FT5: One Hit Wonder Albums of the 90s

Ah the nineties! The smell of grungy teen spirit and catchy pop songs…does this sound like the intro of a late night infomercial yet? Good.

There is plenty of debate regarding epic rock bands and influential artists that derived during the 90s. There are also those bands that developed during this decade, became ridiculously popular, and either faded away or became larger-than-life.

I’m sure each and every one of you reading this is guilty of immediately purchasing an entire album based on one chart-topping track during this time period. The hits that came out of the 90s take you back to where you were when you first heard it, affected your life in some way and ultimately became a part of pop culture iconography.

There is an abundance of one hit wonder singles. However, this is a list of albums that gained bands immediate attention based on those hits, and never really produced another decent album. As you slammed your Pogs, took a break from Nintendo and recorded Fresh Prince on your VHS, you might have been listening to one of these.


5. Aquarium – Aqua

As one of the only female contributors here at ATH, I get the right to include this album. I don’t know if any of the guys would have the guts to include it, even though they pretended they liked it for their girlfriend at the time. I still remember getting this album in my stocking for Christmas, along with Matchbox 20 and Dave Matthews Band (I know, I was young and dumb). Aqua was best known for their ’97 breakthrough single “Barbie Girl” and sold 33 million albums and singles, which set them as the most successful Danish band ever. They came out with another few albums and then broke up in 2001, but their creepy lead singer and aqua colored album cover will be forever engrained in our memories.


4. Feeling Strangely Fine – Semisonic

Just because “Closing Time” was their only hit doesn’t disqualify them from this list. It still means that you went and paid money for the entire album just to put that track on repeat. I’m sure it made it to the last spot on your mixed tapes too…am I right? There were a few other tracks that gained popularity in the UK, but didn’t quite grab the attention of the US. They’re split screen music video was pretty cool too. Might as well make that hit well rounded.


3. Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind

Hey no hard feelings, just saying that this was 3eb’s only good album. It was released in ’97 with several Top 10 charting singles such as “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Jumper”, and “How’s It Going to Be”. An interesting fact I just learned is that the original album artwork was inspired by The Beatles Revolver album. They had several more hits from their next album which was released two years later, but Third Eye Blind threw the band in the spotlight and made us feel deep and optimistic, like all at the same time and stuff.


2. The Sign – Ace of Base

Released in ‘93, this album will forever remain on every damn juke box across the world, and we’re ok with that. The mere mention of their name and you immediately start singing, “I sawww the sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign”. This album produced three # 1 singles on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart, “All That She Wants”, “The Sign” and “Don’t Turn Around”. They had a few other albums that were mediocre, but this legendary collection can never be topped.


1. Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too – New Radicals

This is the only album by the New Radicals, and we all own it. It was released in ’98 and includes two singles “You Get What You Give” and “Someday We’ll Know”. They’re music video truly represents the coolness of this time period, with lead Gregg Alexander sporting his infamous bucket hat while teens start a food fight in a mall. The chorus line “you’ve got the music in you” had the power to connect us all and make us feel like we fit in somewhere among the confusion. Even if you skipped through the rest of the tracks just to hit #2 and #6, this album is pretty much the epitome of 90s pop rock music. The album achieved Platinum status selling over 1 million copies and reached #41 on the Billboard 200 chart. And that was it for New Radicals.



  • My #1 would be the Toadies -Rubberneck.

    I know they finally put out Hell Below/Stars Above, but that was a long f-ing time between albums for a high school kid that needed a fix. And it was their only album of the 90s (1994).

  • Oh man… I have a lot of these…

    Bush – Sixteen Stone
    Silverchair – Frogstomp
    The Fugees – The Score

    AND fucking…
    Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (she has yet to put anything out since)

    Yeah Bush and Silverchair put out other stuff in the 90s, but it was trash.

  • Yeah, I nearly put Lauryn…there;s just so many.

  • Fuck do/did I ever hate that New Radicals song. I can’t find anything redeeming about it. I remember reading a review of a NR show around the time the album came out and it said they played “Get What You Give” three times over the course of a 45 minute headlining set! Lol. I think that says it all.

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