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What Are Your Favorite Songs by “One-Hit Wonders?”

themes and variation

There’s something very cynical about the term “one-hit wonder.” It immediately evokes the notion of failure, suggesting that the artist in question reached their creative peak in a single song; and they simply aren’t capable of anything else. Or perhaps it says more about us as listeners, and our unwillingness to take any further chances on an artist.

When we use the label, we tend to linger on “one” while minimizing the potential of “wonder.”

The truth is, creating a piece of music that soars to heights so great it overshadows you is an epic achievement. And while this one-in-an–actual-billion level of success is almost always mystifying, it is never completely inexplicable.

For the latest episode of T&V, hosts Carter and Mahea sat down with songwriter, vocalist, and longtime Soundfly community member, Lina Farah, to dissect some songs turned single hit phenomena. Listen to Episode 34 in its entirety right here:


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Read all about Lina Farah’s music and her unique songwriting and storytelling process in our interview together right here on Flypaper. 

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Episode 34 Highlights

1. Lina shares an oft-overlooked feature of “Barbie Girl.”

Lina: “One of the things I enjoyed when I read the lyrics again was that it was a legit storyline. Especially when you think of the ’90s and like with ‘Blue’ and other people like with ‘MMMbop’ you have like a lot of songs that don’t really have a theme in the chorus.”

2.  Cher influenced Eiffel 65’s “Blue.”

Carter: “Auto-tune on ‘Believe’ actually influenced the vocal production on ‘Blue’ from Eiffel 65. It’s a different technique, because auto-tune was brand new, they didn’t know what was being used on ‘Believe’ at the time but, they worked to try to recreate that sound. What you’re hearing on ‘Blue’ is a harmonizer on a midi keyboard against Jeffrey Jey’s vocals doing the same things. And you can hear there’s little artifacts in it, it’s not perfect, sounds awesome…”

3. Mahea on the international success of “Sukiyaki.”

Mahea: “But this is an international hit or it was an international hit in the ’60s. It was on the top of the Billboard, I think it was the Hot 100 at that point, for three weeks in the U.S. He was actually the first Asian artist I believe to have that top spot, and I don’t think anyone else got the #1 until BTS like last year.”

Join Our Collaborative Playlist

Every other week, and with each new episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new collaborative Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in the episode and more, which you can add to and enjoy. Here’s this week’s collaborative Spotify playlist!

We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a (bass) line at [email protected]!

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Carter Lee

Carter Lee is a bassist/educator/producer. He is originally from Edmonton, Canada and now resides in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to leading the hip-hop group, Tiger Speak, Lee is the music director for the bands of both Shea Rose and Moruf. He is also a sideman for countless other artists. Carter brings his wealth of experience in many different musical situations to the Soundfly team and is eager to help any musician who is hoping to better their band. Check out his course Building a Better Band on Soundfly today!