The 2010s gave us some incredible songs from the artists we all know and love. But several of the biggest hit singles of the decade came from unknown names, some of which we never heard from again. In this article, we’ll go over the 41 best one hit wonders that were released in the 2010s.
1. Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye
Somebody That I Used To Know might be one of the best one hit wonders of all time, not even just of the 2010s. It was released in 2011 as the second single to come from Gotye’s Making Mirrors album and featured vocals from New Zealand singer Kimbra. He wrote the song himself, and it relates to past experiences he had in romantic relationships. It ended up being a massive hit, winning the ARIA Song of the Year and Best Video awards and got him named the ARIA Best Male Artist of the Year.
In the rest of the world, it was a global success that became a signature track for both artists. It took the top spot in the US, Australia, the UK, and 25 other official charts. It was a top-10 single in a further 30 countries worldwide. Globally, it has sold over 20 million copies and is one of the best-selling digital downloads of all time. But he sort of disappeared like somebody that we used to know after it, making it an undeniable one hit wonder.
2. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People
Pumped Up Kicks was a crazy sleeper hit in 2011 and gained a lot of attention after it was posted online as a free download. It turned into Foster The People’s breakthrough hit and earned them a multi-album record deal, but the indie pop band didn’t ever really produce another hit.
It is a dark song, but not in the music. It sounds mostly upbeat and cheery in its melody, but the lyrics reflect the thoughts of a homicidal teen. The track went on to spend eight consecutive weeks at number three on the Hot 100 and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
3. Riptide – Vance Joy
Riptide was another massive hit from Australia. Vance Joy released it as the second single from his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing in 2013, and it would appear again on his debut album Dream Your Life Away the following year.
It ended up peaking at number six on the ARIA Singles Chart and set a record when it spent a total of 120 weeks in the top 100 of that chart. It only rose to number 30 on the Hot 100 but spent a total of 44 weeks in that chart as well. In the UK, it fared a bit better by breaking into the top 10.
4. Gangnam Style – PSY
PSY may now be known more for comedic performances than as a rapper, but his international hit single Gangnam Style was a worldwide sensation when it was released in 2012. Gangnam style is a term that became very popular when referring to people living nouveau riche lifestyles, mainly in the Gangnam region of South Korea.
His song debuted at number one on the South Korean chart, and the music video subsequently went viral, influencing popular culture on a global scale. It reached the top spot on the charts in more than 30 countries, peaking at number two in the US. Plenty of parodies were made that gave it some longevity and helped the Korean culture wave gain even more steam.
5. Sail – AWOLNATION
Sail was released by AWOLNATION on their debut EP Back From Earth in 2010 and was a major feature of their debut album Megalithic Symphony a year later. It was a surprise hit single for the unknown band, debuting at number 89 on the Hot 100 and spending 20 weeks on the chart. It re-entered the chart a year later and became a sleeper hit that made it to number 17 on the chart.
In total, the song spent 79 weeks on the Hot 100, making it the fourth-longest amount of time on the chart a track has spent on it. The electric rock has been the highlight of plenty of commercials and other media examples in the years since, though it has remained the one hit wonder they have produced.
6. The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) – Ylvis
For parents, this might have been one of the most annoying songs of all time. The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) was a huge viral hit in 2013 and was such a huge comedic hit that it turned into an international hit single for Ylvis. A dance novelty track, it trended on YouTube in 2013, and 10 years later, it surpassed one billion views on the site.
It rose to the top of the Norwegian Singles Chart and spent three consecutive weeks at number six on the US Hot 100. At the time, it was the highest-charting single in the US by a Norwegian artist as well. It was meant to be anti-hit, completely satirical, and comedic. No album came out of it, nor any follow-up singles, so it can only be described as a one hit wonder.
7. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
Elle King recorded Ex’s & Oh’s for her debut album in 2015, and it was released the year before as her debut single. It immediately received critical acclaim thanks to the creative lyrics and catchy sound of the track.
It started off its successful run in the rock genre, rising to number one on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart. It then crossed over to the pop and alternative charts, taking the top spot of the Alternative Songs chart and peaking at number 10 on the Hot 100. It ended up appearing on 36 different international charts, reaching the top 10 of 21 of those. While it didn’t win either award, it earned Grammy nominations for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.
8. Teach Me How To Dougie – Cali Swag District
In 2010, the trend of hip hop songs that came with correlated dances was still not over. Cali Swag District released Teach Me How To Dougie as part of their debut album Kickback in 2011. The whole track is referencing the “Dougie” dance that originated with Lil Wayne’s song My Dougie.
