There are many bands that have only one good album in them, and others that really only have one good song. Some have even less than that, just a gimmick with enough inherent silliness to penetrate popular culture. But even the lowliest one hit wonders can persist as tradition. Here are a few that we can’t forget … simply because they keep popping up.
Rednex – Cotton Eyed Joe
Not unforgettable in any reasonably good way, but this thing is inescapable. An inexplicable, and inexplicably popular (it was a hit on U.S. charts in 1995), mash-up of the classic American folk standard and dumb-as-bricks jock jam beats, “Cotton Eyed Joe” still pops up in our lives from time to time, whether it’s humming through the sound system at an Arby’s or blaring out of the speakers during the insufferable hoedown portion of an awkward family wedding. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Thankfully, the Swedish electronic group Rednex never did anything of note in the states ever again (even actual American musicians can only go so far with outlandish hick stereotypes) though their Wikipedia page insists they enjoyed many other hits in their native country.
Scatman John – Scatman
On the same side of the novelty song coin as “Cotton Eyed Joe,” from the same era when seemingly anyone with access to a Casio keyboard and a gimmick could weasel their way into school dance playlist (quite literally — both were huge hits in 1995), is Scatman John’s anthem. This one proves slightly more endearing, however, even bordering on noble (at least in contrast to Rednex’ crass hick stereotypes). The song itself is meant to be an empowering anthem about Scatman John overcoming his stuttering problem, and the album it comes from, “Scatman’s World,” is a loose concept album about a utopian society called Scatland. There’s even a song on the record about the singer’s difficult experiences in Alcoholics Anonymous, so at the very least you can say that there’s a clear and personal passion that went into this music, no matter how silly it ultimately is.
Los Del Rio – Macarena
“Macarena” is indelible. It will not just be around for all eternity, it will also linger in our minds until our inevitable demise, a brand upon all of our brains. Seriously. Anyone who was alive during the summer of 1996 will go down knowing those moves, the perfect synthesis of coordination and simplicity. Is it a good song? Does that really matter? Footage of the dance as performed by attendees at the 1996 Democratic Convention (including Hillary Clinton) is still in heavy circulation online.
Baha Men – Who Let the Dogs Out?
This song is an effective time-capsule of the year it came out (2000). Sure you remember the repetitive lyrics, but did you remember that the music video featured a parody of the then extremely popular game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Or that part of the song’s crossover success can be attributed to its inclusion in the “Rugrats” movie sequel (the one where they go to Paris, because nothing says “babies in Europe” like a bunch of Bahamian men asking, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”).