Best One Hit Wonders Of The 2010s

Though we’ve barely cracked the 2020s, it’s fun to peek back into the 2010s to revisit some of the major hits.

Of course, the ‘10s gave us plenty of new talent and a goldmine of one hit wonders. Until these musicians deliver another smash, they remain among the one hit wonders of the 2010s.

“Cheerleader” by OMI

Song Year: 2012

This 2012 release comes from the Jamaican musician, OMI. The combination of a catchy rhythm and uplifting lyrics quickly landed this one on charts around the world. OMI’s lively love song comes from his debut album, Me 4 U.

The protagonist of “Cheerleader” is a man who devotes his whole being to his fiancée. As a result, he is immune to the allure of other women who may convince a less stable guy to cheat.

The narrator appreciates his girlfriend not only for her physical attractiveness but also as the one who gives him the confidence and assurance he lacks to face the world.

“Teach Me How To Dougie” by Cali Swag District

Song Year: 2010

Cali Swag District is a collaboration of rappers Smoov, Jayare, Yung, and M-Bone. The crew crafted this hot hit to separate their creation from the jerk movement that was popular in LA at the time.

It would be nice to think there’s some deep meaning behind the song, but the group maintains it’s simple. This song pays tribute to teaching people how to do the Dougie, simple as that.

Sadly, Cali Swag District never topped the charts again after losing M-Bone to a drive-by shooting and JayAre to sickle cell anemia.

“Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye

Song Year: 2011

Wouter Andre “Wally” De Backer, more commonly known as Gotye, hails from the land down under but has ties to Belgium as well. He made a splash in Australia during the 2000s but didn’t find worldwide success until this song hit the airwaves in 2011.

Coupled with a curiously engaging video, this pop ballad topped the charts in numerous countries and was named Record of the Year at the Grammys. Despite the outstanding success of this one song, Gotye hasn’t replicated the feat.

This song is about a man who can’t stop thinking about his ex-girlfriend. There’s no way for him to let it go. Even though he appreciates his fiancée, he often finds himself longing for his ex.

“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson

Song Year: 2012

“Call Me Maybe” spent nine weeks on top of the Billboard Charts and made a splash around the world. It even scored the Canadian singer a Juno award and Grammy nomination.

This catchy pop tune explores the feelings of love at first sight as the narrator hopes and dreams her crush will call.

Some might question Jepson’s appearance as a one-hit-wonder given her hit with Owl City for “Good Time,” but she’s never repeated as a solo artist. Perhaps her new album, The Loneliest Time, will change that.

“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon

Song Year: 2014

Walk the Moon hails from Ohio in the heart of America and credits their love of the 1980s as inspiration for this dance hit.

You have to put yourself aside and relax every once in a while. The narrator of this viral dance track is a man in a pub who is still suffering from high school awkwardness and tenseness. He has to stop worrying and start enjoying his life.

He’s lucky since a free-spirited lady in “a backless dress and sneakers” invites him to dance. He needs someone like her to help him relax and enjoy himself.

“Let Her Go” by Passenger

Song Year: 2012

Michael Rosenberg is better known by his stage moniker, Passenger. The English musician continues to release new music but has not yet been able to replicate his pop chart success.

This song clearly struck a chord with audiences around the world as a tale of learning tough lessons too late.

Having lost his girlfriend forever, the narrator feels so empty he just lies in bed looking at the ceiling. It’s now a common breakup ballad that laments the narrator’s inability to show his ex how much he cared.

“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People

Song Year: 2010

Foster the People is an American group headed by Mark Foster who started out writing jingles. He penned this song to explore teenage mental health issues and serve up a cautionary tale regarding the future of gun violence.

Of course, the upbeat, catchy tune sounds happy and far lighter than the deeper meanings. It stems from real life as the singer/songwriter and his band explore a young man’s suicidal ideation and plans to take his anger out on others.

Foster the People hoped to start a discussion about gun violence, but now think the hit should be retired in the wake of more mass shootings.

“Rude” by Magic!

Song Year: 2013

The story behind this reggae fusion song’s catchy chorus might hit too close to home for some. It’s about a young guy who is eager to marry his fiancée but is unsuccessful in winning her father’s approval. Despite the Dad’s refusal, the spurned suitor assures him he will marry the daughter.

The alternative music song topped the charts worldwide, from pop to dance to Latin music and the adult contemporary genres. It also charted on Billboard’s decade and all-time Hot 100 lists.

