In 2001, the music industry was in the midst of a seismic shift. A couple years prior, Napster, a free online file-sharing service, debuted. CD sales peaked in 2000 but by 2001, they were declining. Many thought, “Why spend $15 for a CD when I can download it (illegally) for free on Napster?” [While CD sales have steadily declined nearly every year since 2001, we still rock with the format here at 360°Sound. There remains a vibrant niche market with plenty of hardcore collectors as our CD Junkies series illustrates]. On January 9, 2001, iTunes was launched, further revolutionizing the industry. By late 2002, Napster was no longer in business. However, numerous other illegal file-sharing services (e.g., Kazaa, LimeWire) rose in popularity to fill the void.
So how was the pop music being played on iPods during this pivotal time? Boy bands were still all the rage, and hip-hop productions courtesy of Timbaland and The Neptunes filled the airwaves. Post-grunge acts like Creed and pop-punk bands like Sum 41 made a dent in the pop charts. The top five Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2001 were Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment,” Alicia Keys’s “Fallin,’” Janet Jackson’s “All For You,” Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” and J.Lo and Ja Rule’s “I’m Real.”
Nearly 30 artists notched their one and only Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hit in 2001. I listened to all the one-hit wonders and selected what I believe are the standouts. Contemporary R&B was big in the early aughts, and this list certainly reflects that. To our rockist readers, I apologize as this list has nary a guitar. I just don’t dig the rock one-hitters of ’01 – Fuel’s “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” doesn’t do it for me (more of a “Shimmer” guy), and I abhor Incubus’s “Drive.” Without further ado, I give you the greatest one-hit wonders of 2001…
Debelah Morgan – “Dance With Me”
Songwriters: Debelah Morgan, Giloh Morgan, Richard Adler, and Jerry Ross
Billboard Hot 100: #8 on January 6
Talented R&B singer Debelah Morgan first made a splash in 1998 with her single “Yesterday” (not the Beatles song), which peaked at #28 on the R&B charts. She later achieved international – albeit brief – stardom with her third studio album, 2000’s Dance With Me. The title track was a Top Ten hit and a dancefloor staple in the early aughts. Possessing an incredible five-octave range, Morgan hits some whistle notes at the end of the song.
ATC – “Around the World (La La La La La)”
Songwriters: Aleksey Potekhin, Sergey Zhukov, Alex Christensen, and Peter Könemann
Hot 100: #28 on March 31
Eurodance, a type of upbeat electronic music that blends house, techno, and hip-hop, rose to prominence in the U.S. in the early ‘90s. While this cheesy but fun subgenre had largely faded from the charts by the early ‘00s, there were still some Eurodance hits, among them the annoyingly catchy “Around the World (La La La La La)” by German group ATC (A Touch of Class). According to Allmusic, this platinum single holds the title of most overplayed song in German radio history.
The Corrs – “Breathless”
Songwriters: Robert John “Mutt” Lange and The Corrs
Hot 100: #34 on April 7
“Breathless,” the sole Top 40 hit from Irish four-piece The Corrs, was produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and it sounds like it. The tune’s anthemic hook and stadium pop-rock production would not at all be out of place on a Shania Twain record.
“I wrote that with Mutt Lange in Switzerland,” singer Andrea Corr said at the time. “It’s a bizarre situation, going to meet someone for the first time and trying to write a song with them but it worked out great. It’s about tempting someone to make the first move – come on and leave me breathless.”
Sunshine Anderson – “Heard it All Before”
Songwriters: Michael Flowers, Sunshine Anderson, Rayshawn Sherrer, and Chris Dawley
Hot 100: #18 on May 12
A Charlotte, North Carolina native, R&B singer Sunshine Anderson moved to Los Angeles and found a manager in singer and fellow one-hit wonder Macy Gray (she made our 2000 list). Anderson’s 2001 LP Your Woman, peaked at #2 on Billboard’s R&B albums chart and eventually sold over 800,000 copies. The first single from the album was “Heard It All Before,” about a man who’s been unfaithful. “Heard it All Before” got a Grammy nod for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical and the music video got a Best R&B Video nod at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Moby – “South Side” (featuring Gwen Stefani)
Hot 100: #14 on May 26
I didn’t realize Moby was a one-hit wonder. I was thinking his massively successful Play album spawned more top 40 hits. Anyway, “South Side,” his one hit, is one of my favorites of his. The jam was originally recorded with No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, but due to production issues, her vocals were left off the mix included on Play. The vocals were later restored for the single release. Moby has said “South Side” was inspired by his experiences with Chicago house music, which originated on the Windy City’s south side.
Blu Cantrell – “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)”
Songwriter: Dallas Austin
Hot 100: #2 on July 21
Don’t ever cheat on Blu Cantrell, that’s all I gotta say! She’ll get her hands on your cash and “spend it to the last dime.” I love the swagger and attitude of Cantrell’s smash hit “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!).” She showed so much promise but never released another album after 2003’s Bittersweet. If anyone knows what Cantrell has been up to or why she quit the music industry, drop us a line!
It’s a new year, and that means a new batch of one-hit wonder lists! Stay tuned to 360° this year as we bring you the Greatest One-Hit Wonders on the deuces.