One Hit Wonder Day: Who’s the greatest? It’s debatable

Saturday, Sept. 25, is One-Hit Wonder Day, so we take a look at artists who soared on the pop charts once, but could never quite repeat that success.

Not a perfect science

The debate over what is the greatest one-hit wonder is right up there with “Star Wars” versus “Star Trek” and Beatles versus Stones. But it is also a debate for how to do the math in determining a one-hit wonder.

The list below is from They have a formula for rating songs and one-hit wonders. They say their goal is to present the most accurate archive of the U.S. Top 40 music charts.

These charts are meant for the public to use for research, entertainment and educational purposes only. They use a points system called the Nolan method to create their charts.

The Nolan method uses an inverse point-based system, where songs earn points for each position that they’re in within the Top 40. Songs at No. 1 earn 40 points all the way down to 1 point at No. 40.

Let the debate begin

The site says its list takes into account record sales, radio airplay and more than 1,000 radio station listener’s surveys of all known rock, pop, adult contemporary and Top 40 genres from 1955 to present.

But where’s the 1969 hit “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans? “In the Year 2525” is the one of the few songs to have a chart-topping No. 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic and the artists never had another Billboard charting single the rest of their career. It’s not in’s top 100 one-hit wonders.

Where’s “Earth Angel?” Released in 1954, “Earth Angel” was a massive success and widely considered one of the greatest doo-wop songs ever. The song was recorded by the Penguins and remained No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from November 1954 into 1955. It is believed to have sold more than 10 million copies. It is the only hit the Penguins had and is not listed by the site.

“It’s Raining Men” was released in 1982. It spent 11 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and peaked at 46. It was written by Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer. Recording artists Donna Summer and Cher passed on recording it. did not respond to an inquiry as to why a song that peaked at 46 was listed as No. 1 on its list.

See the full list of 100 online:

Blogger Todd Kerpleman of crunched the Billboard charts to find out what decade had the most one-hit wonders. He did a query of one-hit wonders, where a one-hit wonder has at least one song in the Top 25, but no other songs in the Top 75. Any duet or song featuring somebody else is attributed to the artist listed first.

The digital age makes it easy to have music at your fingertips and offers tons of data to sift through. But do you agree with this list?

What is a Spotify one-hit wonder?

Data visualization artist Erin Davis ( crunched the numbers to find the biggest one-hit wonders on Spotify. In order to find these big wonders, Davis set criteria that one song made up the highest percentage of the artist’s total plays (where that artist has at least 100 million total plays).

Sources: Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Associated Press, VH1, NBC Photos: The Associated Press, NBC, Wiki Media Commons

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