No Hit Wonders

As an artist, there comes a time—usually early on; typically, late in the game—when you just want to score that massive hit. That is, the industry’s definition of a hit: a #1, or somewhere thereabouts, on the Billboard 100. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes not. No biggie, right? A hit-less career is still pretty good. If anything, success without a singular chart-topper speaks volumes of an artist’s longevity, fan adoration and talent. Don’t get it twisted: #1 albums are one thing (and there are plenty attributed to some of the names below); an absence of a charted single is another. Here are some big names that, incredibly, have yet to grab a taste of hit-single glory.

Vampire Weekend

Despite “ Contra” and “ ModernVampires…” hitting the top of the Billboard album charts, the Brooklyn foursome is still without a charted single.


PJ Harvey

The ballsy, bluesy queen of alt-rock has had an illustrious career in her native UK, but the closest she came to a stateside hit was “ Down By The Water” in 1996.


Arcade Fire

Even with three consecutive #1 albums (one of which won Grammy’s Album of the Year), these homegrown heroes only charted one Billboard single: “ Reflektor” (and barely – #99).



Their influence on indie rock is undeniable, but so too is the fact that, despite our favourites, none of their songs have wound up on mainstream charts. Ever.


My Bloody Valentine

These seminal shoegazers were massively influential with their late-eighties/early-nineties LPs and EPs—even selling out dates on their recent reunion tour. However, a hit single has yet to come their way.


The Smiths

Everybody’s favourite melancholy Mancunians are still without a mainstream hit. And if you ask Morrissey, he’s probably fine with that.



Eight albums in twenty years—and not a clunker in the bunch. The iconic Riot Grrls are known primarily for their skills and collective discography. Singles, not so much.


Bon Iver

Winsome, folksy bearded warbler. A noted collaboration with Kanye, plus an unwanted Grammy for Best New Artist, and Justin Vernon is still a stranger to the singles charts.


Leonard Cohen

Perhaps too poetic and preachy to be considered a hitmaker, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is still holding his own despite the absence of a #1 track.


The National

The quiet creep of The National’s success has yielded flawless albums and massive critical praise. Perhaps album number seven will result in some singles luck?



With their Grateful Dead-like cult following, this massively successful touring band has entertained (and confounded) audiences for decades. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a mainstream hit has eluded them.


Rage Against the Machine!

Volatile. Anthemic. Explosive. The Rage have been rattling cages for twenty-five years—without a single standout success.


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