hozier refers in particular to the attitude of the Catholic Church towards women and homosexuals, whom it sees as sinners. This theme is taken up in the black-and-white video, which is about two persecuted homosexual men.
At the Teen Choice Awards 2015 “Take Me To Church” was chosen as the “Most Popular Rock Song” and at the Billboard Music Awards as the “Best Rock Song”.
In Austria, Switzerland, and many other countries “Take me to Church” reached the top of the charts. In Germany, the rock song is placed at № 2.
“Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King
Elle King, daughter of actors Rob Schneider and London King, gives deep insights into her love life in the hit song “Ex`s & Oh`s” released in 2015. While she sings about the men she dumped, the song is accompanied by a guitar sound from beginning to end.
Together with the distinctive, soulful voice of the blonde US-American, the hit got a strong western style. The uptempo pop-rock song with blues-rock and alternative sounds also has elements of Southern rock. In Germany “Ex`s & Oh`s” arrived only a quarter year after release. In September 2015, Elle King rocks her way to the top of the Alternative Song Charts as the second solo woman.
Only Alanis Morissette had managed that before with her track “Ironic”.
“Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee
The intention of the Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi was to create a good mood with “Despacito”. The raps of the rapper Daddy Yankee, who also comes from Puerto Rico, gave the whole thing a lot of momentum. Released in winter 2017, the single became a hot summer hit six months later.
Influenced by Latin pop and reggaeton beats, the video, which was released in a song sung in the Spanish language about a sexual-romantic encounter with a woman. Already the first sounds of the acoustic guitar create southern flair and summer feeling.
“Despacito” is more than popular with over six billion clicks. It is the most viewed music video on YouTube of all time. The hot rhythms made it to number 1 in the charts in 22 countries. Despacito” reached gold status in Spain within a week and became the most successful Spanish-language hit single in Germany to date.
At the Teen Choice Awards, the duo won in the category for “Best Latin Song” as well as “Best Summer Song”.
“I Love It” by Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX
That the Swedes can not only produce furniture and chocolate, we know at least since ABBA and Marabou. With “I Love It,” Swedish duo Icona Pop and Charli XCX managed to sing their way into the hearts of separated couples.
The song is about how a breakup can also mean regained freedom.
Unfortunately, in contrast to her colleague Charli XCX, Icona Pop did not manage to hold on to their success. The energetic electropop song was certified four times platinum by the RIAA, reached number 7 on the Billboard HOT 100 charts, and number 3 on the German singles charts.
“Let Her Go” by Passenger
From professional street musician to international hitmaker: In 2012, British singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, made it to № 9 on the Australian hit parade with his album “All The Little Lights” and eventually to the top of the charts there as well. It was not until six months later that the Dutch were able to enjoy the soft, melancholy voice with a high recognition value.
This led to success in many parts of Europe. “Let Her Go” reached № 1 in the charts in Germany and other countries.
Passenger won the Independent Music Award for “Best Folk/Singer-Songwriter” in the “Song of the Year” category with the song, in which he sings about the emotional state during a breakup, as well as the value that is given to a relationship only after the fact.
“Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz
Isn’t it okay to buck the mainstream and go your own way, have visions and make dreams come true? Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz asked themselves this question in their chartbreaker “Am I Wrong”.
Released in April 2013 as a digital download single under the band’s old name Envy, “Am I Wrong” quickly became a Scandinavian hit. After the international release and the name change from Envy to Nico & Vinz, the song became a long-running hit worldwide. In Great Britain, the song landed at number 1, in Germany at number 3.
“Cheerleader” by OMI
The Jamaican singer OMI worked on the song “Cheerleader” for six years until it was released for the first time in summer 2012. It wasn’t until 2014, when German DJ Felix Jaehns made a remix of the song at the age of 20 at the time, that the happy-sounding electropop and deep house hit roared to the top of the charts in various countries. This included the USA as well as Germany.
This made Jaehn the second German artist to make it to number 1 in the US charts after Milli Vanilli. Twice gold, 51 times platinum, and in Germany and France diamond for falling in love with a woman who always stands by and takes care of everything like a cheerleader.
“Gangnam Style” by Psy
With “Gangnam Style” the South Korean rapper Psy managed to offer the world a glimpse into the K-pop genre. Thanks to YouTube!
In 2012, the video spread across the globe at breakneck speed and rapped its way to the top of the European and American charts. Even if most listeners probably don’t understand anything of the Korean language apart from “Hey, sexy lady”, the K-Pop Song immediately sets the mood and releases the urge to move.
In 2012, while we were dancing to the hilarious “Gangnam Style” in equestrian style, Psy was making fun of the luxurious lifestyle in the Gangnam district of Seoul. It won the “Best Video” category at the MTV Europe Music Awards and in France at the NRJ Music Awards in the “Best Music Video” and “Best International Song”. To top it off, “Gangnam Style” made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the most liked music video in YouTube history.
“Safe And Sound” by Capital Cities
The song “Safe And Sound,” which means “safe and sound,” served a video for the Diabetes Hands Foundation in the U.S. in 2011. In 2013, Vodafone Germany used the hit for its promotional clip.
