Reaching No.1 in the UK charts seems to be the pinnacle of most musicians’ career, but is it better to win one week or be well-known for generations? It turns out that for a number of decades, a range of future-classics have peaked at No. 2 - and a lot of them are rather surprising! We’ve picked out a few runner-ups that we think were unlucky with timing when releasing their famous tunes. Did you know that these didn’t quite reach No.1 at the time they came out? My Generation – The Who (November 1965)
Loved by the old and young alike – this rock classic allows people to get in touch with their inner youth. The famous stuttering of the vocals in the tune was actually a result of not rehearsing. Roger Daltry was trying to fit the words to the music but stumbled over them. The band liked the result and so they kept them in for the final cut.
Beaten to No.1 by: The Seekers - The Carnival Is Over
Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones (April 1971)
Although this rock classic made it to the top spot in America, in the UK it only made it to No. 2. The single was originally issued in mono in the UK (as opposed to stereo), using a now-rarely heard of bespoke mono mix.
The Rolling Stones magazine ranked it as 5/100 of their Greatest Guitar Songs of all time.
Beaten to No.1 by: Dawn – Knock Three Times
Queen – We are the Champions (October 1977)
This power ballad anthem was written by Freddie Mercury as a way to unify Queen’s crowds and get them singing along. Scientifically it’s proven successful – in 2011 a team of researchers concluded that it was the catchiest song in the history of pop music.
Now you can expect to hear Queen’s classic at sporting events by the supporters of the winning team, and in 1994 it was the official song for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Beaten to No.1 by: Abba – The Name of the Game
Last Christmas – Wham (December 1984)
The Christmas classic is the best-selling No. 2 in UK chart history. It sold 1.6 million copies but was pipped to the top spot by another song that makes a regular appearance each and every December.
Barry Mannilow won a court case saying that Last Christmas was too similar to his song Can’t Smile Without You. As a result, George Michael gave his first year’s royalties to Band Aid.
Beaten to No.1 by: Do They Know It’s Christmas? - Band Aid
Wonderwall – Oasis (October 1995)
Played around campfires up and down the country, as well as on karaoke machines worldwide, Oasis’s biggest selling hit didn’t actually make it to the top spot. The single sold 1.26 million copies in the UK, and was the band’s only single to make it into the US top-ten.
The anthem was supposedly written for Noel Gallagher’s wife, Meg Matthews, but after they divorced he opted to describe it as a song about friendship.
Beaten to No.1 by: Robson and Jerome – I Believe/Up on the Roof
Fun Fact – Robson and Jerome also kept Pulp’s Common People from No.1 with another of their massive-selling covers.
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 (August 2011)
This mega-selling tribute to the Rolling Stones’ front man didn’t quite make it to the prestigious No. 1 spot. In fact, the song was No. 2 for seven weeks and runner-up to no less than six different songs. Maroon 5 equalled All-4-One’s ‘I Swear’ for the longest stay at No.2 by a hit not to reach No. 1.
Despite never making it to No. 1, Adam Levine and co. were behind the second biggest selling single of 2011. Moves Like Jagger was second only to Adele’s Someone Like You.
Beaten to No.1 By: Example, Calvin Harris, Pixie Lott and One Direction were a few of the acts that sold more singles each week
Did you know that these tunes only made it to No.2 in the charts? Do you prefer the music that won each week?
If you won’t settle for less than number one in your day-to-day life, then look no further than The Talent to find bands for hire in London. We’re a professional band, with a line-up that can be adapted for your individual needs. We cover a number of events, including music for weddings.
If you have any questions, then please contact us by calling 0845 094 1162 and a member of our team will be happy to help.