Then + Now: ’90s One-Hit Wonders
The ’90s was the decade for pop music: It brought us Britney Spears, the Spice Girls and, of course, the Backstreet Boys vs. ‘N Sync debate. But many artists of the ’90s would burst onto the scene with that one crazy successful hit, only to never be heard from again. What happened to these pop musicians after their one-hit wonders of the ’90s left the radio? Read on to find out.
Divinyls, ‘I Touch Myself’ (1991)
Then: Australian rock group Divinyls hit it big in 1991 when their catchy, pro-female masturbation tune ‘I Touch Myself’ (off of their fourth album, ‘diVINYLS’) rocketed to No. 4 on the Billboard charts.
Now: After releasing their fifth album in 1996, the band took a long-term hiatus as the result of lead singer Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee’s often tumultuous relationship. During the separation, Amphlett married Divinyls’ drummer, Charley Drayton, and pursued a successful career in theater, while McEntee worked on the clothing line Wheels & Doll Baby with his partner, Melanie Greensmith. Divinyls briefly reunited in 2006 after they were inducted to the Australian Recording Industry Association’s Hall of Fame, touring Australia before officially breaking up in 2009. Sadly, lead singer Chrissy Amphlett died after suffering from breast cancer and multiple sclerosis in April 2013.
Sir Mix-A-Lot, ‘Baby Got Back’ (1992)
Then: Who could forget Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ode to big butts in his 1992 smash hit, ‘Baby Got Back’? The tune achieved enormous success that year, becoming the second best-selling song of the year, behind Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Sir Mix-A-Lot also received the Best Rap Solo Performance Grammy Award for the hit.
Now: Despite releasing several albums since, Sir Mix-A-Lot was unable to match the success he had with ‘Baby Got Back,’ off of his album ‘Mack Daddy.’ In the late ’90s and early 2000s, he ventured into acting, landing a role as the main character on short-lived series ‘The Watcher’ and later lending his voice to other TV shows and even the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto IV.’ Mix-A-Lot is still working hard in the music biz and released a 2010 single called ‘Carz,’ though his album is still in the works. He recently produced Ayron Jones and the Way’s debut album, ‘Dream.’
House of Pain, ‘Jump Around’ (1992)
Then: House of Pain, a trio of rappers (Danny Boy, Everlast and DJ Lethal), exploded onto the scene in 1992 with their party single ‘Jump Around.’ The hit reached its way to No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard charts, and a year later was famously featured in everyone’s favorite Robin Williams comedy, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire.’
Now: House of Pain went on to release two more albums in the ’90s but broke up in 1996. After their breakup, each member of the group went on to achieve success, most notably DJ Lethal, who joined Limp Bizkit, and Everlast, whose solo album, ‘Whitey Ford Sings The Blues,’ was a multi-platinum success. In 2011, DJ Lethal and Everlast joined Danny Boy’s supergroup La Coka Nostra, which he founded several years prior. Later that same year, House of Pain officially reunited as a band and played several international music festivals.
Rednex, ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ (1994)
Then: Swedish pop group Rednex’s cover of ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ was virtually inescapable in 1994. Their eurodance take on the traditional American folk song proved to be a hit, making it to No. 25 on the U.S. Top 40 and becoming a dance party staple.
Now: Since their international success, the band has since underwent numerous lineup changes and reformations. While they have not had a hit in America since, they have gone on to achieve some success with their subsequent albums in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And, most importantly: Rednex’s version of ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ lives on to this day as a popular party song and line dance.
Los del Rio, ‘Macarena’ (1995)
Then: Chances are, there wasn’t a party in the ’90s that didn’t have the ‘Macarena’ blaring out of a boombox — nor were there people who didn’t leap up immediately and start doing the coordinated dance. Face it: Los del Rio’s ‘Macarena,’ which spent an unbelievable 14 weeks at the top spot on the Billboard charts, was the song of the ’90s. (While the song was originally released in 1995, it gained popularity in ’96 when it was remixed in English.)
