How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, May 15, 2005

It's Now Or Never

The ‘Now That’s What I Call Music!’ series came up trumps when I recently stumbled across a 3-CD set entitled ‘Now Decades’, composed of 60 Number One hits from the first 20 years of the series. From the 513th chart-topper, You Can’t Hurry Love by Phil Collins, to the 952nd, Busted’s You Said No, this compilation provides a snapshot of the way the ‘Now’ albums have documented the pop charts since 1983 (albeit in a major label money-grabbing kind of way).

Inevitably there were several tracks which I already had in one form or another, but out of the 60 I garnered 42 brand new Number Ones, plus the correct version of the Prodigy’s Firestarter, which I previously owned only as the extended album track.

As you would expect, it is a varied collection, taking in 80s pop (Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon), overblown rock ballads (Meat Loaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)), boy bands (I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys) and dance hits (Make Luv by Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham).

Also present is the second longest running Number One (not counting Frankie Laine’s I Believe, which spent 18 weeks at the top but in three separate runs), Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet, which was the 709th Number One and stayed there for 15 consecutive weeks, only dislodged due to its being deleted by the record label*.

Among the other notable inclusions are the Spice Girls, making their first entry into my collection with the first of their 9 top-sellers, Wannabe, the 743rd Number One. I also now own the record that I may well ultimately decide is the worst ever chart-topper, Babylon Zoo’s Spaceman, which managed 5 weeks at the top in 1996 despite the fact that everyone who bought it subsequently realised that the bit they liked on the Levi’s TV ad was in fact only the intro, and was followed by three minutes of dreary rock dirge with some of the worst lyrics ever heard by man or beast.

The 550th Number One, Paul Hardcastle’s 19 must be one of the strangest to reach the top, and the 532nd, 99 Red Balloons by Nena is one of the best, as well as being one of two chart-toppers to reference Captain Kirk**.

And finally, I should mention Baby Come Back, a cover of the Equals song (which also hit Number One in 1968) by Pato Banton featuring Ali & Robin Campbell of UB40, just because it reminds me of the joke we had at the time that the frontman was not in fact of Caribbean stock but actually an Irishman named Pat O’Banton. This version also features the great lyric "Come back with me colour TV/And me CD collection of Bob Marley", which the Equals sadly never thought to include.

The collection now stands at 273 Number Ones, so another milestone is in sight, and I hope to be hitting 300 very shortly.

* Do you know what record eventually became the 710th chart-topper?
** Clearly there’s another question in there, but it’s so easy I won’t insult your intelligence.


  • Did the original include "me bag of sensi"? I remember Pat going to a little jar on his shelf, finding it was empty and doing a great "disappointed" look to camera.

    As for Jas Mann, he has a lot to answer for. I once met Arthur Baker but I was too faced to coherently berate him for that record.

    By Blogger Baz, at 5/15/2005 10:06 pm  

  • No sensi in the Equals version, probably would have been even more dodgy in 1968. In fact this record is also notable because it's the first Number One in the collection to be a cover with additional rap/toasting verses. There'll be a few more of them.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 5/15/2005 11:06 pm  

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