Though the duo behind this hit have collaborated to write and produce several hits for other artists, “Rude” remains their only smash.

“Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King

Song Year: 2014

Tanner Elle Schneider, more commonly known by her stage name, Elle King, is the daughter of comedian Rob Schneider. She likes to blend blues, rock, and alternative country to create unique tracks with a range of instruments that provide depth.

This song tells the story of a feisty and brassy lady who loves them and leaves them without a second glance. She bemoans the string of clinging ex-boyfriends that keep coming back into her life.

It’s somewhat surprising to learn that Elle King is a one-hit wonder, especially with some of her outstanding collaborations. However, “Ex’s and Oh’s” remains her only chart-topping release.

“Gangnam Style” by Psy

Song Year: 2012

The South Korean singer, Psy, took the world by storm with his 2012 hit song. Though the singer did find commercial success with other hits, Gangnam Style will forever help define music in the 2010s.

The catchy chorus and unique dancing style created a silly smash. However, the lyrics and video are wholly satirical as a way to tease the wealthiest in Seoul’s Gangnam district.

Psy stepped away from creating music to start his own label and contribute to South Korea’s music scene in a different way.

“Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento

Song Year: 2015

Ricky Lamar Hawk hit the hip-hop scene at a young age, but you might recognize him as Silento or Prince Silento. “Watch Me” represents the artist’s debut song that skyrocketed him to worldwide fame as it topped the dance, mainstream, and Latin music charts.

Amazingly, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” made it into both the Billboard Hot 100 decade-end and all-time lists, despite being singled out by some as the most despised or obnoxious song of the decade.

It’s unlikely that Silento will top any charts again soon. He was charged with murder in 2021, which effectively ended his career.

“Best Day of My Life” by American Authors

Song Year: 2013

American Authors hails from Boston, Massachusetts where they met at the Berklee College of Music. The musical group has a few albums under their belt, but only a single hit.

“Best Day of My Life” follows the narrator wildly celebrating what he claims to be the happiest day of his life. According to him, it’s a day full of potential and he feels so good he never wants the feeling to end.

This pop-rock track reached the top 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It earned the band accolades and a host of appearances at mainstream events, including SXSW Music Festival and Lollapalooza.

“Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities

Song Year: 2011

The LA-based group, Capital Cities started as a duo. Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant formed the band in 2008 and subsequently released their only hit. Despite adding additional musicians and releasing more music, this crew hasn’t landed another smash single.

This song is all about finding your people. It explores the feeling of knowing who has your back, whether it’s a wingman at a club or a small crew to help you weather a particularly challenging storm.

“Clouds” by Zach Sobiech

Song Year: 2012

Zach Sobiech is an American artist with a story to tell and only a short time to do it. Though the song and subsequent Disney+ movie hope to immortalize the inspirational artist, Sobiech will remain a one-hit-wonder.

As one of the most heart-wrenching entries on this list, “Clouds” is about Sobiech’s fight against osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer that claimed his life in May 2013. The narrator addresses the person he cares about and sings about what they would do together if there were more time on Earth.

“The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)” by Ylvis

Song Year: 2013

In Norway, Vegard and Brd Ylvisker are a famous comedy duo. They host a conversation program called I Kveld Med Ylvis (Tonight With Ylvis). The brothers maintain celebrity status due more to their comedic routines than having a viral hit on YouTube, but it only adds to their charm.

True to their comedic roots, the brothers say the meaning of the song is a genuine question. They truly want to know what the fox says because they didn’t know when writing and producing this earworm.

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

Song Year: 2015

Rachel Platten penned and recorded this empowering anthem to remind herself not to give up. She leaned on the lyrics when the urge to give up got too strong, and it paid off. The powerful melody only emphasizes the honesty and raw emotion.

This award-winning pop-rock ballad commanded attention, especially after Hillary Clinton used it during her failed 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton isn’t the only person or agency to capitalize on the song’s message of resilience though. It’s also aligned with the WWE and Susan G. Komen foundation.

“Riptide” by Vance Joy

Song Year: 2013

Vance Joy is another surprising entry on this list. Despite finding massive success and a loyal following, the former Australian footballer only has this one hit.

“Riptide” is a flowing blend of ideas and epiphanies. Joy wrote it in parts that only accentuated the stream-of-consciousness approach to telling his story. That’s right, this song is at least semi-autobiographical.

