Every #1 Song Ever 1956-1992

This is just too cool.  Stereogum posted a discovered archive of two streams that play every US #1 hit from 1956 to 1992 – each track is about 5 seconds long.  Whether the archivist, named Hugo Kessing, decided to do this in lieu of Billboard reaching their 1000th #1 song (Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”) or not is anybody’s guess, but nevertheless, this is an awesome afternoon killer, as it was for me inevitably, and a pretty solid observation of the evolution of popular music over the many years.  And if Wikipedia is any indication, this is more or less accurate from the year Elvis had his first #1 to the year grunge took over (though you won’t find any evidence of that here).  The first stream is about 45 minutes, the second is about half an hour.  Now we just need someone to go from ’93 to the present….

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 1 by mjs538

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 2 by mjs538

Some stray observations:

-We can slowly see rock and roll take it all over hit by hit, mostly by Elvis, but slowly by others.  Of course, the first rock and roll #1 wasn’t by the King, but by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1955 for “Rock Around the Clock.”

-When the Beatles broke, Elvis all but disappeared.  The Fab Four consistently sprang up #1’s every year, but nothing like their debut on American shores at the beginning of 1964.  Elvis showed up with a comeback hit in 1968 for “Suspicious Minds,” and then disappeared.  The last Beatles #1 was “The Long and Winding Road.”  All four Beatles scored solo #1 hits through the 70’s and 80’s, the most of course by Paul McCartney, who cashed in with his band Wings.  Ringo even had a few; George scored an surprising #1 with his re-do of “Got My Mind Set On You” in 1987, the last #1 for a Beatle.  John Lennon’s last #1, “Just Like Starting Over,” stayed on top from late December 1980 through January of ’81.  He was killed on December 8, and never saw this happen.

-The slow build of disco is apparent and all too real by 1976, with the Bee Gees breaking through to the top.  By 1978, that’s pretty much all that’s topping the charts, even disco novelty (like “Disco Duck,” the song that made Rick Dees a prominent public figure, destined to ruin weekends on the radio for years to come).

-This should remind you that the 80’s were just really fucking awesome.  While the Knack’s “My Sharona” is credited as the song that “killed disco,” it didn’t entirely, though it did a pretty solid job overall when it hit #1 in 1979.  Just a few weeks later, the first “new wave” #1 was by M – “Pop Muzik.”  We then start to see more new wave groups breaking through, particularly Blondie.

-Among the British Invasion, Motown and Phil Spector’s girl groups also scored many hits throughout the 60’s.  Frankie Valli stayed around from before the Beatles with the Four Seasons to the late 70’s, providing the hit theme to Grease.

-Speaking of themes, they are everywhere in the 70’s and 80’s.  Chariots of Fire, Flashdance, Footloose, Back to the Future, S.W.A.T., and Miami Vice all reached #1.

-Barbara Streisand and Barry Manilow just like to ruin everything. Consistently. All the time.

-The 70’s were an awesome decade for music, though you wouldn’t know that from observing what made #1 during those years.

-The years 1989-1991 are mostly unbearable.  Seriously, especially ’89, where the breakout stars for the year, Milli Vanilli, who had three #1’s, ended up being a couple of lip synching no-talents.

-The first rap #1 was in 1990 by Vanilla Ice (“Ice Ice Baby”).  The first REAL rap #1 was in 1991 by PM Dawn (“Set Adrift On Memory Bliss”).

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