Let’s not stick to people who literally had one hit, necessarily, but who became defined by one hit and never quite surpassed it in the public’s eyes, even if they had some other reasonable successes.
I.e., they pretty much coasted.
The folks at datalounge came up with the following names (and I’ve added some illumination):
Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct defined her. Casino got her the kudos, but let’s face it–it wasn’t Basic Instinct.)
James Blunt. (Let’s be blunt. “You’re Beautiful” was never topped, either in terms of popularity or sheer annoyance.)
Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U” made her major. If ripping up the Pope had been a song or movie, that would have counted as her followup hit, but it wasn’t. It was a shtick on a comedy show.)
Macy Gray (“I try to have a hit and I can’t…”)
Billy Ray Cyrus (His achy breaky career seemed to stall until moxieish Miley made it even bigger than he had. She’s his second hit, but I’m not counting humans–just songs or movies.)
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Show me the followup! Once we get into Oscar-curse territory, we could go on forever, so let’s not pursue this line of thinking. If we go through Best Supporting Actress alone, we’ll be here all day.)
Lisa Loeb [“Stay (I Missed You)” could be the subtitle of her career. Kidding. Show biz is rough, and I’m hoping these one-hitters score some more homers.]