The Biggest One-Hit Wonder

Overview

It’s much easier to define a one-hit wonder than the king of pop: a song by an artist who never hit the charts with another song in their careers. The biggest would be the one that spent the most time at the top of the charts; for my purposes, I’m counting weeks in the top ten. I analyzed my data to find songs by artists who never appeared for another song. However, since I don’t have full weekly top 40 or top 100 data, I had to take the top candidates and manually check for other hits. Here are the top one-hit wonders. Clearly, we have three definite winners; two of them are exactly what I think of when I think “one-hit wonder”.

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Who is the King of Pop?

Overview

One of the first questions about pop music that occurred to me was: is Michael Jackson truly the king of pop, as he was often called? If not Michael, who is the true king1 of pop? At an intuitive level, it seemed to me that being the king broke down to two main factors: the king should have the most hit songs of all time, and the king should have been a dominant presence on the charts for many years, such that you could barely listen to pop music without hearing one or another of his or her songs.

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50 Years of Pop Songs

Like many, I was deeply immersed in pop when I was growing up (for me, the 80s). I then abandoned it for more esoteric stuff for a while, spending the 90s mostly listening to industrial, techno, and electronica. In the last ten years or so, I’ve returned to pop with a new appreciation for the genius of a perfectly crafted pop song.

When I came back to pop, I formed a couple of crotchety-old-man theories about how contemporary pop differs from its forebears. I’m a cautious person though, so before ranting about the kids today, I decided to collect some data and test my theories. The result is an exploration of the last 50 years of pop songs. As it happens, I haven’t yet finished my original driving question about pop song meaning; my explorations of “popularity” are linked below.

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