Five Bands You Wouldn’t Believe Have Never Had a Number One Single

We hate to be clickbait-y but these are genuinely surprising

Five Bands You Wouldn’t Believe Have Never Had a Number One Single

When talking about the biggest artists and bands on the planet it’s a little odd to look at chart details and realise that some of these rock bands got *that* close but never hit the number one spot for a single.

Something important to bear in mind here is that a single’s sales may be massive but it doesn’t hit number one only because it has fierce competition and that a week or two later it may have gone straight in at the top spot. Therefore, an artist may get a number one hit with 100,000 sales (the average number of sales needed for a number one in 2013/2014) in the UK but another band may sell 300,000 and not get to number one because the top single sold 400,000. Also a single may sell more copies over its time in the chart. A good example of this in action is that Wonderwall by Oasis wasn’t a number one as it was kept off the top spot by TV stars turned singers Robson and Jerome. Wonderwall sold over a million copies in the UK alone and Oasis have become a British institution while Robson and Jerome…haven’t.

Honorary Mention: Aerosmith


Aerosmith have surprisingly only had two albums reach the top in the US – Get a Grip and Nine Lives. Believe it or not, they’ve had seven singles go to the Top Ten in the US but only one has reached the Top Ten in the UK. They did score a Number One in the US with I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing but it only reached number four in the UK – the song wasn’t written by Aerosmith, it was written for the Armageddon movie soundtrack which Aerosmith was then chosen to perform. I know what you’re thinking – “What about Walk This Way with Run-DMC?” Number four in the US and number eight in the UK.

Honorary Mention #2: Guns N Roses

Guns N' Roses

Guns N’ Roses hold so many records that they’ll be getting their own article soon but GNR have released six studio albums, with the lowest chart position being number 4 (The Spaghetti Incident) in the US and number 22 in the UK (G N’ R Lies).  Sweet Child o’ Mine was their only number one single hit in the US but they never achieved the top position in the UK, their highest position was number two with Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.

5: Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers have had eight albums in the US Top Ten and eight in the UK Top Ten with total sales of 80 million. In terms of singles they’ve made the Top Ten three times in the US and four times in the UK with Under the Bridge reaching number two in the US while Dani California got to number two in the UK.

Weird bit of trivia – Give it Away reached number nine in the UK but only number 73 in the US.

4: Green Day

Green Day

Green Day have had phenomenal success especially in the album chart:

  • Dookie sold ten million copies and hitting number two in the US
  • Insomniac sold two million copies in the US and went to number two
  • American Idiot sold six million copies and went to number one in the US
  • 21st Century Breakdown sold 1.2 million copies in the US and hit number two
  • Revolution Radio sold 270,00 and reached number one in the US

However, the top spot has evaded them when it comes to singles.  Boulevard of Broken Dreams got to number two and Wake Me Up When September Ends, surprisingly only got to number six.  Here in the UK they’ve had seven Top 10 singles with the highest reaching number two.

3: Kiss


Kiss are one of the most influential rock bands of all time and a juggernaut when it comes to money, but when it comes to the charts they haven’t done as well as you may think. They’ve had six Top Ten albums in the US and three in the UK but no number ones.  Kiss have released a staggering 60 singles but they’ve only reached the Top Ten in the US twice (Beth and the remix of Forever) and twice in the UK (Crazy Crazy Nights and God Gave Rock and Roll to You II) with the highest chart positions being number seven and number four, respectively.

2. Nirvana


It’s safe to say that Nirvana totally changed music when they hit it big in 1991 with Nevermind and the first single from it, Smells Like Teen Spirit. Heavy metal as we knew it died, the floodgates opened for alternative bands who now found themselves with opportunities they’d never have imagined and sales of lumberjack shirts skyrocketed. Nirvana sold 27 million albums in the US, with total sales globally of over 80 million as studio albums Nevermind and In Utero, along with live albums MTV Unplugged in New York and On the Banks of the Wishkah all hit number one in the US. Meanwhile in the UK, In Utero and MTV Unplugged in New York both got to number one but Nevermind only reached number five in the charts.

The now classic anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit was Nirvana’s biggest single but didn’t hit number one either side of the pond as it reached number six in the US and seven in the UK. Unbelievably, Heart Shaped Box did better in the UK, reaching number five.

1: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

This one genuinely shocked me, The Boss must have had one number one single, right? Wrong. Bruce is in third place for most US number one albums and fifth in the UK and is the fifteenth top selling artist of all time but no number one singles.

  • 15 Top Ten studio albums in the US, 9 of which reached number one
  • 4 compilation/live albums in the US Top Ten, 1 of which reached number one
  • 13 Top Ten studio albums in the UK, 9 of which reached number one
  • 6 compilation/live albums in the UK Top Ten,  1 of which got to number one

Equally Bruce Springsteen is a hit machine with singles but the top spot has evaded him

  • 12 Top Ten Singles in the US, 1 of which got to number two (Dancing in the Dark)
  • 4 Top Ten Singles in the UK, 1 of which got to number two (Streets of Philadelphia)

You’d expect the air punching Born in the USA anthem to have reached number one in the US at least, but it only reached number nine and reached number five in the UK.

Sadly, he might have hit number one with his cover of Trapped from the USA for Africa: We Are the World album as it got to number one in the US Rock chart but someone had the bright idea of not releasing it as a single. It’s not all bad news though as he was one of the artists involved in the single We Are the World which did reach number one in the US and the UK.

About Morg

Metal Report Editor. Ex guitarist in Zenopede, ex vocals for a goth covers band that was hailed as the future of Welsh music, former DJ, promoter and nightclub director. Writer for Gear4Geeks' Blog4Geeks and owner of Gear4Geeks ltd. First published music critique was Kerrang letter of the Week. Definitely has never been the future, present or past of Welsh music.

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