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  • Gavin Scott

Two-Hit Wonders On The Australian Chart

Previously, I decided to set the record straight on one-hit wonders in Australia, and looked at artists who scored one major hit (either a number 1 single or a top 10 song) and never returned to the top 50 during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Feargal Sharkey: a classic two-hit wonder

As the title of this post suggests, a two-hit wonder is an artist that landed two massive hits then was never heard from again. In other words, an act with two top 10 hits (sometimes including a number 1) and no other top 50 entries.

Many two-hit wonders are often wrongly included on one-hit wonder lists because their second hit is forgotten for whatever reason but I'll restore their proper status here. And I'll cover all three decades in one go. Let's get to it...

Two-Hit Wonders Of The 1980s

Some of the artists in this section had the first of their two big hits during the '70s, but they all attained two-hit wonder status during the '80s.

Murray Head Given his two hits were from stage shows, you'd be excused for thinking Murray was a musical theatre star but his recordings of the Jesus Christ Superstar and Chess tunes were taken from albums released before either production made it to the stage. Fun fact: the actor/singer is the older brother of Anthony Head from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Merlin.

Hit 1: "Superstar" (with The Trinidad Singers)

Entered the Australian chart: January 5, 1970

Peak: number 5

Hit 2: "One Night In Bangkok" Entered the Australian chart: January 21, 1985

Peak: number 1

Deniece Williams

Her first Australian chart hit came from her duet album with Johnny Mathis (with whom she'd later record the theme tune to Family Ties, "Without Us"), while her second was taken from the Footloose soundtrack. Following the success of "Let's Hear It For The Boy", Deniece moved more into the gospel genre. Hit 1: "Too Much Too Little Too Late" (with Johnny Mathis)

Entered the Australian chart: May 29, 1978

Peak: number  6

Hit 2: "Let's Hear It For The Boy"

Entered the Australian chart: May 28, 1984

Peak: number 3

Kelly Marie

The Scottish singer formerly known as Jacqueline McKinnon (her birth name) and Keli Brown (her first stage name) was signed after appearing on British TV talent quest Opportunity Knocks. Opportunity almost only knocked once for Kelly, with "Feels Like I'm In Love" failing to chart upon release in 1979 and taking until late 1980 to connect with record buyers.

Hit 1: "Make Love To Me"

Entered the Australian chart: October 30, 1978

Peak: number 5

Hit 2: "Feels Like I'm In Love"

Entered the Australian chart: October 20, 1980

Peak: number 7

Dan Hartman

Besides the two Australian chart hits under his own name, Dan was also the original performer of "Relight My Fire" (later covered by Take That featuring Lulu) and the songwriter of "Love Sensation" (later sampled by Black Box on "Ride On Time"). Dan passed away in 1994.

Hit 1: "Instant Replay"

Entered the Australian chart: January 22, 1979

Peak: number 6

Hit 2: "I Can Dream About You"

Entered the Australian chart: July 9, 1984

Peak: number 3

Rocky Burnette

Despite featuring some fantastic music, the early '80s was also a time when Shakin' Stevens and Dr Hook were massive on the Australian chart. Rockabilly performer Rocky Burnette fit right into that throwback craze with his two massive hits from 1980 the former of which was later covered by Shaky.

Hit 1: "Tired Of Toein' The Line"

Entered the Australian chart: March 31, 1980

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "Fallin' In Love (Bein' Friends)"

Entered the Australian chart: July 21, 1980

Peak: number 6

Juice Newton

Decades before Taylor Swift did a Shania, Dolly Parton and Juice Newton perfected the art of crossing over from the country scene to the pop charts. Juice (real name: Judy) did it with these two cover versions. Neither song was that well known before Juice got her hands on it but both certainly were afterwards.

Hit 1: "Angel Of The Morning"

Entered the Australian chart: April 6, 1981

Peak: number 2

Hit 2: "Queen Of Hearts"

Entered the Australian chart: August 3, 1981

Peak position: number 8

Time Bandits

This Dutch band was so popular in Australia for a brief period of time that they even filmed the video for their second hit single here. Both songs are pure pop perfection.