The track ended up peaking at number 28 on the Hot 100 and number nine on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, earning a platinum certification along the way. It was a track that directly profited from earlier songs like Soulja Boy’s Crank That and New Boyz’s You’re A Jerk with the dance crazes of the era but managed to be even catchier than those earlier singles.
9. All Gold Everything – Trinidad James
Trinidad James released All Gold Everything in 2012 as the lead single of his debut mixtape Don’t Be S.A.F.E. It was ranked by some as one of the top 50 songs of the year and ended up being a huge influence on the music scene as a whole.
It was interpolated in Bruno Mars’ track Uptown Funk, and several remixes were released that featured other prominent Atlanta rappers like T.I. and 2 Chainz. This peaked at number 36 on the Hot 100 and broke the top 10 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles, Hot Rap Songs, and Rhythmic charts.
10. Harlem Shake – Baauer
Few songs in all of history spawned a viral trend as global as Harlem Shake was able to do. It was recorded by Baauer in 2012 and released as his debut single the same year. The big point of the track was that it referred to the “Harlem Shake,” a dance trend that became a huge hit.
Internet memes began popping up, people began posting viral videos of them doing the dance in all sorts of places with the song playing in the background, and the internet presence made the track chart on official music charts worldwide. It topped the Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart, ending up being an international hit single.
11. I Love It – Icona Pop Feat. Charli XCX
While Charlie XCX might be a name you recognize, you would only know Icona Pop from this single. I Love It was released as a digital download in Sweden in 2012 and made it to number two on that country’s chart.
After it was included on a couple of major publication’s year-end lists, it gained momentum internationally and was both artists’ first US hit, peaking at number seven on the US Hot 100 as well as the UK Singles Chart. In total, it managed to earn over four million digital download sales and earned several certifications in different countries around the world.
12. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
Safe And Sound is a happy, upbeat, and cozy little pop song that indie duo Capital Cities released in 2011 as the lead single of their debut EP. It later served as the lead single for their debut album in 2013 as well and became a breakout hit single. Eventually, it rose to number eight on the Hot 100 and the music video produced for the track was nominated for Best Music Video at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Even today, it remains the theme song for the NHL team the Washington Capitals.
13. Panda – Desiigner
Panda was released in 2015 and was a massive hit on its own. It was eventually heavily sampled by Kanye West for Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2 and got even bigger. It inspired an incredible number of remixes and was one of the songs that helped trap music grow to the point that it’s at today in spite of it being Desiigner’s only big hit single as a rapper.
It ended up spending two weeks in the number-one spot on the Hot 100 and 17 weeks inside the top 10 of that chart. It was one of the most demanded tracks of the entire year, eventually even earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance.
14. OOOUUU – Young M.A
OOOUUU by Young M.A was such a great track because of how simple it was. It felt authentic, giving it more credibility with listeners and that sort of authenticity really helped push it up the charts. In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked it at number 11 on their list of the best songs of the year, and Eminem even sampled it for the opening track of his Kamikaze album. In the US, it peaked at number 19 on the Hot 100 and number five on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
15. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man
Feel It Still was an interesting song, as it draws on the melody from the 1961 hit single Please Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes. It was the second single and first radio single to come from Portugal. The Man’s eighth studio album, Woodstock, and was a big sleeper hit for them.
It ended up reaching the top 10 on the charts in 18 countries, taking the top spot on the US Alternative Songs, and the Mexican and Russian TopHit airplay charts. In 2018, the track even won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
16. Cheerleader – OMI
OMI’s Cheerleader had a weird rise to becoming one of the biggest songs of 2015. It was in development for quite a while before finding success in Jamaica by topping that country’s chart, eventually finding airplay in Dubai and Hawaii. The record label had remixes produced that were released in 2015 by Ultra, which turned into a worldwide hit.
The track reached the top spot of the charts in 20 other countries, a list that included the US, the UK, France, Mexico, Canada, and Germany. The dance song was praised by some critics as being the one that brought deep house music to the US.
17. Clouds – Zach Sobiech
It’s hard to think of Clouds as anything other than a one hit wonder since it’s the only single Zach Sobiech has ever released. It was included on his band’s debut EP Fix Me Up, but he hasn’t released another single. Why? Because all proceeds from this song went to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, a branch of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
At 14, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, and the track was written about his battle with cancer. A lot of tribute covers were created of the song, with 30 stars from all corners of entertainment getting in on the action.
18. Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men
Little Talks served as the debut single of the Icelandic band Of Monsters And Men. It was the lead single of their debut album My Head Is An Animal in 2011 and was a feature of their EP Into The Woods. It was meant to describe two people talking past each other, with one unable to hear the other, but that’s because one is no longer among the living.
It ended up propelling the band to national popularity in the US, peaking at number 20 on the Hot 100 and taking 30 weeks to reach that spot. It remains to this day the highest chart peak for an Icelandic artist.
19. Let Her Go – Passenger
Let Her Go is one of the most melancholic songs to come out through the entire 2010s and was a pretty big hit once it was released in 2012 from Passenger’s fourth album All The Little Lights. The main point of the track is that it describes the regrets that come along with ending a relationship and how people don’t appreciate what they have until it is gone.
It topped charts in countries around the world and made it to number five on the US Hot 100. In 2014, the song was nominated for the British Single of the Year award at the Brit Awards and won the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work.
20. Rude – MAGIC!
Rude was the debut single from Canadian band MAGIC!, serving as the promotional single of their debut album Don’t Kill The Magic in 2013. An official remix eventually was also produced that featured Kid Ink, Ty Dolla $ign, and Travis Barker. While it earned mixed critical reviews, it was still an international hit single.
It rose to number six on the Canadian Hot 100, the Hot 100, and the UK Singles Chart. In 2014, it was the ninth-best-selling single of the entire year, taking home over eight million worldwide record sales. It then went on to win the Juno Award for Single of the Year.
21. Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) – Silentó
Silentó’s debut single was Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). It was another one of the hip hop songs that came with its own dance, but this one was a combination of moves from the viral dance trends the “Whip” and the “Nae Nae.” It even incorporated some moves from “Crank That” and “Stanky Legg.”
The track itself drew some negative reviews for the dance, but it was still a viral hit single that made it to number three on the Billboard Hot 100. Even today, it’s his best-known single and the one that was able to put him on the map.
22. Best Day of My Life – American Authors
Best Day Of My Life was released as the lead single of American Author’s third EP and their debut single album Oh, What A Life. The inspiration for the song was that the group thought a track meant to make people happy was missing from the rock world, so they wanted something simple that could make people smile.
It ended up receiving significant radio airplay, debuting at number 49 on the Hot Rock Songs chart in 2013. Eventually, it became their only track to break the US Top 40 by peaking at number 11 on the Hot 100 and number one on the Adult Top 40.
23. I’m Awesome – Spose
Spose self-released I’m Awesome in 2010 and saw it get quite a lot of radio airplay in his home state of Maine. A few months later, it was getting played across the country, eventually finding its way to the iTunes store and becoming a big hit single.
It made it to number 37 and number 36 on the Hot 100 and Mainstream Top 40 respectively, quite the feat for a song independently released by an artist. An official remix of the track was released the same year that saw him team up with Mac Lethal, and in 2012, it was used as the theme song for the sitcom Mr. D.
24. Love Like Woe – The Ready Set
Love Like Woe was a major hit from electro-pop singer Jordan Witzigreuter and The Ready Set that came from his record label debut album I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming. It mainly deals with situations he and his friends had dealt with in relationships that saw them wanting to be with people that weren’t great for them. The relatability of the song—and its catchy chorus—propelled it to number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 30 on the Canadian charts. The music video even featured a cameo from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.
25. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
Rachel Platten’s Fight Song was one of the most inspiring and empowering tracks of the 2010s, becoming an anthem for movements across the US from marches against cancer to feminist rallies. It was the lead single from her debut album Wildfire in 2016 and turned into an international hit single. In the US, it made it to number six on the Hot 100, but it took the top spot on the charts in both the UK and Poland.
26. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
Sweater Weather was the lead single of The Neighbourhood’s debut album I Love You in 2013. It was a huge alternative hit, reaching the top of the Alternative Songs chart and spending 11 non-consecutive weeks in that position. It also gained new popularity in the 2020s after it became a viral sound on TikTok, earning a ton of Spotify streams thanks to that social media trend. In 2022, it ranked as one of the top 100 streamed tracks on Spotify’s platform, an incredible feat for a one hit wonder.
27. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Feat. Bruno Mars
Uptown Funk served as the lead single for Mark Ronson’s fourth album and saw him team up with Bruno Mars after they had worked together on tour for a while. Ignoring the lawsuits surrounding the song, it was an 80s-inspired track that generated a lot of buzz among fans and critics alike. It topped the charts in 19 countries and peaked within the top 10 in a further 15 countries. It spent a total of 14 weeks on top of the Hot 100 and seven weeks on top of the UK Singles Chart.