The song set records in Australia by being the longest-charting song. In addition, the song appeared in many mainstream TV shows, including Grey’s Anatomy and Hawaii Five-0, as well as the film The Inbetweeners 2 from 2014.

“Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men

Song Year: 2011

This Icelandic group might be another shocker for many music lovers. The Reykjavikian crew boasts several indie-rock songs, but none of them managed to land on the charts like “Little Talks.”

The debut song might be engaging, but it’s a profound look at relationships and what it takes to survive losing one. In the song, the husband passes away and the wife doesn’t know if her conversations are real or if she’s losing her mind.

Although the follow-up Mountain Sound was a commercial success in the United States, it didn’t deliver on the charts.

“I Love It” by Icona Pop

Song Year: 2012

Icona Pop is a Swedish electro-pop duo that hit the mainstream with “I Love It.” The ultra-empowerment song features vocals from British star, Charli XCX, who co-wrote the song.

This song tells the story of a young woman coping with her breakup. Beneath the angry lyrics, you can feel the frustration and hurt as the young woman works through her loss with a touch of destruction and recklessness.

The song’s platinum RIAA certification and number seven peak on the Billboard Hot 100 were well-deserved. It also landed on several hit shows, including Girls and The Vampire Diaries.

“Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man

Song Year: 2014

The Alaskan alternative rock band boasts eight albums, including some independent releases. However, only this lead song from the eighth album, “Woodstock,” cracked the Billboard Hot 100 list.

When asked about the meaning behind the lyrics, lead singer John Gourley noted that it’s about being a rebel still. He is now a family man but still remembers the punk-rebel days of his youth and can still feel those vibes.

“Despacito” by Luis Fonci and Daddy Yankee

Song Year: 2017

Despite having some success in Puerto Rico, Luis Fonci and Daddy Yankee didn’t see mainstream accolades until they collaborated on this Latin-pop single. The duo wrote the song with Erika Ender and released it in early 2017. Justin Bieber released a cover of the song a few months later, which only helped Fonci and Daddy Yankee.

“Despacito” is a seductive number about getting your partner to dance slowly and closely to you. It’s all about seduction.

“Hand Clap” by Fitz and the Tantrums

Song Year: 2016

Few songs from the 2010s get people moving as much as “Hand Clap.” It’s another story of desire and seduction involving a late night call and bid to do something primal, but this one has an upbeat, light-hearted feel.

Fitz and the Tantrums combines indie pop and neo soul sounds to create upbeat tunes. Though They formed in 2008, the band only has one mainstream hit to their name. Of course, they have new releases coming, so maybe there will be another hit in their future.

“Harlem Shake” by Baauer

Song Year: 2012

Baauer is the stage name for Harry Bauer Rodrigues who gained fame as a DJ and music producer working with some major names in the industry. The “Harlem Shake” represents Baauer’s only solo hit, but that’s not to say there could be future chart toppers.

It’s not complex lyrically, since it basically encourages people to dance, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The song can partially attribute its success to a meme by Mad Decent and user-created films in which individuals in a room freeze throughout the buildup and then go crazy at the drop.

“Am I Wrong” by Nico and Vinz

Song Year: 2013

Norwegian musical duo Nico and Vinz gave dreamers worldwide an anthem to sing their hearts out. According to Nico, the song is about not succumbing to the naysayers and achieving what we set our minds to do, no matter our background and where we come from.

Following the song’s success in the Scandinavian countries, it was released internationally and ranked highly on various charts. Most notably, it peaked at number four on US Billboard Hot 100.

“I’m Awesome” by Spose

Song Year: 2010

Spose is an American rapper and hip-hop artist who initially self-released this satirical tune. The narrator is a sarcastic, foul-mouthed 25-year-old who still uses his mother’s automobile. He avoids conflict, makes all his pals digitally, and lacks any confidence.

The guy believes he is incredible, even though women disagree. He has little money and zero ability or charisma. Nevertheless, his message is clear – you’re fantastic, and don’t ever let anybody make you think otherwise.

“Classic Man” by Jidenna

Song Year: 2015

Jidenna is a Nigerian-American rapper and R&B artist best known for his hit song “Classic Man.” It earned a Grammy nomination and served as the lead single on Janelle Monáe’s collective extended play, The Eephus.

The lyrics mainly revolve around the artist’s flashy and polished look, but Jidenna also slips in the word “mummafucker” to describe himself. Jidenna notes that the song is about the man behind the fashion.