Hit 1: "I Am Only Shooting Love"

Entered the Australian chart: October 22, 1984

Peak: number 9

Hit 2: "Endless Road"

Entered the Australian chart: September 9, 1985

Peak: number 5

The Power Station

When one half of Duran Duran went off to form Arcadia, John Taylor and Andy Taylor teamed up with Robert Palmer (who was in between solo albums), and Chic's Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards for this side-project. Their first hit was an original track, while "Get It On" was a cover of the T. Rex single from 1971.

Hit 1: "Some Like It Hot"

Entered the Australian chart: April 8, 1985

Peak: number 4

Hit 2: "Get It On (Bang A Gong)"

Entered the Australian chart: June 24, 1985

Peak: number 8

The Hooters

Like fellow soft rockers Mr Mister (who narrowly miss out on this list see below), The Hooters had one hit I liked much better than the other. While "All You Zombies" was all moody (like "Broken Wings"), "And We Danced" is a triumphant pop moment (like "Kyrie"). The band isn't named after the well-known American chain of restaurants, but instead the colloquial term for the melodica (that keyboard instrument you can blow into).

Hit 1: "All You Zombies"

Entered the Australian chart: August 5, 1985

Peak: number 8

Hit 2: "And We Danced"

Entered the Australian chart: September 23, 1985

Peak: number 6

Feargal Sharkey

The first artist who springs to mind when I think of two-hit wonders, Feargal had been the singer for punk group The Undertones (who never hit the Australian top 100) as well as the vocalist on "Never Never" (which reached number 95 here) by The Assembly, Vince Clarke's post-Yazoo, pre-Erasure project. So, after missing the top 50 twice previously, it was only fair that Feargal have a double whammy with his solo recordings.

Hit 1: "A Good Heart"

Entered the Australian chart: November 18, 1985

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "You Little Thief"

Entered the Australian chart: February 18, 1986

Peak: number 4

Stacey Q

Hitting number 7 on two separate occasions was as lucky as Madonna-lite singer Stacey Swain got with her music career. Her post-fame CV features the fantastically bizarre achievement of having a "special non-sexual appearance" in a gay porn film.

Hit 1: "Two Of Hearts"

Entered the Australian chart: October 13, 1986

Peak: number 7

Hit 2: "We Connect"

Entered the Australian chart: March 2, 1987

Peak: number 7

The Proclaimers

I've already remarked on my weekly ARIA chart recaps that Scottish twins Craig and Charlie Reid were one of my least favourite things about music in 1989 and that was largely because their success wasn't limited to just the one inescapable, massive single. No, Australia had to go and make a hit out of follow-up "I'm On My Way" as well something that didn't even happen in the UK.

Hit 1: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"

Entered the Australian chart: November 21, 1988

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "I'm On My Way"

Entered the Australian chart: March 6, 1989

Peak: number 3

Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers

And so, the '80s ended just as they began with awful medley records dominating the top 10 and old school rock'n'roll back in the charts. Jive Bunny were the new Stars On 45 and "Swing The Mood" was the type of song that appealed to people who never otherwise bought records (or hadn't since the early '60s). The only good things I have to say about the pesky rabbit-fronted project are 1) including the Hawaii Five-O theme in "That's What I Like" was actually not a bad move and 2) at least in this case, Australia didn't have it as badly as Britain, where Jive Bunny landed three consecutive chart-toppers.

