Did Pink Floyd Ever Have a Number-One Hit?
Pink Floyd are one of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time. They produced two of the most popular albums of all time: The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. However, despite all their success, they weren’t the sort of band which did particularly well on the singles chart.
Unlike some of their classic rock contemporaries like the Rolling Stones and Queen, Pink Floyd were an album band – a band whose albums are designed to be consumed as a whole, as one cohesive statement. Such bands generally aren’t trying to ride to the top of the singles chart. The question remains: Did Pink Floyd ever have a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100?
The only Pink Floyd number-one single in America
Pink Floyd managed to have one number-one hit on the American charts and that’s it. For many fans, the idea they only reached the top spot once is a complete and utter travesty, especially considering how many less innovative acts have made it to the top of the charts again and again. However, given how avant-garde Pink Floyd’s music is, it’s arguably amazing they ever made it to the top of the charts at all.
It’s also telling that their one number-one hit was “Another Brick in the Wall.” Disco was one of the most popular genres in the world when Pink Floyd released The Wall, so it only makes sense the band’s biggest song would be their take on the disco genre.
Of course, “Another Brick in the Wall” is far from the disco songs released around the same time by Chic, Donna Summer, and Amii Stewart. It’s a dark song with screams and an unusual subject matter. Specifically, it’s a song about problems plaguing the British school system at that time. A song like this could only be a hit if it contained some elements which were highly commercial.
What made ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ special
Luckily, Pink Floyd came up with some musical ideas which made “Another Brick in the Wall” a sure-fire hit. It has an amazing, funky baseline which would make the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson jealous, and it has enough rock elements to make it appealing to classic rock fans. In the 1970s, there was a divide between rock and disco fans, so a song which pleased both would surely dominate the radio.
But “Another Brick in the Wall” wasn’t just another radio hit. It was an essential piece of an album which is often seen as Pink Floyd’s greatest work. Band member Roger Waters said The Wall is “the third of a trilogy of great works I’ve been involved with, starting with Dark Side Of The Moon, all the way to Amused To Death [a Waters solo album]. To date, The Wall is my finest musical achievement.” Many fans agree.
There are many reasons why “Another Brick in the Wall” was a huge hit. Unlike most hits, it’s still widely recognized 40 years later. That’s the ultimate test of a great song.