A Milestone: The One-Thousandth Number Ones Column

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Photo illustration inset credit: Andrew Shurtleff Photography

On January 16, 2018, Stereogum senior editor Tom Breihan announced a new regular column:

He would review every Number One single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. 

“It is, in other words, a shameless ripoff of the great British blogger Tom Ewing’s long-running column in which he’s spent more than a decade doing the same thing with the UK charts,” he wrote in his first installment.

Photo credit: Andrew Shurtleff Photography

Tom added in his initial post: “Since there have been more than 1,000 #1 singles, I’ll do one of these every day, or as close to every day as I can manage.”

Ironically, the US Tom is now ahead in terms of years over the UK Tom, as the latter follows a leisurely pattern of posting when he wants. As of this writing, Ewing is up to the year 2004 while Breihan is at 2011.

He went from posting every workday except holidays to thrice weekly, effective September 23, 2019…

When Tom gave a 5 out of 10 for Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.’s “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show),” the first Number One of 1977.

That schedule went down to weekly effective July 3, 2023, when he awarded a 10 for Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” Tom said he did it to keep the column run longer, since otherwise he could have finished up to the present day before the end of 2024.

Also, last year he wrote a book about what he considers the 20 most influential number one songs since the Hot 100 started in 1958 titled, appropriately, The Number Ones.

But enough with this preamble. The reason for this post:

With his review of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Tom has now covered his 1,000th number one!

It’s a landmark achievement. To write 1000 separate essays about the great, the average, and sometimes – the truly awful records that reached the top of the charts – is an amazing feat.

(Click and hover…)

It’s a good reason to celebrate – so let’s do so!

Fun Facts and Figures

Here are the first songs Tom graded at each position 1-10. 

  • The First “10”: The Drifters – “Save the Last Dance for Me,” 1960
  • The First “9”: Conway Twitty – “It’s Only Make Believe,” 1958
  • The First “8”: The Teddy Bears – “To Know Him is to Love Him,” 1958
  • The First “7”: Tommy Edwards – “It’s All in the Game,” 1958
  • The First “6”: The Elegants – “Little Star,” 1958
  • The First “5”: Domenico Modugno – “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)”, 1958
  • The First “4”: Paul Anka – “Lonely Boy,” 1959
  • The First “3”: Ricky Nelson – “Poor Little Fool,” 1958 (this was the first record Tom reviewed)
  • The First “2”: The Kingston Trio – “Tom Dooley”, 1958
  • The First “1”: Brian Hyland – “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, 1960

Here are the years where Tom gave gradings to songs at every number from 1-10 …

  • 1974
  • 1988
  • 1989

The years with no grade from Tom below a 5 …

  • 1983 
  • 1984 
  • 1996
  • 1999
  • 2004
  • 2008

And the year with no grade from Tom above an 8:

2005

The honorable mentions for the latter category are the years which had only one 10 and no 9 ….

  • 1963
  • 1994 

And the years that had only one 9 and no 10:

  • 1958
  • 1993

Differing Opinions

Here are the top five Number Ones with the biggest negative variance between Tom’s grade and that of TNOCS voters, so far:

1:
2007:
Soulja Boy – “Crank That (Soulja Boy)
(Tom 9, TNOCS 4.3, difference of -4.7)

2:
2006:
D4L – “Laffy Taffy,”
(Tom 8, TNOCS 3.5, -4.5)

3: (tie) 1975:
Freddy Fender, “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,”
(Tom 8, TNOCS 3.5, -4.5)
2008: Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major – “Lollipop
(Tom 9, TNOCS 4.8, -4.2)

5:
1960:
Mark Dinning- “Teen Angel”
(Tom 9, TNOCS 5, -4)

Tom is so enamored with “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” that he included it in his The Number Ones book. That, along with Laffy Taffy and Lollipop, suggests TNOCS voters aren’t into hip-hop as much as he is!

Given that most TNOCS voters are older than Tom, that isn’t surprising. 

The real eye opener is Tom’s fondness for “Teen Angel” and “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” two ballads that left TNOCS voters indifferent at best. Usually it’s the other way around when it comes to this genre.

Now, here’s the top 5 number ones with the biggest positive variance between TNOCS voters’ grade and that of Tom’s:

  • 5. Jim Croce – “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” 1973 (Tom 3, TNOCS 7.2, 4.2)
  • 4. The Beatles – “All You Need is Love,” 1967 (Tom 3, TNOCS 7.3, 4.3)
  • 3. Rick Astley – “Never Gonna Give You Up,{” 1988 (Tom 2, TNOCS 6.5, 4.5)
  • 2. The Carpenters – “Close to You,” 1970 (Tom 3, TNOCS 7.6, 4.6)
  • 1. Barenaked Ladies – “One Week,” 1998 (Tom 1, TNOCS 6.2, difference of 5.2)

You may be shocked by the absence of “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John, given commenters’ passionate objection to Tom’s score for that entry.

