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A one-hit wonder is a term that is commonly used in the music industry, although it can also be utilized in other fields. In the entertainment industry, the phrase generally applies to an individual artist or band who gains huge notoriety for a sole piece of work, like a single song, that overshadows any subsequent work. This unique “hit” can stay as a household name for years to come, even throughout multiple generations. Unfortunately for the artist, they never again achieve anywhere close to that level of success, which is why it is dubbed a one-off hit, but they nevertheless bring joy to millions of listeners. 

Sometimes a song from years ago is brought back into the public eye because of its collaboration with a big-budget theatrical production, thereby introducing it to a whole new audience. The song “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris manages to reinsert itself into mainstream society about once a decade by popping up in television shows or movies. “O-o-h Child” by Five Stairsteps is also well-known for its many contributions to the movie and television scene over the years.

People often associate a song with an iconic movie scene. When the movie is a romance, it immerses itself even deeper into our subconscious minds. Dirty Dancing was a pivotal coming of age film for many people, and one of the most memorable scenes included a harmonica-laden “Hey! Baby!” sung by Bruce Channel. While many people are familiar with the faster-paced remix, a number of people are familiar with the slow-paced original because of the fame brought about by this film.

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who is very well-known for his eclectic taste in oldies music. He has incorporated a distinct blend of tunes into his movie soundtracks and introduced that mix to today’s younger generation. His films are so successful, in fact, that they will keep on bringing attention to these songs for years to come, just from the films’ recirculation alone. Some of the songs resurrected by Tarantino include Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” in Kill Bill Vol 1, Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” in Pulp Fiction, and George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag” in Reservoir Dogs. 

Sometimes, a song lives on by being sampled into other songs. One example is “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight. Her song was a big hit in the 1970s and has been sampled numerous times.