Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Far Out / Alamy)

Music

The Week in Number Ones: Kate Bush, Lizzo, and Wings climb the charts

@TylerGolsen

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 couldn’t get away from Harry Styles, investigated the up-and-down nature of Kendrick Lamar, and took a deep dive on repeat number ones thanks to the Moulin Rouge version of ‘Lady Marmalade’.

This week, we go big on the Kate Bush renaissance that is blessing pop culture at the current moment, pay due respect to the superstar status of Lizzo, and recall when Paul McCartney got his groove back. All that and more as we round up all the best chart news of the modern-day and recent past.

Let’s get to it…

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

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kate Bush renaissance. 

Let’s make one thing clear: Kate Bush never went away. Even though the artist herself has largely forsaken any kind of public life and has all but retired from music, there was never a shortage in the continued fandom around Ms Bush. True believers never stopped giving her spins in the streaming era, but as with any artist whose main heyday was four decades ago, Kate Bush wasn’t exactly at the forefront of pop culture anymore.

Then came season four of Stranger Things. On perhaps the most popular television show on the planet, the highest compliment you could get is to have your song save the life of a main character thanks to its objective greatness. When teenage mope-aholic Max gets get possessed by major meanie-bo-beanie Vecna, the only way to snap her out of it is to play her favourite song: ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush.

With that key piece of marketing in place, the return of the almighty Kate Bush was in place. Not to brag, but some of us were extolling the virtues of Bush before it was cool, but that’s neither here nor there. What matters is that Bush is back, and not just with a few extra million views on the song’s YouTube video.

No, people are listening to, buying, and streaming ‘Running Up That Hill’ so much that it landed in the top ten in both the US and the UK. Coincidentally, it sits at number eigh on both charts, acting as the kind of resurgent bounce that had only been seen in the likes of Christmas songs during the Yuletide season. 

Thanks to streaming services, the notion that a song itself has to be contemporary in order to be a contemporary hit is firmly in the past. The major push of ‘Running Up That Hill’ probably won’t lead to any additional boosts in Bush’s catalogue (not unless the entire world is saved by ‘Babooshka’ during the final two episodes of Stranger Things 4), but the door is open for some careers to see major revivals thanks to well-timed needle drops. May the Kate Bush renaissance last another fortnight at least.

UK Singles Top Ten (Week of June 4th, 2022):

  1. ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
  2. ‘Go’ – Cat Burns
  3. ‘About Damn Time’ – Lizzo
  4. ‘Late Night Talking’ – Harry Styles
  5. ‘First Class’ – Jack Harlow
  6. ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant’ – Harry Styles
  7. ‘IFTK’ – Tion Wayne & La Roux
  8. ‘Running Up That Hill’ – Kate Bush
  9. ‘2Step’ – Ed Sheeran
  10. ‘Peru’ – Fireboy DML & Ed Sheeran

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

I would like to issue a formal apology to one Melissa Viviane Jefferson, better known to you and me as Lizzo. You see, Lizzo’s recent single ‘About Damn Time’ has been a top ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic for a number of weeks now. And you know how much time I’ve spent devoted to talking about it? Zero. Needless to say, it’s about damn time for us to talk about ‘About Damn Time’.

The wave of success that followed 2019’s Cuz I Love You was firmly in the past. The number one hit ‘Truth Hurts’? Yesterday’s news. An appearance in the criminally underrated 2019 film Hustlers? Largely forgotten about. The Cardi B collaboration ‘Rumors’? Solid, but also now resigned to last year’s pop chart. If there was a time to possibly think about counting Lizzo out, the beginning of 2022 might not have been the worst time to do so.

But anywho who might have even dreamed of doing so needs to wake up and apologise, because Lizzo is back in a major way. There’s something in ‘About Damn Time’ that hits the same pleasure centre that caused the world to fall in love with Lizzo in the first place: the funky rhythms, the catchy choruses, the wild braggadocio, the pure amount of fun that follows everything Lizzo does.

Even the lyrics to ‘About Damn Time’ channel that same energy of making a comeback and sticking things out. But the idea that Lizzo would need a comeback song feels quaint now, and ‘About Damn Time’ isn’t asking to shine the light back in Lizzo’s direction – it’s commanding the spotlight that she never lost in the first place. 

Now everything is as it should be: Lizzo has a double-duty hosting gig of Saturday Night Live and an Amazon reality competition in her back pocket. Another top-five hit keeps the anticipation up for her LP Special, and the world has another summer jam from the new Queen of the form. May we be so blessed as to receive a song as white-hot as ‘About Damn Time’ every summer from now until the end of time.

US Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles (Week of June 11th, 2022):

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

This Week in Number Ones: ‘Band on the Run’ – Paul McCartney & Wings (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Week of June 8th, 1974)

Paul McCartney was in a legendary slump throughout the early 1970s. It all kicked off when McCartney sent out a press release for his solo debut in April of 1970. That piece was mostly a self-interview that ended with McCartney stating that he had no intention of writing or recording with The Beatles at any point in the near future. This was widely interpreted as McCartney’s official breaking up of the Beatles, kicking off his solo career on an infamous bum note.

What followed were four albums with varying degrees of commercial success and quite a bit of critical scorn. 1970’s McCartney was accused of being slight and unfocused, 1971’s Ram was called smug and self-satisfied, the first Wings album Wild Life was seen as unimpressive and underproduced, and 1973’s Red Rose Speedway was assessed as disjointed and schmaltzy. No matter what he did, McCartney couldn’t win with the critics, but when it came to the charts, he was starting to ascend back to the top.

McCartney as a number one album in the US that topped out at number two in the UK. Ram flipped those numbers, going to number one in the UK and number two in the US. Wild Life was a step-down, reaching number ten in the US and number 11 in the UK, but Red Rose Speedway returned McCartney to number one in the US and went to the top five in the UK. Most importantly, McCartney managed to land a number one single in the US with the Ram single ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’. Critics might have detested the material that McCartney was putting out, but audiences were still eager to hear him.

Just as Wings was starting to gain some momentum, underscored by the American number one ‘My Love’ in 1973, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell left the band right before they were about to begin recording their third studio album. McCartney, his wife Linda, and former Moody Blues member Denny Laine elected to continue on and record their next LP as a trio with McCartney playing the drums. The threesome departed to Lagos, Nigeria, to begin tracking songs for what would eventually become Band on the Run.

Difficulties with faulty equipment and a robbery that ended with the offenders absconding with in-progress recordings made Band on the Run a difficult album to complete. Throughout the process, McCartney was bound and determined to achieve both critical and commercial success. He knew he had the material, bolstered by tracks like ‘Nine Hundred and Eighty-Five’ and ‘Let Me Roll It’, he just needed to pull it all together and hope that the public was still with him.

Upon its release at the end of 1973, Band on the Run proved to be the elusive hit that catapulted McCartney back to the top of pop music. Despite the clear appeal of the album’s title track, McCartney elected not to release the song as either of the album’s first two singles. It was a medley, which McCartney had used on a number one song; it was five minutes long; and the album’s first single, ‘Jet’, had already gone top ten in America. But McCartney was convinced to let a radio-edited version of ‘Band on the Run’ be the album’s third and final single.

Almost exactly a year before, ‘My Love’ gave McCartney the confidence that Wings could be a major pop act. ‘Band on the Run’ proved that McCartney was once again leading the pack. It came at an especially fertile time for him – George Harrison’s Dark Horse was a critical and commercial disappointment, while John Lennon’s Mind Games and Walls and Bridges had gotten mixed critical reviews. For the first time, McCartney was the Beatle with the critically adored solo record, hammered home by the success of the ‘Band on the Run’ single that kept the album selling well into 1974. 

McCartney took advantage of the momentum a year later by embarking on the ‘Wings Over the World’ tour, which made McCartney the first solo Beatle to tour America. Although his follow-up albums with Wings weren’t as critically acclaimed, the band continued to sell huge amounts of records and land number one hits like ‘Listen to What the Man Said’ and ‘Silly Love Songs’. The days of slumps were over for McCartney: from the release of Band on the Run until the end of time, critical and commercial success would never be far away for James Paul McCartney.

US Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles (Week of June 8th, 1974):

  1. ‘Band on the Run’ – Paul McCartney & Wings
  2. ‘The Streak’ – Ray Stevens
  3. ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’ – The Stylistics
  4. ‘Dancing Machine’ – Jackson 5
  5. ‘Sundown’ – Gordon Lightfoot
  6. ‘Billy, Don’t Be A Hero’ – Bo Donaldson and the Haywoods
  7. ‘Help Me’ – Joni Mitchell
  8. ‘The Entertainer’ – Marvin Hamlisch (From the soundtrack to The Sting)
  9. ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ – Maria Muldaur
  10. ‘For the Love of Money’ – The O’Jays