Tom gave it a 3 while the TNOCS average was 6.6 for a difference of 3.6. 


“And then the other one that gets brought up a lot:

I gave “Penny Lane” a 6…”

Tom told Billboard in 2022:

“I just don’t like that song. Yeah, it’s important, but there’s certain Beatle eras that just don’t – they’re not my bag, necessarily.” 

In the same interview, Tom said that the early 2000s was his “1960s” in regard to thinking it was the best period for pop music.

TNOCS voters apparently have a 1960s bias, as they gave Penny Lane an 8.2 average for a difference of 2.2.

One is tempted to think that this boomer-millennial gap explains the top variances that were even bigger than “Magic” and “Penny Lane.But what about “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “One Week,” both of which were well past the 1960s and were popular when Tom was growing up?

Well, read his columns for both.

He really hated both songs, while TNOCS voters can tolerate them better. Go figure.

The Big Picture

Overall, Tom’s grades for the first 1,000 number ones come out like this. Note that the results can make a very positively skewed pattern if charted statistically. 

(I might be off one or two scores, but I don’t know where, and it doesn’t really matter for this discussion overall.)

While I and others may think that Tom is too negative sometimes, this summary shows that if anything he’s generally favorable to what he’s reviewed so far, even if some give him considerable reservations in parts. That’s encouraging to know.

Finally, A Personal Note:

I learned about The Number Ones column on September 10, 2020, from another great blog, The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ by J.A. Bartlett.

“Tom Breihan’s article about “Grease” at Stereogum is highly worth your time, as is the entire series on The Number Ones,” he wrote. 

So I took his advice and took a deep dive into reading all the entries to catch up. After months of stalking, I finally got up enough courage to become a TNOCS voter by, as best I can tell, the entry for Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”

My biggest claim to fame was inspiring Virgindog to add a column in the TNOCS spreadsheet showing the variance between Tom’s votes and those of TNOCS.

Whenever the difference is greater than 2 either way, that indicates to me a substantial variance of opinion and I note it as such in the now weekly’s comments when appropriate.

This brings me to my final questions:

When and why did you start reading The Number Ones column?

And what are your thoughts about it after 1,000 entries? 

Feel free to share your thoughts…

and your congratulations to Tom…

… in the very way that we all met:

In the comments below.

Let the author know that you liked their article with a “Green Thumb” Upvote! 

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cstolliver
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September 18, 2023 5:04 am

I’m pretty sure my first comment was in Meco’s Star Wars review to correct Tom’s statement that the theme from Jaws never charted. (That kind of error always stirs the copy editor in me …) We don’t always agree, but I admire Tom’s passion, work ethic and sense of humor, and the column has often been the bright spot of otherwise difficult days.

I’m also grateful to the wonderful community of TNOCS that has developed around it, both in its original incarnation and on this site. So glad for this group of virtual friends (and the opportunity to meet one IRL) 🙂

Great job with this piece, Ozmoe.

thegue
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September 18, 2023 2:52 pm
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Thanks Ozmoe!!

cstolliver, who did you meet?

cstolliver
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September 18, 2023 7:04 pm
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Ozmoe and I met up (we live in the same general vicinity) last fall. Turns out we have a fair number of acquaintances in common so it may have been a matter of time, but TNOCS certainly helped.

cstolliver
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September 19, 2023 11:47 am
Reply to  Ozmoe

I have one. You are right, though, about the talking and eating.

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mt58
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September 19, 2023 1:58 pm
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Coming this fall to TNOCS+ :

A story of records and ratatouille:

“My Dinner With Ozmoe”

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 18, 2023 5:05 am

Great work Ozmoe! Not to mention by Tom as well in keeping it going and not be burnt out by it. Which seems to have happened with the British version which after several years at a good pace is now limping along on an infrequent basis with months between some entries and at several points looked to have come to a complete stop (no posts at all in 2022).

Nice to see as well that for all Tom’s understandable bias towards songs from his lifetime that he does at times go against that grain, whether its marking down 2005 as a whole or marking up the occasional ballad.

I found the column in December 2019, with the British version run aground I needed something to fill my pop culture and work aversion requirements. It came up in a Google search result, don’t remember what I was looking for but there it was. I did what many others have done and read from the start and waited til I was upto date before commenting.

Reading through all the comments and seeing the same familiar names cropping up each column it felt like I knew everyone before I joined in.

