7 of Rock's Biggest One Hit Wonders
Sure, rock is changing and fading out with the times, but there was a sliver of time where rock stars were pop stars and vice versa.
While the term one-hit wonder has often only applied to pop music, there remain a few rock bands who have had their fleeting moment in the spotlight as well.
Sure, rock is changing and fading out with the times, but there was a sliver of time where rock stars were pop stars and vice versa. Post-grunge took over the world, and by the early aughts muddy-sounding rock bands were a dime a dozen. While many of these band names may escape you, the melodies listed below definitely bring back memories. Here are a few of the most memorable one-hit wonders in hard rock.
"Bodies" – Drowning Pool
The hushed whispers given in the interlude for Drowning Pool's "Bodies" are almost more famous than the actual song itself. Off the band's debut Sinner, "Bodies" was a song in 2001 that became associated with just going bat-shit crazy. School dances loathed it, and the song's early drop often led to unhinged vandalism.
The track, which peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts, was actually blacklisted across radio stations after the September 11th attacks. Its thematic material of letting "bodies hit the floor" seemed quite insensitive at the time. While Drowning Pool has led a fine career since "Bodies" took over the world, the unexpected death of vocalist Dave Williams was a heartbreaking blow, and while Jason Moreno is a fine vocalist, Williams's grungey delivery, especially on that song, was unreplicable.
"Wherever You Will Go" – The Calling
The debut single from California's The Calling, "Wherever You Will Go" peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Adult Top 40 for 23 weeks, setting a record as the second longest-running number one song in the chart's history. The song's brooding melodrama encompassed everything that was wrong (but oh, so right) about the early 2000s.
The lyrics that sound genuine but say nothing at all ("way up high" or "down low," these boys will go "wherever you will go"), the blonde-haired lead singer, The Calling were themselves an earl aughts time capsule. Needless to say, these guys faded out with the time.
"Cold" – Crossfade
Crossfade's career trajectory was at one point a disaster. "Cold," the band's biggest hit, put the South Carolina rockers on the map in a big way. It hit number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and number 81 on the Billboard hot 100. But the band's 2006 sophomore effort Falling Away was a total slump, and it led to them being dropped from their label. The band returned in 2011 with the dark-tinted We All Bleed, an impressive third outing that abandoned pop formulas in favor of a heavier sound, but the band hasn't released anything since. It's unclear whether they've broken up or not; but needless to say, they have yet to hit another high as impactful as "Cold."
"Ugly" – The Exies
For a hot second, The Exies were an inescapable band. They soundtracked numerous video games including Guitar Hero and NFL Street 2. Their biggest anthem, "Ugly," off of their third effort , Head for the Door, was even picked up by the WWE and used as the theme song for the 2004 Survivor Series. It was also used by Warner Bros. at one point for one of their commercials. The song evidently became more famous than the band did, and The Exies released one more record before dissolving.
"If You Could Only See" – Tonic
Off of Tonic's platinum debut, Lemon Parade, "If You Could Only See" had a brief but impactful moment on rock radio's around the world in 1997. It hit number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and spent a whopping 63 weeks there. In Australia, the song took on a legacy of its own and became the nation's 88th-highest-selling single.
The origin story of the song is also memorable in its own right, as it's about lead singer Emerson Hart's relationship with a much older woman, a relationship which his mommy did not approve of. Tonic themselves went on to be nominated for two Grammy awards before entering a hiatus in 2004. They returned in 2008 with little fanfare and have led a steady career ever since, despite never again achieving the heights they did in the late '90s and early aughts.
"My Own Worst Enemy" – Lit
Off of Lit's pop-infused sophomore album, A Place In The Sun, the project and its coinciding single "My Own Worst Enemy" was a drastic change of pace from their gloomy debut Tripping the Light Fantastic. "My Own Worst Enemy" peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped their sophomore effort achieve platinum status. The track became an anthem for drunken debauchery and often soundtracked house parties in the early 2000s coming-of-age films. While Lit are very much still a thing, "My Own Worst Enemy" is another one-hit-wonder that took on a life of its own.
"Paralyzer" – Finger Eleven
Splattered across Gossip Girl and Greek, "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven was another inescapable track in the early 2000s. Drastically different than anything the band released prior, the song had a funky drive that made it applicable to almost anything fun. It was regurgitated multiple times in a variety of Rock Band-Esque music games and spent 52 weeks on Billboard's Alternative Chart. It eventually peaked at number 6 on the Hot 100. The track went two-times platinum, but Finger Eleven's relevance eventually waned by the 2010s. They're still around, but "Paralyzer" was a special and irreplicable moment for the band.