Hit 1: "Swing The Mood"

Entered the Australian chart: October 2, 1989

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "That's What I Like"

Entered the Australian chart: November 27, 1989

Peak: number 4

Honourable Mentions: The 1980s

Here's a list of acts with one top 10 single, one top 20 single and no other top 50 entries many of them are often mistakenly referred to as one-hit wonders:

  • Angry Anderson: "Suddenly" (number 2), "Bound For Glory"(number 11)

  • Art Of Noise: "Peter Gunn" featuring Duane Eddy (number 11), "Kiss" featuring Tom Jones (number 8)

  • Communards: "Don't Leave Me This Way" (number 2), "Never Can Say Goodbye" (number 13)

  • Dynamic Hypnotics: "Soul Kind Of Feeling" (number 5), "Gotta Be Wrong (Way To Love)" (number 20)

  • Falco: "Der Kommissar" (number 7), "Rock Me Amadeus" (number 15)

  • Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods: "Rev It Up" (number 3), "Man With A Gun" (number 16)

  • Tone Loc: "Wild Thing" (number 15), "Funky Cold Medina" (number 8)

  • Loverboy: "Turn Me Loose" (number 3), "Working For The Weekend" (number 19)

  • Mr Mister: "Broken Wings" (number 4), "Kyrie" (number 11)

  • Alan O'Day: "Undercover Angel" (number 9), "Skinny Girls" (number 11)

  • The Romantics: "What I Like About You" (number 2), "Talking In Your Sleep" (number 14)

  • Toto Coelo: "I Eat Cannibals" (number 4), "Dracula's Tango (Sucker For Your Love)" (number 19)

  • Traveling Wilburys: "Handle With Care" (number 3), "End Of The Line" (number 12)

  • Underworld: "Underneath The Radar" (number 5), "Born Slippy" (number 20)

  • Bill Wyman: "(Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star" (number 5), "Come Back Suzanne" (number 12)

Two-Hit Wonders Of The 1990s

As we move into the '90s, there are a couple of potentially contentious inclusions on the list of two-hit wonders, but as always, the chart facts don't lie.

Glenn Medeiros

He debuted as a fresh-faced 17-year-old balladeer from Hawaii before kind of successfully sexing up his image three years later with "She Ain't Worth It", which featured a rap from bad boy Bobby Brown for good measure. Like "The Greatest Love Of All", "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" had originally been recorded by George Benson.

Hit 1: "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You"

Entered the Australian chart: September 21, 1987

Peak: number 10

Hit 2: "She Ain't Worth It" (featuring Bobby Brown)

Entered the Australian chart: August 5, 1990

Peak: number 8

Big Audio Dynamite II

Here's one of those tricky inclusions since Big Audio Dynamite II was, as the name suggests, the sequel to Big Audio Dynamite, who landed two minor chart hits ("The Bottom Line", number 34 and "E=MC2", number 47) in 1986. But, as the name BAD II also implies, it was a different entity from the original band, with former Clash guitarist/singer Mick Jones the only common member. For me, it's the equivalent of DJs/producers who release records under more then one alias since the name on the record is different, it's a separate act.

Hit 1: "Rush"

Entered the Australian chart: May 12, 1991

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "The Globe"

Entered the Australian chart: November 17, 1991

Peak: number 8

Sonia Dada

Every so often, Australia will embrace an international artist that no one else seemingly has any time for. Toni Childs. Paul Lekakis. Icy Blu. And, in 1993, American soul/rock band Sonia Dada joined those ranks out of nowhere with a four-week chart-topper (which spent seven weeks before that at number 2) and a follow-up that also did pretty well. Then, we lost interest just as quickly.

Hit 1: "You Don't Treat Me No Good"

Entered the Australian chart: November 15, 1992

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "You Ain't Thinking (About Me)"

Entered the Australian chart: February 14, 1993

Peak: number 3


Proving the adage "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again", D:Ream's two Australian top 10 hits were released multiple times in the UK before finding their mark. Indeed, "U R The Best Thing" followed the proverb to the letter, taking three releases to hit the UK top 5. Things were a bit simpler for the dance act in Australia, where their overseas success easily led to a brace of number 9 hits.

Hit 1: "Things Can Only Get Better"

Entered the Australian chart: February 20, 1994

Peak: number 9

Hit 2: "U R The Best Thing"

Entered the Australian chart: May 8, 1994

Peak: number 9


Here's another act that Australia took to its bosom when even the singer's home country weren't that fussed about his brand of high-energy cover versions. First hit "Sky High" was originally recorded by Jigsaw (or British Jigsaw as they were known in Australia since we already had our own band called Jigsaw) in 1975, while "Sometimes When We Touch" was a 1978 hit for Dan Hill. Fun fact: Newton's real name is Billy Myers.