The US indie-pop duo, consisting of Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, reached number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In Germany, the synth song, strongly reminiscent of the New Wave wave of the 80s, climbed to № 1.
Whether “Safe And Sound” has a deeper meaning, simply lightens the mood or is a declaration of love to a person with whom even the most difficult experiences can be overcome, everyone may Performer for themselves. MTV honored the video clip, shot in both black and white and color, with the Video Music Award.
“We Are Young” by Fun ft. Janelle Monáe
Inspired by his worst night of drinking, lead singer Nate Ruess wrote the lyrics to “We Are Young”. In 2011 it was the first single from the album “Some Nights”, which reached number 1 in many countries.
In Germany, it was only enough for number 4 in the charts. A version of the song was played in the television series “Glee”, whereupon the title aroused great interest. When in 2012 the original version was used in a commercial break of the Super Bowl for a car manufacturer, the original version gains notoriety.
In the “Song of the Year” category, Fun picked up a well-deserved Grammy award.
“Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance
Philipp Dausch and Clemens Rehbein met in the 11th grade. The duo met in music class, became best friends, and formed the folktronica band Milky Chance in 2012. The duo, who hail from Kassel, spent three years writing the song “Stolen Dance” and uploaded the first version to YouTube in 2012.
The first single from the debut album “Sadnecessary” premiered in its final form in April 2013. A short time later, the video was rewarded with millions of clicks. In May of the same year, “Stolen Dance” received the “Record Jet Passenger of the month” award from an independent jury of music journalists.
Half a year later, Milky Chance became the first German music act to appear on the American late-night show. The sound of the acoustic guitar and the distinctive voice of the lead singer Clemens Rehbein went straight into the ear and landed at number 2 in Germany.
“Harlem Shake” by Baauer
Without question, “Harlem Shake” is one of the craziest viral videos to spread through YouTube in the 2010s. In 2012, the hip-hop and trap-inspired song were born from US rapper, DJ, and music producer Baauer. Only after the Internet comedian Filthy Frank made funny dance moves to the song in a full-body suit in 2013 and posted them as a video on the Internet, the funny dance became extremely popular.
After that, tens of thousands imitated the “Harlem Shake”, a dance style invented in the early 80s. For some, “Harlem Shake” means earache for others one of the best hits of the 2010s. The hit made it to the top of the US Billboard charts with 103 million views.
“Rude” by Magic
Canadian Nasri Atweh has written songs for Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and many other stars before starting his own band Magic! and the song “Rude” went to the start. The reggae-pop song made it to the top of the charts in the U.S. and U.K. in 2013.
In Germany, the band had to settle for number 7.
The song is about a marriage seeker who wants to get permission from his future father-in-law but gets turned down. Charmingly overrides that. Simply Magic!
“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Everybody knows the dynamic and cheerful chartbreaker of the Canadian Carly Rae Jepson called “Call Me Maybe”. In 2007, her passion for music and singing earned her third place on Canadian Idol. But the singer’s breakthrough came in 2012 after both Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez tweeted something about the song.
The new attention brought Carly not only a record deal but also a global hit. In numerous countries, she topped the charts or landed in the top ten with “Call Me Maybe”. In Germany, she reached number 3 with her song about love at first sight and stayed in the charts for 54 years.
Despite numerous nominations u. a. at the Grammy Awards in the category “Best Song of the Year” fame had its price.
Carly lost the joy of music and retired. Today she makes music again for the fun of it.
“The Fox” (What Does The Fox Say?) from Ylvis
How does the fox? This is what the YouTube video uploaded in 2013 by the Norwegian entertainer duo Ylvis from Bergen is about. The two brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker started as stage entertainers already in 2000 and are very successful with the Late Nite Show “I kveld med Ylvis” on TV Norge.
For the third season, the video of “The Foxׅ” was conceived without ever intending to make a hit out of it. All the greater was the surprise when the video spread unstoppably on YouTube. So far, there have been almost 900 million clicks for the dancing foxes in the forest.
In Norway and South Korea “The Fox” stormed to the top of the charts. In Germany, it was only enough for number 29.
“We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP
In Germany and 26 other countries, “We No Speak Americano” reached number 1 in the charts after its release in February 2010, and a few months later advanced to become a global Summer and party hit. The song “Tu vuò fa’l’Americano” by the Italian singer Renato Carosoul, sung in 1956, served as the basis for the swing song.
The Australian band, with the help of music producer DCUP, has impressively managed to combine dance beats with Latin American sounds and to give the catchy tune to mix in a nostalgic retro sound. “We No Speak Americano” became a global hit, winning the ARIA Award for “Best Dance Performance” in 2011 and going twice platinum in Germany.
The places 20 to 50 of the best one-hit wonders of the 2010s:
2010 One-Hit Wonder Spotify Playlist:
Did you remember a one-hit wonder or two from the 2010s again? Every decade has unique hits that we don’t want to miss anymore. Even if the bands and singers were never as successful as before, we still thank them for the evergreens they gave us.