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The Week in Number Ones: Harry Styles and The Rolling Stones dominate

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 welcomed LF System to the chart-topping party, went back to highlight the friendship between Harry Styles and Lizzo, and strapped on our favourite pair of rollerskates to highlight ELO’s one and only number one song, the Olivia Newton-John duet ‘Xanadu’.

In all honesty, this is a pretty slow week for music news. We’ll have a whole slew of cool albums coming out this Friday, including new releases from Beach Bunny, Jack White, Ty Seagall, Joey Bada$$ and Sports Team. Hell, Flo Milli looked at the slate and just said screw it, releasing her major label debut You Still Here, Ho on Wednesday instead. So there’s lots of new music to look forward to, but not a lot of news floating around.

So let’s bring back the recurring segment that I implied wasn’t going to recur: the ‘Master of Puppets Watch’. Nearly one full month removed from the premiere of its final two episodes, people still cannot get their fill on Stranger Things season four. I made the confident claim that ‘Master of Puppets’ wouldn’t get the same treatment as Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ did, but Metallica are slowly creeping their way back up the charts.

Last week, ‘Master of Puppets’ managed to give Metallica their first top 40 hit since 2008’s ‘The Day That Never Comes’. The Billboard Hot 100 has historically not been kind to metal acts, even the world’s biggest and most beloved metal act. That being said, eight top 40 hits is nothing to sneeze at, with ‘Master of Puppets’ being just the most recent in a surprising string of chart successes for Metallica over the years.

OK, pop quiz time: Metallica only has one top ten hit in America. What is it? For those of you saying ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘Fuel’, or any of the three versions of ‘The Unforgiven’, solid guesses, but wrong. The answer is actually ‘Until It Sleeps’ from 1996’s Load, a song that Metallica hasn’t actually played live in over a decade. It’s just another example of how the pop charts aren’t always an accurate reflection of an artist’s most popular songs.

This week, we struggle to find something new to say about the US charts, paint with broad strokes about some newcomers to the UK charts, and remember when The Rolling Stones officially took over as one of the biggest bands in the world. All that and more as we round up all the best chart news of the modern-day and recent past.

Current UK Number One: ‘Afraid to Feel’ – LF System

First off, obligatory congratulations to LF System for their second week at number one with ‘Afraid to Feel’. The resurgence of anonymous electronic house wizards taking the pop chart by storm is surely afoot. What is this, 1998?

More importantly, let’s give kudos to former X Factor contestant and current hook singer to the stars Ella Henderson, whose featured credits on David Guetta’s ‘Crazy What Love Can Do’ and Nathan Dawe’s ‘21 Reasons’ gives her two top ten hits this week. Since the massive success of her debut single ‘Ghost’ back in 2014, Henderson has had better successes working with DJs like Sigma, Jones, and now Guetta and Dawe.

Also having himself a good week is afrobeat singer Burna Boy, whose recent LP Love, Damini, landed at number two behind Harry Styles’ Harry’s House on the UK Album Chart. Burna also has himself a top ten hit on the singles chart with ‘Last Last’ landing at number seven. The Grammy Award-winning artist is having himself a bit of a moment, and ‘Last Last’ is certainly one of the better songs towards the top of the chart this week.

And, for my amusement, let’s take a look at where ‘Mr. Brightside’ is this week. This is truly my favourite recurring feature of this column, if for no other reason than to marvel at how much the Brits cannot stop listening to The Killers’ signature song. Aha! Number 61 this week! That’s up from number 66 last week. Never change, Britain, and never give up on your love for ‘Mr. Brightside’.

UK Singles Top Ten (Week of July 20th, 2022):

  1. ‘Afraid to Feel’ – LF System
  2. ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
  3. ‘Green Green Grass’ – George Ezra
  4. ‘Break My Soul’ – Beyoncé
  5. ‘Running Up That Hill’ – Kate Bush
  6. ‘About Damn Time’ – Lizzo
  7. ‘Last Last’ – Burna Boy
  8. ‘Crazy What Love Can Do’ – David Guetta/Hill/Henderson
  9. ‘IFTK’ – Tion Wayne & La Roux
  10. ’21 Reasons’ – Nathan Dawe ft. Ella Henderson

Current US Number One: ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles

Damn, not to be a negative Nancy or anything, but it sure is hard finding a new angle to present the current slate of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 right now. 

As you probably could have guessed before the chart even came out this week, Harry Styles is still at number one with ‘As It Was’. That gives it ten weeks on top of the chart, which officially gets it passed the halfway point in every song’s eternal quest to unseat Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ for the record of longest stay at number one. Only nine weeks to go, Harry!

‘As It Was’ is actually a lot closer to hitting the number three slot on that all-time list. To reach it, a song needs to be number one for 14 weeks, which means that Styles is only four weeks away from that particular distinction. If it does happen to reach that milestone, it will join a list of artists that is absolutely joyous and hilarious in terms of diversity.

The oldest song to spend that long at number one isn’t actually all that old: Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ stretched across 1992 and 1993, which was the record for the longest stay at number one at the time. After that, we have Boys II Men’s ‘I’ll Make Love to You’, Los Del Rio’s ‘Macarena’, Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind 1997’, Mariah Carey’s ‘We Belong Together’, The Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars collaboration ‘Uptown Funk’.

