Trick question ― they’re all Grammy winners, even if some of them are less likely to be remembered than others. Over the years, the Grammys have awarded some of the most legendary names in music, artists who go on to pen or perform hit after hit. And then there are those that just… kinda… fade… away…
As we gear up for the 2013 Grammys this weekend, with new artists like Frank Ocean, fun., Ed Sheeran, Gotye, and Carly Rae Jepsen competing for the honors, let’s not forget that a Grammy win doesn’t necessarily guarantee a place in the pop music pantheon of greatness. It can just as easily brand you a “one-hit wonder,” never to return to the zeitgeist again. Will Frank, Ed, or Carly Rae someday be a part of this list?
Here’s a round-up of some of the most notorious one-hit wonders to ever win a Grammy!
1. Hootie & The Blowfish ― Best New Artist, 1996
When you look up “One-Hit Wonder” in the dictionary, you’re likely to see a picture of Hootie & The Blowfish. This is mostly thanks to their mockable band name rather than the quality of their music, but following Cracked Rear View (the best-selling album of 1995), they basically became a punchline. Lesson learned? Never name a musical group after a ridiculous-looking fish.
2. Duffy ― Best Pop Vocal Album, 2009
Duffy was nominated for three Grammys and won one, despite the fact that a lot of the public wrote her off as a poor man’s Amy Winehouse. Her follow-up album Endlessly spawned only one flop single, prompting Duffy to take a "hiatus" from music.
3. Shawn Colvin ― Record of the Year, 1998
Here are some songs you probably remember: “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly, “Every Day Is A Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow, and “MMMBop” by Hanson. Here is one you likely don’t: “Sunny Came Home.” (At least, not until you hear it.) Yet the latter beat all the former for Record of the Year, and also somehow bested No Doubt’s iconic “Don’t Speak” as Song of the Year. Say what? Only in the 90’s would a folk artist come up against a trio of blonde brothers singing unintelligible bubblegum pop, a Southern California ska band, and a song from Space Jam.
4. Bobby McFerrin ― Record of the Year, 1989
Guess who has more Grammys than Adele? More than Lady Gaga? More than Rihanna? Yes, Bobby McFerrin. No wonder he’s happy and not worried. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” earned him three Grammys but he’s also won seven others for Jazz and Children’s recordings. Still, this is the only one that landed on the mainstream pop culture radar, making him perhaps the only one-hit wonder with 10 Grammys to his (mostly forgotten) name.
5. Paula Cole ― Best New Artist, 1998
“Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” Paula Cole wondered. “Where has Paula Cole gone?” we wonder now. Seriously, if it wasn’t for Dawson’s Creek, we’d have zero memory that she ever existed in the first place.
6. Milli Vanilli ― Best New Artist, 1990
Technically, Milli Vanilli are not Grammy winners ― because they had their award revoked after it was revealed that they didn’t even sing on their album. We’re pretty sure no one will ever try that again...
7. The Brian Setzer Orchestra ― Best Pop Group Performance 1999
Remember when swing music was making a comeback? No? Well, then you’ve done a better job of blocking it from your memory than we have. This was back in 1999, when those Gap khaki commercials were the hippest thing. (Man oh man, is that ever embarrassing now.) The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s “Jump Jive an’ Wail” won Best Pop Group Performance before, um, falling into the gap and fading into obscurity where it probably belongs.
8. Amy Winehouse ― Record of the Year, 2008
Even if she hadn’t died at a tragically young age, we’re not sure whether Amy could have gotten it together enough to deliver another fantastic album like Back To Black, which won five Grammys including three of the biggest ― Best New Artist, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year (somehow, it lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock). At least we’ll always have this one.
9. Arrested Development ― Best New Artist, 1993
Ah, the early 90's. This group won two Grammys, including Best Rap Performance for "Tennessee," while the homeless jam "Mr. Wendal" from the same album reached #6 on Billboard's U.S. Hot 100.
10. The Wallflowers ― Best Rock Song 1998
“One Headlight” and one hit single. While Jakob Dylan and the gang have been making music pretty consistently, nothing they’ve done since winning two Grammys for this track has really made much of a cultural impact.
10. All-4-One ― Best Pop Group Performance, 1995
If you were in junior high school in the latter half of the 90’s, you probably awkwardly slow-danced at arms’ length to “I Swear” ― or at least watched more popular kids do so from the wall of the school gymnasium while muttering, “Someday it’ll be my turn, bitches.” (Not that this song brings up any bitter memories for us personally...)
11. Jamiroquai ― Best Pop Group Performance, 1998
If you put a Jamiroquai record on now, someone is likely to throw a shoe at you. But in 1998, “Virtual Insanity” was popular enough to earn a Pop Group Performance Grammy. Which is not virtual insanity, but actual insanity. No wonder people thought the world was coming to an end at the turn of the millennium…
12. Marc Cohn ― Best New Artist, 1991
Never heard of Marc Cohn? Us either. Though "Walking In Memphis" sounds like the kind of song we've heard as background noise while eating at a restaurant, or perhaps at the dentist, that's all the info we've got for you on this one. Sorry.
13. Macy Gray ― Best Female Pop Recording, 2001
With her raspy voice and perpetually dazed and confused persona, Macy Gray isn't likely someone you've forgotten. But Grammy was only kind to her once, with her debut "I Try." She can currently be found rolling around with Zac Efron in his underwear in the recent film The Paperboy.
14. Baha Men ― Best Dance Recording, 2001
We’re sorry. We’re sooo sorry. We know that even the mere mention of this song has gotten the Baha Men barking in your head again, and some of you will need to seek counseling. (Bill us. It’s only fair.) But no list of one-hit wonders is complete without a mention of “Who Let The Dogs Out?”, which was fortunately never answered with follow-up hits like "Did You Forget To Lock The Kennel Again?!?" or "Who Let These Dogs Play Poker?"
15. Lauryn Hill ― Album of the Year, 1999
Since we know how painful that last one was for you, here is something to clean your palette. Unlike most one-hit wonders, this is one we’d desperately like to see back up at that podium. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of the most definitive hip hop/R&B albums of all time and seems like it hasn’t aged a day since 1998, winning Album of the Year and four other awards at the Grammys. And yet it’s Lauryn’s only studio album to date. At this point, Lauryn Hill’s follow-up might be the most anticipated album of all time… if it ever even happens.
Which one hit wonder would you like a comeback from?