Music · Trivia

UK #1 hit singles that include numbers

What is the current UK #1? In my experience this is a good question for any quiz night, especially a school quiz night. Most of us who are parents of school-age children have gone through times when we had no idea what was top of the charts. We might get to a stage where our children can keep us up-to-date with the nation’s biggest sellers but in the meantime there will be unfamiliar songs and artists. For the record, as I type these words Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa are #1 with “One Kiss”. It’s Harris’s 9th contribution to a UK chart-topper and Ms Lipa’s second, after last year’s “New Rules”.

For many of us there are many factors that contribute to our decreasing familiarity with the top of the charts, whether we have children or not. These can include age, the demise of “Top of the Pops” and a lack of enthusiasm for some of the songs that are either the biggest sellers or, increasingly, the most streamed. Another major factor is the sheer number of songs that have made it to the top in recent decades. In 1992, for example, there were a mere 12 chart-toppers. In 2000 there were 42 (yes, count them, forty two) different #1s in just over 11 months, between the Westlife double A side that saw in the millennium (“I have a dream” / “Seasons in the sun”) and “Can we fix it?” by Bob the Builder, just in time for Christmas 2000. The numbers for 2012 and 2014 were 36 and 38 respectively. The last two years have been kinder to us: only 10 different songs made it to #1 in 2016 (and that included 15 weeks of “One Dance” by Drake), and 14 in 2017.

“One Kiss” is into its second week at the top and I have heard it far more often than its immediate predecessors, one week each for Drake’s “Nice for What” and “Freaky Friday” by Lil Dicky featuring Chris Brown. It first came to my attention with an appearance by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa on The Graham Norton Show the day the song reached #1 and it has been played regularly on my radio station of choice (BBC Radio 2).

The presence of a number in the song’s title has prompted me to think back over other chart-toppers that have featured numbers. I thought of 15, which would be a jackpot winner on BBC1 quiz show “Who Dares Wins” if this were offered as a question, and then decided to look them up. There are 46 in all, including ordinals, numbers in place of words and words that mean the same as “on one occasion” or “on two occasions”. They are listed at the end of this article. If you want to test yourself, look away now and don’t scroll down for a while.

In fact, “Who Dares Wins” did feature a similar question last weekend, a jackpot round that asked for the names of any chart acts (solo artists, duos or groups) that have reached the UK Top 40, and include a number in their title. I was watching it on live TV for a change, just my 13-year-old son and me in the room, and typed out 18 artists before the contestants had named 3. They stopped at 3, unable to name another 3 artists with confidence, and made 5k rather than the 50k that was on offer. They weren’t even sure of Five Star (15 UK top 40s, and a highest chart placing of #2, for “Rain or shine”). My list, before the screen displayed a selection of the available answers:

Four Tops / Four Pennies / Three of a kind
U2 / S Club 7 / Temperance 7
Jackson 5 / 2 Unlimited / 5 Star
Electric 6 / Maroon 5 / Fun Boy Three
Sham 69 / Eiffel 65 / One Direction
Three Degrees / 911 / A1

I failed to remember 10cc (my favourite band when I was 12) or East 17, both of whom have had at least one UK #1.

If you’re still trying to think of UK #1s that feature a number look away now, otherwise here’s the full list, with explanatory notes at the end about ordinals, numbers in place of words and words that mean the same as “on one occasion” or “on two occasions”.

