Friday, April 4, 2014

50 years ago: The Beatles hit #1 with “Can’t Buy Me Love,” locking down the top 5

First posted 3/29/2021.

Can’t Buy Me Love

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)


Released: March 16, 1964


First Charted: March 21, 1964


Peak: 15 US, 15 CB, 14 HR, 1 CL, 13 UK, 3 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.55 UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The Billboard Hot 100 chart for April 4, 1964 has been called “the most famous chart of all-time.” KL It marked the week that the Beatles soared to #1 with “Can’t Buy Me Love,” from #27 the week before. It was the biggest leap to the top in the history of the chart. It also made the Beatles the first act to score three consecutive chart-toppers. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” hit the top in February and stayed for 7 weeks. It was succeeded by “She Loves You” for two weeks, which succumbed to “Can’t Buy Me Love” which held on for five weeks.

That, however, was only the beginning. Not only were “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” still in the top 5, but they were joined by two other Beatles’ tunes – “Twist and Shout” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” That gave the Fab Four the top five songs on the Billboard chart. They also had seven more songs on the Hot 100 for a total of twelve. The next week they added two more for a then-record fourteen songs on the chart. BR

The glut of material was due to the success of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” released by Capitol Records. Other record companies then released their Beatles’ product as well. “Can’t Buy Me Love,” however, was considered the official follow-up single to “Hand.” The song had the largest advance order in history with 2.1 million. BR The song also preceded the Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, and was featured on the soundtrack. It has been called “the first truly perfect marriage of rock music and celluloid.” CR

Paul McCartney wrote the song while the group was touring in France in January 1964. They recorded it in Paris – the only Beatles’ session outside of London. CR The “R&B flavoured song is very much Paul’s, featuring his double-tracked vocal instead of harmonies from John Lennon.” KL It also features “a memorable guitar solo from George Harrison and Ringo plays tom-toms as well as drums.” KL Producer George Martin suggested beginning the song with the chorus, “giving it not only a hook but also extra momentum.” CR Ella Fitzgerald covered the song, after which “it became OK for midde-of-the-road and jazz singers to do Beatles songs.” KL


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • DMDB page for parent album A Hard Day’s Night
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 145.
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 60.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 31.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 98.
  • WK Wikipedia

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