Because the coronavirus lockdown continues, the Guardian’s music desk thought you is perhaps in want of a distraction – one thing to ship you down reminiscence lane, or to divert the annoyance at your housemates or youngsters on to us. We current to you a rating of the 100 best UK No 1 singles for the reason that charts started in 1952.

The principles

We’ll be counting this down over six weeks – for the primary two weeks, we’ll spend Monday to Thursday counting down 10 at a time. That takes us as much as the High 20, and from Monday to Friday for 4 weeks we’ll have standalone celebrations of every remaining track by our crew of critics.

See more: Ten top british music list

This listing, and the songs’ order, was compiled by way of a politely raging video name between me, chief rock and pop critic Alexis Petridis and deputy music editor Laura Snapes. The rating isn’t primarily based on gross sales or longevity, it’sthe fruit of that dialogue: what we as critics, followers and lifelong listeners assume are essentially the most sensible songs to prime the UK charts, and, of these, that are extra sensible than others. The one rule was that an artist might solely characteristic as soon as.

As such, it is vitally a lot open to dialogue, which we heartily encourage within the feedback part. We’d love to listen to what you consider our decisions – whether or not in settlement or outrage – and listen to your fond or not-so-fond reminiscences of those singles. After we’ve reached No 1, we’ll ask what you assume we unforgivably missed out from the general listing, after which publish highlights out of your alternatives. Additionally, notice that dates listed are the dates the songs reached No 1.

Get pleasure from!

Ben Beaumont-Thomas, music editor


Invoice Haley and His Comets – Rock Across the Clock (1955)

You could possibly spend years arguing about what constitutes the primary rock’n’roll report. Rock Across the Clock patently isn’t it, but it surely was, incontrovertibly, the report that introduced rock’n’roll to mainstream consideration within the UK: two minutes of music that sounded infinitely extra feral than its avuncular artist regarded and that modified pop music for ever. AP

Generational bellwether … New Zealand singer Lorde, AKA Ella Yelich-O’Connor, in 2013. {Photograph}: Victoria Will/Invision/AP


Lorde – Royals (2013)

By disavowing the hole opulence and bloated scale of pop’s reigning class, Lorde by chance ushered in a model new one: there could be no Billie Eilish if not for her conspiratorial incantations. Whereas she weathered accusations of appropriation for disavowing hip-hop cliches in her clearly rap-influenced supply, she in the end echoed the style’s personal transfer in direction of unvarnished portrayals of teenage disaffection instigated by a parallel wave of SoundCloud upstarts. As a lot a generational bellwether as a pop traditional. LS


Lieutenant Pigeon – Mouldy Previous Dough (1972)

Recorded in a Coventry entrance room, Mouldy Previous Dough feels like pop music made by individuals who have by no means truly heard pop music, however have had it described to them by somebody who didn’t actually know what they had been speaking about: pub piano, growled vocals, a beat that remembers a drunk doggedly staggering residence. The weirdness of 70s Britain in musical type. AP


Dave and Ansell Collins – Double Barrel (1971)

If you happen to wished proof of how far out, how unbound by the same old guidelines reggae was, you may discover it on the prime of the charts in early 1971: a piano line taken – sampled when you like – from Ramsey Lewis; a vocalist who largely grunted and bellowed incomprehensibly within the type of a Jamaican deejay: “I’m the magnificent W-O-O-O!” It nonetheless sounds improbable. AP


Roy Orbison – It’s Over (1964)

The head of Roy Orbison’s profession as rock’s nice tragedian: three astonishing, inconsolable minutes throughout which stars cry, rainbows weep, golden days are sorrowfully recalled and drums beat a leaden funeral march, earlier than all of it reaches a horrible climax, Orbison desperately repeating the title as if distress is a type of catharsis. AP

Postmodern gold … Duo Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn of the Buggles. {Photograph}: Pictorial Press/Alamy


The Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star (1979)

It gained’t be an excessive amount of of a spoiler to disclose that that is the one No 1 single on this listing that issues how the brutally uncaring nature of recent know-how can paradoxically deepen nostalgia whereas rendering the previous irrelevant. Trevor Horn and co turned this materials into postmodern gold, constructing jingles, prog, orchestral pop and extra right into a screwball fantasy. That chilly regular kick drum, in the meantime, is like techno kicking the door all the way down to take over popular culture. BBT


Dua Lipa – New Guidelines (2017)

After a fitfully profitable begin, this was the track to show the Kosovan-British pop singer into a worldwide star. You’ll be able to nearly really feel her clamp a hand in your shoulder as she adopts a stern, schoolmarmish tone to dispense these guidelines for breakup survival: don’t reply your ex’s calls, allow them to pop spherical and even be their pal. She’s not telling us or her mates, although, however moderately herself, making for a robust pop psychodrama. BBT


Del Shannon – Runaway (1961)

Behind the easy, perky rock’n’roll facade – “the final word fairground anthem”, as author Bob Stanley put it – there’s one thing disturbing about Del Shannon’s largest hit: an eeriness concerning the rumble of the opening guitar chords and the echoing keyboard solo, a way the vocal is barely too impassioned and pained. The result’s as compelling a single as 1961 produced. AP

Nancy Sinatra with Lee Hazlewood. {Photograph}: GAB Archives/Redferns


Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ (1966)

Had These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ been sung by a person, as its creator, Lee Hazlewood, had meant, it could simply have been nasty. Sung with insouciant cool by the lately divorced Nancy Sinatra, nevertheless, it grew to become one thing else totally: camp however robust, humorous however fierce, fully irresistible. AP


Whigfield – Saturday Night time (1994)

Saturday Night time simply pipped Gina G’s Ooh Aah … Only a Little Bit to our 90s Eurobanger slot. First off, it’s an precise Eurobanger (not an Aussie impersonator), and just like the Village Folks’s YMCA, it has a dance routine invented by followers that got here to outline the track. It’s obtained an instantly iconic tag (“dee dee da da da!”), plus it was the victor in one in all pop’s funniest plagiarism circumstances: I need a few of no matter the one who thinks this feels like Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne was having. LS

