As I get older, more and more I find myself comparing the shitstorm that is 2018 with the warm, comforting glow of the 90s. Film, music, Toblerone… you name it, the 90s did it better (apart from TV). With that in mind, I got to thinking about just how good one hit wonders were back in the worlds best ever decade. Let’s examine this phenomenon in a little more detail. It’s not like we have anything better to do…
10. Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Highest UK Chart Position: #2
Next Best Performing Single: Afternoons & Coffeespoons (#23)
This is the only song on the list that I didn’t experience first time round as I was only six when it was released. The fact that I came to it late doesn’t alter how much I love this weird, maudlin ballad about… God knows what. The fact that Crash Test Dummies hale from my former city of residence Winnipeg (Go Jets!) just makes me love them more.
9. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get
Highest UK Chart Position: #12
Next Best Performing Single: The Rascal King (#63)
You know those songs that no matter where you are when you hear them or what you are doing, the intro will always make you go nuts? Yeah that. Trumpets are an acquired taste in rock music but they have perhaps never been utilized as successfully as they are in this song (sorry Reel Big Fish). A party classic.
8. The Connells – 74-75
Highest UK chart position: #14
Next Best Performing Single: N/A. They would never crack the top #100 again
The success of Pearl Jam and REM opened the door for a million grunge rock bands to spring forth and attack our radio waves with their earnest lyrics and sincere vocals. The Connells latched on to this craze and had some mild success across the pond but 74-75 is the only song that made a splash in the UK. Who cares what their other songs sound like however when this one is so damn good. Sure it’s over serious and a little depressing but it’s catchy as all hell.
7. Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
Highest UK Chart Position: #6
Next Best Performing Single: Falling In Love Again (#8)
I’m truly sorry. I’ve unleashed a monster. Seriously, good luck trying to get this song out of your head for the next six months. It’s difficult to recall a song that is so overplayed, so ubiquitous yet so irresistible. No matter how many times I hear that strummed intro and melodic chorus I will never, ever get bored of it. A song that is literally perfect for any occasion. Poker night? Save Tonight. Wedding disco? Save Tonight. Summoning the dark lord Cthulu? Holy shit, Save Tonight even works for that…
6. White Town – Your Woman
Highest UK Chart Position: #1
Next Best Performing Single: Undressed (#57)
White Town’s sole member claims that the main themes of Your Woman are “being a member of an orthodox Trotskyist/Marxist movement. Being a straight guy in love with a lesbian. Being a gay guy in love with a straight man. Being a straight girl in love with a lying, two-timing, fake-arse Marxist. The hypocrisy that results when love and lust get mixed up with highbrow ideals”. I don’t know about any of that noise but it sure is a great pop song.
5. Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Highest UK Chart Position: #1
Next Best Performing Single: Josey (#27)
Breakfast At Tiffany’s is Schrödinger’s song. It is at once crap and brilliant. I mean it is rubbish isn’t it. The indistinguishable vocals, that shrill guitar solo, the naff lyrics. But somehow, it manages to be a classic at the same time. Perhaps this is where the rose tinted glasses come in. Would this be a classic single if it hadn’t spent such a long time invading my formative years? Probably not. Does that make it any less fun and enjoyable? No way. Turn it up loud and I dare you not to sing along.
4. Bran Van 3000 – Drinking In LA
Highest UK Chart Position: #3
Next Best Performing Single: Astounded (#40)
Out of all the songs on this list, Drinking In LA is surely the most 90s of them all. There is simply no way this song could have been released in any other decade. Everything from the faux gangster patter to the Fun Lovin’ Criminals inspired laid back beat just screams 1997. This is another song that fits any occasion and refuses to go away despite being over twenty (!) years old. Frightening.
3. Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
Highest UK Chart Performance: #2
Next Best Performing Single: Big Mistake (#2)
There may be some argument as to whether this technically constitutes a one hit wonder as Imbruglia has had three other top ten hits over the years but I doubt that the average music fan could name any of them with a gun to their head.
Torn might just be the perfect pop song. It’s lyrically brilliant, sung beautifully, and has that wondrous feel of a song that has always existed, floating around in the ether waiting for someone to write it. Show me someone who dislikes this song and I will show you a dirty, goddamn liar.
2. Rocket From The Crypt – On A Rope
Highest UK Chart Performance: #12
Next Best Performing Single: Lipstick (#64)
This is the moment where personal preference meets objectivity. A lot of people will never have heard this song. Still more will have heard it but don’t like it. For me though, this is perhaps the most important song on this list. In my twenties, my friends and I went through a glorious period of playing poker pretty much every weekend. We had a communal playlist that everyone added to that evolved and changed as all good playlists should. One constant throughout every flush, every bad beat and every bottle of Polish lager was Rocket from the Crypt’s On A Rope. That intro. That riff. It works best when you bang your fist along to it on a beer sodden table but really On A Rope is a winner in any scenario. An absolute monster of a song. One of my all time favourites.
1. Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me
Highest UK Chart Performance: #4
Next Best Performing Single: There She Goes (#14)
A song that is as synonymous with my childhood as slipping in dog poo on the Town Fields or playing Mortal Kombat. A song that is so so good that is astonishing that it isn’t a cover. I’ve checked a bunch of times and it definitely isn’t. This song was everywhere in the long hot summer of 1998 and if you somehow missed it first time round then it’s prominent appearance in the teen classic She’s All That would surely have grabbed you second time round.
If this track was by Barenaked Ladies or Weezer then it would be revered as an all time classic. Only snobbishness prevents Kiss Me receiving all the plaudits that it undoubtedly deserves.
And one from the 00’s…
Simply because I wrote this thinking this song was released in the 90s and it feels a shame to waste it.
X-Press 2 & David Byrne – Lazy
Highest UK Chart Position: #2
Next Best Performing Single: Say What! (#32)
OK OK, upon meticulously researching this article I was astounded to discover this was actually unleashed in 2002 but this is my list dammit. Also David Byrne clearly isn’t a one hit wonder. As the leader of Talking Heads he has had more hits than Apollo Creed but X-Press 2 are a different beast and technically this is their song. And what a song it is. Dance music is not normally my thing but this sweeping ode to loafing is a gorgeous summer banger. Still sounds fresh as a daisy even 16 years later.
OMC – How Bizarre
Len – Steal My Sunshine
New Radicals – You Get What You Give
Blind Melon – No Rain
Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta
Meredith Brooks – Bitch
Joan Osborne – One of Us
Sugar Ray – Every Morning