Now: The duo, who formed in 1962, have released eight albums since they hit it big in ’96, including one commemorating the ‘Macarena’s’ fifteenth birthday. Their hometown even named a music hall after the group.
Joan Osborne, ‘One of Us’ (1995)
Then: In 1995, Joan Osborne belted out the ultimate question, “What if God was one of us?” and turned it into a hit: ‘One of Us’ reached the fourth spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
Now: Osborne has gone on to have relative success in the music industry, performing with the Dead, touring with the Dixie Chicks and being a member of rock supergroup Trigger Hippy. Since ‘One of Us’ (which later went on to become the theme song of ‘Joan of Arcadia’) Osborne has released multiple albums, with her latest, ‘Bring It on Home’ receiving a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album. As of December 2013, she is currently recording her new album, titled ‘LOVE AND HATE.’
OMC, ‘How Bizarre’ (1995)
Then: New Zealand group OMC’s single ‘How Bizarre’ stormed onto the pop music scene, becoming an instant hit in their native country in late 1995. Two years later, in 1997, it reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 40 and stayed on the charts for 32 weeks. Their debut album, also titled ‘How Bizarre,’ went on to sell over one million copies in America alone.
Now: While ‘How Bizarre’ became the band’s only successful U.S. hit, their following singles from their debut album did well in their native country of New Zealand. (As of 2010, ‘How Bizarre’ is the best-selling New Zealand single of all-time.) However, the band disbanded for several years in the early 2000s, with its members Pauly Fuemana and Alan Jansson even embroiled in a legal battle over the use of the band name. They later worked out their differences, reuniting in 2005 and putting out a single two years later. Sadly, in 2010, Fuemana died at the age of 40 after suffering from a degenerative disease.
Meredith Brooks, ‘Bitch’ (1997)
Then: Meredith Brooks gave a voice to empowered women everywhere with her profanity-laced power anthem ‘Bitch,’ off of her 1997 debut album, ‘Blurring The Edges.’ Brooks’ ‘Bitch’ was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1998 — for Best Female Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.
Now: Though Brooks has continued to make music, her first two albums following ‘Blurring The Edges’ did not sell well, due to leaving her major record label and then the dissolution of her second record label. In 2002, she produced Jennifer Love Hewitt’s album, ‘BareNaked,’ and later received moderate success when her single ‘Shine’ became the ‘Dr. Phil’ theme song. In 2007, Brooks took a drastically different turn from her provocative hit single and recorded a children’s album called ‘If I Could Be…’ She currently works as a music producer, and based on her Twitter, is devoted to spending as much time as she can with her son.
You can listen to her children’s album here.
The Verve, ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ (1997)
Then: British alt-rock band the Verve hit it big in 1997 with ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony,’ the first single off of their third album, ‘Urban Hymns.’ The violin-heavy tune ultimately reached the No. 12 spot in the U.S. on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. In 1999, ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song. That same year, it was also notably featured in the film ‘Cruel Intentions.’
Now: During the success of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony,’ the group was confronted by legal problems regarding their sampling of the Rolling Stones‘ orchestral part in ‘The Last Time’ in ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony,’ and ultimately had to surrender copyright and royalties to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Soon after their success in the late ’90s, the Verve broke up, and its members pursued various musical projects during the eight-year hiatus. The group briefly reunited again in 2007 — just in time to tour and put out a new album — before ultimately calling it quits yet again.
Marcy Playground, ‘Sex and Candy’ (1997)
Then: Marcy Playground burst onto the music scene in 1997 with ‘Sex and Candy,’ the second single off of their debut, self-titled album, spending 15 weeks in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and getting lots of play on VH1 and MTV. Their album soon went platinum, and they released two other singles that same year.
