What artist made the biggest career out of one song?

My vote- Macy Gray. This no talent hack had one fluke out of left field novelty hit ten years ago. That’s it. Albums don’t even make the Top 40 anymore, which is unthinkable- the are literally hundreds of shitty artists with enough of a fan base to at leat spent their debut week in the Top 20, minimum. Diana Krall, Norah Jones- non singles artists of a similar ilk- spend at least a year on the charts with each album.

And yet, she has managed to turn schtick that got old after one song into- a performance in Spider Man 1 (30 years from now, there’ll be many ‘who the fuck is that’ moments watrching the DVD), recent tour supporting David Bowie, co-headlining at one of the recent Earth concerts, and her recent album (which debuted at #39 and has sold about 70,000 copies to date) depicted on the main Apple page during the iphone launch. Has anyone come close to getting so much out of one (shitty) song?

I was gonna say Norman Greenbaum with Spirit in the Sky but it turns out he’s one of those rare two-hit wonders. :slight_smile:

Wikipedia Link

What? Macy Gray has been in films, and has several albums out. Her hit “I Try” came out in 1999, where do you get the “ten years ago” figure?

I was going to say Lee Greenwood, but that link shows he’s actually charted 29 times and had seven #1 songs. Of course, that’s on the country chart, so he’s only had his one Top-40 hit. So yeah, I’m going to go with him as my answer…

Gotta be Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

According to my trusty copy of Billboard’s Top 100 Hits (warning, several years out of date) a number of the biggest 1-hit wonders came and went before most people on this board were born.

Arbitrarily cutting the pre-1965 songs off entirely, the “official” top 1-hit wonders ever include:

Pop Muzik - M Sire
We Are the World - USA for Africa (which probably shouldn’t count)
In the Year 2525 - Zager and Evans
Into the Night - Benny Mardones
Do You Wanna Make Love - Peter McCann

But, pretty clearly, none of them were able to make a career out of those songs.

Tossing out the assorted movie composers and actors who did a song as a sideline, it looks like the artists who got the most mileage out of their only hit were The Singing Nun (who went along for a good 10 years after Dominique) and The Silhouettes, who broke in (and out) of the bright lights with Get a Job in 1958.

Post 1965 it looks like Nena, with 99 luftballoons.

Rupert Holmes has written several successful Broadway musicals and wrote one successful TV series, Remember WENN. He’s written novels, too. Escape is a sidelight of his career, not a centerpiece.

That is nothing more than opinion. His IMDB Profile clearly shows that one could reasonably infer that Escape was indeed the centerpiece of his career.

My mistake. One piece of shit novelty hit eight years ago.

And Rupert Holmes also wrote the best song ever about cannibalism, “Timothy”.

How’s about Chris Isaak with Wicked Game? The guy has been living off the fame and exposure that song has wrought for 15 or 16 years now…and living pretty damn well, at that.

While Holmes’s profile on the IBDB clearly indicates it is not a one-hit wonder. Hell, he’s won two Tony Awards and two Drama Desk awards.

Escape may be his best known work, but it’s peripheral to his career. If it didn’t exist, he’d still have his Tony awards (and other nominations) and actors getting Emmy nominations for performing his scripts.

Is this a list of one-hit-wonders (been there, done that X 50) or a list of people who milked their “biggest” song for all it’s worth?

For the latter, at least here in the States, it’s gotta be Lee Greenwood.

Well, one guy who comes to mind is Johnny Paycheck. I’ve never heard him singing anything but “Take This Job and Shove It,” but he made a career out of that song!

As for Rupert Holmes, a guy who won a Tony Award for composer of the Best Musical is NOT a mere one-trick pony.

I like this one as well.

Oh, and what about Bobby “Boris” Pickett?


Wait a second. You’re basing the statement that Escape was the centerpiece of his career because of a statement on his IMDb page that is labeled trvia? :dubious: :smack: :eek:

Really, trivia? You didn’t even bother clicking on the more link in that same line?

Rupert Holmes has real fans. Some of them like his many albums. Some of them are theater buffs. Some of them think that Remember WENN may have claims to being one of the best sitcoms ever on television and maybe the best ever to debut on cable. He did all the music for that show as well, absolutely note-perfect pastiches of 40s songs, to go along with his absolutely line-perfect renditions of 40s radio programs. His novels are pretty eh, but they have fans too.

I’m a fan, because I think he has incredible talent in many fields and has displayed that in one of the best creative careers around.

Trivia, indeed.

As for the OP, how about Scott McKenzie? Can you name one thing he ever did besides “San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)”? He’s still on the oldies circuit because of that song and he didn’t even write it. John Phillips did.

Wow, is he really touring on his own steam, for the one song? I saw him back in the late '80s in Toronto with The Mamas & The Papas, where he was substituting for Denny Doherty (the part of Mama Cass was played by Spanky MacFarlane of Spanky & Our Gang, and Michelle Phillips was feebly imitated by her daughter). Of course they played his big number.

While not a one hit wonder exactly (due to their no hit status), I’ve always felt that the best example of this is The Violent Femmes. The only album anyone listens to was released in 1982, yet they are still touring based on that album. Of course it is a near perfect “high school angst” album, but 25 years is too long for the angry teen schtick.

Wow…I was at that concert too! The Ontario Place Forum, right?