My first comment was 18th May 2020 by which time we’d been in Covid lockdown for 2 months which gave me plenty time to increase my pace and get up to date. It was Christopher Cross; Sailing. Number 1 October 17 1981. An inauspicious start as Tom gave it a 2 – which I agree with.

Just found my comment and noted all the friendly welcomes, many of them from people that are regulars here now.

I don’t comment as often over there now as I use my phone and since the SG overhaul it still feels very glitchy for me but I do still read it every week.

Napoleon of Birds
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September 18, 2023 10:52 am

Sailing was a 6, I think. Arthur’s Theme was a 2, though.
Chris Cross did not make Tom jump.

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 18, 2023 11:08 am

Thanks for the fact checking service! I even went to the trouble of searching up my comment as I couldn’t remember if it was Sailing or Arthur’s Theme.

It was Arthur’s Theme. A fact that left my brain as soon as it registered and I went with Sailing instead. Just like Kriss Kross I got it ass backwards.

dutchg8r
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September 18, 2023 8:01 pm

That’s so wiggity-whack, I think I’m gonna Ride Like the Wind….

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 18, 2023 7:37 am

That’s quite a feat! Congrats to Tom, and thanks for the great stat snapshot, Ozmoe!

I believe I started following Stereogum in grad school, as an alternative to Pitchfork, which was getting worse and worse. I only commented once in a while, until the pandemic lockdowns, when I was suddenly inspired to find some kindred spirits.

Full disclosure, I was initially one of those grumps who did not understand tnocs at all when I first encountered it. For me, a big problem was the old comment format, which made scanning through the hundreds of comments a real ordeal. But also, it just seemed so random. People writing about topics that seemingly had nothing to do with the song itself. Some covering charts, others holding polls, and others writing long observations about their lives around the time of the song Tom covered. I just couldn’t compute at first, but I eventually found the methods behind the madness. And the comment format update really did help, though it’s not free from its own quirks.

ISurvivedPop
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September 18, 2023 7:58 am

I first discovered TNOs with…I don’t know, “Johnny Angel”? I don’t remember.

Stereogum, on the other hand, I definitely remember where I discovered it: their Radiohead tribute album which had Vampire Weekend on it. But among music blogs, I preferred AOL’s now-defunct Spinner.

rollerboogie
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September 18, 2023 8:08 am

I don’t remember the exact date I discovered Tom’s column when it popped up in my news feed one day, but it was probably sometime around mid to late 2018. I remember being really disappointed when I caught up and could only read one column a day. So addicting. I started commenting on Oct 14, 2019 in the Dancing Queen column and felt so welcome. I remember Bix’s response in particular. I will admit that I’m struggling with the once a week format, but such is life.

LinkCrawford
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September 18, 2023 11:46 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

Three a week was the sweet spot. I miss that.

ISurvivedPop
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September 18, 2023 12:05 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

I’m okay with one per week, but I kinda wish we switched at the start of the streaming era, rather than smack-dab in the middle of the digital era.

Virgindog
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September 18, 2023 12:06 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I miss Bix.

Countdowner
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September 18, 2023 4:17 pm
Reply to  Ozmoe

Bix is still commenting on Twitter. Every Saturday when they play American Top 40 on Sirius.

lovethisconcept
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September 18, 2023 4:25 pm
Reply to  Countdowner

Glad to hear that. I have been a bit worried about him. He stopped posting on TNOCS and Mixcloud. Glad he is still at it somewhere.

cstolliver
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September 18, 2023 7:05 pm

Agreed, but not even Bix could get me to X.

lovethisconcept
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September 18, 2023 4:21 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I don’t remember when I started commenting or how I learned about the column. I’m just glad that I did. And even more glad that mt came up with this space. Love to all my TNOCS’ers!

Last edited 7 days ago by lovethisconcept
cappiethedog
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September 18, 2023 5:09 pm

I wasn’t logged in. That’s me upvoting you, in regard to Bix. That guy made me care about disco. He broke the dam open for me. I don’t care about genre anymore.

mt58
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September 18, 2023 8:22 am

I had just gotten a new fancy pants iPhone, and was playing around with my news feed. Out of nowhere came a link to an article about a number one record, from some site that I’ve never heard of before. And as soon as I read the snark- free comments in the article, I knew that I had found my tribe.

I was astounded that the author and the publisher would allow people to carry on in the way that we did. Clearly, we had no business making a mini blog out of a comment section, but as I’ve said many times before, I hope that Tom and Scott know how much it meant to all of us.

It seems quaint now, but I mulled over signing up and making a comment for a couple of months, because I didn’t think I could keep up with everybody. But just like real life, you realize the people are people, and pretty soon I was quipping away, and thoroughly enjoying the company of my newfound friends.

