The Beatles have made history on the UK charts by reclaiming the top spot with their “final” collaborative song, Now and Then. This marks their 18th overall number one hit.
The Beatles’ 17th song to reach No 1 was The Ballad of John and Yoko in 1969. This means that they hold the record for the longest time between No 1 singles, at 54 years. This breaks the previous record set by Kate Bush in 2019, when she reached No 1 with Running Up That Hill, 44 years after her previous No 1 single Wuthering Heights. The two songs released by the surviving members of the Beatles in 1995 and 1996, Free as a Bird and Real Love, did not reach No 1 on the charts.
The song “Now and Then” is a midtempo ballad penned by John Lennon during the late 1970s. It features his original demo recording blended with guitar melodies played by the late George Harrison in 1994, along with additional parts contributed by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. McCartney expressed his surprise and joy at the song’s success on the charts, stating, “It’s unbelievable. It’s amazed me. It’s also a deeply emotional moment for me. I adore it!”
The success of Now and Then’s chart rankings can be attributed to its release in various physical formats, such as CD, cassette, 12-inch vinyl, and four different colors of 7-inch vinyl. The non-black versions are priced at £17.99 each.
Despite the abnormally high prices, devoted fans showed no hesitation in purchasing copies, with many even waiting in line at midnight last Friday. The single, which sold 19,400 vinyl copies, has become the fastest-selling vinyl of the century. In fact, its total physical sales of 38,000 were the highest in a single week since 2014, when Ben Haenow’s Something I Need claimed the Christmas No. 1 spot as the winner of X Factor.
Now and Then was also streamed more than 5 million times in the UK, by far the highest single week figure for any Beatles song. The Beatles’ return was so anticipated that Now and Then actually reached the charts last Friday after being on release for just 10 hours before that week’s cutoff, reaching No 42.
The group has now broken their own record as the British artist with the most number one singles. Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company, stated, “This week, the Beatles have solidified their position as the greatest band of all time, putting any doubts to rest.”
In order to surpass Elvis Presley’s record of 21 No 1s, they will need to uncover a significant amount more material from the archives. However, Peter Jackson, who directed the music video for Now and Then, believes it is a possible feat. He stated in an interview with the Sunday Times that they could potentially utilize a performance from his documentary film Get Back, isolate John and George’s vocals, and have Paul and Ringo contribute a chorus or harmonies. While this is just speculation, it is certainly a possibility.
On the album chart, several iconic musicians made a comeback. Cliff Richard’s album “Cliff With Strings – My Kinda Life” ranked at No. 5, marking his 48th Top 10 album. Johnny Marr’s best-of compilation “Spirit Power” reached No. 7, making it his fifth solo Top 10 album. Van Morrison’s “Accentuate the Positive” also made it to the charts, landing at No. 39 and becoming his 44th Top 40 album.
Contrary to the usual pattern of new albums rapidly falling in the ranks, the Rolling Stones have managed to stay in the Top Five for three weeks with their album, Hackney Diamonds. Oasis enters at No. 2 with a re-released compilation of B-sides called The Masterplan, followed by K-pop sensation Jung Kook at No. 3. Taylor Swift’s re-recorded version of 1989 maintains its position at No. 1 for a second consecutive week.
The Beatles took over the top spot on the singles chart from Swift, causing her song “Is It Over Now” to fall to No. 3. A remix of D-Block Europe and Raye’s “Ferrari Horses” by producer Cassö, created on his laptop at Swansea University, remains in the Top 5 for a ninth week at No. 2. Tate McRae and Tyla both re-enter the Top 5.