The 1990s… Just thinking of the number 90 gives us nostalgic feelings of when we were young and beautiful. Everything from Tamagotchis to Pokémon brings us back, and the music playing on the radio was a big part of our lives, subconsciously molding us into what we are today. Remember Radio Disney and how excited you were when it debuted? Today let’s go back to a time iPhones and Mp3 players were just a dream. Today we’re going to explore the top one hit wonder songs that we may have completely forgot about.
#5 – Torn by Natalie Imbruglia
The song Torn was Natalie’s first international single and one that continues to touch us with the reality of relationships and the hardships that may go along with them. Torn was actually a cover of an Ednaswap song. It had reached number two on the UK Singles Chart in November 1997 and was number one on the Billboard Airplay chart for 14 weeks!
She received an MTV Award for best new Artist in 1998, and three constitutive Grammy nominations in 1999. Her music video was sexy, trendy, and brought about a large influence on teenage lives whether they realized it or not. The song itself was about an encounter with a man, who she had felt was probably the one. After being lied to or hurt her pain runs through he lyrics with her feelings described as “torn”. Some may argue that the song was actually very dark, exploring the subjects of sex, abuse, and shame, but because of the pop like tone she created for Torn, it was missed completely by the masses. The song is bitter sweet and will always be one of the top one hitters we had forgotten about until now.
#4 – Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega
Mambo No. 5 was another one of those covers that was remade to fit the upbeat style of the 90s. It’s a Jive dance song originally composed by Cuban Dámaso Pérez Prado and brought to light through its remake by Lou Bega. It was huge hit in the UK and Australia just like the song Torn.
In the United States it reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of 1999 giving Lou Bega his only top 40 hit in the U.S. Unfortunately the song was targeted because of its huge success and was the subject of a 7-year copyright trial between Peermusic and Lou Bega’s producers. There was a Disney version to the video as well, replacing names of the women with popular Disney characters.
#3 – What is Love by Haddaway
“Throw dirt on me and get a wild flower…” Oops, wrong song! We are not talking about this generation’s remake by Slim Shady, but the original created by Haddaway, a Trinidadian-German Eurodance artist. The song is best recognized for the refrain “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more”, and the techno like instrumental behind that. It was popular parties across the globe and was also put into movies, shows, and video games. “What is Love” peaked at number 2 in the United Kingdom and Germany, then hit number 1 in 13 other countries. In the United States it debut at number 87 on August 1993. It then reached number 11 on the Hot 100.
#2 – Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
Sung by English alternative rock band the Verve, this song was a major one hit wonder from the late 90s. It’s the lead track to their 3rd studio album, Urban Hymns. Bittersweet Symphony was based on an Andrew Loog Oldham orchestral version of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time”. There was some controversy and a legal battle over that but that’s a subject for another time.
What’s important is that it stayed at number 2 on the UK Singles Charts for 3 months! The momentum in the United States was gained a little later in 1998 when it reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song continues to be a part of pop culture and have been remixed and sampled many times over.
#1 – Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
“I GET KNOCKED DOWN….” But we get up again with this one hit wonder song that blasted through bars and clubs all throughout the end of the 90s. Tubthumping was created by a British band known as Chumbawumba. It was their most successful single, which ultimately placed it at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. It also topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and New Zealand. In the Unites States it peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100!
The video was super fun, with many people “pissing the night away” in a bar. The song was actually political music designed for a mainstream audience. The term “tubthumper” is used to describe someone who jumps on a bandwagon (mainly politicians). There’s a lot to absorb and learn from the band’s political beliefs, but what’s really important is that this song was, and still is, awesome!