“Panda” by Desiigner

Song Year: 2015

Desiigner, an American rapper and hip-hop artist, released “Panda” as a single. It became an anthem for many hip hop fans and even earned a Billboard award and Grammy nomination. Several other artists have sampled, remixed, and covered the hit.

On the surface, the lyrics seem incomprehensible gibberish, but Desiigner explains that it’s about how the White X6 with black windows resembles a panda. It’s that simple, apparently.

“OOOUUU” by Young M.A

Song Year: 2015

One of the finest rap songs of the last decade comes from Katorah Kasanova Marrero, better known as Young M.A. Nothing she’s done since “OOOUUU” has had even a fraction of the impact, but she’s putting forth new music that might change things.

When asked about the song’s meaning, Young M.A. noted that the title is just a random thing she says with her friends. The lyric is a metaphor for a female who does inappropriate things.

“Home to You” by Sigrid

Song Year: 2019

Norwegian artist Sigrid has two albums under her belt and remains a well-known name in the industry, but she only has one smash hit. “Home to You” even appeared on the soundtrack for the movie The Aeronauts.

Sigrid also released a holiday version of the hit about heading home and being with family.

“Man’s Not Hot” by Big Shaq

Song Year: 2017

Actor Michael Dapaah releases music under the alias Big Shaq, but the Brit only found mainstream success with one song. “Man’s Not Hot” is a novelty song that samples other hits and has layers of meanings to the artist’s affinity for wearing puffer coats and baggy clothes.

The song was successful commercially, reaching its highest position on the UK Singles Chart at number three. The BPI has awarded the song with a platinum certification in the United Kingdom, indicating that it has garnered 600,000 sales and streams.

“Friday” by Rebecca Black

Song Year: 2011

Rebecca Black might be more recognizable as a YouTube star, but her song went viral thanks to her status. Though the critical response to the song was overwhelmingly unfavorable, it became a smash among the younger generations who rallied behind the then-13-year-old.

The song is all about having a good time with friends and details the life of a teenager as Black experiences it.

“Solo Dance” by Martin Jensen

Song Year: 2016

Danish DJ and record producer Martin Jensen took a chance and released his own single, which became a viral sensation. Jensen’s success is at least partially attributed to his videos, which used humorous audio from internet memes to create tropical house mixes.

 “Solo Dance” topped the Official Trending Chart and earned positive accolades. It’s about a sensual dance with both people imagining the other as they work alone.

“My Love” by Route 94

Song Year: 2014

Rowan Tyler Jones took on the stage name Route 94 and gained fame as a producer and remixer. After helping others with their music for years, he partnered with vocalist Jess Glynne to release his first track, “My Love.”

The deep house tune “My Love” is greatly inspired by Eurodance from the ’90s. It represents Route 94’s interpretation of love.

“I Hate U I Love U” by Gnash featuring Olivia O’Brien

Song Year: 2015

Gnash, an American singer and rapper partnered with vocalist Olivia O’Brien for the song “I Hate U, I Love U.” It debuted as the first single from Gnash’s third studio album, Us, and hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100

The song tells the story of a breakup where both people still miss each other. However, one party is still emotional about the breakup and the other is moving on.

“Let You Down” by NF

Song Year: 2017

Nathan John Feuerstein, the American rapper better known as NF, broke into the mainstream with the single “Let You Down.” The third and final single from his 2017 album Perception peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Pop Songs chart.

NF notes that the song is about his relationship with his father. The rapper regrets disappointing his dad.

“Money” by Peace

Song Year: 2013

Peace is a British indie-rock band headed by brothers Harrison and Samuel Koisser. They started under the name Criminal and released an EP but then changed to Peace later the same year.

There’s no secret meaning to this song’s lyrics that looks at the importance of money, specifically digital currency.


Song Year: 2011

This alternative-rock band from LA seems like they should have more hits to their name, yet Sail remains the only one to hit the charts. Despite several tours and a few follow-up albums, AWOLNATION hasn’t managed to strike again.

The song is about being overwhelmed by problems and unable to live up to expectations. Written by AWOLNATION founder, Aaron Bruno, it’s a cry for help as the narrator seeks support and comfort.

Top One Hit Wonders Of The 2010s, Final Thoughts

So, what’s your favorite from this list of the best one-hit wonders of the 2010s? We’re hopeful that some of these artists will be able to get off this list with a new popular music single in the next few years.

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