Grammys

8 One-Hit Wonders Who Won Best New Artist Grammys

The Recording Academy recognized them as the best newcomer...and they faded into obscurity shortly thereafter
 /  / January 29, 2013
1
Starland Vocal Band
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Michael Ochs Archives

Once upon a time, "Afternoon Delight," the creepy little ditty about a PM bedroom romp session, wasn't a joke—it was a real deal Grammy winner. Starland Vocal Band nabbed themselves the 1977 Best New Artist Grammy, but unfortunately failed to ride the wave of success. Their follow-up album, 1977's Rear View Mirror, peaked at #104 on the Billboard 200, the band broke up in 1981.

2
Taste of Honey
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Michael Ochs Archives

Who would have ever thought a song titled "Boogie Oogie Oogie" would go down in history as a one-hit wonder? Thus is the case for A Taste of Honey's legendary disco hit. Even though "Boogie Oogie Oogie" is the only thing we remember from the band, they still managed to win Best New Artist (over Elvis Costello) in 1978.

3
Esperanza Spalding
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Ethan Miller

We're not denying that jazz musician Esperanza Spalding is a talent—the 28-year-old has been honing her craft for over two decades—but her Best New Artist win in 2010 had Beliebers everywhere outraged. Spaulding was up against Justin Bieber, Florence + The Machine, Drake and Mumford & Sons, and the Twittersphere lit up with question marks after she took home the award. Congrats on the win, but we still can't name a song of hers...

4
Bobbie Gentry
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Michael Ochs Archives

As one of the first females to compose and write her own country music, Bobbie Gentry was a pioneer in the genre during the 1960s. Her crooning, storyteller approach won her a Best New Artist in 1965 (over Sonny and Cher), but Bobbie’s marvel didn’t last long—it took her to No. 1 on the charts once… and never again. 

5
Rickie Lee Jones
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Michael Ochs Archives

Rickie Lee Jones gained fame from her hit top 5 jazzy hit “Chuck E.’s in Love." She scored the 1979 Best New Artist Grammy, beating out strong contenders The Blues Brothers and Robin Williams.

After her achievement, The Blues Brothers went on to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, Robin Williams is still Robin Williams and Rickie Lee… recorded a lot of jazz covers. One of them did win the Best Jazz Vocal Performance for Duo or Group Grammy in 1990, but nothing reached hit single status again.

6
Milli Vanilli
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Michael Putland

The Best New Artist…that wasn’t even a real artist! After being exposed as fraudulent singers in 1990, Milli Vanilli was infamously stripped of their award. The duo actually earned a ton of hit singles (tricking us into three No. 1s!), but their joker status in the music industry makes the title "one-hit wonder"—as in we wonder how we didn't catch on sooner—appropriate. 

7
Marc Cohn
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Michel Linssen

“Walking in Memphis” is a crossover country classic and Marc Cohn’s claim to fame. The track led him to the Best New Artist Grammy in 1991, but the crooner couldn't follow up with a song anywhere near as good, never hitting Top 40 success again. We still love belting that one out at karaoke if it’s any consolation, Marc.

8
Paula Cole
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New York Daily News Archive

Paula Cole is perhaps better labeled a two-hit wonder. “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait” (aka the theme song to Dawson’s Creek) indicated promising things from the singer-songwriter. She won over still relevant acts like Fiona Apple and Diddy (then Puff Daddy), yet nothing hit-worthy materialized from her after. Her legacy now remains as the theme song writer for a silly '90s teen drama.

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