The UK #1s that feature a number in the title

In chronological order

Artist Song Year Number
Frank Sinatra Three Coins In The Fountain 1954

3

Tennessee Ernie Ford Sixteen Tons 1956

16

Elvis Presley One Night / I Got Stung 1959

1

Craig Douglas Only Sixteen 1959

16

Eddie Cochran Three Steps To Heaven 1960

3

Zager & Evans In The Year 2525 (Exordium And Terminus) 1969

2525

Rolf Harris Two Little Boys 1969

2

Dawn Knock Three Times 1971

3

Donny Osmond Twelfth Of Never 1973

12

Commodores Three Times A Lady 1978

3

Lena Martell One Day At A Time 1979

1

Michael Jackson One Day In Your Life 1981

1

Goombay Dance Band Seven Tears 1982

7

Adam Ant Goody Two Shoes 1982

2

Nena 99 Red Balloons 1984

99

Frankie Goes To Hollywood Two Tribes 1984

2

Paul Hardcastle 19 1985

19

Whitney Houston One Moment In Time 1988

1

Robin Beck First Time 1988

1

Sinead O’Connor Nothing Compares 2 U 1990

2

Enigma Sadness Part 1 1991

1

K.L.F. featuring Children of The Revolution 3AM Eternal 1991

3

Celine Dion Think Twice 1995

2

Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Three Lions 1996

3

Spice Girls 2 Become 1 1996

1

Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Three Lions 98 1998

3

Britney Spears Baby One More Time 1999

1

A.T.B. 9pm (Till I Come) 1999

9

Robbie Williams She’s The One / It’s Only Us 1999

1

Oxide & Neutrino Bound 4 Da reload (Casualty) 2000

4

Craig David 7 Days 2000

7

Destiny’s Child Independent Women Part 1 2000

1

So Solid Crew 21 Seconds 2001

21

Bob The Builder Mambo No 5 2001

5

Daniel Bedingfield If You’re Not The One 2002

1

McFly Five Colours In Her Hair 2004

5

Busted Thunderbirds / 3AM 2004

3

Elvis Presley One Night / I Got Stung (re-issue)   [second time at no. 1] 2005

1

Proclaimers featuring Brian Potter & Andy Pipkin (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles 2007

500

Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake 4 Minutes 2008

4

Tinchy Stryder featuring N-dubz Number 1 2009

1

Diana Vickers Once 2010

1

Lukas Graham 7 Years 2016

7

Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla One Dance 2016

1

DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne I’m the One 2017

1

Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa One Kiss 2018

1

In numerical order (by the lowest number if the title contains more than one number)

Artist Song Year Number
Elvis Presley One Night / I Got Stung 1959

1

Lena Martell One Day At A Time 1979

1

Michael Jackson One Day In Your Life 1981

1

Whitney Houston One Moment In Time 1988

1

Robin Beck First Time 1988

1

Enigma Sadness Part 1 1991

1

Spice Girls 2 Become 1 1996

1

Britney Spears Baby One More Time 1999

1

Robbie Williams She’s The One / It’s Only Us 1999

1

Destiny’s Child Independent Women Part 1 2000

1

Daniel Bedingfield If You’re Not The One 2002

1

Elvis Presley One Night / I Got Stung (re-issue)   [second time at no. 1] 2005

1

Tinchy Stryder featuring N-dubz Number 1 2009

1

Diana Vickers Once 2010

1

Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla One Dance 2016

1

DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne I’m the One 2017

1

Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa One Kiss 2018

1

Rolf Harris Two Little Boys 1969

2

Adam Ant Goody Two Shoes 1982

2

Frankie Goes To Hollywood Two Tribes 1984

2

Sinead O’Connor Nothing Compares 2 U 1990

2

Celine Dion Think Twice 1995

2

Frank Sinatra Three Coins In The Fountain 1954

3

Eddie Cochran Three Steps To Heaven 1960

3

Dawn Knock Three Times 1971

3

Commodores Three Times A Lady 1978

3

K.L.F. featuring Children of The Revolution 3AM Eternal 1991

3

Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Three Lions 1996

3

Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Three Lions 98 1998

3

Busted Thunderbirds / 3AM 2004

3

Oxide & Neutrino Bound 4 Da reload (Casualty) 2000

4

Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake 4 Minutes 2008

4

Bob The Builder Mambo No 5 2001

5

McFly Five Colours In Her Hair 2004

5

Goombay Dance Band Seven Tears 1982

7

Craig David 7 Days 2000

7

Lukas Graham 7 Years 2016

7

A.T.B. 9pm (Till I Come) 1999

9

Donny Osmond Twelfth Of Never 1973

12

Tennessee Ernie Ford Sixteen Tons 1956

16

Craig Douglas Only Sixteen 1959

16

Paul Hardcastle 19 1985

19

So Solid Crew 21 Seconds 2001

21

Nena 99 Red Balloons 1984

99

Proclaimers featuring Brian Potter & Andy Pipkin (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles 2007

500

Zager & Evans In The Year 2525 (Exordium And Terminus) 1969

2525

Ordinals, numbers in place of words and words that mean the same as “on one occasion” or “on two occasions”

The lists above include the following six titles in which the numbers are either ordinals (first, second, twelfth), numbers in place of words (2 instead of “to”, 4 instead of “for”) and words that mean the same as “on one occasion” (“once”) or “on two occasions” (“twice”). If you want to omit them the list of songs that contain numbers comes to 40, rather than 46.

Artist Song Year Number
Robin Beck First Time 1988 1
Diana Vickers Once 2010 1
Sinead O’Connor Nothing Compares 2 U 1990 2
Celine Dion Think Twice 1995 2
Oxide & Neutrino Bound 4 Da reload (Casualty) 2000 4
Donny Osmond Twelfth Of Never 1973 12

 

 

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