Ranking #1 singles, U.S. edition: 1969

At the moment when the income from a global youth hegemony and years of experiments turned pop into rock, other acts insisted on segregating pop and rock. The Archies hit #1 with “Sugar, Sugar” in 1969, 1910 Fruitgum Company sweetened up the top ten, and, supreme among these spun sugar confectionaries, Tommy James & the Shondells. Listening to their singles in 2021, I think of K- and J-pop: the intensity with which BTS, Perfume, and Red Velvet perform their emotions, the intensity of Ingmar Bergman’s closeups. Intensity doesn’t protect them from foolishness; to glower is to often look foolish. See: “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” a hit that works on me like a pit viper in my pillow sheets. Or, to take another example, Zagar & Evans’ “In the Year 2525,” so intense it hardens into camp.

“Crimson and Clover,” though! It hit me first as a devastating Joan Jett’s cover, for which she kept the female pronouns intact. But any of its top-category brethren boasted equal concentration, especially the two Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong compositions (here were two songwriter as powerful as Lennon-McCartney and Jagger-Richards).


Zager & Evans – In The Year 2525
The 5th Dimension – Wedding Bell Blues
The 5th Dimension – Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
Henry Mancini – Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet
Steam – Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye

Sound, Solid

Tommy Roe – Dizzy
Diana Ross and the Supremes – Someday We’ll Be Together
The Beatles with Billy Preston – Get Back
The Archies – Sugar, Sugar

Good to Great

Tommy James & the Shondells – Crimson and Clover
The Temptations – I Can’t Get Next to You
Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds
The Beatles – Come Together
Peter, Paul & Mary – Leaving On A Jet Plane
Sly & the Family Stone – Everyday People
The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women
Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through the Grapevine
The Beatles – Something

7 thoughts on “Ranking #1 singles, U.S. edition: 1969

  1. You really think that “Sugar Sugar” is a good song? Back in 69, we all thought it sucked. Pure powder-pop.

    & who doesn’t like “Na Na Hey Hey”? What hockey game would be complete without it?

    I don’t like sport and was born too late to dismiss “Sugar, Sugar.”

  2. What made you upgrade In the Year 2525 from The Hague, when you did the top 10s? And have you heard their amazing non hit follow up “Mr Turnkey”?

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