Categories: Blog

Artists Who Went No. 1 With Their First Chart Single

Yesterday, I posed a harmless poll on our Facebook page: “Let’s name some artists who went No. 1 with their first chart single.”

I figured we could come up with a handful of acts who fit the criteria and that would be it, but after doing some lengthy research on my own, I found it’s not such an uncommon chart achievement after all. Every decade of the rock era has several artists who reached the pinnacle their first time out.

We have compiled them neatly for you with this Spotify playlist (follow, follow, follow!). See the whole list below.

Some observations:

• There are more than 200 artists who have done this … so, yeah, it’s not so rare.

• These Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends achieved this feat:

The Animals
Blondie
The Byrds
Sam Cooke
Guns N’ Roses
George Harrison
Buddy Holly
The Jackson 5
Elvis Presley
Del Shannon
Stevie Wonder

• Most impressive of all: The Jackson 5’s first four hits all went No. 1. Men At Work, Tiffany and Wilson Phillips did it with their first two hits.

• There are oh-so-many one-hit wonders on this list, from Gregory Abbott to Zager & Evans.

• The “American Idol” effect: Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood benefited from exposure on the Fox series.

• The all-time top debut hits for new artists: Rob Thomas, singing lead on Santana’s “Smooth,” spent 12 weeks at No. 1 in 1999, and Kelly Rowland’s duet with Nelly on “Dilemma,” 10 weeks at No. 1 in 2002. But those were both duets … so the real winner would have to be Debby Boone, whose Grammy-winning “You Light Up My Life” spent 10 weeks at No. 1 in 1977.

• These songs are not available on Spotify, but they’re all debut No. 1s:

“Disco Duck,” Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots
“Easier Said Than Done,” The Essex
“The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” Bill Hayes
“I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
“Jump,” Kris Kross
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinéad O’Connor
“Maniac,” Michael Sembello
“Dominique,” The Singing Nun

Gerry Galipault

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.

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