Will Styles join this illustrious list of chart legends? I would bet serious money on it, considering how most of the rest of the top ten singles have been there for a while without unseating ‘As It Was’. Also important to this equation is the fact that Styles has fallen from number one and gotten back up a number of times, making another four weeks at number one seem like less of an outside chance and more of an inevitability.

US Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles (Week of July 23rd, 2022):

  1. ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
  2. ‘About Damn Time’ – Lizzo
  3. ‘First Class’ – Jack Harlow
  4. ‘Running Up That Hill’ – Kate Bush
  5. ‘Wait For U’ – Future ft. Drake & Tems
  6. ‘Me Porto Bonito’ – Bad Bunny & Chencho Corleone
  7. ‘Heat Waves’ – Glass Animals
  8. ‘Me Porto Bonito’ – Bad Bunny & Chencho Corleone
  9. ‘Break My Soul’ – Beyoncé
  10. ‘Big Energy’ – Latto

This Week in Number Ones: ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ – The Rolling Stones (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 24th, 1965)

Sometime in the Spring of 1965, Keith Richards stirred in the middle of the night. He was only half-awake, but he managed to grab a guitar, hit record on a cassette player, and lay down a riff before he himself laid down once again to go back to sleep. When he awoke in the morning, he spied that the cassette was full but had no memory of turning it on. After parsing through roughly 40 minutes of snoring, Richards heard a riff that would change his life and the life of his band, The Rolling Stones, forever.

At this time, The Rolling Stones were still trying to break through in pop culture. They had successfully transitioned from blues purists to clean-cut teenyboppers to the bad boy counterprogramming to The Beatles in about three years’ time. What they didn’t have, though, was their own set of songs that could rival the songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Most of the band’s initial albums were made up of covers, and the few songs that Richards and Mick Jagger had written up to that point were more in the pop genre. The Stones needed a song that was as dangerous and exciting as their image was, and with Richards’ new riff, they had it.

Or at least most of them thought they had it. Richards envisioned the riff being played by a horn section, and when that became out of the band’s modest reach, he opted to use a Maestro fuzzbox instead. A few days before the session, Jagger scribbled down some words at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, that was a stream of consciousness, incorporating themes of sexual frustration and anti-consumerism into a rough collection of thoughts and phrases. After getting the basic track down, neither Jagger nor Richards believed the final results were worthy of a single. They were outvoted by their bandmates and manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

At this time, the Stones were on a remarkable hot streak in their native UK, landing five straight singles at number one, beginning with ‘It’s All Over Now’ in 1964 and extending into 1965 with ‘Get Off My Cloud’. But in America, the highest the Stones had ever gotten was number six with ‘Time Is On My Side’. It was promising, but in order to truly be one of the biggest bands in the world, they needed something hard-edged and memorable.

That’s exactly what ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is. It’s repetitive, nonsensical, basic, and grammatically incorrect, but holy hell is it an immediate charge. Even today, when the novelty of the distorted guitar tones produced by Richards has worn off and shown up in pop hits for nearly 60 years, ‘Satisfaction’ still has palpable energy to it that can’t be ignored. 

It’s important to remember what the landscape around The Rolling Stones looked like in 1965. No other band was creating raw, dirty blues-based rock music for pop audiences. The Beatles’ ‘I Feel Fine’ was the first chart-topper to feature distortion, but that was just a few seconds of feedback at the start of the song. Richards was playing distorted guitar lines throughout the entirety of the song. In between their first number one in the US, the Stones were competing with the Motown sounds of The Four Tops’ ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)’ and the more stately style of Herman’s Hermits’ ‘I’m Henry the VIII, I Am’ with Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ not far behind. It was safe to say that nothing sounded like the Stones at the time.

That wouldn’t last long, though. Inspired by the gritty tone and raw arrangement, a whole series of garage rock bands began to pop up across America. Some of them even landed hits, like The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’ and Question Mark and the Mysterians’ ‘96 Tears’. Some of them took the Stones’ look and style as their own and evolved their unique brand of music into new genres like Aerosmith’s hard rock and The New York Dolls’ proto-punk. The Stones were already building a legacy of knockoffs and direct acolytes before they even had a second hit.

It didn’t take long for that second hit to land. Later in 1965, ‘Get Off My Cloud’ rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and solidified both the Stones and the British Invasion as a whole as worthwhile concerns. All told, the Stones would land eight number one hits in America over the course of their 60-plus years in the music industry, and it all started with a groggy, half-lucid Keith Richards laying down one of the greatest guitar riffs ever created.

Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten (Week of July 24th, 1965)

  1. ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ – The Rolling Stones
  2. ‘I’m Henry VII, I Am’ – Herman’s Hermits
  3. ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)’ – The Four Tops
  4. ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ – Tom Jones
  5. ‘Cara Mia’ – Jay and the Americans
  6. ‘Yes, I’m Ready’ – Barbara Mason
  7. ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’ – Jackie DeShannon
  8. ‘Seventh Son’ – Johnny Rivers
  9. ‘Mr. Tamboruine Man’ – The Byrds
  10. ‘You Turn Me On (Turn On Song)’ – Ian Whitcomb and Bluesville