10 music icons that have unbelievably never had a UK number one hit

14 June 2023, 09:56

Here's a list of music legends that have, quite unbelievably, never scored a UK number one hit.
Here's a list of music legends that have, quite unbelievably, never scored a UK number one hit. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Thomas Edward

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A number one single isn't always a marker of true success.

We know that throughout pop music history, the fated 'one hit wonder' tag is continually being bandied about for artists that top the charts once, never to be seen or heard again.

Yet on the other hand, there's literally no better position to indicate a single release's commercial recognition that the peak of the charts.

A number one single has the potential to transform an artist's career, turning them from a relative unheard of to a global superstar almost immediately.

But there are a host of music legends that, quite unbelievably, have never achieved a UK number one single despite their enormous success.

And remember: LadBaby has five number ones.

All of which you would've heard of, here are ten of the most iconic artists never to have hit the coveted top spot of the charts on these shores:

  1. Bob Marley

    Bob Marley - Is This Love (Official Music Video)

    It's a truly gobsmacking fact that Bob Marley had never scored a number one single in the UK.

    He was one of the most globally revered and influential artists ever, but couldn't crack the top spot with us Brits.

    Bob's first UK hit came in 1975, going on to achieve eight top ten songs in total.

    But a number one song evaded him - again, if his life wasn't cut short it likely would've been a very different story.

  2. Amy Winehouse

    Amy Winehouse - Tears Dry On Their Own

    Amy Winehouse only released two albums - Frank and Back To Black - the latter of which did top the album charts and became one of the biggest-selling UK albums of all time.

    Neither of her albums spawned a number one single however, though her cover of 'Valerie' with Mark Ronson did reach No.2.

    It's perhaps unfair to highlight Amy not having achieved a number one single though.

    She was a singular talent whose career was cut tragically short, and would've no doubt gone on to far greater successes had she been alive today.

  3. Bon Jovi

    Bon Jovi - Always (Official Music Video)

    Given the sing-a-long nature of karaoke favourite 'Livin' On A Prayer' you would've thought it scored Bon Jovi a number one hit.

    But no - after the track's 1986 release, the anthem only reached No.4 in the charts.

    They came closest in 1994 with the power ballad 'Always' and close again in 2000 with 'It's My Life' which were both huge top ten hits, but failed to hit the top spot.

  4. Bruce Springsteen

    Bruce Springsteen - Streets of Philadelphia (Official Video)

    Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen is one of the most successful rock musicians of all time, without doubt.

    That's despite him never having a UK number one hit, though he has scored a mighty eleven number ones on the album charts.

    The closest he came to a number one single? His heartbreaking 1993 ballad 'Streets Of Philadelphia' narrowly missed out coming in at second place.

  5. Dolly Parton

    Dolly Parton - 9 To 5

    Dolly? Dolly Parton? No UK number one single? Surely not?

    It's true - the likes of breakthrough song 'Jolene' and 'Islands In The Stream' with Kenny Rogers were both top ten hits but came nowhere near the summit.

    One piece of solace for Dolly was that she pen Whitney Houston's mammoth ballad 'I Will Always Love You'.

    The lead single for The Bodyguard soundtrack spent a whopping eleven weeks at the top of the UK charts, so she had a number one in spirit.

  6. The Carpenters

    Carpenters "We've Only Just Begun" on The Ed Sullivan Show

    When The Carpenters scored a top ten hit in 1970 with the Burt Bacharach-penned song '(They Long To Be) Close To You', the brother and sister duo were seemingly on course for the top spot with later releases.

    It wasn't to be however, only ever peaking at second place with 'Yesterday One More' in 1973, as did 'Please Mr Postman' in 1975.

    Sadly they never had the chance again beyond 1983 after lead singer Karen Carpenter tragically died of complications with anorexia nervosa at the age of just 32.

    Easy-listening was never easier to listen to than The Carpenters, though it never saw them reach the top of the charts.

  7. Aerosmith

    Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Official HD Video)

    Outlandish hard rockers Aerosmith have had a slew of successful rock bangers over the years, including the likes of 'Dude Looks Like A Lady' and 'Walk This Way', neither of which came close to topping the charts in the UK however.

    The nearest they came was with the mega ballad 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' which soundtracked the 1998 film Armageddon.

    It peaked at No.4, meaning Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the guys missed out on the top spot for the first time in their long careers.

    Since it's become one of the biggest-selling rock ballads of all time though, which is some consolation.

  8. Janet Jackson

    Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson - Scream (Official Video)

    Janet Jackson is an enormous pop star in her own right, and was never overshadowed by her older brother and anointed 'King Of Pop' Michael Jackson.

    Where he did stand head and shoulders above his sister however was his long list of UK number ones, where Janet never achieved this feat once herself.

    Her 1992 single 'The Best Things In Life Are Free' with Luther Vandross and 'That's The Way Love Goes' the following year both reached the second spot.

    Even hers and her brother's combined single 'Scream' in 1995 only hit number three, though Janet has amassed a total of seventeen top ten tracks.

  9. Michael Bublé

    Michael Bublé - It's A Beautiful Day [Official Music Video]

    Being the smoothest crooner with the most soothing of voices hasn't been enough to see Michael Bublé hit the number one spot in the UK.

    The closest the Canadian sensation has come so far was with 2009's 'Haven't Met You Yet' and 'It's A Beautiful Day' which were top tens.

    He has had a total of four number one albums here in the UK however, so there's still time for Bublé, especially when Christmas comes around.

  10. Shania Twain

    Shania Twain - That Don't Impress Me Much (Official Music Video)

    Frankly beyond belief that the 'Queen of Country Pop' Shania Twain couldn't hit the top spot with one of her classic singles.

    Her groundbreaking, best-selling 1997 album Come On Over spawned an eye-watering total of twelve singles, and not one of them reached the summit of the UK charts.

    She's never gone beyond a No.3 hit single, even with the likes of 1999's 'That Don't Impress Me Much' and 'Man! I Feel Like A Woman'.

    It clearly didn't impress us all that much at the time. Shame on us Brits!