Hit 1: "Sky High"

Entered the Australian chart: February 5, 1995

Peak: number 8

Hit 2: "Sometimes When We Touch"

Entered the Australian chart: September 1, 1996

Peak: number 5

Tokyo Ghetto Pussy

A year earlier, they'd landed two chart hits (a number 2 and a number 22) as Jam & Spoon, but in 1995, German duo Rolf Ellmer and Markus Löffel did even better making it into the top 10 with their first two singles in this guise. Shocking name, though. 

Hit 1: "Everybody On The Floor (Pump It)"

Entered the Australian chart: April 2, 1995

Peak: number 6

Hit 2: "I Kiss Your Lips"

Entered the Australian chart: October 15, 1995

Peak: number 8

Diana King

Jamaican singer Diana King has a couple of big Hollywood films to thank for her top 10 singles. "Shy Guy" featured in the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence action comedy Bad Boys and there's a link to an alternate video featuring scenes from the film in the song title. Meanwhile, "I Say A Little Prayer" was on the soundtrack to Julia Roberts rom-com My Best Friend's Wedding and there's a link to the official video for that in the song title, although I always preferred the widely played Love To Infinity mix of the song.

Hit 1: "Shy Guy"

Entered the Australian chart: April 9, 1995

Peak: number 3

Hit 2: "I Say A Little Prayer"

Entered the Australian chart: August 31, 1997

Peak: number 6

Los Del Rio

Our second contentious inclusion on this list since everyone would assume the Spanish duo behind the world's highest-selling single of 1996 to be a one-hit wonder. And yet, they had two separate top 10 hits in Australia. Yes, the second is a different version of "Macarena", but it's more than just a remix with additional festive lyrics added. Add to that the rival version of "Macarena" by Los Del Mar and three separate chart hits resulted from the dance craze that year.

Hit 1: "Macarena"

Entered the Australian chart: August 11, 1996

Peak: number 1 (9 weeks)

Hit 2: "Macarena Christmas"

Entered the Australian chart: December 15, 1996

Peak: number 5

Az Yet

A boy band (or vocal harmony group, if you insist) with more personnel changes than your average girl group, Az Yet had the added bonus of being backed by producers LA Reid & Babyface. And, on the second of their two hits, "Hard To Say I'm Sorry", they received the blessing and vocal input of original vocalist Peter Cetera. Az Yet returned their favour, featuring on a new version of "You're The Inspiration" for Peter's next album.

Hit 1: "Last Night"

Entered the Australian chart: January 12, 1997

Peak: number 2

Hit 2: "Hard To Say I'm Sorry (featuring Peter Cetera)"

Entered the Australian chart: June 29, 1997

Peak: number 5

Honourable Mentions: The 1990s

  • All-4-One: "I Swear" (number 1), "I Can Love You Like That" (number 12)

  • Betty Boo: "Doin' The Do" (number 3), "Where Are You Baby" (number 19)

  • Enigma: "Sadness Part 1" (number 2), "Return To Innocence" (number 16)

  • Amy Grant: "Baby Baby" (number 5), "Every Heartbeat" (number 17)

  • Montell Jordan: "This Is How We Do It" (number 7), "Somethin' For The Honeyz" (number 19)

  • Monifah: "Touch It" (number 5), "Bad Girl/Suga Suga" (number 17)

  • Mark Morrison: "Return Of The Mack" (number 2), "Crazy" (number 18)

  • Pandora: "A Little Bit" (number 10), "Smile 'N' Shine" (number 17)

  • Chynna Phillips: "Naked And Sacred" (number 15), "I Live For You" (number 9)

  • S.O.A.P.: "This Is How We Party" (number 7), "Ladidi Ladida" (number 15)

  • Spin Doctors: "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" (number 16), "Two Princes" (number 3)

  • Twenty 4 Seven: "Slave To The Music" (number 2), "Is It Love" (number 20)

