One-hit wonders are responsible for some of the most iconic songs in music history. Some artists made it to the top of the charts by accident, but it’s a mystery why others with serious talent didn’t go further.
Some of the best one-hit wonders first belted out their signature song decades ago. So it’s natural to wonder ‘Where are they now?’ since they’ve been out of the spotlight for so long.
Find out what 20 of the most memorable one-hit wonders are doing today and if it really pays to sing one mega-popular song.
1. Right Said Fred
One of the most successful ’90s one-hit wonders, brothers Fred and Richard Fairbrass are best known for their No. 1 hit “I’m Too Sexy,” which has sold 1 million copies. Still popular today, they’re credited as writers on Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” as the song’s chorus borrowed the rhythm of their 1992 hit.
Right Said Fred also continues to make new music. They released their latest album “Exactly!” in February 2017 and still perform live. The Fairbrass brothers have a net worth of $5 million each.
2. Vanilla Ice
The hit Vanilla Ice song “Ice Ice Baby” soared up the charts to the No. 1 spot in 1990 and has sold 500,000 copies. Otherwise known as Robert Van Winkle, the legendary rapper currently has a net worth of $10 million.
Despite a stint as a contestant on Season 23 of “Dancing With the Stars,” Vanilla Ice spends most of his time on a construction site these days. Now a successful house flipper, he’s had his own home renovation show “The Vanilla Ice Project” on the DIY Network since 2010.
3. Lou Bega
In 1999, Lou Bega soared to the No. 3 spot on the charts with his song “Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…).” His album “A Little Bit of Mambo” sold 3 million copies by the end of that same year.
The song still lives on today, making him one of the most successful one-hit wonders of all time. In fact, Bega appeared in a 2017 New York Life commercial, where he used his mega-popular track to explain annuities. Bega’s net worth is $1 million.
Inspired by a frequently drunk neighbor who had trouble getting into his house, Chumbawamba’s hit song “Tubthumping” spent 31 weeks on the Billboard charts, and peaked at the No. 6 spot in 1997. The British group’s aptly titled album “Tubthumper” sold 3 million copies by February 1998.
Despite their success, these one-hit wonders are no longer making music together. After 30 years as a group with a rotating lineup of members, Chumbawamba broke up in 2012. Net worth information for Chumbawamba band members is not available.
In 2001, Afroman rose to fame with his hit song “Because I Got High.” Essentially an ode to marijuana, the song peaked at No. 13 on the charts and sold 1 million copies.
Legally known as Joseph Foreman, the rapper hasn’t stopped making music, but embraces his status among the one-hit wonders. In fact, he’s so comfortable with the label that he released the album “One Hit Wonder” in 2014, which includes a remix of the song that made him famous.
His latest album, “Happy to Be Alive” debuted in 2016, and features another remix of “Because I Got High.” Afroman’s net worth is $100,000.
In 1997, Danish quartet Aqua lit up the charts with their hit song “Barbie Girl.” The song peaked at No. 7 and their album “Aquarium” sold 3 million copies.
Following the 2001 release of their album “Aquarius,” the group took a break. They reunited in 2007, released the album “Megalomania” in 2011 and broke up again. However, if you’re wondering ‘Where are they now?’, you’ll be happy to hear they’re back together.
In a September 2017 interview with Nylon, Lene Nystrøm revealed the group is currently touring internationally but would like to return the stage in the U.S. Financial information for all Aqua band members is not available, but singer René Dif has a net worth of $5 million.
7. Biz Markie
Known by his stage name Biz Markie, Marcel Hall spent 22 weeks on the charts with his 1990 hit “Just a Friend,” which peaked at No. 9. The song went platinum in April 1990, with 1 million copies sold. Still singing, he joined forces with the Culture Crew for the song “You Are,” which was released in June 2017.
Also an actor, he played the part of Vinnie in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.” Additionally, he guest-starred as himself on an episode of “Empire” in 2016 and again on “Black-ish” in 2017.
Biz Markie’s net worth is $3 million.
8. Willa Ford
In the early 2000s, Willa Ford hit the music scene alongside the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Her 2001 hit “I Wanna Be Bad” spent 20 weeks on the charts and peaked at No. 22.
Despite her early success, Ford decided to take a step back from the music industry after her second single — which was released on Sept. 11, 2001 — failed to launch, among other factors. Now a Los Angeles-based interior designer, she owns her own firm WFord Interiors.
Also an actress, Ford starred in the 2016 Lifetime movie “A Father’s Secret.” Her net worth is $1 million.
9. Sinead O’Connor
One of the most famous one-hit wonders, Sinead O’Connor scored a chart-topping hit in 1990 with “Nothing Compares 2 U.” The song spent 21 weeks on the chart and the album it was on, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” sold 2 million copies.
In 2014, the Irish singer released her 10th studio album “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.” She appeared on an episode of “Dr. Phil” in September 2017 to discuss her traumatic childhood and ongoing battle with mental illness. O’Connor’s net worth is $400,000.
10. Sir Mix-A-Lot
In 2017, Sir Mix-A-Lot’s iconic hit “Baby Got Back” turned 25 years old, but the song has yet to go out of style. One of the most successful one-hit wonders of all time, it peaked at No. 1 on July 4, 1992, and spent a total of 28 weeks on the chart.
The song achieved multiplatinum status in July 1992, when sales reached 2 million. It was re-released in 2002, and digital sales totaled 500,000 by May 2005.
