If you are into your chart trivia you will probably know the titles of the shortest #1s in UK chart history. They consist of just two characters: “If” (Telly Savalas, 1975) and “19” (Paul Hardcastle, 1985).
Recently I asked my son which songs Sara Cox had played on her “Half Wower” slot between 6.30 and 7pm on Radio 2, which he listens to most evenings (Monday to Thursday). Among other titles he mentioned “Believe” by Cher, a 1998 #1. I totted up the letters in the title and artist name (7 + 4 = 11) and wondered: what is the shortest combination of title and artist name that has reached #1?
It can’t be either “If” or “19” because the artist names are too long. They would have to be 8 letters or fewer to beat “Believe” (Cher), which doesn’t apply to Telly Savalas or Paul Hardcastle.
5 UK #1s have had titles consisting of just 3 letters (“Why”, “She”, “Run”, “OMG” and “WAP”). The artists credited to all these hits would need names of 7 characters or fewer to beat Cher’s effort and the shortest name here is Leona Lewis. She took “Run” to the top in 2008 and has 11 characters in her name, including the space.
After a few minutes I worked out the shortest combination of artist and title, just 8 characters. If you are so inclined, see if you can work out what it is. The answer appears in three paragraphs’ time.
There have been 2 UK #1s with where artist name and title combined consisted of only 8 characters. I only worked out one of these before checking my usual list of #1s.
My working list of UK #1s for trivia challenges such as this is based on this page from the Official Chart Company website, “All The Number 1 Singles”. I have all the data in a spreadsheet and use formulas to determine the length of cells.
The way that the information is presented on the “All the Number 1 Singles” page suggests that there is a third combination of act name and title consisting of 8 letters, but I do not include that one for the reason outlined below.
Ready for the answers? Here they are.
The shortest combinations, just 8 characters each, are “Desire” (U2, 1988) and “Doop” (Doop, 1994). If you discount the word “The” at the start of The Jam you could include “Start” (Jam, 1980), but I would never call them simply “Jam”. Even including the word “The” that combination comes in at a creditable 12 characters.
I include words in brackets as part of the chart title. If I didn’t, “9pm (Till I Come)” (ATB, 1999) would be a clear winner, with just 6 characters.
The table below lists all the combinations that come in at 11 characters or fewer, 19 of them. If I extend it to the combinations that contain 12 characters there would be 35 entries, a little too unwieldy for my liking right now. U2 are the only act with multiple entries here (“Vertigo” and “The Fly” as well as “Desire”).