Now: Since the success of ‘Sex and Candy’ and their debut album, Marcy Playground have continued to make music, releasing five studio albums, a compilation album and touring extensively. In 2012, they toured alongside other ’90s acts such as Everclear, the Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray as part of the Summerland Tour.
Semisonic, ‘Closing Time’ (1998)
Then: While many people incorrectly attribute this end-of-the-night anthem to Third Eye Blind, ‘Closing Time’ is actually a hit song by alternative rock band Semisonic, and, like several other songs on this list, was nominated for the Best Rock Song Grammy in 1999.
Now: ‘Secret Smile,’ their follow-up single to ‘Closing Time,’ achieved success in the UK that same year. In 2001, Semisonic released their third album, ‘All About Chemistry,’ which remains the band’s most recent album to date — though they played shows near their hometown of Minneanapolis in 2010 and 2012.
Jimmy Ray, ‘Are You Jimmy Ray?’ (1998)
Then: British pop singer Jimmy Ray made sure that we all knew exactly who he was with his hit single ‘Are You Jimmy Ray?’ which ultimately hit No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. In 1998, he opened for the Backstreet Boys on their summer tour.
Now: After the release of his only album and successful single, Ray effectively disappeared from the limelight. He now works in the music industry for a song production company called Airplayers. According to an interview Ray gave in 2009, he says he has no hard feelings about his career and remembers “the whole experience with good memories.”
New Radicals, ‘You Get What You Give’ (1998)
Then: New Radicals’ ‘You Get What You Give’ was all over the radio airwaves in 1998, charting at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No .30 on the Hot 100 Airplays chart.
Now: ‘Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too’ was to be the band’s only album (and ‘You Get What You Give’ the only hit). The group broke up in 1999, due to frontman Gregg Alexander’s lack of enthusiasm about touring and performing. However, Alexander later found success on the songwriting and producing side of music business, producing the Michelle Branch/Carlos Santana Grammy Award-winning hit ‘Game of Love,’ and working with artists such as Rod Stewart, Enrique Iglesias and Hanson.
Lou Bega, ‘Mambo No. 5′ (1999)
Then: Who didn’t love Lou Bega’s horn-heavy hit ‘Mambo No. 5’? The upbeat song, which was a remake of the original 1949 instrumental version, just made you want to get up and dance (a lot!) It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Now: Bega, who is German and lives in Berlin, has continued to make music, though none of his subsequent albums ever achieved the worldwide success that ‘A Little Bit of Mambo…’ did. His latest album, ‘A Little Bit of 80’s,’ once again features his take on classic hits, this time covering international ’80s songs. Fun fact: Lou Bega also sang the theme song of the 2004 animated Disney Channel show ‘Brandy & Mr. Whiskers.’
Len, ‘Steal My Sunshine’ (1999)
Then: The brother-sister Canadian band Len are proof that a feel-good, slightly-psychedelic song with nonsensical lyrics can make it big, which is exactly what their debut single ‘Steal My Sunshine’ did in 1999.
Now: Though they haven’t matched the commercial success of ‘Steal My Sunshine’ (from their platinum album, ‘You Can’t Stop The Bum Rush’), the band continues to make music and put out albums, their latest being ‘It’s Easy If You Try,’ which was released in October 2012.
Tal Bachman, ‘She’s So High’ (1999)
Then: Canadian singer-songwriter Tal Bachman made a splash in the last year of the ’90s with his song ‘She’s So High,’ a tune he wrote about a girl he was persuading to date his step-brother. Bachman may have thought she was out of his league, but it was he who went on to achieve great success with the single, which earned the fourteenth spot on the U.S. Hot 100 chart.
Now: Bachman released his follow-up album, ‘Staring Down the Sun,’ in 2004 and achieved moderate success in his native country of Canada. Since releasing his second album, Bachman has pursued other interests, becoming a rugby player and political commentator. That being said, Bachman hasn’t abandoned his musical career entirely — in 2011, he performed ‘She’s So High’ alongside Taylor Swift, at Swift’s Vancouver tour stop.