I started trying to write allegedly funny bits, and make graphics, and even a few videos that the community might enjoy. Sometimes I go back and look at them and cringe. Most of it is terrible. But it really did come from the heart; just like a middle school: you wanna make your friends laugh.

I kept wishing that we had a name. “The number one comment section“ was functional, but not practical. So I came up with the TNOCS initialism, and it caught on.

If I never do anything else in my life, I’ll be quietly proud of that.

Congratulations to Tom, not only for the TNOs achievement, but for something that is a little bit rare these days: a successful and respected career as a music critic.

We appreciate you. Good on you.

LinkCrawford
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September 18, 2023 11:48 am
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Something tells me, even without knowing mt58 in person, that you have done many, many other things in life of which you can be proud.

mt58
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September 18, 2023 11:56 am
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  🙏 

Last edited 7 days ago by mt58
JonDeutsch
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September 22, 2023 3:07 pm
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I, for one, friggin’ loved all of your TNOCS videos.

Last edited 3 days ago by Jon Deutsch
Virgindog
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September 22, 2023 4:07 pm
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Ditto. YouTube suggested the “All Over The World” video last week so I watched it again. Great stuff, though it reminded me of how many commenters we’ve lost along the wayside.

https://youtu.be/batVCFFLDU4

mt58
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September 22, 2023 6:25 pm
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It’s pretty rough around the edges, but
but I’ll be honest; when I got really lonesome and emotional during the pandemic, this was my version of trying to “keep my sanity”

I appreciate the shoutout. I try to look back on it as maybe “the right thing to do at the time.”

mt58
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September 22, 2023 6:22 pm
Reply to  JonDeutsch

❤️

dutchg8r
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September 18, 2023 9:26 am

Happy #1,000, Beloved Music Critic Tommy B!!

(Even though Stereogum has crashed on me this morning…)

First read? Probably the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” column. I have a web browser session always set to George Michael on my phone (and have done so since I got my first smartphone), so that day the Stereogum column was top of the list. I only kept reading when I had Wham! or Duran Duran alerts (#JusticeForAViewToAKill), but once 1988 rolled around I started reading The Number Ones regularly as a lurker, trying to get caught up from the beginning when I could find the time.

It was ridiculously addictive, like having the kind of nerd-out Top 40 music conversations I wish I could have had with other people back when I was a teenager. But it wasn’t until JenJadeEyes did an indepth breakdown of Duran’s debut album to celebrate its 40th anniversary that I decided to give it a go and wade into the chatty pool.

And I haven’t shut up since over in The Number Ones.

I’m sorry. 😁

It could have been worse though. I could have gotten the urge to babble incessantly about George Michael during his 1988 run, but I spared y’all. 😉

Thanks for the stats and recap, ozmoe!!

Last edited 7 days ago by dutchg8r
Napoleon of Birds
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September 18, 2023 12:27 pm
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Check the Alternative Number Twos in about four virtual years — Duran Duran may have one last hurrah there.

JonDeutsch
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September 22, 2023 3:05 pm
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#JusticeForAViewToAKill

Last edited 3 days ago by Jon Deutsch
Zeusaphone
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September 18, 2023 10:37 am

I learned about the column from Todd in the Shadows’ twitter.

Pretty sure my first comment was a joke about Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and Perry Como’s “Hot Diggity” sharing the same subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsZD019foKY

PeiNews
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September 18, 2023 10:53 am
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I like the way you work it

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Napoleon of Birds
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September 18, 2023 11:32 am
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Did the contestant bag it up?

Napoleon of Birds
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September 18, 2023 10:57 am

I first discovered TNO while looking for critical evaluations of Rock Me Amadeus on Google. (Long story.) Anyway, I found the article, saw the drop-down at the top, spent way too long figuring out why it only went up to 1998 (Candle in the Wind 1997 was the most recent article), caught the Truly Madly Deeply article later that week, and began following along in earnest. Two virtual years later, I got COVID, made the 8s, 9s and 10s playlist, and joined the crew. I feel so grateful to have met all of you wonderful commenters, even if only virtually, and to have gained a profound appreciation for pop music that I didn’t really have before.

❤️❤️❤️. One for the series, one for TNOCS, and one for this forum.

mt58
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September 18, 2023 11:25 am

Atta bird.

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September 18, 2023 11:26 am

I heard Tom as a guest on Steven Goldman’s Infinite Inning podcast. But it didn’t lead me to start reading the column then. Wish it did. A year or so later, my kids liked Seasons In The Sun so I looked for more information on the song and stumbled on Tom’s column. I’m not sure which was the first “current” column I read / commented on. Could be sometime in 1982. The first 4 / 5 poll was under Wind Beneath My Wings in 1989.