He’s had his moments, however generally he launch a triumph … Justin Bieber performing in 2015. {Photograph}: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage


Justin Bieber – What Do You Imply? (2015)

There can be howls of protestation at Bieber being on this listing, a person routinely cited as all the things that’s facile about pop and celeb. Properly, he’s had his moments, however that is one in all his equally frequent triumphs. Taking the Insta-filtered aesthetic of the then-popular tropical home sound and marrying it to a melody that flits like a hen of paradise all the time coming again to its perch, it has the melancholically fleeting fantastic thing about a package deal vacation sundown. BBT


Sugababes – Freak Like Me (2002)

Producer Richard X will get a whole lot of credit score for the shuddering magnitude of invention behind the Sugababes’ debut UK No 1 – the primary legit single of the 2000s bootleg wave, bringing collectively Adina Howard and Tubeway Military – however not all of it. The newly minted trio of Mutya, Keisha and Heidi pull off a extra convincing “I’m grown now” transition than any of their American pop friends, because of the terrifying nonchalance innate to British teenage women. It’s obtained a traditional belting “may-ee!” (that’s “me” in millennial pop phrases) and with out it, you wouldn’t have Sound of the Underground – or, even, probably, whisper it, Poisonous. LS


Craig David – 7 Days (2000)

Just like the Previous Testomony God, Craig chills on a Sunday, however not like the Previous Testomony God, he spends Monday and Tuesday engineering intercourse and spends the remainder of the times till the sabbath having it. We regarded upon his creation and noticed that it was good: his vocals, drilled within the dexterity of the storage rave, twine round delicate acoustic guitar traces like two lovers in Eden. BBT

Adamski, left, with Seal in 1990. {Photograph}: Clare Muller/Redferns


Adamski – Killer (feat Seal) (1990)

Each a part of Adamski’s manufacturing is completely designed: the unhappy chords, the funkily interrupted alien transmission of the synths, the prodding bassline with its edges nearly imperceptibly corroded by acid. Most stunning of all is Seal: half activist, half oracle. BBT


The Tornados – Telstar (1962)

The product of producer Joe Meek’s twin obsessions – house journey and the recording studio as an instrument in itself – Telstar is otherworldly and breathlessly thrilling, piling on layer after layer of sounds so dense with results it’s inconceivable to work out what instrument is making them. It’s like nothing else, earlier than or since. AP


Estelle – American Boy (feat Kanye West) (2008)

It will get you considering, “I miss the outdated Kanye” – the rapper’s touristic whirl by way of Ribena, wags and the epithet “garbage” is filled with wit with only a contact of his incoming megalomania. Estelle is even higher, completely capturing the temper of unsure pleasure at a possible American lover: “Like the way in which he talking, his confidence is peaking / Don’t like his saggy denims however I’d like what’s beneath them.” The bump of’s cosmic funk manufacturing launches it into the transatlantic skies. BBT

Common touchstone … Gloria Gaynor within the mid-70s. {Photograph}: Rex Options


Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive (1979)

Many years of ubiquity have dulled the affect of I Will Survive, however the track solely grew to become ubiquitous within the first place as a result of it related with so many individuals so instantly. The strings soar, the lyrics venture defiance within the face of a controlling ex-partner, who’s tried chancing his arm once more: “I’m not that chained up little individual nonetheless in love with you.” AP


Cher – Imagine (1998)

I Will Survive recast in hi-tech 90s dance-pop, full with that infamous Auto-Tune wiggle to Cher’s voice. The impact is definitely used sparingly, and the track’s wild success – 11m copies bought worldwide – isn’t all the way down to something gimmicky. Quite, it’s all very old style stuff that ensures Imagine can be hollered in cheese nights for evermore: a powerhouse melody Cher makes use of to dispense a type of den-mother knowledge. BBT

Coronary heart-stopping chart-topper … Robyn. {Photograph}: Sarah Lee/The Guardian


Robyn – With Each Heartbeat (feat Kleerup) (2007)

“However I don’t look again,” Robyn insists time and again on her solely UK chart-topper, although the racing arpeggiated synths, by no means resolving to the house key, inform a unique story: one in all somebody doomed to the purgatory of heartbreak, or worse, revelling in it (a Greek refrain of strings charged with Kate Bush’s DNA outlines the tragedy). “And – it – hurts – with – ev – er – y – coronary heart – beat,” Robyn pants, and you’re feeling it, every syllable touchdown like a tombstone. LS


Elton John – Are You Prepared for Love? (2003)

For somebody who admits how hopeless he was at romance, Elton John couldn’t half-sell a love track. Are You Prepared for Love? runs the gamut of feelings as he tries to win somebody over: he’s casually cool about devotion but awed by it; grandiose in his overtures, then nearly manically overcome by worry that this individual may not, in truth, be prepared for love. The Thom Bell-assisted Philly soul manufacturing festoons John with strings, hand percussion, wah-wah guitar, key modifications – in a way completely echoing the maximalist, hasty strategy to seduction that John has mentioned he practised on the peak of his profession. It’s extraordinary that it took 24 years and a soccer advert to make it a success. LS


Dave – Funky Friday (feat Fredo) (2018)

This wasn’t the stuff of high-speed swerving grime bars. As a substitute, Dave and Fredo use regular, completely calibrated flows to set themselves other than the London MCs one technology above them, set to minimalist lure. The impact is of being informed one thing further clearly, as when you haven’t understood: a brilliantly withering method. Rap’s standing as a core a part of British popular culture was consolidated. BBT

Orchestral drama … Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent. {Photograph}: Related Newspapers /Rex


Jackie Trent – The place Are You Now (My Love) (1965)

The pop charts had been significantly dominated by sweeping, sentimental ballads till the mid-Nineteen Sixties, and there are PhDs to be written on the impact on pop music of a sexually repressed tradition of manners. Anyway, many such ballads are suffocatingly schmaltzy, however this one is elegant. It was written by Trent with Tony Hatch, a considerably forgotten genius of this era who shared Burt Bacharach’s knack for orchestral drama. The pair had an affair, with Hatch leaving his spouse and marrying Trent – this collaboration is filled with that impetuous, untameable passion. BBT


