Skip to main content

You can’t talk about the Billboard charts without bringing up the dominance of The Beatles. The band holds the record for the most No. 1 hit singles on the Hot 100 chart (20) and the most No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (19).

If you start counting the hundreds of millions in album and single sales, the mind starts to boggle. Sometimes, it’s less work to look at the few occasions the Fab Four didn’t manage to land a record on top of the charts.

For example, Ringo is the only member of The Beatles who never saw one of his tunes — whether written or simply sung — reach No. 1. (He came awfully close, though.)

Looking at the more than 20 LP records the band released in America during its run, you’ll find few occasions when the disc didn’t top the charts. In fact, we can identify only four records that didn’t make it to No. 1. As you might guess, each time was a bit of a technicality.

The overlapping albums of 1964

The Beatles pose for a photo shoot during the band’s U.S. tour in 1964. | Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

When you look at The Beatles’ album roll-out in America, you’ll notice a few strange things. For example, the band’s first two records were released 10 days apart (January 10-20, 1964) and shared some songs. The first, Introducing… The Beatles, came via the Vee-Jay label.

However, when Meet the Beatles! (on Capitol) dropped shortly thereafter, it managed to enter the Billboard 200 charts a week earlier. As a result, when The Beatles’ first Capitol record hit No. 1 the following month, the Vee-Jay release got left out in the cold.

Meet the Beatles! stayed on top of the charts for 11 weeks, and Introducing became something of a footnote. Later that year, after the soundtrack for A Hard Day’s Night landed on United Artists and quickly made No. 1, something similar happened.

This time, Capitol released Something New (with some of the same songs) 10 days later. Fans still bought it in high volumes but couldn’t push it past A Hard Day’s Night, which ruled the charts for 14 weeks. (Multiple Beatles albums reached No. 1 that year.)

The 2 late Beatles albums that didn’t make No. 1

1964: The British rock group The Beatles speak to reporters, including Maureen Cleave of the Evening Standard, who stands behind them. | Express/Getty Images

By early 1969, The Beatles were on their last legs as a band but near the height of their commercial appeal. In November of the previous year, the group had released The White Album, which became their best-selling record in America.

Once again, the Fab Four had such a smash hit on their hands that the next record — the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, released in January of ’69 — couldn’t overtake it at the top of the charts. The White Album grabbed the spot in late December and didn’t let go until late February.

Finally, the fourth record (Hey Jude) that didn’t top the charts during the band’s run was a collection of old tracks that went out just before Let It Be. The writing was on the wall that the band was done, but before they made it official, here came another record with songs fans probably already had.

Nonetheless, Hey Jude managed to make it all the way to No. 2. Let It Be followed a few months later as The Beatles’ final studio album.

But the Fab Four wasn’t done with accolades for its work. The following year, Let It Be won a Best Music Oscar for the band.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!