The huge pop acts who never scored a Number 1 single

Acts that have had big careers without ever getting the big one – including a few surprises…

While it's all about the taking part, it feels better to win, right? And the big prize in music is a Number 1 single, but there are plenty of successful acts who enjoy a healthy career without ever pulling off the big one. So who's never so much as popped their head round the door of Number 1?

Janet Jackson

A career spanning three decades, huge era-defining singles and albums, one of the most well-known popstars in the world, 17 Top 10s to her name, and yet… Despite all this success, Miss Jackson has yet to take one of her hits all the way to the top. Since her very first hit in 1986, What Have You Done For Me Lately (3), she's come close a couple of times – The Best Things In Life Are Free with Luther Vandross in 1992, and That's The Way Love Goes the following year both reached Number 2. Let's hope she gets one soon, or things could get Nasty.

MORE: View Janet Jackson's complete UK singles archive and relive all those Top 10s

Bon Jovi

Great at growing hair and then cutting it again to become strangely more attractive – less great at conquering the top of the Official Singles Chart. Can't have everything.

With one more Top 10 than Janet Jackson, Bon Jovi claim the dubious honour of being the act with the most Top 10s to never get to Number 1. The nearest they came was the heartfelt Always, which spent 11 weeks in the Top 10 and had two separate stints at Number 2 in 1994.

MORE: Which 18 tracks have hit the Top 10 for Bon Jovi? Their UK chart history

Taylor Swift

She's got that not-quite-Number 1 look in her eye. When she's not at the centre of social media meltdowns and tabloid controversy, Taylor Swift does actually record and release music, and she has plenty of hits while she's at it. But while she's scored two Number 1 albums, she has yet to reign supreme over the Official Singles Chart.

She's hit Number 2 three times, though: Love Story (2009), I Knew You Were Trouble (2012) and Shake It Off (2014).

MORE: Check Taylor Swift's chart archive to see just how many times the Number 1 spot has eluded her


Veteran rockers Aerosmith have been racking up hits since 1986, with 14 Top 40s under their very slinky crocodile skin belts. But a Number 1 single has yet to walk this way for them. They only got as close as Number 4, with the very emosh, and ironically titled, ballad I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, taken from the 1998 movie Armageddon. It's sold over a million, though, and is actually one of the biggest selling love songs of all time. So that's nice.

MORE: Aerosmith's complete UK back catalogue of hits, including Walk This Way and Dude Looks Like A Lady (how did none of them hit Number 1?)

Alanis Morissette

Alanis has never had a Number 1? Isn't it ironic, don't you think, as Alanis might say, before 10,000 pedants jump out of her cutlery drawer to mansplain to her that she doesn't know what irony is. Anyway, Alanis can proudly point to her 10 Top 40s and beam, but as for chart-topping single, there's no joy yet. Her nearest flirtation with the top spot came in the form of Thank U, which hit Number 5 in 1998. What Alanis does have, though is one of the biggest selling albums of all time, Jagged Little Pill, which spent 11 weeks at Number 1. 

MORE: See all Alanis's UK hit singles and albums

Guns N' Roses

12 Top 10s and some stone-cold karaoke classics in the shape of Sweet Child O Mine and Paradise City and, yet, the trophy cabinet is bare for Guns N' Roses. They came so close with their 1992 cover of Knockin' On Heaven's Door, but while it may have knocked, it never got to cross the threshold – peaking no higher than Number 2. Over on the Official Albums Chart, they've hit the top twice, if that's any consolation.

MORE: All Guns N' Roses' big hits and near misses in their Official Chart archive

Amy Winehouse

Back To Black is one of the biggest selling albums of all time, yet the late, great Amy Winehouse never scored a chart-topping single. She made it all the way to Number 2 with her old mate Mark Ronson on their jaunty cover of the Zutons' Valerie, in 2007, but were held off the top by Sugababes' About You Now.

