These '90s One-Hit Wonders Have Amazing Staying Power

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

The '90s were littered with noteworthy one-hit wonders. From Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” — and don’t forget “Ice Ice Baby” — the decade was a bastion of hits that were synonymous with their respective singers. Except when it wasn’t. While artists like Vanilla Ice and Biz Markie (“Just a Friend”) will forever be associated with their respective smash hits, what about those who produced hits that weren’t quite smashes, and thus, are often tough to associate with any particular act at all? In short, what about those whose names are mostly forgotten, and yet, those whose songs still live on to this day?

I mention this because Local H is opening for Helmet on Friday when those bands play White Oak Music Hall’s downstairs room. Local H, for those who likely forgot, released “Bound for the Floor” in 1996. The song, you likely know it as “Copacetic,” was popular but not exactly a smash, even though it still gets mainstream radio play to this day. Of course, for many who hear the song to this day, associating it with Local H may prove difficult for many, mostly because many have even forgotten that Local H was once a mainstream thing. They and other somewhat obscure '90s rock acts nonetheless managed to get their 15 minutes of fame via a single hit song. If only we could remember which artist released which song.

Better than Ezra, which still records and tours to this day, released its debut single, “Good,” in 1995. The song eventually hit the top spot on Billboard's Modern Rock Radio charts and peaked at No. 30 on the Hot 100. The song is a phenomenal piece of pop-rock radio mastering, which is probably why you can still occasionally hear it on stations like The Buzz. Better than Ezra is a bit more familiar name down here than in other parts of the country, mostly because the group hails from nearby New Orleans.

Crash Test Dummies were already a big deal in their native Canada when they released “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” in 1993. The song defied the odds and somehow hit No. 1 on the radio in Australia, Belgium and Germany, and peaked at No. 4 on the U.S. radio charts. How exactly did it defy the odds, you wonder? For starters, the song doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. And more importantly, it is a terrible song whose chorus consists simply of a lead singer saying “mmm mmm” on repeat. You may have forgotten that Crash Test Dummies ever existed, but unfortunately, I can’t do the same for this song.

The '90s was a nice time for obscure bands with weird names to release catchy hit singles with weird titles, only to fade away almost instantaneously thereafter. Harvey Danger was the poster child for this type of band. The group released its debut single, “Flagpole Sitta,” in 1998, and the single caught fire, eventually hitting No. 3 on the Modern Rock Radio charts. The song was everywhere, from movie trailers to radio stations of varying formats. And while the band’s relevance has long since faded, the song – as many have noted – has lived on well past its expiration date.

No, not Lit, an underrated band that released quite a few hit songs in the late '90s and early 2000s; again, remembering most of these band’s names is pretty damn difficult in hindsight. Rather, Len was a Canadian group co-fronted by siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo. The group released only one single of commercial consequence, 1999's “Steal My Sunshine." The song landed in the Top 10 of radio charts in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and that’s all well and good. It’s in watching the video when things get interesting, mostly because the siblings Costanzo are so handsy and affectionate toward one another that one can’t help but wonder if this was some sort of White Stripes-level ruse where a couple of former lovers present themselves as siblings for some sort of weird commercial appeal.

I’m not going to pretend to understand what exactly Seven Mary Three was going for with its one hit, 1996’s “Cumbersome,” as the song doesn’t make a ton of sense. But the band can be forgiven, mostly because “Cumbersome” is a pretty damn awesome track as pop-rock singles go (you can still find it on the radio to this day). Seven Mary Three was one of those bands that tried to cash in on the ashes of the grunge era – Candlebox, you narrowly avoided this list, since “You” was just successful enough to do so...for about 15 minutes.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.