The dawning of 2018 means it grows ever more likely that we will finally see a notable, if ultimately insignificant, UK singles chart first. As the year wears on, anyone born in 2000 will reach adulthood, and even those born in the following two years are already in their late teens. If history has taught us anything this is the time when the most prodigious talents find their way into musical careers. And maybe end up at the very top of the charts.
The watershed moment we are awaiting then: the first ever Number One single performed by an artist born in the 2000s.
Following on from that it is a fun mental exercise to work out just who enjoyed the honour in decades gone by. A list which if nothing else stands you in good stead for pub quizzes should such a topic ever come up. For these purposes we are talking singers, be they solo or frontmen and women of groups. Because they are the ones everyone remembers after all.
So by my reckoning, the full list of decade pioneers, the first performers born in each decade to top the singles charts, is as follows:
1940s: Frankie Lymon (Why Do Fools Fall In Love). Born September 30, 1942. Topped the charts July 1956.
1950s: Mary Hopkin (Those Were The Days). Born May 3, 1950. Topped the charts September 1969.
1960s: Little Jimmy Osmond (Long Haired Lover From Liverpool). Born April 16, 1963. Topped the charts December 1972.
1970s: Arguably this was Dawn Ralph, the St Winifred’s School Choir member who sang lead vocals on There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma in December 1980. Her date of birth isn’t a matter of public record but she was around six years old when the song topped the charts, meaning she was born circa 1974.
If, however, we are talking specific solo performers whose age can be accurately determined then the honour goes to:
1970s: Tiffany (I Think We’re Alone Now). Born October 2, 1971. Topped the charts January 1988.
1980s: Taylor Hanson (lead vocals on Hanson’s Mmmbop). Born March 14, 1983. Topped the charts June 1997.
(again, if we want to only count solo performers then the accolade goes to Billie Piper (born September 22, 1982 and who topped the charts in July 1998).
1990s: Sean Kingston (Beautiful Girls). Born February 3, 1990. Topped the charts September 2007.
Does anyone want to disagree?
Not long after this piece was published, I received an email from reader Robin Tucker whose research deserves a wider audience. He writes:
It’s interesting that the record for someone born this millennium was almost broken way back in 2010. Will Smith’s daughter Willow (born 31 October 2000) was just ten years old when she released ‘Whip My Hair’ in December 2010. It was predicted to top the charts in some quarters, but had to settle for number two behind the Black Eyed Peas.
And as a footnote, the first person born in earlier decades (in order of the first act born in that decade to make number one) for the 1920’s was Al Martino (first number one), 1910’s Jo Stafford (second number one), 1900’s Mantovani (eleventh different number one) and 1930’s Ruby Murray (31st different number one).
I don’t know if anyone born in the 19th century ever managed a number one, the earliest I found was Louis Armstrong (born 4 August 1901).