Welcome back to The Week in Number Ones, where all the biggest movers from the US and UK charts get condensed into one article. Last week, we looked at just what the hell Goerge Ezra and LF System were doing on the British charts, investigated how the words “adult” and “mature” can apply to Post Malone, and remembered when Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ became a force of nature.
Let’s take a quick look over at the album charts. In the UK, George Ezra’s third studio album Gold Rush Kid managed to sneak by Harry Styles’ Harry’s House, meaning that all three of Ezra’s studio LPs have now reached number one. That’s nothing to scoff at, even if Gold Rush Kid is a trend-chasing mess of a pop album. Here’s the truth though: that’s not an insult when you actually succeed at it. Kudos to Ezra, both for his number one and for being the least problematic Ezra in pop culture right now.
Over in America, it’s all BTS. The South Korean boy band phenomenon landed their new compilation album, proof, right at the top of the album charts in its first week of release. There was a little bit of hubbub over a potential new BTS album when they originally teased proof back in April, but when it was revealed that the LP wouldn’t be a new studio album, that died down pretty quickly. With three new songs and a comprehensive overview of the band’s career, proof is a perfectly acceptable diversion for the group’s faithful following.
This week, we’ll look at how Kate Bush finally pushed her way to the top spot, wonder if Harry Styles is any good outside of Apple commercials, and time travel back to when pop culture grieved The Beatles with their final single. All that and more as we round up all the best chart news of the modern-day and recent past.
Current UK Number One: ‘Running Up That Hill’ – Kate Bush
It’s official: nearly 37 years after its original release, Kate Bush’s 1985 hit ‘Running Up That Hill’ has officially topped the charts. Despite having to fight off the tidal wave of popularity that is surrounding Harry Styles’ ‘As It Was’, Bush managed to do something that was almost impossible to imagine just a few short years ago – land a three-decade-old single at the top of the pop charts.
Despite that impressive gap between the song’s original release and its eventual stay at number one, that’s not the longest record that Bush set this week. No, even more impressive is that Bush is now the artist with the longest gap between number one songs. It’s been 44 years since Bush hit number one with her debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’, officially beating out Tom Jones’ 42-year gap between number ones.
Some people, and I won’t name names, were on the fence as to whether ‘Running Up That Hill’ could truly ascend all the way to the top. In many ways, Bush’s feat is unprecedented: key needle drops in prominent films and TV have caused plenty of chart resurgences, but nothing like what we’ve seen with ‘Running Up That Hill’. Mariah Carey gets to number one every year with a decades-old song, but that’s because the Christmas season is in her favor. Bush had no annual celebration or previous example to compare with – she’s achieved a singular feat.
The real question is: will this be the start of a new trend? Needle drops certainly aren’t going anywhere, but now that both the US and UK charts heavily favor streaming numbers, the physical sales of older songs might start to become an important X-factor. Physical sales still matter a little bit for chart tabulation, and what’s going to sell more physical copies if, say, ‘Running Up That Hill’ and ‘As It Was’ got the same number of streams in a given week? There’s a physical CD version of ‘As It Was’ that you can buy, but ‘Running Up That Hill’ comes from the era where physical copies were the only option to personally hear a single. Advantage: Kate Bush.
The other curiosity is how long this particular chart run will last. Stranger Things, the show that pretty much single-handedly gave Bush her second number one, returns in less than two weeks. The final two episodes might not directly mention Bush, but audiences will surely keep riding that wave for a few more weeks. Will it keep Bush on the chart, and maybe even keep her at number one? I don’t know, but this time I’m not betting against it.
UK Singles Top Ten (Week of June 22nd, 2022):
- ‘Running Up That Hill’ – Kate Bush
- ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
- ‘Go’ – Cat Burns
- ‘Afraid to Feel’ – LF System
- ‘About Damn Time’ – Lizzo
- ‘Green Green Grass’ – George Ezra
- ‘IFTK’ – Tion Wayne & La Roux
- ‘Late Night Talking’ – Harry Styles
- ‘Spaceman’ – Sam Ryder
- ‘Music for a Sushi Restaurant’ – Harry Styles
Current US Number One: ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
Does anyone watch Hulu? During the ad breaks, is anybody getting the same commercial over and over again? Does that commercial happen to be an Apple commercial? Does that Apple commercial happen to feature a certain song by a certain artist who’s having a major cultural moment right now?
OK, I’m sure the Apple ad featuring ‘Music for a Sushi Restaurant’ isn’t exclusively airing on Hulu. But rest assured – if you, like me, are trying to catch up on What We Do in the Shadows ahead of its fourth season premiere next month, then you’ve heard a lot of Harry Styles during your ad breaks.