Thunderclap Newman – One thing within the Air (1969)

It’s unclear whether or not Thunderclap Newman thought they had been making a type of eulogy for 60s counterculture, however that’s how One thing within the Air turned out. Its music is ineffably melancholy, its insistence that “the revolution’s right here”, a 12 months after the hippy dream had curdled, sounds determined and hopeless. Intentional or not, it’s actually shifting. AP


Enya – Orinoco Stream (1988)

Maybe it takes not having lived by way of the 80s heyday of recent age, then its subsequent ubiquity and mockery to understand Orinoco Stream because the compositional marvel it’s. Sure, the lyrics are extremely foolish – however the layered pizzicato shimmer transforms Enya’s dippy travelogue into a real pop mirage, stoking its attract as her siren track consistently slips additional out of attain. LS


Child D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy (1994)

The lyrics are primarily a QVC infomercial for the eroto-psychedelic results of ecstasy – “Lotions of affection stream by way of your fingers / See visions, colors day-after-day” – and the music is shamelessly designed to accentuate drug experiences. The junglist breakbeats maintain the power excessive, whereas the large piano chords and craving vocals are like a head therapeutic massage from some bloke you simply met however nonetheless now really feel a deeper kinship with than your fast household. BBT

Drug epiphanies … Procol Harum {Photograph}: GAB Archive/Redferns


Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)

Channelling Bach and the Beats, the trippy imagery of this 10m vendor made it a favourite of these turning on and tuning in in the course of the Summer time of Love. However the Hammond organ creates a valedictory temper because the drug epiphanies betray their lies – “Though my eyes had been open / They could have simply as properly’ve been closed” – and the entitlement and rapacity of the now extensively hated Worst Technology turns into clear: “I used to be feeling kinda seasick / However the crowd known as out for extra.” A funeral hymn, then, however no much less stunning for it. BBT


Will Younger – Go away Proper Now (2003)

You’ll be able to think about an older relative calling this “a correct track” – unfussy and immediately traditional, the place the standard of Eg White’s composition offers it computerized promotion to a unique league. Younger negotiates the center eight’s key modifications with the identical unhappy certainty he negotiates his feelings, selecting self-preservation over a second likelihood at love. BBT


Chicago – If You Go away Me Now (1976)

The softest of soppy rock, If You Go away Me Now doesn’t appear to play a lot as glide alongside, wrapped in a blanket of French horns and strings, the drummer tapping so gently it appears he’s attempting to not wake somebody up. It’s impossibly lush and superbly written, however its disappointment is pervasive and affecting. AP


Rage Towards the Machine – Killing within the Title (2009)

The heaviest, sweariest No 1 in UK historical past – with top-of-the-line riffs, too – solely reached No 25 when it was first launched in 1992, however reached the highest in 2009 after a grassroots marketing campaign from individuals offended at a run of X Issue contestants dominating the Christmas No 1 race. Its “Fuck you, I gained’t do what you inform me” climax, aimed toward authority figures from the police to folks for years, was gleefully beamed at Simon Cowell in an excellent second for British democracy. BBT

Menace … Spice Ladies. {Photograph}: Fiona Hanson/PA


Spice Ladies – Wannabe (1996)

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Nearly 25 years down the road, Wannabe sounds so rinky-dink and harmless (save the “zig-a-zig-ah”, which continues up a lineage of horny pop nonsense began by Little Richard’s “a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!” nearly 4 a long time prior) that it’s nearly inconceivable it was thought of such a menace on the time. But it surely was: in two minutes, 53 seconds, these 5 girls undid tween pop’s raison d’etre – seducing women into a lifetime of domesticity by way of parades of innocent male crushes – and rewrote it in their very own chaotic, girls-first spirit. LS


Rui Da Silva – Contact Me (feat Cassandra) (2001)

Dance music No 1s nearly all the time bang, however this one pumps: a deep-house anthem of giant subtlety and energy. The way in which the rhythm-guitar line insinuates itself, solely to be subsumed by these cut-up strings, mirrors Cassandra’s audible bafflement at being taken over by a love she doesn’t perceive. The complicated rush of ecstasy, in each sense, has by no means been so superbly evoked. BBT


Snap! – Rhythm Is a Dancer (1992)

Dance-pop within the 90s usually traded in profound melancholy – Haddaway’s What Is Love and Corona’s Rhythm of the Night time being different traditional examples – and Rhythm Is a Dancer is likely one of the saddest of all. With its gospel vocals and cathedral-ready chords, it makes raving really feel like a critical non secular quest moderately than one thing to do on a Friday. BBT

Bonhomie and knees-up antics … Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners in 1982. {Photograph}: Brian Cooke/Redferns


Dexys Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen (1982)

Pop holds few higher pleasures than seeing a pop track concerning the energy of pop songs tackle that type of lure itself. In Come on Eileen, Kevin Rowland displays on the unhappy songs beloved by a downtrodden technology and guarantees his crush they’ll hum a unique tune. Come on Eileen grew to become that track: a romp by way of wistfulness, bonhomie and knees-up antics that distils the riotous emotional arc of an evening in an Irish pub into three-and-a-half good minutes. LS


Black Field – Trip on Time (1989)

Matching disco diva Loleatta Holloway for lung energy is close to inconceivable however M Folks’s Heather Small – working incognito after Italian producers Black Field had been refused a Holloway pattern – blows the home down, and her “let me let you know, what you do to me” is so sexily intense. It is a Terminator of a track, unstoppably delivering a payload of pure euphoria as Chicago home is spliced with Italo disco to create good pop. BBT


Eminem – Stan (feat Dido) (2000)

