There are hundreds of pop songs with a number as part of the titles. Quite a few of them reached number one on the “Billboard” Hot 100 singles chart. Here is a list of them, but with some ground rules.
1. The number cannot be used more than once. Example: If “One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds is chosen, then “One Of These Nights” by the Eagles cannot be selected.
2. Number cannot be used as replacement for a preposition. Examples: In “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor and “All 4 Love” by Color Me Bad, the numbers stand for “to” and “for” respectively, and are not the numbers two and four.
3. Number cannot be a “Part 1” or “Part 2.” Examples: “Peppermint Twist – Part 1” by Joey Dee & the Starliters and “Fingertips – Part 2” by Stevie Wonder.
With those qualifications, here is the list.
“One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Carey and the Philly foursome were both at the peaks of their careers when they teamed up to record this song. It was a winning idea, as “One Sweet Day” stayed at number one an incredible 16 weeks in 1995-96.
“Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary MacGregor. Many people could relate to the subject of feeling foolish over being in love with two people and how that is against all the rules and norms of society. This number one song from 1977 was her only major hit.
“Three Times A Lady” by the Commodores. Written and sung by Lionel Richie, this ballad overcame the dominance of disco by reaching number one in 1978. It was a preview of the great ballads Richie would write for himself and others during his very fertile period in the 1980s.
“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. She wrote and performed this title track from the movie she also starred in with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
“Eight Days A Week” by the Beatles. Capitol Records in the U.S. released different album titles and singles in America than were released by their counterparts in Great Britain. This led to “Eight Days A Week” being a number one single in America in 1965 but just being an album cut from “Beatles For Sale” in Britain. The disparities in album and single releases continued until the “Sgt. Pepper” album in 1967.
“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon. Rhymin’ Simon gave a lot of humorous advice on ways to escape from entangling relationships. Simple things like “Slip out the back, Jack” or “Drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.” “50 Ways” reached number one in 1976.
“96 Tears” by Question Mark and the Mysterians. The Cameo-Parkway record label in Philadelphia did extremely well on the charts in the early 1960s with artists on the roster like Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, the Orlons, the Tymes and the Dovells. However, the British Invasion between 1964 and ’67 spelled the end of the Cameo-Parkway label. By a strange set of circumstances, the label owned the rights to “96 Tears,” which was written years before it hit number one in 1966. It provided a swan song for the Cameo-Parkway label.
“In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans. They were one-hit wonders, but their lone hit was sure a smash. The futuristic song was number one for six weeks in 1969.
“You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr. When the Beatles broke up in 1970 everyone worried about whether Ringo could make it on his own. They shouldn’t have. He placed seven songs in the top 10 by 1975. Some were collaborations with former Beatles. For instance, “Photograph,” a song Ringo wrote with George Harrison, reached number one in 1973. Other songs by Ringo were cover songs of the early rock and roll he liked so much. Those songs included “Only You,” first done by the Platters, and “You’re Sixteen,” originally recorded by Johnny Burnette. Ringo took “You’re Sixteen” to number one in 1974.
“December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” by the Four Seasons. This number one song in 1976 was the first time since 1964 the Four Seasons had topped the charts. Frankie Valli, who had a solo hit reach number one in 1975, was the only remaining member of the classic Four Seasons lineup. “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” was a nostalgic song that harkened back to a simpler time.
“The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 9th Edition,” Joel Whitburn, Billboard Books, 2010
“The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 5th Edition,” Fred Bronson, Billboard Books, 2003