  • Vanilla Ice: "Ice Ice Baby" (number 1), "Play That Funky Music" (number 13)

  • Whigfield: "Sexy Eyes" (number 6), "Gimme Gimme" (number 14)

  • Zhané: "Hey Mr DJ" (number 9), "Groove Thang" (number 17)

Two-Hit Wonders Of The 2000s

It's a pretty eclectic bunch we have in the list for the 2000s with everyone from a Hollywood actress to a kids' character visiting the top 10 on two separate occasions. And kicking us off, the first singer I did a photo shoot with when I worked at TV Hits magazine. 

Vitamin C

Her first Australian hit was a genius idea a song released to coincide with the end of school that could be wheeled out year after year. And the graduation theme wasn't the only savvy decision the singer born Colleen Fitzpatrick made, with a Vitamin C lipstick, doll and video game character all part of her brand-building efforts. But just as her music career was picking up steam, with the lead single from second album More also hitting the top 10 (with a little help from "Friends Forever...", which was included on the CD single of "The Itch"), the hits and, presumably, the marketing spin-offs dried up.

Hit 1: "Friends Forever (Graduation)"

Entered the Australian chart: September 11, 2000

Peak: number 2

Hit 2: "The Itch"

Entered the Australian chart: December 11, 2000

Peak: number 6


The second hit was a long time coming, but British soul singer Gabrielle Bobb eventually got there with a song taken from the soundtrack to Bridget Jones's Diary. It was also a new track on Dreams Can Come True, Greatest Hits Vol. 1, since at home in the UK, the BRIT Award winner has a tally of 10 top 10 hits.

Hit 1: "Dreams"

Entered the Australian chart: August 29, 1993

Peak: number 2

Hit 2: "Out Of Reach"

Entered the Australian chart: July 30, 2001

Peak: number 9

Nicole Kidman

If it weren't for her featured artist credit on a few Glee releases, Gwyneth Paltrow would also be on this list. But we'll have to content ourselves with Nicole Kidman, who hit the ARIA chart shortly after Gwyneth's double whammy from Duets ("Cruisin'" and "Bette Davis Eyes") a reversal from the more common trend of singers turning to acting. Nicole's first top 10 hit was her ballad duet with Ewan McGregor from Moulin Rouge  which was remixed by Josh Abrahams for the single release. Bolstered by the positive reception her singing received, she next teamed up with Robbie Williams for a remake of "Somethin' Stupid", the song made famous by Frank and Nancy Sinatra inspiring all sorts of tabloid rumours about a steamy affair between the two.

Hit 1: "Come What May" (with Ewan McGregor)

Entered the Australian chart: July 2, 2001

Peak: number 10

Hit 2: "Somethin' Stupid" (with Robbie Williams)

Entered the Australian chart: February 4, 2002

Peak: number 8

Bob The Builder

If actors turning to singing wasn't enough for genuine musicians to contend with, 2001 also saw the arrival on the chart of cartoon character Bob The Builder with the theme tune from his animated series, which had been the UK's Christmas number 1 and highest selling single of the year in 2000. Voiced by Neil Morrissey, Bob almost made it to number 1 twice in Australia when a lyrically adjusted update of "Mambo No. 5" reached number 2 just two years after the version by Lou Bega topped the ARIA chart. Bob also scored a number 1 album, but thankfully the craze for the cartoon tradesman at least in terms of music releases ended as quickly as it began. 

Hit 1: "Can We Fix It?"

Entered the Australian chart: August 20, 2001

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "Mambo No. 5"

Entered the Australian chart: October 29, 2001

Peak: number 2

Blu Cantrell

Right, back to a real singer albeit one with a made-up name. Born Tiffany Cobb, Blu Cantrell was one of a number of female performers who succeeded in the early '00s with strongly worded R&B tracks telling men exactly what they thought of them. Like Kandi's "Don't Think I'm Not" and "Case Of The Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)" by Mya, "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" dealt frankly with men who cheat in this case, Blu advised leaving him with nothing. Album number two, Bittersweet, included Blu's second hit, "Breathe", a UK chart-topper which was slightly more mellow in terms of its lyrical content.

