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30 One-Hit Wonders of the 1970s

"Venus" by Shocking Blue

“Venus” was the most popular song written by Shocking Blue. Just before they performed the song, lead vocals were replaced with Mariska Veres, which may have contributed to their success. “Venus” peaked at No. 3 in the Netherlands, but skyrocketed to No. 1 in America and Great Britain on the Billboard Hot 100. The song sold 350,000 copies in Germany and remained at the top for three weeks. Global sales exceeded five million, making it one of the most popular songs to be released in the Netherlands at the time. Later, Bananarama topped the charts with it in 1986, as well.

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"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace

Though they had other UK  hits, Paper Lace remains a one-hit wonder in the United States. The song describes a fictional encounter between the Al Capone mafia and the Chicago police.

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"My Sharona" by The Knack

The Knack dominated the music charts right out of the gate—"My Sharona" was their debut single released in 1979 and was a number-one hit across the globe. Unfortunately, their domination would not last for long, as none of their later singles achieved as much success. 

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"Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas

“Kung Fu Fighting” is one of the most notable songs of the Disco era and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time. Car Douglas, however, only released 3 albums over 4 years.

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"The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" by Vicki Lawrence

Vicki Lawrence might have been a one-hit wonder when it came to the Billboard charts, but she had a successful run on The Carol Burnett Show, including Golden Globe wins.

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"Brother Louie" by Stories

Some Stories songs became mid-level successes, but it was their cover of “Brother Louie” that brought them to the top of the music charts.

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"Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks

Terry Jacks is more popular in his native Canada. While a couple of his songs charted within the U.S., only “Seasons in the Sun” reached #1.

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"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB

“TSOP” is best known as the theme song for the long-running TV show Soul Train. Mother Father Sister Brother, however, couldn’t replicate its success.

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"Lovin' You" by Minnie Riperton

This #1 hit is famous for the shockingly high whistle register used by singer Minnie Riperton, the mother of Saturday Night Live veteran Maya Rudolph.

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"I Can Help" by Billy Swan

“I Can Help” was a crossover hit for country singer Billy Swan. He found somewhat further success within the Country genre, but no other song charted as well on the Billboard Hot 100.

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"The Hustle" by Van McCoy

“The Hustle” is a disco-era anthem with dance moves to match. Though Van McCoy was a noted producer of hits for Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin, this was the only hit song he could claim for himself.

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"Welcome Back" by John Sebastian

As a member of The Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian had seven top 10 hits. As a solo artist, however, “Welcome Back” remains his one and only.

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"Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band

After their #1 hit “Afternoon Delight,” Starland Vocal Band had three more singles chart, but none broke into the Top 50.

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"Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry

“Play That Funky Music” was a smash hit in 1976, as well as the subject of a very unfortunate Vanilla Ice Cover. Wild Cherry, though, only had one other song enter the Top 50.

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"Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin remains a musical icon of the 70s, but she only had one #1 hit: “Me and Bobby McGee.” “Piece of My Heart” is probably her most famous song, but it was with her band, Big Brother & the Holding Company.

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"A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band

This song, a memorable disco take on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, is Murphy’s only #1 hit. He does, however, have a Grammy Award for its use in Saturday Night Fever and a Primetime Emmy for its use in Family Guy.

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"Disco Duck" by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots

As is often the case with satirical songs, this is radio personality Rick Dees’s only hit. But not to worry, he still currently hosts his own syndicated radio show.

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"Don't Give Up on Us" by David Soul

David Soul might best be known for playing Hutch on Starsky & Hutch, but his first love was music. Though “Don’t Give Up On Us” was a #1 hit, none of his other singles reached the top of the charts in America.

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"Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day

Alan O’Day may have written hit songs for other artists, but he only created one chart-topper for himself. He eventually moved on to composing for television.

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"Hot Child in the City" by Nick Gilder

Like many artists before him, Nick Gilder found more success outside of the United States. He had many chart hits in Canada, but “Hot Child in the City” was his only single that made an impact in America.

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"Knock on Wood" by Amii Stewart

A few of Stewart’s later singles made it onto the charts, but they never peaked near the top. She did, however, find success in Europe.

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"Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward

Ward’s disco anthem was a smash in 1979, so much so that it reached the year-end Top 10. Ward never followed up on the success, though.

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"Pop Muzik" by M

“Pop Muzik” was the only chart topper by new wave group M, but founder Robin Scott had further successful hits as a solo artist in his native UK.

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"The Rapper" by The Jaggerz

While only reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, “The Rapper” sold over a million copies, receiving Gold (now Platinum) certification. None of the Jaggerz other singles reached that level.

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"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Kiki Dee & Elton John

Elton John, obviously, is no one-hit wonder. Kiki Dee, on the other hand, didn’t find much success in the U.S. This is her only #1 hit.

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"Vehicle" by The Ides of March

While “Vehicle” was a #2 smash, The Ides of March’s other singles hovered near 100 on the Billboard charts.

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"Put Your Hand in the Hand" by Ocean

Ocean’s cover of this gospel song raced to #2 on the charts, but their only other hits were north of the border in Canada.

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"Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight

Jean Knight’s multi-platinum hit helped fuel Stax Records’ rivalry with Motown Records, but her other singles only made impacts on the U.S. R&B charts.

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"Pillow Talk" by Sylvia

Sylvia had 12 singles on the U.S. R&B charts during the 70s and 80s, but her only Top 50 entry was “Pillow Talk,” which peaked at #3.

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"Float On" by The Floaters

It’s usually not a good sign when your hit song and your name are essentially the same. None of The Floaters other released singles even charted.

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