There are many definitions of what a one-hit wonder is. The phrase is often
used to describe an instance where someone achieved his or her "fifteen
minutes of fame." According to Billboard magazine, it is any performing
artist or songwriter that enters the top 40 singles charts only once in his
or her career. It can also indicate an artist who leapt from obscurity into
the spotlight and then fell back into darkness. One-Hit Wonders spans a wide period in popular music, from the 1950s through the 1990s, and features songs with one thing in common: they were the only song by the artist to hit the charts. Each song has its own unique story. The fact that there have been many more one-hit wonders than there are artists who have remained popular over a long period of time is an
indication of the public's fickleness in popular music. Some singers, such as actor Richard Harris, whose recording of "MacArthur Park" was a one-hit wonder in 1968, returned to other careers. Others, such as Don McLean, who wrote "American Pie," continued to produce songs. Even after a long career, however, McLean is still only known for this one hit.