Number 1 singles that took their time to climb

Songs that took it nice and easy when ascending to the top of the chart, including Ed, Céline, and Lady Gaga.

While most Number 1 hits show their chart-topping potential from the off, going in high and burning bright, some songs prefer to take the slow and steady approach...

Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill

Thanks to its placement in the most recent season of Netflix's Stranger Things, Running Up That Hill (the lead single from Bush's fifth studio album Hounds of Love) managed to ride a viral wave to the top of the Official Singles Chart...37 years after its original release. It gave Bush the record for the longest time ever a song has taken to ascend to Number 1.

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

Charting upon the release of Ed's second album X, and not an official single straightaway, Thinking out Loud didn't leave the Top 40, hanging around while a different single was promoted – Don't, to be precise – before finally taking centre-stage after a record 19 weeks – the longest a song has spent in the Top 40 (on consecutive weeks) before reaching Number 1. See Thinking out Loud's record-breaking chart run

Céline Dion – Think Twice 

The definition of a slow burn, Céline's haunting, emotional ballad took a while to find the public's ear in 1994, but soon good old word of mouth and increased radio play did its job. After 16 weeks in the Top 100 (13 within the Top 40, 8 inside the Top 10), Think Twice did what it set out to, hit Number 1, stayed there for seven (!) weeks and sold a million copies. Destiny fulfilled! Look back at Céline Dion's complete Official UK Chart history here

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

This much-covered track took a whole to establish itself as a favourite, spending 11 weeks inside the Top 40 before hitting the top in 1968. Backed by a version of the theme song from musical Cabaret, once it got there, What a Wonderful World spent a month at the top. (The song was also a Christmas Number 1 for Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua – but that song was a total spoilsport and went straight in at the top.)

Ed Sheeran – Perfect

Perfect is a bit of a curiosity is that on the release of Ed's third album Divide, perfect charted at Number 4 before slipping down the chart and out of the Top 100 altogether. But it was back within a couple of months once released as an official single, crawling up the Top 40 for 11 weeks until finally claiming pole position (with a little help from a Beyoncé remix, of course) and staying there for six straight weeks. It ain't over till it's over.

MORE: See Ed Sheeran's entire UK chart history

Coldplay – Paradise

A week after entering the chart at 14 in 2011, Coldplay's classic track actually fell the week after, but it was a false alarm – it wasn't finished yet. Paradise clambered up the Top 10 before landing the Number 1 spot in early 2012 – a full 10 weeks after its first appearance.

Lady Gaga – Poker Face

Gaga had ma-ma-ma-mountains to climb with her second chart-topper, patiently playing the long game before showing her hand after 10 weeks and taking the big prize in 2009. See where all Lady Gaga's singles and albums charted.

Shawn Mendes – Stitches

The Canadian's first Number 1 in 2016 was not what you might call an overnight success – spending 10 weeks in the lower reaches of the Top 100 before finally breaking through. Once in the top flight, Stitches took another six weeks to make it to Number 1, staying there for two and therefore making it all worthwhile. Take a look at all Shawn Mendes' chart runs and peak positions

Camila Cabello – Havana

The former Fifth Harmony member spent 13 weeks climbing from her starting point of Number 53 with this future chart-topper. Turns out getting to Number 1 is an even longer slog than flying to Havana from Heathrow. Camila even endured three straight weeks stuck at Number 2 behind Post Malone before getting her hands on Number 1. 

Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round

The Pete Burns-fronted band took 17 weeks to reach the summit in 1984/1985 after first entering at Number 79. During that time, the band went from the underground to commercial success - Pete claimed that his label were so unenthusiastic about the track that he took out a £2,500 loan to record it with producers Stock Aitken Waterman. It also gave the production trio their first Number 1 and sparked a string of hits for them with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Bananarama.  

Article image: Rex

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Last Christmas , release Dec 1984, finally reached number one January 2021.


Lee Moore


Jennifer Rush's The Power Of Love reached #1 on its 17th week in the Top 100


John Van Der Kiste


Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite - 1957-1986?
The Hollies - He Ain't Heavy - He's My Brother - 1969-1988?
Honorary mentions for The Steve Miller Band - The Joker - 1974-1990? (admittedly it narrowly missed the UK chart first time round, despite reaching No. 1 in the US and being reissued several times in the UK after that)


Jamie Crampton


As Perfect wasn't actually a single first time round it shouldn't be here. Only because of the farcical way these charts are now counted.


Liam Friel


Let's not forget the 17 weeks it took Dead or Alive's "You spin me round" to reach number 1.


James Edward Wilson


That used to be the record before Celine.


Philip Davis


Yes I was going to mention that as well


Richard M. White


In top 75 terms, it was actually 15 weeks, 16 if count top 100.