It’s testomony to time’s regular erosion {that a} track about an obsessive fan who murdered his pregnant girlfriend and killed himself as a result of his favorite rapper didn’t discover him has turn into an informal byword for effusive devotion. Coming full circle, Stan is worthy of it. It’s the height of Eminem’s storytelling ability and – despite the clear misanthropy of the titular fan – profoundly empathetic, as Eminem tempers Stan’s violence by understanding the desperation fuels it. LS

Naively craving … Kraftwerk in 1981. {Photograph}: Shinko Music/Getty Photos


Kraftwerk – The Mannequin (1982)

A miserable economic system of intercourse and energy, noticed with simmering beta-male jealousy, is sketched in simply 12 traces over a melody that has the right symmetry of a mannequin’s face. Laptop Love, the beautiful different half of this double A-side, is one other portrait of loneliness however couldn’t be extra completely different: it’s tender and naively craving. BBT


Nena – 99 Purple Balloons (1984)

Too usually discarded as a novelty hit, 99 Purple Balloons is one of the best pop track about chilly conflict nervousness in a area stuffed with try-hard duds, and a chart-topping coronation for the robust, peppy new wave sound being pioneered by the Go-Go’s, the Bangles and the Waitresses. (The unique German model continues to be one of the best, nevertheless.) LS


Steve Harley and Cockney Insurgent – Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (1975)

A fabulously bitchy kiss-off to the three members of Cockney Insurgent who left the band after their 1974 album The Psychomodo, the genius of Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) is to sofa its screw-you message within the sunniest, most charming, irresistibly hook-laden music possible. AP


Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock (1958)

Jailhouse Rock was meant as a joke by writers Leiber and Stoller, full with a nudging reference to homosexual intercourse. Elvis, nevertheless, ignored the comedian undercurrent, and sang it with such blazing depth that the efficiency nearly collapses at 1:14. In order for you a No 1 that captures his early, feral energy, that is it. AP

Dancefloor dreaming … The Arctic Monkeys. {Photograph}: Suki Dhanda/The Observer


Arctic Monkeys – I Wager You Look Good on the Dancefloor (2005)

Most mid-00s indie nostalgia is tinged with disgrace: the polka dots, dangerous fringes and herky-jerky dancing haven’t dated properly. However Arctic Monkeys’ debut single correct is one thing to look again on with pleasure – not as a result of, because the NME of the period would have it, it represented any type of jingoistic “victory” for indie over pop, however as a result of its rattling efficiency and Alex Turner’s lyrics distil the pleasures of that period value remembering: “Simply bangin’ tunes and DJ units and / Soiled dancefloors and desires of naughtiness.” LS


Ariana Grande – Thank U, Subsequent (2018)

In any case that Ariana Grande had been by way of – the Manchester Area bombing, the demise of a beloved ex, a damaged engagement – she might have launched 10 minutes of primal screaming and nonetheless left critics saying: yeah, honest sufficient. As a substitute, she modified the sport: after the extra stateswomanly Sweetener album launched earlier that 12 months, shock return Thank U, Subsequent accelerated pop’s processing velocity (significantly liberating feminine pop stars within the course of) and quashed the concept that empowerment is contingent on taking another person down. Its nimbleness is the sound of Grande’s freedom. LS

Making it straightforward … the Walker Brothers. {Photograph}: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photos


The Walker Brothers – Make It Simple on Your self (1965)

“Breaking apart is so very onerous to do” – this Burt Bacharach-penned ballad opens with a wry little bit of understatement from Scott Walker, and he offers with issues very magnanimously from right here on out: a stiff higher lip in track. The way in which the choir, timpani, strings, horns, guitars and extra all keep meringue-fluffy is arranger Ivor Raymonde simply exhibiting off, actually. BBT


Rihanna – Umbrella (feat Jay-Z) (2007)

Initially written for Britney Spears, though it’s inconceivable to think about her doing it. Umbrella wants swagger and Rihanna had it in spades, turning a stunted beat and a lyric that’s fairly dorky on paper into one in all pop’s nice come-ons. It’s a ability that earned Rihanna a deserved place within the pantheon of pop icons. LS


10cc – I’m Not in Love (1975)

Eric Stewart wrote I’m Not in Love after his spouse, Gloria, complained that he didn’t say “I really like you” usually sufficient – not out of petulance, however to specific his depth of feeling for her past the cliche. After a labour-intensive recording course of that includes limitless harmonising and dozens of ft of tape loops, 10cc got here away with this work of cussed magnificence: a chic, shimmering evocation of the ineffable bond between two lovers. It endures in each sense: Stewart and Gloria have been married for greater than 50 years. LS

A masterpiece single … Aaliyah. {Photograph}: Jim Cooper/AP


Aaliyah – Extra Than a Girl (2002)

A posthumous chart-topper after her demise in a aircraft crash when she was 22, Extra Than a Girl is likely one of the trio of masterpiece singles she made with Timbaland, together with We Want a Decision and Strive Once more. Into the producer’s serpentine frameworks stepped a girl whose calm, exacting poise allow you to come to her moderately than she to you. It by no means will get much less wrenching to assume what else she might need carried out. BBT


Daft Punk – Get Fortunate (feat Pharrell Williams) (2013)

Ah, the track of the summer season. Its lustre has been dulled by it being performed by each wedding ceremony band within the western hemisphere (and by Limmy’s eternally humorous tweet), however Get Fortunate nonetheless shines beneath all of it. Take it off the alcopop-splashed CDJs and again into headphones and you’ll newly recognize its mastery, with the liveness of Nile Rodgers’ guitar and Pharrell’s conversational attraction. BBT

Ersatz passion … tATu. {Photograph}: Dpa Image Alliance/Alamy Inventory Photograph


tATu – All of the Issues She Stated (2003)

On one hand, All of the Issues She Stated is the ne plus extremely of queerbaiting: two straight Russian youngsters cajoled into lesbian cosplay by some dodgy-sounding svengalis. However as ersatz as their passion was, the duo’s debut UK single was charged with an ideal evocation of the frantic emotional tumult that rages in each closeted, craving teenager’s head. An industrial cri de cœur with a brilliantly determined synth climax, it was the best Trevor Horn banger since his mid-80s candy spot. LS


