10 songs by 'one hit wonders' that are actually way better than their most famous hit

Members of L7, Republica, Orgy and Lit
(Image credit: Getty)

It must feel weird to be branded a “one-hit wonder”. Obviously, it’s great to carve out a career any way you can in the music industry, but no artist just records one massive hit then calls it quits. Most bands that would be described as one-hit wonders have lengthy tenures with multiple albums – it’s just that that other output didn’t connect with the masses, even if it’s sometimes excellent. If you need proof, here are 10 times one-hit wonders released singles that are just as good as - or even even better than - their more well-known anthems.

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Lit – Zip-Lock (1999)

Lit’s 1999 album A Place In The Sun is a fantastic collection of summertime pop-punk. These days it’s only really known for one song: the gargantuan My Own Worst Enemy. The band didn’t have quite as much success with the next single, but Zip-Lock is every bit as life-affirmingly catchy and anthemic as its predecessor. It only managed to chart at number 60 in the UK (some way down from My Own Worst Enemy’s number 16). The reason for that drop-off will remain a mystery when you actually give Zip-Lock a listen.

Dog Eat Dog – Isms (1996)

Everyone was shocked when New York “funcore” crew Dog Eat Dog won Best Newcomer at the MTV Europe Awards in 1995. It was off the back of the huge success they enjoyed when Jam-Master Jay remixed their song No Fronts (a top-10 hit in the UK). In 1996, the band returned with new album Play Games, and its lead single Isms is a typically boisterous piece of horn-parping, hardcore-tinged pop-rock. However, said song failed to even make the UK top 40. Shame.

Orgy – Stitches (1998)

PVC-clad industrial lads Orgy were signed by Korn’s Jonathan Davis, which gained them a lot of hype back in the day. Now they’re mainly known for their cover of New Order’s Blue Monday. It’s a pity, as the first single from their debut album Candyass is the far superior (but long-forgotten) Stitches. It boasts a great riff and great hook – and the band didn’t ruin a beloved song as they released it, either. Ideal.

Blind Melon – I Wonder (1993)

Call Blind Melon a one-hit wonder in front of some people and you’ll get an extensive monologue about how wrong you are – deservedly so as well. To far too many people, they’re only known for No Rain from their self-titled 1992 album, but the late Shannon Hoon’s band have a superb back-catalogue. No Rain’s follow-up single, released a year later, was the stellar I Wonder but, frankly, we could have picked anything from Blind Melon’s career as evidence you shouldn’t consider them a band defined by one song.

Spin Doctors – Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong (1991)

New York alt-rockers Spin Doctors are a band you might remember due to their platinum-selling debut album Pocket Full Of Kyptonite, the fact their lead singer Chris Barron looked just like iconic 90s US footballer Alexei Lalas or, most likely, due to huge hit single Two Princes. It’s a great, funk rock banger, peaking at number 3 on the UK singles chart, but the same album's debut single, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, does all the stuff that Two Princes does but better: a groovier riff, a more propulsive rhythm and an even catchier earworm of a chorus. The lyrics are a bit, er, of the time, shall we say, but other than that, this is the band at their best.

Republica – Drop Dead Gorgeous (1997)

90s dance-rock band Republica still get a fair bit of airplay from their legendary single Ready To Go, taken from their 1996 self-titled debut, but it has seemingly been lost in the mists of time that that song didn't even get them their highest charting position. The follow up single, the frankly killer Drop Dead Gorgeous, actually peaked at a career best number 7 (6 places higher than Ready To Go) in 1997. Deservedly so, too, as it’s at least every bit as good as their bigger song, and it features a killer, snarling, punk rock vocal from vocalist Saffron, making it the connoisseurs' electro-rock banger of choice.

Butthole Surfers – Jingle Of A Dog’s Collar (1996)

If you know anything about Butthole Surfers then you’ll know that them even getting as much as one hit was an utterly hilarious, unlikely event. However, in 1996, the Beck-esque Pepper was shockingly picked up by MTV. Were the Surfers about to become the world’s most unlikely pop stars? No, don’t be daft! Follow-up single Jingle Of A Dog’s Collar failed to chart anywhere in the world. It retains their seductively odd energy though, and you suspect the band didn’t give a shit about success either way.

Temple Of The Dog – Say Hello 2 Heaven (1991)

It’s hard to accurately describe Temple Of The Dog as a one-hit wonder, as they were a band set up solely as a tribute to late Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood. Their one album, recorded in his memory, is truly magnificent, but it tends to be defined for some by the song Hunger Strike, mainly due to the dual singing from Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder. Follow-up single Say Hello 2 Heaven wasn’t as big a hit, only charting on the US Mainstream Rock Chart, but it’s equally as moving and glorious. In fact, everything TOTD ever put out was moving and glorious.

L7 – Everglade (1992)

L7 have had a pretty interesting career. Although they’re mostly known by casual fans for dropping their kecks on Channel 4 programme The Word and lobbing tampons at a Reading Festival crowd, they had a massive hit single in Pretend We’re Dead. Parent album Bricks Are Heavy was well-loved from front to back at the time though – and, despite the legends of the band’s loony antics overshadowing it somewhat these days, it’s well worth going back to. Pretend We’re Dead’s follow-up single – the punky, aggro Everglade – should serve as evidence of that.

Veruca Salt – Number One Blind (1995)

Although Veruca Salt were never one of the biggest early-90s alt-rock bands, they are fondly remembered by a hardy few for their fantastic single Seether, taken from 1994 debut album American Thighs. It’s a killer record from start to finish though, and the slinky Number One Blind, the second single, is every bit as good as Seether. If you haven’t checked it out before, rectify that now.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.