Virgindog
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September 18, 2023 11:33 am

The Number Ones came to my attention via the For You section of Google News. Google knows, well, everything about me, and it knew I like The Beatles. It suggested one or another of their songs in Tom’s column. It may have been “Paperback Writer.”

After I read that, Google kept suggesting the column and it became part of my daily routine. Like a lot of us, I went back to the beginning and read all of them. To those of you who have read all 1,000 articles, atta fan.

Thanks, Ozmoe, the variance column was a great idea.

Napoleon of Birds
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September 18, 2023 11:34 am
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It really was a good suggestion!
But you know what? We never got an Eleanor Rigby article — or rating. I wonder if Tom would like it.

ISurvivedPop
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September 18, 2023 1:55 pm

It didn’t reach the top 10 so Tom wouldn’t give it a rating.

The flipside, however, reached #2, and then plummeted down afterwards.

lovethisconcept
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September 18, 2023 4:29 pm
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I have read all 1,000! And when Tom himself liked one of my comments, it absolutely made my whole week that week. If not my whole month. Possibly year.

Edith G
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September 18, 2023 5:55 pm

Wow! Very impressive 👍.

LinkCrawford
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September 18, 2023 11:55 am

I remember searching google for an article about the song “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. I just wanted to read a good article about that song, and google dished Tom’s Stereogum article. When I realized what I had stumbled on, I knew that I was going to love it. When I saw how nice the commenters were, that was the icing on the cake. I remember bragging to others about how amazed I was at the civil discussion section.

I think the column was around 1965 or 1966 at the time. I can’t remember, because I almost immediately started reading all of the back articles. I was really happy at the encouragement I received when I started writing my throwback #1 segments. I think I started around “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Still going.

LinkCrawford
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September 18, 2023 11:57 am

Also, mt58, I assume YOU put together that mosaic of all 1000 picture sleeves? That is a work of art!

mt58
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September 18, 2023 12:00 pm
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Thank you. If y’all like it, then it was totally worth it.

Virgindog
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September 18, 2023 12:09 pm
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I didn’t even notice. Amazing!!!

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September 18, 2023 3:55 pm
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Yeah – that’s some next-level stuff.

mt58
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September 18, 2023 4:22 pm
Reply to  blu_cheez

Thanks, all!

See the improved click-to-magnify version…

cstolliver
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September 18, 2023 7:12 pm
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That is super-cool!

dutchg8r
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September 18, 2023 8:10 pm
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Dude.

You spoil us so with your nifty do-dads and Easter eggs round here.

[Fist bumps mt]

mt58
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September 18, 2023 8:25 pm
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.


Pauly Steyreen
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September 18, 2023 12:56 pm

I first discovered Stereogum looking for information about Priests’ new album The Seduction of Kansas in 2019 (after their Nothing Feels Natural album was my favorite album of 2017). I explored the site, found the Number Ones sometime in the virtual mid-70’s — the time period when I was born — and quickly got caught up in the commenting as much as the columns. I never went back to read the old ones, but I stuck with it since then.

Lots of veterans of that commenting period have moved on (sending peace to Bix and rabbits^2 and RIP poorlittlefool), but several are still around. I guess I’m one of the older ones now, though I still think of myself as in the shadow of legends like V-dog, Brigit, mt58, thegue, LinkCrawford, ExplodeMyHeart (formerly rubberbandit) and many more.

I often disagree with Tom, and I’m not afraid to say so. But I really love what he’s done — his columns are almost always quote-worthy, always educational, and nearly always a lot of fun! And intentionally or not, his wake has created a healthy ecosystem with the best commenting community, full stop. So thanks to Tom for 1,000 invitations to the joint subcommittee meeting at the 50-yard-line, with a great crew of friends and recurring guests.

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September 18, 2023 2:27 pm
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I was looking for information on Wovenhand’s Obdurate Refractory. I found a review on Stereogum, and…

Did Mr. Breihan write it up? Let me check.

Yes, he did.

I was a lurker for about four years.

Online communities are not for the faint of heart.

TNOCS is unique. Just amazing, the decorum, especially when the aforementioned OGs regularly contributed. I’d also like to give a shout-out to ex-Edmontonian, the two people who pop up now and then on this site, and hoklenole. The community is still great. Shout-out to Logan Taylor.

And shout-out to you Pauly, and present company.

Thank you, mt58.

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September 18, 2023 1:37 pm

I won’t go into details (as it is the opening paragraph/picture of my upcoming series), but I joined sometime in the early 70s. I’m a concrete learner/list-making kind of guy, so TNO was right up my alley.

And then the comments! I thought over what my first comment should be, edited, erased, then started again about thirty times. Finally I joined the community by calling TNOCS the “Holland-Dozier-Holland of commenting sections”.