Take That – Again for Good (1995)

The boy band – properly, Gary Barlow – had already proven they may do critical and affecting balladry with A Million Love Songs, after which they completely honed that ability for this traditional breakup track. There’s actual poetry within the verses, which provides technique to the devastating plainness of the refrain, like 100 crimson roses left at a doorstep. Barlow goes for complete abasement, although – “At any time when I’m flawed / Simply inform me the track and I’ll sing it” – so that you don’t actually fancy his probabilities. BBT


Delicate Cell – Tainted Love (1981)

You may assume utilizing crisp drum machines and eerie synths to cowl a northern soul anthem would make it extra brittle, however Delicate Cell’s model of Gloria Jones’s 1964 track truly has extra swing and sensuality. There’s one thing portentous about these insistent, fateful synth stabs, and Marc Almond provides to the sense of doom along with his innate aptitude for drama. BBT


S-Categorical – Theme from S-Categorical (1988)

To look at High of the Pops as 1987 offers technique to 1988 is to look at the freaks taking up the asylum: after MARRS and Bomb the Bass’s earlier acid home hits, S-Categorical’s sample-heavy monitor affirmed the sound’s chart coronation, making the Inventory Aitken Waterman steady look much more sq., and caught one within the eye of London’s throttlingly cool membership scene with its euphoric, queer collage. LS


Steve “Silk” Hurley – Jack Your Physique (1987)

It’s onerous to think about now how unusual and alien Jack Your Physique sounded in 1987. Different early home hits had at the very least include a track or a hook hooked up, however this had neither: it might be essentially the most minimal No 1 of all time. It isn’t by any stretch of the creativeness one of the best Chicago needed to provide in 1987: as a sign of an unlimited shift in the way in which pop music sounded, it’s unbeatable. AP

Demonically heaving harmonium riffs … Chemical Brothers. {Photograph}: Peter J Walsh/Pymca/Rex/Shutterstock


Chemical Brothers – Setting Solar (feat Noel Gallagher) (1996)

A half-cover of the Beatles’ Tomorrow By no means Is aware of however with that band’s LSD juiced up with some type of experimental steroid, Setting Solar nonetheless sounds excessive. Lighting up that breakbeat and demonically heaving harmonium riffs are rockets and catherine wheels of untamed sound, with Noel Gallagher sounding as if he’s being dragged out of sanity. BBT


So Strong Crew – 21 Seconds (2001)

A brand new high-water mark of economic success for British rap was set by this incandescently sensible wave of London MCs, every given 21 seconds of time on the mic. The power stays completely excessive, however is filtered by way of such distinct characters: Harvey’s rave MC, Romeo’s lascivious loverman, Kaish’s jabbing boxer, Face’s bug-eyed vampire and extra. BBT

Glam-pop perfection … Suzi Quatro. {Photograph}: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns


Suzi Quatro – Can the Can (1973)

The primary try and make Suzi Quatro a star, with the sunshine pop of Rolling Stone, fell flat: second time round, with writers/producers Chinn and Chapman in management, all the things clicked. From its opening wall of drums to Quatro’s scream of “scratch out her eyes” to its lyrically baffling however indelible refrain, Can the Can is glam-pop perfection. AP


Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

Everybody with even a glancing curiosity in pop is aware of Bohemian Rhapsody, which suggests its sheer audacity is straightforward to miss. It’s a totally inexplicable, extraordinary single, a joke that obtained out of hand in accordance with producer Roy Thomas Baker, a preposterous train in excessive camp with demented lyrics, that in some way nonetheless exerts an enormous emotional pull. AP


Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

The charts in 1970 had been wealthy with hymn-like songs solemnly marking the passing of the 60s – not least the Beatles’ Let It Be – however Bridge Over Troubled Water was the blockbuster take: 5 minutes of booming, Phil Spector-inspired white gospel with a choirboy vocal and a easy, common message beneath the sturm und drang. AP


Rick Astley – By no means Gonna Give You Up (1987)

Extra idiot the one who thought up Rickrolling, believing likelihood publicity to By no means Gonna Give You As much as be some type of punishment: the Inventory Aitken Waterman tea boy’s star-making second couldn’t be much less cool or extra superb, his good-boy Redcoat brogue the cheese to SAW’s soulful, acid pickle. And, hey, if it was ok for Larry Levan … LS


Tubeway Military – Are “Buddies” Electrical? (1979)

The 80s started in British pop when the stately, epic Are “Buddies” Electrical? arrived on High of the Pops in June 1979: two synth gamers, Gary Numan trying puzzled, as if he didn’t perceive how a track with no refrain had turn into a success. He was six months early, however Numan was all the time forward of his time: oft-mocked, his alienated-suburbanite-in-a-world-of-technology schtick now appears remarkably prescient. AP

Weapons-grade persona … Woman Gaga. {Photograph}: Motion Press/Rex Options


Woman Gaga – Dangerous Romance (2009)

Gaga’s third UK No 1 outshines earlier hits Simply Dance and Poker Face because the apex of her tectonic, Teutonic first-phase battering rams. Whereas it’s closely indebted to Depeche Mode and Madonna, Gaga’s weapons-grade persona turns a homage right into a conquest, tagging all the things in her wake with a lusty “Gaga, ooh la la.” LS


East 17 – Keep One other Day (1994)

One of many best Christmas No 1s of all time is a triumph of emotional candour. It resembles a breakup track with its speak of ultimate kisses, however was written by Tony Mortimer after his brother killed himself. The ache of these sudden calls of “keep now” is so acute, voicing the suddenness of loss. BBT


The 4 Tops – Attain Out (I’ll Be There) (1966)

Hovering above Attain Out’s dramatic association – which smashed by way of the boundaries of Motown’s signature type, impressed by the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black, not that you just’d know – lead vocalist Levi Stubbs sounds as if he’s near tears, delivering the lyrics as in the event that they’re a matter of life or demise. It stays an astonishingly intense technique to spend three minutes. AP


The Jam – Going Underground (1980)

