Music that doesn't travel well
April 8, 2010 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Which band (or solo artist) has the most number one songs in the US, but without ever having had a number one in the UK?

Bonus points the same question with countries reversed. Or the question could be expanded to include top 10 singles rather than just chart toppers.

(This came up during a more general discussion about people who are famous in one country but not others. There's not much of a language barrier between the US and UK, and there's a lot of musical crossover, but there are some bands who's music just doesn't travel well, it seems.)
posted by buxtonbluecat to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Cliff Richard, maybe?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:43 AM on April 8, 2010

Best answer: I compared this and this, and it looks like Stevie Wonder and Janet Jackson, who scored 10 Billboard #1's in the US but no #1's in the UK. Interesting question!
posted by crapmatic at 10:47 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Crapmatic, I think both of your links are to the same page.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:50 AM on April 8, 2010

Cliff Richard, maybe?

wrong way around.
posted by missmagenta at 10:52 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stevie Wonder has at least one number one on both sides of the Atlantic
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:53 AM on April 8, 2010

Cliff Richard, maybe?

wrong way around.

I was going for the bonus question! Not much of a US music guy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bonus question answer: The Specials
posted by donpardo at 11:45 AM on April 8, 2010

To reverse the equation -- i.e., most hits in the UK with no hits in the US -- I would say pretty much all of Paul Weller's career qualifies: massive in the UK, virtually off the radar in the U.S.:
The Jam (1977-82): Released 18 singles total. All 18 were UK Top 40, of which nine were Top 10 and four were No. 1. They never had a charting single in the U.S.

Additionally: five of their six studio albums were UK Top 20 (the outlier was No. 22), with one No. 1 and one No. 2; only two of their albums even cracked the U.S. Top 100.

The Style Council (1983-89): Released 21 singles total. 16 were UK Top 40, of which seven were Top 10 (but no No. 1's). They charted twice in the U.S. Top 100, of which one ("My Ever Changing Moods") was in the U.S. Top 40.

Of their four albums released during the band's tenure -- the fifth wasn't released till a decade after they broke up -- 3 of the 4 were either No. 1 or No. 2 in the UK; the other was No. 15. None made the U.S. Top 100.

Solo (1991-present): Released 37 singles to date (not counting pre-releases for his new album that's coming out in a few weeks). 30 have been UK Top 40, of which 5 have been Top 10 (no No. 1's).

Of his nine studio albums, all nine have been UK Top 10, with seven of them either No. 1 or No. 2. I can't find stats as to his solo chart positions in the U.S., but I am reasonably sure he's never cracked the U.S. Top 100 for any singles or albums.
So there you have it: in just over three decades, Weller has generated more than 60 hit singles and nearly 20 hit albums in the UK, with precisely one hit ("My Ever Changing Moods") on the other side of the pond during the same period.

Obsessed? Who, me?
posted by scody at 11:48 AM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

The Doors. 2 US #1 singles: 'Hello, I Love You' and 'Light My Fire'.
posted by donpardo at 11:50 AM on April 8, 2010

(Sorry, meant to link to Weller's wikipedia page, which explicitly mentions that despite his critical and commercial success in the UK, "he remains a national rather than international star.")
posted by scody at 11:52 AM on April 8, 2010

Scody, you're out of control! Weller fan #1! I love the Jam.

But I have yet to hear anyone refute my claim of Cliff Richard, who has had 14 UK #1 singles since the 50s, and I don't think he's ever charted in the U.S. at all...
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:16 PM on April 8, 2010

Oh, I think you're totally right re: Cliff Richard -- I don't think he ever charted in the U.S., either. I remember the last time I lived in England about 20 years ago, and come Christmas everyone started cranking up the ol' Cliff Richard and Cilla Black songs on the jukebox at the pub, and even my Weller/Stone Roses/Clash-loving friends would get all weepy and sing along, and I was all WHAT. THE. FUCK. BRITS??
posted by scody at 12:20 PM on April 8, 2010

Response by poster: I don't know how I can have overlooked Sir Cliff as a candidate for the famous-in-UK, not-famous-US. Stevie Wonder had at least one UK #1, so right now Janet Jackson is the front runner for famous-in-US, although she's still up there in the UK, or used to be.

Weller is awesome and prolific, but doesn't quite make the grade.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 1:37 PM on April 8, 2010

Since everyone is answering the reverse of the question: Westlife has as many #1s in the UK as Cliff Richard and none in the US as well.
posted by battlebison at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2010

I remembered hearing Devil Woman on the radio, so I checked, and Wikipedia says Sir Cliff had 3 top 10 singles in the US.
posted by rfs at 1:54 PM on April 8, 2010

Bonus question: Robbie Williams (as far as I can tell)
posted by grapesaresour at 2:55 PM on April 8, 2010

That's interesting w/r/t Robbie--I thought Millennium charted in the US.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:00 PM on April 8, 2010

Kylie has had 28 UK Top 10 singles (including six that reached #1). Of those 28 only 2 made the US Top 10.
posted by trialex at 3:45 PM on April 8, 2010

Scody - when's Weller coming to LA!? :)
posted by buzzkillington at 8:24 PM on April 8, 2010

I can think of a few acts that were massive in the US but not so much here - Dave Matthews Band, Hootie and the Blowfish, Garth Brooks.

Kylie sounds a good call. Also Westlife.
posted by mippy at 8:10 AM on April 9, 2010

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