20 Playlist-Worthy Country One-Hit Wonders
For chart enthusiasts, National One-Hit Wonder Day (celebrated annually on Sept. 25) is like Christmas and a birthday all rolled into one. Paradoxically, however, people don't necessarily agree on what songs or artists fit into this rarefied category.
In the pop world, it's generally understood that if an artist has had only one single hit the Top 40, they're considered a one-hit wonder. However, in the country world, this definition is almost too broad. Many artists who only had one crossover hit on the pop charts enjoyed sustained country success; for example, Lynn Anderson graced the Top 40 with the country No. 1 "Rose Garden," but enjoyed four other chart-toppers.
Other country acts actually found more notoriety on the pop charts: Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- but only reached No. 17 on the country charts. (In fact, her peak on the country chart was No. 6, with a cover of "All I Have to Do Is Dream" with Glen Campbell.)
Therefore, to narrow things down slightly, The Boot is celebrating National One-Hit Wonder Day by highlighting country artists who have only had one No. 1 country hit. Even this is an imperfect science, however: For example, Alison Krauss only has one chart-topper, in the form of "Buy Me a Rose," a 2000 collaboration with Kenny Rogers.
Here are 20 country No. 1 hits that double as tangible proof that chart success isn't the only way to measure greatness.
To date, Thomas Rhett has racked up 13 chart-topping country radio hits. His dad, Rhett Akins, has found plenty of success as a songwriter, but as an artist himself, he nabbed just a single No. 1 Hot Country Singles & Tracks hit, 1996's "Don't Get Me Started," which he co-wrote.
The Andrews Sisters are known for their precise harmonies and swing / blues tunes such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," which ensured that the trio was a staple of the charts from the late 1930s through the early 1950s. However, the siblings only graced the country charts a few times -- and topped it only with 1943's "Pistol Packin' Mama," a collaboration with Bing Crosby.
Incredibly enough, "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" isn't Big & Rich's biggest hit. That honor goes to "Lost in This Moment," which is the duo's only No. 1 country hit -- and, for that matter, one of only two songs of theirs to reach the country Top 10.
Debby Boone's No. 1 pop hit "You Light Up My Life" was career-making, as it helped her earn the Best New Artist Grammy Award. However, her biggest country hit came with the earnest "Are You on the Road to Lovin' Me Again," which topped the charts for one week in 1980.
Ed Bruce cemented his country legacy by co-writing the chart-topping "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" with his wife, Patsy. However, as a solo artist, he only reached No. 1 once, with the classic "You're the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had."
It took Mary Chapin Carpenter five albums to land a chart-topping country hit, as the kicky, smoldering "Shut Up and Kiss Me" -- the lead single from 1994's Stones in the Road -- spent a week at No. 1.
During his illustrious career, pianist Ray Charles had hits on the pop, R&B and adult contemporary charts. During the '80s, several decades after his landmark releases, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volume Two, he finally enjoyed country singles chart success, culminating in the No. 1 hit "Seven Spanish Angels," a collaboration with Willie Nelson.
Roy Clark's musical CV is unmatched, but the Hee Haw host shockingly only had one chart-topping hit, the romantic slow dance "Come Live With Me."
Jessi Colter is considered an integral part of the first outlaw country movement -- and although she had Top 10 hits with husband Waylon Jennings, she only earned one solo chart-topper: the stunning "I'm Not Lisa," sung from the point of view of a woman trying to get her partner to stop mourning an ex.
Billy Ray Cyrus has been enjoying a career resurgence in 2019 thanks to Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road." But while that song broke records on Billboard's pop charts, it didn't translate to the country side -- meaning that Cyrus' Some Gave All megahit "Achy Breaky Heart" remains his lone country chart-topper.
Better known as the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" was, astonishingly, the only No. 1 hit for legendary bluegrass innovators Flatt and Scruggs.
Heartland are as close to a traditionally defined one-hit wonder as this list gets, as the tear-jerking No. 1 ballad "I Loved Her First" was the band's only single to land in the country Top 40.
One of the biggest novelty hits of the '70s, "Convoy" -- which praises both the trucker lifestyle and the CB radio craze -- topped both the country and pop charts. Interestingly enough, however, C.W. McCall narrowly missed not qualifying for this list, as in 1977, his "Roses for Mama" hit No. 2 on Billboard's country singles charts.
While Johnny Paycheck had 11 Top 10 country hits, only "Take This Job and Shove It" hit No. 1 -- which is rather fitting, since the song's status as an I-hate-work anthem endures.
Rockabilly icon Carl Perkins is considered to be one of early rock 'n' roll's biggest influences. However, he only hit No. 1 once on the country charts, with "Blue Suede Shoes," later to become a staple tune for Elvis Presley.
Talk about setting a high bar: Like "Convoy," Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA" topped both the pop and country charts back in 1968. Although Riley never reached those heights again, she did land five more Top 10 hits.
Out of all of LeAnn Rimes' hits, only the peppy, upbeat 1996 single "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)" landed atop the charts. The single ended up spending two weeks at No. 1 overall.
The country version of "I Hope You Dance," which features Sons of the Desert, remains Lee Ann Womack's only tune to top the charts.