The subtitle for The Number Ones is Twenty Chart-topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music. It sounds like hyperbole—but it’s not. Get ready to give your favorite music streaming service a workout as you revisit old favorite songs and find new ones.
The book covers music from 1960 through 2020. It’s amazing how well even surprisingly mundane hits, like The Human League’s 1981 hit “Don’t You Want Me”, changed the path of music going forward. For the book is very successful in convincing its readers that individual songs moved music in surprisingly new directions over the decades. It is hard for an average pop music listener to see how Chubby Checker led to The Byrds much less Gucci Mane and BTS.
The Number Ones is a fun ride for readers old enough to remember at least a few of these songs firsthand. But even casual modern listeners can learn a bit about how a single thing can cause a mountain of difference eventually. 5 stars and a favorite!
Thanks to Hachette Books and NetGalley for a digital review copy of the book.