I was frantic about what to write, but I’d done the math, and “Cats in the Cradle” was going to be released on my dad’s birthday…and y’all know what that song meant to me. I felt like that couldn’t be my delurking comment.

For a while, I kept track of the commenting section (number of, who joined and when, popular mini-columns et al), but found it difficult to keep up. I also reviewed a few of the videos (pre-MTV) on YouTube and those comments, but it became a bit repetitive.

So…I tend to start projects, but have difficulty following thru with them. That being said, I’m going to send over an article to mt in early October and start my countdown of the Top 10 artist Tom NEVER mentioned in his column. The research has been painstaking yet fascinating, as I wander from one RABBIT hole to another.

Each week, I’ll countdown the artist and write them up Tom-style (as best I can), and I should finish sometime before Christmas.

Oh!

mt, is that okay??  😂  😆 

ISurvivedPop
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September 18, 2023 1:52 pm
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England Dan & John Ford Coley have to be up there, right?

thegue
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September 18, 2023 2:21 pm
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A good who-dun-it never gives away the villain in the proloGUE!

mt58
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September 18, 2023 3:52 pm
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:

make it so.png
Edith G
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September 18, 2023 1:41 pm

Thank you for this piece , I’m glad to coming back to this site today to catch up with the reading and reconnecting with this community.

I really hope that Tom will read this, and if he does, congratulations man.

The first column that I read was “Band On The Run”, and it appeared shared by the Billboard Facebook page. It caught my attention, although I didn’t see much love from Tom to Macca, but I did enjoy the column. I didn’t immediately follow or keep reading the next columns, but when I did, it was as a lurker.

Until the “Hotel California” column happened, and an opinion from Tom’s about Don Henley’s voice made me want to speak: “his voice is nasal and unpleasant”, something like it. I quoted that in the comment section, saying something like: “I wonder what he will think about Enrique Iglesias voice” (trust me, as a Latina I know a few things about nasal and unpleasant voices).

And the rest is history, I met you all, I wanted to virtually hang out with you, and found confidence to share some facts of my life.

This site has been a wonderful extension of what I found in the original CS, and let’s raise our glasses for Tom, this community and the things to come.

Napoleon of Birds
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September 18, 2023 2:28 pm
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I remember that comment! I don’t think of Enrique having that kind of a voice — and anyway, Tom didn’t let that stop him giving The Boys of Summer a 9.

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September 18, 2023 3:58 pm

And, he was still wrong, as “Boys Of Summer” is an 10.

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September 18, 2023 1:51 pm

Great article. Fun read. Thank you!

While I lurked for months as I tried to catch up to real-time Tom publishing, I finally posted my introduction to TNOCS on Aug 25, 2001 to the tune of “Blame It On The Rain.”

It’s a shame that I waited so long… I would have really enjoyed engaging during the 80s — my peak decade for pop indulgence.

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September 18, 2023 3:50 pm

Heard about TNOs in the comment section of Tom’s “The Popcorn Champs” series over at A.V. Club – it was a recommendation to check out his “Dancing Queen” entry. Loved that, and started working up from the beginning.

My first comment was for ONJ’s “Magic” where I wrote a very stupid and unfunny defense of the song (I did a much better job years later when “Magic” came up in Link’s “25 years ago” entry). I have not missed commenting on a column since.

In virtual 1988 (real time: May 2021), I started covering the Modern Rock / Alternate chart in the comments, and my admiration for Tom’s writing increased ten-fold. Keeping up with a few pre-written paragraphs three times a week was kind of a beast – Tom’s level of quality at that pace was astounding.

I’m getting used to the “one new song a week” thing (and am loving Tom’s take on the Alt. songs), and can’t think of a better group of folks to hang out with in the stereogum comment sections. These articles, and you lot, really helped me maintain some sense of community & sanity during the crazy pandemic years. Congrats, Tom!

#justiceformagic

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September 22, 2023 4:34 pm
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Thanks for this reminder blu! I was reading this column trying to remember how I first found The Number Ones and it was also from an AV Club “Popcorn Champs” article. I cannot remember if was the Dancing Queen link or something else but I was already loving Tom’s movie articles and clicked right over to The Number Ones and never left.

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September 18, 2023 8:41 pm

I joined in the virtual 70’s, before the disco era kicked in but cannot remember which song was being discussed. Some of you may remember me as 17 in 77, which was my original handle. I changed it to reggie when the website went through one of its’ updates and we were forced to log in anew. The new log in requirements would not accept 17 in 77 and frustrated with trying to figure out why I just changed it to the name of our first family dog.