A track wherein disgust at Thatcher’s Britain appears to meld with Paul Weller’s rising unease over the mod revival he’d single-handedly began, Going Underground was additionally the right demonstration of what its creator had discovered learning taut, potent mid-60s pop: seize the listener from the beginning, don’t let your grip slacken or a second go to waste. AP

A twist of downtown irony … Blondie. {Photograph}: Maureen Donaldson/Getty Photos


Blondie – Coronary heart of Glass (1979)

There are many arguments for Coronary heart of Glass not likely qualifying as the one UK No 1 punk single. Whereas Blondie got here from the style’s first wave in New York, their 1979 hit mainlined European digital pioneers Kraftwerk and Coronary heart of Glass in its sensible, biking riff, whereas Debbie Harry’s rhapsodic vocals owed extra to Donna Summer time (whose I Really feel Love the group had been protecting), with a twist of downtown irony. It pissed off the punk purists again residence – which is, by the way, just about essentially the most punk factor you may do by 1979. LS


Slade – Merry Xmas Everyone (1973)

The manufacturing on Merry Xmas Everyone is fuzzy as tinsel (the results of recording in an echoey hall), potent as plum pudding doused in brandy and appropriately poignant, straddling that late-December divide between nostalgia and optimism. Which is what, it’s straightforward to think about, gave it the sting over Wizzard’s dementedly cheery I Want It Might Be Christmas On a regular basis, the loser in what’s now thought of the unique festive chart battle, although it cemented glam because the official sound of Christmas. LS


David Bowie – Let’s Dance (1983)

That opening crescendo, giving technique to the Nile Rodgers-penned guitar funk riff, is likely one of the most breathtakingly thrilling moments in Bowie’s catalogue, and the croaky croon of “put in your crimson sneakers and dance the blues” a couple of seconds later is likely one of the coolest. Let’s Dance stays an irresistible command. BBT

‘I’m particular’ … Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. {Photograph}: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photos


The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket (1980)

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“All of us simply thought she was a groupie,” famous the Damned’s Rat Scabies of Chrissie Hynde when the Pretenders made it huge, the type of dismissive comment you watched fuelled Brass in Pocket’s surfeit of perspective: “I’m particular.” Brilliantly, it units its narcissistic swagger to music that’s languid and sensual moderately than aggressive: good pop ensues. AP


Rod Stewart – Da Ya Assume I’m Attractive? (1978)

Keep in mind Rod was asking this query when his hair’s quantity had been turned method past 11, and when he was giving an audible crotch-thrust on the opening of every refrain line. And but, regardless that this track is totally ridiculous, additionally it is totally sensible – the way in which the synth melody steps up earlier than pirouetting down is eternally replayable, and Rod’s charisma is, sorry, a bit horny. BBT


Tom Jones – It’s Not Uncommon (1965)

On his breakthrough single, Tom Jones reveals the type of decided perkiness that may solely accompany actually determined heartbreak. That double detrimental offers his confusion away as he tries to come back to phrases with seeing his lady out with one other man, but it surely’s no use: “I wanna die.” In a High 100 stuffed with savagely sad but upbeat songs, that is essentially the most emotionally dissonant of all. BBT

Taking management … Britney Spears. {Photograph}: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


Britney Spears – … Child One Extra Time (1999)

… Child One Extra Time wasn’t the primary hit from Denniz Pop and Max Martin’s Cheiron Studios – Backstreet Boys and Robyn predated Britney. However the Louisiana 16-year-old was to Cheiron what Kylie was to Inventory Aitken Waterman: the primary act with the persona to overwhelm the blueprint (Euro melodies, steel’s affect and club-pop’s sparkle) and make it her personal. Rockists accuse Britney Spears of being an empty vessel, but it surely’s her vocal DNA that shapes each single phrase of this track right into a pop landmark. LS


Althea and Donna – Uptown High Rating (1977)

“Nah pop nah type,” sang Althea and Donna, and so they had some extent. What’s hanging concerning the best reggae No 1 of all is how unvarnished its repurposing of an outdated Alton Ellis it’s, the shortage of concession to white ears as Althea and Donna riff on the lyrics of Trinity’s Three Piece Go well with with blank-eyed teenage insouciance. AP


Madonna – Vogue (1990)

Of Madonna’s 13 No 1s, Vogue is her most poised, agile and sexually intoxicating. It’s a portal right into a world of glamour – the litany of traditional Hollywood within the center eight, but additionally the world of peacocking ballroom tradition it was borne from – the place you discover Madonna herself presiding over the decadence together with her instructions and observations. Rise up on the dancefloor, certainly. BBT


Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Someone (1987)

A masterpiece of artificial manufacturing: the gorgeously flawed approximations of horns, bass guitar and piano have their very own delirious magnificence. However, in fact, it’s Whitney who seals it. That closing refrain line, “with any person who loves me”, is so emphatic in figuring out she deserves happiness, making a paradoxically euphoric track about being lonely. BBT


The Kinks – You Actually Received Me (1964)

The arrival of You Actually Received Me amid the nonetheless comparatively gentle No 1s of the time should have been startling – it even makes the Beatles sound like squares. One of many all time nice riffs, made out of solely two notes, powers the garage-band power because the group’s lust builds to a ferocious head. BBT

Soulful … George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! {Photograph}: Michael Putland/Getty Photos


George Michael – Careless Whisper (1984)

Simply think about this being the third track you’d ever written as a band, turning a litany of foolish teenage crushes into one of many all-time nice ballads (and residential to essentially the most arresting sax solo since Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Road). It wasn’t Wham!’s third single – George Michael astutely parcelled it out later, asserting his soulful, songwriterly bona fides after a raft of extra cartoonish hits, and paving the way in which for a unique shade of solo profession. LS


The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)

Sneering perspective and glowering negativity – provoked by all the things from radio DJs to TV promoting to a girl declining to have intercourse with Mick Jagger as a result of she’s on her interval – aligned to essentially the most well-known guitar riff in historical past. Satisfaction is pissed off, provocative, soiled, thrilling; all the things nice concerning the mid-60s Rolling Stones condensed into 3 minutes and 45 seconds. AP


