The Beatles have set new records on the UK charts as they reclaim the top spot with their “last” song as a group, Now and Then. This marks their 18th time reaching number one on the charts.
The Beatles achieved their 17th number one hit in 1969 with The Ballad of John and Yoko. This breaks the record for the longest gap between number one singles, which was previously held by Kate Bush with 44 years between her hits Running Up That Hill and Wuthering Heights. The living members of the Beatles released two new songs in 1995 and 1996, Free as a Bird and Real Love, but neither reached number one on the charts.
Now and Then, a midtempo ballad written by John Lennon in the late 1970s, uses his original demo recording combined with guitar lines recorded by the late George Harrison in 1994, plus new parts recorded by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. McCartney said of the song’s chart-topping success: “It’s mind boggling. It’s blown my socks off. It’s also a very emotional moment for me. I love it!”
The success of Now and Then’s chart position is partly due to the release of several physical formats, such as CD, cassette, 12-inch vinyl, and four variations of 7-inch vinyl in different colors. The non-black versions are priced at £17.99 each.
The exorbitant prices did not dissuade fans, as many of them lined up at midnight on Friday last week to purchase copies. It has sold 19,400 vinyl copies, making it the fastest-selling vinyl single of the century. In total, it has sold 38,000 physical copies in a week, the highest since 2014 when Ben Haenow’s “Something I Need” reached Christmas No 1.
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 broken their own record for having the most number one singles by a British artist. Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, stated, “This week, the Beatles have undoubtedly proven themselves as the greatest band of all time, putting any previous doubts to rest.”
It is necessary to acquire a significant amount more from the storage areas if they wish to surpass Elvis Presley’s record of 21 No 1 hits. However, Peter Jackson, the director of the music video for Now and Then, has stated that it is not impossible. In an interview with the Sunday Times, he explained, “We can extract a performance from [Jackson’s documentary film] Get Back, split up John and George, and then have Paul and Ringo contribute a chorus or harmonies. It may result in a decent song, but I have not discussed this with Paul. It is a fan’s dream, but definitely within the realm of possibility.”
Other iconic musicians made a comeback on the album chart. Cliff Richard reached his 48th Top 10 album with “Cliff With Strings – My Kinda Life” at No. 5, Johnny Marr achieved his fifth solo Top 10 album with the compilation “Spirit Power” at No. 7, and Van Morrison landed his 44th Top 40 album with “Accentuate the Positive” at No. 39.
Contrary to the usual pattern of new albums quickly falling on the charts, the Rolling Stones have maintained their spot in the Top Five for three weeks with Hackney Diamonds. Oasis makes the highest debut at No 2 with a re-release of their B-sides compilation The Masterplan, followed by K-pop sensation Jung Kook at No 3. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift’s re-recorded 1989 stays at No 1 for a second week.
The Beatles replaced Swift at the top of the singles chart, causing her song “Is It Over Now” to fall to No. 3. Producer Cassö created a remix of D-Block Europe and Raye’s song “Ferrari Horses” on his laptop from Swansea University, which has remained in the Top 5 for nine weeks at No. 2. Additionally, Tate McRae and Tyla have both re-entered the Top 5.