Hit 1: "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)"

Entered the Australian chart: September 24, 2001

Peak: number 3

Hit 2: "Breathe" (featuring Sean Paul)

Entered the Australian chart: July 28, 2003

Peak: number 8

Kate DeAraugo

Our look back at one-hit wonders from the '00s featured a number of former Australian Idol contestants including the reality show's least successful winner, Natalie Gauci. Of Idol's seven victors, season three champ Kate DeAraugo comes in fifth in terms of solo chart success. Her two top 10 hits and no further top 50 appearances mean she did better than Natalie, Casey Donovan and Damien Leith on the singles chart, but Damien's six top 20 albums push him ahead of Kate and probably one or two others overall. Kate, of course, left her solo career behind when she teamed up with three other ex-contestants to form Young Divas.

Hit 1: "Maybe Tonight"

Entered the Australian chart: December 5, 2005

Peak: number 1

Hit 2: "Faded"

Entered the Australian chart: February 27, 2006

Peak: number 8

Sara Bareilles

Had I compiled the list of one-hit wonders in the '00s at any point between the start of 2010 and the end of 2013, singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles would have featured on it. Her breakthrough hit, "Love Song" which, ironically, was about how she didn't want to do as her record company asked and write a hit single was her only top 50 appearance until... six years later when "Brave" finally hit the ARIA chart months after its initial release. At this rate, we should expect a number 2 hit from Sara in 2020 (and I reserve the right to edit this post and remove her if she comes through with the goods again at any point).

Hit 1: "Love Song"

Entered the Australian chart: April 7, 2008

Peak: number 4

Hit 2: "Brave"

Entered the Australian chart: February 3, 2014

Peak: number 3

Cobra Starship

Likewise, here's one more act that could potentially manage another hit single. Signed by Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz back in the mid-'00s, Cobra Starship released a couple of under-the-radar albums before teaming up with Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester on the lead single for their third album, Hot Mess. Co-written by Kevin Rudolf and one-time American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, "Good Girls Go Bad" gave the band's electro-rock sound a pop spin and flew up charts around the world as a result. It took until their next album, Night Shades, for them to repeat the feat, with lead track "You Make Me Feel...". Unfortunately, the pattern of first singles from Cobra Starship albums becoming hits didn't continue as 2014's "Never Been In Love" (featuring Icona Pop) missed the top 50 (and a fifth album has yet to materialise).

Hit 1: "Good Girls Go Bad" (featuring Leighton Meester)

Entered the Australian chart: August 3, 2009

Peak: number 5

Hit 2: "You Make Me Feel..." (featuring Sabi)

Entered the Australian chart: August 22, 2011

Peak: number 3

Honourable Mentions: The 2000s

  • Alice Deejay: "Better Off Alone" (number 4), "Back In My Life" (number 19)

  • The All-American Rejects: "Gives You Hell" (number 3), "I Wanna" (number 15)

  • The Androids: "Do It With Madonna" (number 4), "Here She Comes" (number 15)

  • Dixie Chicks: "Landslide" (number 6), "Not Ready To Make Nice" (number 18)

  • Casey Donovan: "Listen With Your Heart" (number 1), "What's Going On?" (number 18)

  • Hinder: "Lips Of An Angel" (number 1), "Better Than Me" (number 11)

  • The Ian Carey Project: "Get Shaky" (number 2), "Last Night" (number 15)

  • Damien Leith: "Night Of My Life" (number 1), "22 Steps" (number 11)

  • James Morrison: "You Give Me Something" (number 7), "I Won't Let You Go" (number 13)

  • Nitty: "Nasty Girl" (number 1), "Hey Bitty" (number 11)

  • Eric Prydz: "Call On Me" (number 2), "Proper Education" (number 20)

To finish off our journey through three (and a bit) decades' worth of two-hit wonders, here's your cross-generational playlist with most of the songs available to stream (sorry, Bob The Builder fans):

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