MORE: See the Official Singles Chart the week Valerie got to Number 2

The Who

Icons of rock, huge influences of mod, pop and punk culture, over 50 years of chart success and touring and yet… one thing missing. A Number 1 single. The band have managed to top the Official Albums Chart once, in 1971, with Who's Next, but when it comes to singles… nope. The closest they've come is, like it is for most artists, Number 2, which they've reached twice, with My Generation (1965) and I'm A Boy (1966).

MORE: See all The Who's hits in their archive

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton may well be one of the most recognisable faces in the music industry, not to mention one of country's biggest stars, but when it comes to Number 1 singles, she has a tally of precisely zero. Not a one. In fact, she's only made the Top 10 twice in over 40 years of releasing music, hitting Number 7 both times, thanks to Jolene (1976) and Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers in 1983. What a way to make a living indeed. We're sure a banging remix of 9 To 5 is just around the corner, and then justice will be served and a Number 1 will be all hers.

MORE: All Dolly's UK chart hits in the archive

Alicia Keys

She's been bothering the chart for almost 15 years, ever since she hit Number 3 with Fallin' in late 2001, but no Number 1 for Alicia. Nine Top 10s later, and her closest shot at the top was with Jay Z in 2009 on Empire State Of Mind – it got to 2. She's back with a new album soon, though, so there's still time.

Bruce Springsteen

He may be The Boss, but despite amassing a whopping 10 Number 1 albums, he has never ruled the roost over on the Official Singles Chart. 19 Top 40 hits, four of which went Top 10, and over 40 years of music – so he's not done too badly, let's be real – but the closest he's got to the main podium is 1994's Streets Of Philadelphia. It managed to reach Number 2, fended off by a truly unforgettable classic that's stood the test of time: Doop, by Doop. Yep.

MORE: See the full rundown of Brice Springsteen's UK hit singles and albums

Bob Marley

He scored his very first UK hit back in 1975 and over the course of his career, not even his untimely passing could halt the succession of big hits. Enjoying eight Top 10s from 17 Top 40s, Bob has one of the biggest selling albums of all time in the shape of his hits collection Legend, but a Number 1 single? Nope. Not a one. His closest call was the 1999 dance version of Sun Is Shining (1999!?! Surely not!), which reached Number 3 and was, interestingly, his most recent Top 10. But there's still plenty of interest in Bob's talents, and with another Marley musical renaissance on the way, thanks to some new mixes and versions, don't rule him out of the running to score a chart-topper just yet.

MORE: Bob Marley's big ones


Considering his work as lead singer of the Smiths, plus his solo career, Mozza has accrued a very impressive 51 Top 40s, of which 13 have made it to the Top 10. This Charming Man came first in 1983, peaking at 25, while his most recent foray into the Top 40 was back in 2009, when I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris reached 21. But in the 16 years in between, the big prize eluded him.

He's made it to Number 3 – and no further – twice: Irish Blood, English Heart (2003) and You Have Killed Me (2006). We're sure he is totally cool with this anyway.

Green Day

It's been almost 22 years since they scored their very first hit Welcome To Paradise, bit in all that time the American not-remotely-idiots haven't had a Number 1! They've hot the Top 10 five times, with their nearest shot to the target going to their collaboration with U2 – The Saints Are Coming peaked at 2 in 2006.

MORE: Check out all Green Day's big hits and near misses in their archive


Since Sharleen Spiteri and the guys first burst onto the pop scene in 1989 with the country-tinged I Don't Want A Lover, they've landed 22 UK Top 40s, with 13 of those going Top 10. It wasn't until another eight years after their debut that they went Top 10 again, with Say What You Want also becoming their highest peaking single because – spoiler alert – they never had a Number 1 either. 


The most powerful lungs in pop, perhaps, but they seem to run out of puff just as they approach Number 1. She's had 12 Top 40s, but her closest brush with the top spot was 2004's Left Outside Alone, which reached Number 3. It did manage to spend 11 weeks in the Top 10, though, so it's not all bad news.

MORE: See the Top 10 from the week Left Outside Alone was a new entry – it's amazing