28. Budapest – George Ezra
Budapest was the song that put George Ezra on the map, becoming a major hit for the artist by topping the charts in Australia, New Zealand, and Slovenia. It was an international hit by breaking the top 10 in 11 other countries and was the 10th-best-selling single in the UK in 2014. He said it was an attempt at writing a love track, but interestingly, it had pretty much nothing to do with the Hungarian city it was named after.
29. Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton
Can’t Hold Us is interesting as a one hit wonder because Macklemore & Ryan Lewis made their name on the single Thrift Shop and that success propelled their earlier work to new heights. This one came out in 2011 but ended up gaining attention in 2013 by reaching the top of the Hot 100 and becoming their second number-one single together. On Spotify, it was the most-streamed song of the year and was an international hit, but it was their last great single.
30. Despacito – Luis Fonsi Feat. Daddy Yankee
Justin Bieber’s remix of Despacito might have gotten more mainstream attention, but Luis Fonsi’s original version was the best one to come out. It wasn’t Daddy Yankee’s first hit single, but it turned out to be a huge one for Fonsi. It’s been credited as renewing mainstream interest in Latin music, winning several awards at both the English and Latin Grammy Awards and topping the charts in 47 countries around the world.
31. Say Something – A Great Big World And Christina Aguilera
Say Something might have been one of the saddest and most emotional songs of the entire decade. It was released by A Great Big World on their debut album Is There Anybody Out There? in 2013. A slow piano ballad about a breakup, it didn’t do particularly well until the version with Christina Aguilera was made available. After that, it took off and eventually peaked at number four on the Hot 100.
32. Let You Down – NF
NF has definitely built a cult following throughout his career, but mainstream success has mostly stayed out of reach for him. Let You Down stands as his biggest success story. It was the third single to come from his album Perception in 2017 and is his highest-charting track to date. It peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100 and topped the Pop Songs chart.
33. Dance Monkey – Tones & I
Dance Monkey was another song that was bolstered quite a bit by viral trends. It topped charts in 38 countries and broke the record for most weeks at number one on the Australian Singles chart at 24 weeks. As of 2023, it’s the most-streamed track on Spotify by a female artist and third-most-streamed overall.
34. Come With Me Now – Kongos
Come With Me Now was the first track by Kongos to reach the charts in the US. It ended up topping the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2014, two years after being released from their album Lunatic. The music video for it on YouTube has received well over 120 million views as well, making it an incredible success for the South African group.
35. Nasty Freestyle – T-Wayne
Nasty Freestyle served as T-Wayne’s debut single and was a freestyle rap over the beat to bandit Gang Marco’s Nasty. In 2015, it became a viral sensation, often used in videos posted to Instagram and Vine. Eventually, it made it to number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100 and almost broke over one million record sales.
36. Baby Shark – Pinkfong
Baby Shark might have come from a YouTube channel for children, and it might be the most annoying song of all time for parents, but there’s no denying that it’s been a huge success. It first became popular in 2016 when it went viral across several internet platforms. In 2022, it became the first YouTube video to reach 10 billion views and is now the most-viewed video on YouTube with over 13 billion views in total.
37. Whip My Hair – Willow Smith
Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair was very popular when it was released in 2010, but she sadly wouldn’t follow it up with anything of note. This song ended up reaching number 11 on the Hot 100 and was a top-20 track in several other countries around the world.
38. Ho Hey – The Lumineers
Ho Hey was a fun track from the Lumineers that ended up spending 18 non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Rock Songs chart. It was a top-three track on the Hot 100 as well, turning into a major US hit.
39. Thotiana Remix – Blueface Feat. YG
Thotiana Remix was a song that first gained recognition on WorldStarHipHop’s YouTube channel in 2018. Blueface released it as a single from his debut mixtape, and it eventually was ranked as one of the catchiest tracks of 2019.
40. Friday – Rebecca Black
There’s no denying the success of Friday, it was a huge hit single for Rebecca Black. And though she never capitalized on it by releasing further hits, the song made its way into becoming one of the most disliked YouTube videos of all time and amassing hundreds of millions of views on the platform.
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41. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Call Me Maybe is another pop song many people think of as being annoying, but it charted for a very specific reason. No matter how memeable it was, the track was one of the best-selling ringtones of all time.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.