At the time I was in the middle of my annual search for new Christmas music and I somehow stumbled across Tom’s work. The songs being discussed hit me in my coming of age years sweet spot and I immediately was drawn to all the great TNOCS discussion and comradery. Throw in Tom’s top shelf writing skills, his inability to properly rate 70’s songs, and my overwhelming desire to relive my teen years through the music I loved, and I had to show up daily in a front row seat to right all the wrong’s being thrown about. 😉

I aged out of the pop charts literally and musically when New Jack Swing hit. There has been a lot of good music since then but I am just not as passionate about music made with drum machines and samplers. For me, the best music is created by artists who play and perform with their instruments – drums, guitars, keyboards, synths, horns, strings etc. In fact, the Number One song that crossed the line for me is probably “Obsession”. The song was tolerable but the video had everything that turned me off about New Jack Swing – over the top beats, fake instruments, too much focus on costumes and props (I have never been a Kiss fan) and reversion to the mean originality that seemed to narrow throughout the 90’s.

I continue to tune in and contribute a song when I can but my commenting has scaled way back. I still get a kick out of reading the comments by the newer folks who are just as a passionate about the music in their era, and I am really thankful for all the new musical discoveries they have offered up.

Hmmm, ….my iTunes playlist numbers tell the story:

70’s Rock/Pop – 340 songs
70’s Easy Listening – 383 songs
70’s Soft/Love – 224 songs
Motown/R&B – 208 songs
80’s Pop – 304 songs
80’s Rock – 332 Songs
80’s Soft/Love – 237 songs
90’s Plus (everything since 1990) – 231 songs..and counting!

A recent Teddy Swims post has turned me on to his music so now I have a few more additions to the 90’s Plus playlist.

Although I am admittedly stuck in the 70’s, there is still great music to be discovered and virtual comrades to hang with, and for that I am forever grateful to Tom and all of you who have made this site and the mother ship all that it is.

Many, many Kudo’s to MT for all his labors of love.

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September 19, 2023 10:59 pm
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The 70’s were before his time and I give him a lot of credit for the research he did to explore the cultural influences on the music of the day. Still, his trifecta of shame cannot be easily explained. Asleep at the Switch…. is the phrase that best comes to mind.

2 – “Love Will Keep Us Together”
3 – “Magic”
4 – “Reminiscing”

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 20, 2023 7:40 am
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I’m a Millennial, younger than he, and yet I’m mystified by some of those ratings.

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September 18, 2023 10:20 pm
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I never made the connection between you and 17 in 77. Either way, it’s good to see you again!

Last edited 6 days ago by Bill Bois
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September 19, 2023 10:47 pm
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Thanks VD. I wish I had more time these days to contribute like you and so many others do here. It’s all I can do to find the time to post a couple of things on the TNOCS.

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September 18, 2023 10:21 pm
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Well, my goodness- it’s good ol’ friend 17 in 77! Glad to see you, and thank you for the kind words!

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September 19, 2023 10:48 pm
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You are most welcome friend MT!

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September 19, 2023 10:59 am

Love this info-filled post, and thanks for all the work to compile everything.

I don’t really remember how I happened onto TNOs or what virtual year we were in, but most likely it was related to a Google search related to the Beatles takeover of popular music. Like many here, I binged until I was up to date and had to then deal with the disappointment of waiting for each new column (even more painful now). I believe I started posting comments almost immediately, so for a bit I was making comments on columns which nobody was reading. (Of course, in those virtual days I was not in “copy/paste” mode since I knew all the songs.)

I do love the comments section, but have not always had a warm reception for my own remarks. I suspect disbelieve my copy/paste, but I promise it’s true. Anyway, it’s a remarkably friendly on-line space. (How’d that happen?)

While I often disagree with the song ratings I greatly admire Mr. B’s writing and the crazy amounts of research he must do for each piece. It’s no surprise to me that his pace has slowed, but 1000 is a mighty big number. I look forward to continued pleasure in each new column (and may actually know a couple of songs in the next decade).

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September 19, 2023 2:01 pm
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Low4! Great to have you here!

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September 19, 2023 2:44 pm
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Hey Low4, welcome!

minor major 7th
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September 19, 2023 7:03 pm

I’ve been away for too long.
Luckily, I picked a great day to check in. Something told me to come around and say hi to you all.
The only reason for my absence is the children. We love them. It’s worth it. My wife and I are just in that phase where the children take up every (non-work) waking hour.

But speaking of the kids, this community gave us so much love and support when we miscarried. I still cannot believe I shared that with all of you, but the love in this community is real and palpable.

I jumped in around the virtual late 80s and was there up to the end of the 90s. Unfortunately, there came a time when I felt that i “aged out” of the mothership. My tastes had changed so much by 2002-2003: jazz. I may have mentioned it once and awhile.