Bee Gees – Night time Fever (1978)

Fortysomething years on, the opprobrium occasioned by the late-70s Bee Gees appears totally baffling: the Saturday Night time Fever soundtrack feels like a masterclass in pop songwriting, as evidenced by Night time Fever’s good evocation of pre-club anticipation: “On the waves of the air / There may be dancing on the market … We will steal it.” AP

Wedding ceremony-night blues … Freda Payne. {Photograph}: Ron Howard/Redferns


Freda Payne – Band of Gold (1970)

Written by Motown brains belief Holland-Dozier-Holland, Band of Gold sees Payne sitting in a lonely bed room, her wedding ceremony night time gone disastrously unconsummated after some type of freak-out by the groom. Though the precise particulars are tactfully veiled by Payne, it’s an unforgettably particular situation, its horror hammered into your thoughts with that unyielding snare rhythm and informed by way of a wondrous vocal line. BBT


The KLF – 3am Everlasting (1991)

Jimmy Cauty and Invoice Drummond had already written a guide on have a No 1 report, The Guide, after their novelty chart-topper Doctorin’ the Tardis. Because the KLF, they introduced each one in all their methods to bear on this titanic piece of rave: hip-house rapping, gospel choirs, chants about an historical race of individuals and an enormous artificial guitar riff. What on earth was it on about? The thriller was the ultimate key to its success. BBT


George McCrae – Rock Your Child (1974)

Ostensibly the primary disco No 1 and the product of songwriters Harry Casey and Richard Finch observing what labored on the dancefloors of Miami’s golf equipment, in fact, Rock Your Child carved out a shimmering, supple musical house totally of its personal: organ-led, Hello Information-esque Memphis soul, full with imploring falsetto vocal, over the hissy ticking of a primitive drum machine. AP

Imperious-sounding … T Rex in 1971. {Photograph}: Araldo Di Crollalanza/Rex Options


T Rex – Get It On (1971)

Any of T Rex’s magisterial run of No 1 singles might be on this listing, however Get It On simply shades it, by dint of being essentially the most imperious sounding of the lot: the earthy R&B of Chuck Berry recast right into a defiantly fashionable form, sexually charged in a method no teen pop had beforehand been. AP


Carly Rae Jepsen – Name Me Perhaps (2012)

On first hear, the track appeared deceptively featherweight. The strings sound like ringtones; the guitar elements as if they had been lifted from a PlayStation 2 recreation. However even essentially the most artificial manufacturing can’t detract from songwriting this ironclad. It’s telling that Name Me Perhaps was meant as a people track; it could be catchy performed on a kazoo, or underwater. Learn our full overview right here. Elle Hunt

Unstoppable … Lil Nas X performs on the Grammys in January. {Photograph}: John Shearer/Getty Photos for the Recording Academy


Lil Nas X – Previous City Street (remix feat Billy Ray Cyrus) (2019)

Previous City Street was unstoppable, with no obvious finish to its attraction. Kids rioted of their love for it. Its huge steady of remixes made it a genre-splicing Rosetta stone. However as a lot because the track is an urtext in go viral (till the principles change once more), Previous City’s Street’s magic lies in its affirming religion {that a} sunnier future is simply across the subsequent bend, designer Stetson non-compulsory. Learn our full overview right here. Owen Myers


Ian Dury & the Blockheads – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (1979)

Dury informed chatshow host Michael Parkinson that he wished his success to dispel society’s discomfort with and patronising attitudes to incapacity and supply hope to these for whom issues hadn’t turned out so properly. As we speak, his best-known tune nonetheless sounds recent and splendidly off-kilter, a beacon of pop’s means to embrace oddity and have fun the opposite. Learn our full overview right here. Dave Simpson


Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head (2001)

This was all the time a Kylie traditional within the making. Blessed with the right pop voice, she delivers every line with simply sufficient clean house for the listener’s personal interpretations. Is it a couple of crush? A latest heartbreak? Does the individual Minogue is singing about know concerning the obsession? What’s the darkish secret she is harbouring? Even these well-known “la, la, las” tackle a number of capabilities, catalysing an irresistible earworm, a delirious, dancefloor-ready singalong second and a distraction mechanism for the lately brokenhearted. Learn our full overview right here. Michael Cragg

Reigning diva … Beyoncé Knowles in Edinburgh in 2003. {Photograph}: Alastair Grant/AP


Beyoncé – Loopy in Love (2003)

The announcement of her arrival by way of these unforgettable blaring horns, sampled from the Chi-Lites’ 1970 hit Are You My Girl? (Inform Me So), erred on regal fanfare, inspiring limitless struts throughout makeshift dancefloors-turned-catwalks to this present day. Beyoncé was auditioning for the a part of pop’s new reigning diva, a job she knew she had already secured. Learn our full overview right here. Yomi Adegoke


Jerry Lee Lewis – Nice Balls of Hearth (1957)

Jerry Lee nonetheless sounds extra lascivious than nearly anybody. The sensations merely spill out of him – not solely his voice but additionally his piano taking part in, too, his proper hand sliding down the keys in exhalations of enjoyment. It was the satan’s music, however Nice Balls of Hearth nonetheless feels like an act of God. Learn our full overview right here. Michael Hann

Individuality … Kate Bush.


Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights (1978)

The piano gently heralds the arrival of this haunted story of misplaced love and longing, then that tight, excessive melody reels you in. It loops and lilts, ascending, descending, as Bush’s vocal urges the story on, like Catherine striding throughout the moors. Wuthering Heights turned Bush right into a pop star, the principles of which she continues to bend to her personal will: her individuality was set in stone from the very starting. Learn our full overview right here. Rebecca Nicholson


Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Calm down (1984)

With not solely its flagrant innuendo, however its wide-open synths, and swooning, psychedelic disco construction, the track was an entire wildcard – and the band performing it much more so. At a pivotal, deeply conservative time in Britain’s historical past, their crowning glory was what they introduced out of the shadows and thrust into the sunshine. Learn our full overview right here. Aimee Cliff


Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U (1990)

By drawing out the emotional weight that eluded its creator, O’Connor long-established one of many all-time nice cowl variations. Time has solely cemented Nothing Compares 2 U’s place within the pop pantheon – three a long time on, this haunting, heart-wrenching evocation of the grief of misplaced love stays peerless. Learn our full overview right here. Rachel Aroesti

From left, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Dennis Wilson of the Seashore Boys. {Photograph}: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photos


The Seashore Boys – Good Vibrations (1966)

Good Vibrations was directly the mumbled inarticulacy and heightened emotions of affection, but additionally the sound of a tradition altering – nearly in actual time. On this collision of sound and sentiment, Wilson and his bandmates succeeded in capturing the second when all the things we thought we knew about pop songs dissolved. Learn our full overview right here. Laura Barton


Marvin Gaye – Heard It By the Grapevine (1968)

Right here, Gaye would set up himself because the dangerous boy of Motown, each a figurehead for rising anti-Vietnam sentiment and archetype of the socially acutely aware songwriter. With I Heard It By the Grapevine, we discover him stepping out into his independence, all potential buoyed on by the drive of his first creation. Learn our full overview right here. Ammar Kalia


Abba – Dancing Queen (1976)

It takes 18 seconds for Dancing Queen to drop into one of many best moments in pop. It speaks volumes that the 18 seconds previous it are fairly fantastic too: that track bursting into life on that impossibly joyous piano glissando, earlier than eight bars of glowing, easy mid-tempo pop. Dancing Queen reminds us that having the time of our lives is one thing that’s all the time there, and that’s all the time potential. Learn our full overview right here. Jude Rogers

Keith Flint performing with the Prodigy in 1996. {Photograph}: Brian Rasic/Getty Photos


The Prodigy – Firestarter (1996)

Firestarter proved that the Prodigy was a squirming, sweating, flesh-bound beast – the very reverse of the futuristic “braindance” coming from the digital vanguard. It was pure boiling animus, doused in petrol and set off to damage somebody’s celebration. Learn our full overview right here. Chal Ravens


The Human League – Don’t You Need Me (1981)

Don’t You Need Me stands as a shining instance of what can occur when a bunch of relative amateurs with some extent to show and a eager aesthetic eye get all the way down to work. And in spite of everything, a part of the attraction of the Human League and the second they encapsulated, the experimentalism of post-punk assembly the brand new prospects of digital music know-how, is that it was so refreshingly carefree, the sound of synth-pop coming in from the chilly. Learn our full overview right here. Luke Turner


Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (1983)

Billie Jean reeks with the paranoia that got here to dominate Jackson’s profession. It’s a hunted, haunted track a couple of paternity declare, which forsakes the lushness of his earlier work for stark, neurotic future-funk. Whereas Thriller’s title monitor is cartoonishly scary, Billie Jean is authentically scared. Learn our full overview right here. Dorian Lynskey


Useless or Alive – You Spin Me Spherical (Like a File) (1984)

You Spin Me Spherical (Like a File) was secretly recorded whereas they had been meant to be engaged on different songs. By the tip of the 14-day session, the band and producers had been reportedly “able to homicide” one another. It took a 36-hour cocaine-fuelled marathon to complete the track, and 17 weeks for it to journey from No 79 to No 1. However there’s a cruel, exacting power to You Spin Me Spherical that will have gotten it over the road a method or one other: it’s taut, alien and totally majestic. Learn our full overview right here. Ben Beaumont-Thomas

Modified the face of membership music … Donna Summer time. {Photograph}: Pictorial Press/Alamy


Donna Summer time – I Really feel Love (1977)

Not solely has I Really feel Love by no means gone out of vogue, it has persistently jumped between genres within the intervening a long time with unimaginable ease. In 1977, Brian Eno charged into the studio whereas David Bowie was recording, brandishing a duplicate of I Really feel Love, and said excitedly: “That is it, look no additional. That is going to vary the sound of membership music for the subsequent 15 years.” His solely mistake was one in all gross under-exaggeration. Learn our full overview right here. John Doran


The Beatles – She Loves You (1963)

To listen to She Loves You bursting out of a radio within the final week of August 1963 was to recognise a shout of triumph. Every part the Beatles had promised by way of the primary half of the 12 months discovered its focus of their fourth single, an explosion of exuberance that compelled the world, not simply their teenage followers, to acknowledge their existence. She Loves You introduced an built-in complete, a sound of collective creativity that demolished the supremacy of solo artists, setting a development that will dominate pop music for a technology. Learn our full overview right here. Richard Williams


The Specials – Ghost City (1981)

It was the Specials’ largest hit and one of many biggest-selling singles of 1981. Its sound appears to presage a whole lot of subsequent music – you possibly can hear its gloomy echoes in all places from Huge Assault to Burial – however you nearly by no means hear it on the radio or TV. Maybe it’s too bleak, too disturbing, its tone too hopeless: a reminder of one thing we’d moderately overlook. It sits prior to now, brooding and glowering at us, its outstanding, darkish energy undimmed. Learn our full overview right here. Alexis Petridis


Pet Store Boys – West Finish Ladies

West Finish Ladies is a lens on to a glamorous demimonde. Primped younger girls and hungry younger males meet in a nook of London that’s beginning to gentrify, though nonetheless seedy sufficient to show the transactions behind the flirtation. You’ll be able to nearly hear their egos rattle as they use one another for intercourse and medicines, second-hand cool and sly oneupmanship. The result’s good pop equilibrium that just about made Dusty Springfield crash her automotive the primary time she heard it. Thirty-six years on, their debut single nonetheless pulses with beguiling ambiguity – a heady rush of lust, naivety, disco and opaque references to Lenin. Learn the complete overview right here. Laura Snapes

The playlist

This can be up to date every day till the No 1 is introduced. Spotify customers, use the playlist beneath or click on right here. Apple Music customers can click on right here.

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