Ho-hum, another week at number one for ‘As It Was’. That’s seven non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, and the song’s resilience is starting to look impressive. Originally, the lead single to Harry’s House was a one-week wonder, getting the boot from the top spot by Jack Harlow’s ‘First Class’ on April 23rd. The next week Styles was back on top, only to give up the number one spot to Future’s ‘Wait for U’ on May 14th. ‘First Class’ made a return to number one, and it seemed as though Styles was destined for a slow descent.
But America wasn’t done with ‘As It Was’. After a three-week gap, the song returned to number one on May 21st, and now it’s in the fourth week of its third run at number one. Fluctuations at number one are one of the new normals of the streaming era: BTS’s ‘Butter’, The Kid Laroi’s ‘Stay’, and Adele’s ‘Easy On Me’ all saw three non-consecutive trips to number one over the past year, and ‘As It Was’ is just the latest indicator that falling out of the number one spot isn’t as much of an immediate death sentence as it used to be. Some might say that we’re living in an age of reduced attention spans, but when it comes to music, things tend to hang around for a lot longer nowadays.
US Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles (Week of June 25th, 2022):
- ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
- ‘First Class’ – Jack Harlow
- ‘Wait For U’ – Future ft. Drake & Tems
- ‘About Damn Time’ – Lizzo
- ‘Running Up That Hill’ – Kate Bush
- ‘Heat Waves’ – Glass Animals
- ‘Big Energy’ – Latto
- ‘I Porto Bonito’ – Bad Bunny & Chencho Corleone
- ‘Titi Me Wonder’ – Bad Bunny
- ‘Glimpse of Us’ – Joji
This Week in Number Ones: ‘The Long and Winding Road’ / ‘For You Blue’ – The Beatles (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100Week of June 20th, 1970)
In the Spring of 1970, America was in mourning. Not for any prominent deaths (although the losses of Tammi Terrell, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin all provided their own sting that year), but because of the loss of four people all at eleven. That’s because The Beatles, officially, were broken up.
Well, kind of. You see, when Paul McCartney released a self-interview for his debut solo LP McCartney, he asked himself whether he had any plans to record with The Beatles in the near future. The answer was no, and that comment was widely interpreted as an official declaration of the band entering the past tense. The partnership between John Lennon and Paul McCartney wouldn’t officially end until 1975 after Lennon signed a contract dissolving their business partnership at the end of 1974, but for all intents and purposes, April of 1970 was the end of The Beatles.
There was plenty of confusion, anger, and sadness that followed. The Beatles were the biggest band in the world, and the notion that no more music was to come from the group was just too much for some fans to bear. Luckily for them, a whole slew of solo albums and singles would follow in the subsequent months, but there was a more immediate way of paying respects to the Fab Four: they had a new single coming out.
‘The Long and Winding Road’ was actually a major reason why McCartney had confirmed the split in the first place. the let it be album was being finished by producer Phil Spector, who added orchestral and choir overdubs on April 1st, and McCartney became so put out by the additions that he specifically cited them in his petition to England’s High Court to dissolve The Beatles.
Even though reports of McCartney’s unhappiness with the song were widespread in the aftermath of the band’s breakup, that didn’t stop the general public from seeing ‘The Long and Winding Road’ for what it was at its core: a mournful lament that unintentionally worked. as the perfect epitaph for The Beatles.
The group had also pioneered the practice of double A-sides, and their final single was no different. Billboard required that both sides a marketed double A-side receive a pre-determined amount of radio play in order to officially acknowledge both songs as the same entry on the Hot 100, and that was definitely not an issue for the final Beatles single. That meant that ‘For You Blue’, the slinky George Harrison original, was also technically a number one single. It wasn’t the only double A-side in the top five that week either – The Jackson 5’s ‘The Love You Save’ / ‘I Found That Girl’ sat just below it at number two.
The Beatles previous single, ‘Let It Be’ was only a month out from its own run at number one when ‘The Long and Winding Road’ / ‘For You Blue’ was released, but the close proximity didn’t matter. The music world was desperate to cling to any last scrap of Beatles material that they could, propelling the final Beatles release to a quick two-week stay at number one. Each of the four members would land number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in subsequent years, but June of 1970 would be the final time The Beatles hit number one (although it wouldn’t be the final time a Beatles song would go to number one).
US Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles (Week of June 20th, 1970):
- ‘The Long and Winding Road’ / ‘For You Blue’ – The Beatles
- ‘The Love You Save’ / ‘I Found That Girl’ – The Jackson 5
- ‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy?’ – The Poppy Family ft. susan jacks
- ‘Get Ready’ – Rare Earth
- ‘Mama Told Me (Not to Come)’ – Three Dog Night
- ‘Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)’ – The Temptations
- ‘Love Me on a Two-Way Street’ – The Moments
- ‘The Letter’ – Joe Cocker with Leon Russell and The Shelter People
- ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ – Vanity Fare
- ‘Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)’ – Melanie with The Edwin Hawkins Singers