Anyway, virtual hugs to you all. Congrats Tom.

mt58
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September 19, 2023 10:24 pm

We’re glad to see you, and very happy that the family is well.

For those that may have missed it, here’s a rerun that you’ll enjoy.

https://www.tnocs.com/for-my-beloved-new-baby-and-his-brother-twenty-musical-predictions/

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September 19, 2023 10:52 pm
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“How did I miss this article? It’s great!” I just said to myself. So I looked up what I was doing that day. Oh yeah, surgery. I hope you’ll forgive me for missing it.

Mm7th! It’s good to see you here! Congrats on the family and enjoy it all. Before you know it, you’ll be teaching the kids how to drive and then never hear from then again except when they need money.

I know. I was that kid, too. 🙂

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September 20, 2023 1:20 pm

Getting meta: Could what we’re writing in now be considered the TNOCSCS?

Quick recap: Discovered Tom’s column via a Google recommendation, it was one of the Beatles’ later number ones but I can’t recall exactly which one, so let’s say “Penny Lane” (although it probably wasn’t that one). Loved the write-up, went back and started reading from the beginning, which didn’t take too long since (a) the earlier columns were extremely short compared to what we’d later get, and (b) I didn’t bother scrolling down to look at the comments. I finally took the plunge sometime in the mid-’70s, and commented a couple of times but didn’t really do so “regularly” until the latter half of 1978 when I started posting R&R charts for comparison. Still read Tom’s column weekly, and nice to discover/rediscover tunes from my “lost” period beginning around 2009 or so when I stopped following the charts religiously (wouldn’t start again until the end of 2020).

Last edited 5 days ago by Aaron3000
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September 21, 2023 11:44 pm

I don’t quite remember how I stumbled upon the #1’s column, but it was somewhere in the early/mid 70’s. I’ve always been intrigued by columns with lots of comments, and Tom’s column really checked that box! 300-400 comments, five time a week?!? Once I ascertained how friendly the space was, I knew I wanted to make a mark somehow.

The Essential Moments feature became my claim to fame. IIRC the first one was for “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. At the time I was coming off a decade-long obsession with John Zorn. Going from being obsessed with intentionally obscure avant-garde jazz and classical to spending my time with Billboard #1’s was indeed like going from extreme to extreme.

I fully joined in for the top-of-the-comment-section game and it was fun for a while. My work schedule was somewhat flexible and I arranged it so that on days the column appeared, I was free to lie in bed and hit Refresh until the new one showed, then get my entry submitted ASAP. It’s really the height of first-world dorky hedonism.

It was also a great way to flex my writerly muscle and I’m honestly proud of those write-ups. As I started to age out of the #1’s, I transitioned to the Far From the Charts write-ups. The amount of planning involved with choosing albums to write about and then timing it so that it matched with the #1 Tom was writing about was personally impressive.

Alas, life intervened and an illness and eventual death in my family kinda derailed the whole affair. Afterwards I didn’t feel moved to invest the time and energy that it would have taken to get back up to speed and I let it go. Sometimes I regret that. On the other hand, I feel like I proved to myself that I could produce something worthwhile on a schedule.

I went through a long stretch of not commenting at all, but now I like to try to post an Earworm song (thanks Jon D) from time to time. I don’t pore over the comment section like I used to, but that was a fun moment in time. Kudos to Ozmoe and all the other feature writers, and to Tom especially!

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September 22, 2023 9:28 pm

Just a quick note –

Tom (and I) gave Freddy Fender’s “Before the Last Teardrop Falls” a 10 which I think makes it the biggest difference between Tom’s rating and the rest of our opinions. (Yes, I am an accountant – why do you ask?)

(I happen to agree with Tom as that song always caught my attention as a kid and I would pay attention to it until it finished or even sing along. I was probably too young to understand the emotional aspects but I sure felt it in Freddy’s singing.)

#dontwreckthefender

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September 23, 2023 10:21 am
Reply to  mjevon6296

We, the people, gave “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” a 5.8 vs. Tom’s 10, for a variance of -4.2.

That’s a lot, but the biggest variance between Tom and the rest of us was “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. He gave it a 1, we gave it a 6.2 for a variance of 5.2. The biggest variance the other way was -4.7 for “Crank That” by Soulja Boy. Tom gave it a 9, we gave it 4.3.

As always, the spreadsheet with all this stuff is open to everyone at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/138BvuV84ZH7ugcwR1HVtH6HmOHiZIDAGMIegPPAXc-I/edit#gid=0

mjevon6296
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September 23, 2023 11:11 pm
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Thanks V-dog for the clarification!

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