In a May 2017 interview with NPR, Sir Mix-A-Lot — whose real name is Anthony Ray — said he still performs the song when he has the chance, but his website doesn’t currently list any tour dates. Sir Mix-A-Lot’s net worth is $20 million.
11. Carl Douglas
In 1974, Carl Douglas scored his only No. 1 hit with “Kung Fu Fighting.” The song stayed on the chart for 18 weeks and sold 500,000 copies.
Douglas’ net worth is $5 million — song has likely been a gold mine for him, as more than 40 years later, it’s still frequently featured in pop culture. For instance, it was on the “Kung Fu Panda 3” soundtrack in 2016.
Unlike many one-hit wonders, Douglas hasn’t tried to hold onto the spotlight. Not much is known about his life today, but in 2016, he appeared in the documentary “Flashback: The History of UK Black Music.”
12. Debby Boone
The voice behind “You Light Up My Life,” Debby Boone scored a No. 1 hit with the song in 1977. The single sold 1 million copies, and her album of the same name also realized sales of 1 million units.
Powerful pipes clearly run in her family, as she’s the daughter of iconic vocalist Pat Boone and daughter-in-law of the late singer Rosemary Clooney. Still making beautiful music, Boone performs throughout the U.S. frequently and sometimes shares the stage with her father.
The “You Light Up My Life” singer’s net worth is $10 million.
13. Lee Greenwood
Released in 1984, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” has stood the test of time. Unlike most songs, it actually didn’t reach its peak No. 1 position until Sept. 29, 2001, which was likely caused by a surge in patriotism after the Sept. 11 attacks just weeks earlier.
The video single of the song sold 500,000 copies, and digital sales have reached 1 million units. He’s performed “God Bless the U.S.A.” for the inauguration of four presidents — Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
Greenwood’s net worth is $10 million and rising, as he’s still touring.
14. Toni Basil
In 1982, Toni Basil landed the No. 1 spot on the chart with her hit song “Mickey.” It spent an impressive 27 weeks on the chart and sold 1 million copies.
Also an actress, she appeared in more than two dozen films and television shows from 1964 to 1993. This includes parts in the film “Pacific Palisades” and a guest-starring role on “Baywatch.”
Basil’s net worth is currently $5 million, but pending litigation could add to her fortune. In August 2017, she filed a lawsuit against several companies — including Disney and Viacom — over the unauthorized use of “Mickey.” She’s seeking $25,000 in damages, plus $750 per song use.
15. Frank Stallone
One of the top one-hit wonders has a very famous last name. In 1983, Frank Stallone — Sylvester’s younger brother — scored a No. 10 hit with “Far From Over.” Featured in the film “Staying Alive,” the song even scored a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song in 1984.
Also an actor, he had a recurring role as the voice of Thunderhoof on the animated series “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” from 2014 to 2017. Next up, he’s slated to star in the upcoming film “Veterans Day.” Stallone’s net worth is $2.5 million.
16. Alannah Myles
In March 1990, Alannah Myles’ song “Black Velvet” took over the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart. The song spent a total of 24 weeks on the chart and it sold 500,000 copies as a single.
The song won her a Grammy in 1990 for Best Female Rock Performance, making her one of the most accomplished one-hit wonders of all time. Her net worth is $5 million.
Keeping up with the latest from Myles is easy, as she’s very active on social media. She also has her own Etsy store — BlackVelvetElvis — offering everything from memorabilia to objects she’s purchased on the road.
17. Peter Schilling
One of the most memorable songs of the ’80s, Peter Schilling is responsible for the hit “Major Tom (Coming Home).” The song spent 22 weeks on the charts and peaked at No. 14 in December 1983.
As for Schilling’s ‘Where are they now?’ story, the German singer is still making music. His latest album “DNA” was released in 2014. He regularly performs in his native country, but Schilling keeps his wallet close to the chest — net worth information for Schilling is not available.
18. Chris De Burgh
Technically, Chris de Burgh had two top 40 hits, but “The Lady in Red” made him famous. The sweet love song peaked in the No. 3 spot in May 1987 and spent a total of 26 weeks on the chart.
His album “Into the Light” — which included “The Lady in Red” — has sold 500,000 copies. Still touring and making music, de Burgh released his 26th studio album “A Better World” in 2016.
One of the richest one-hit wonders, de Burgh’s net worth is $50 million.
19. Bobby McFerrin
One of the cheeriest one-hit wonders, Bobby McFerrin is famous for his song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Featured on the soundtrack of the movie “Cocktail,” the song peaked at No. 1 on Sept. 24, 1988. It spent a total of 26 weeks on the chart.
McFerrin’s net worth is $4 million. He continues to work as a musician, but had to cancel his 2016 tour due to health issues. His latest album “Spirityouall” was released in 2013.
20. Thomas Dolby
Still a classic, Thomas Dolby’s hit song “She Blinded Me With Science” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard chart on May 14, 1983. In total, it spent an impressive 22 weeks on the chart.
Legally known as Tom Robertson, the British singer served as the music director for media organization TED from 2001 to 2012. He released his latest studio album, “A Map of the Floating City,” in 2011.
Currently working as a professor, in March 2017, Johns Hopkins University announced plans for Dolby to create and lead its Music for New Media four-year undergraduate program at the school’s Peabody Institute. He has a net worth of $45 million.
About the Author
Laura is a writer with nearly 10 years of experience in marketing and personal finance. She is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in personal finance, higher education, legal matters and marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.