The Top 10 Weirdest U.S. No. 1 Hits

tubular bells.jpg
Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells topped the UK charts 38 years ago despite being a dense and inaccessible art rock record.
It's not often that the pop charts will surprise you. After all, the average consumer in most countries doesn't have time to delve too deep into an artist's catalogue. They don't often pick up on songs that will stand the test of time. They like the ephemera record labels tell them is hot right now.

Nevertheless, every once in a while something will top the charts that doesn't make sense. We're seeing it happen now with "Gangnam Style", and this past week marks 38 years since Mike Oldfield topped the UK Album charts with Tubular Bells, a 48 minute long instrumental classically inspired progressive-rock album. An edited down single even managed to hit No. 7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart after being used as the title theme for The Exorcist.

That sounds weird, but what other strangeness has occurred on the charts? For the purposes of this list, we'll stick to the U.S., since covering the entire world would just fill this list with the weird bands topping the charts in Norway (where, oddly enough, "Gangnam Style" is currently the No. 1 song).

10. Cake, Showroom of Compassion

Billboard 200 No. 1, 2011
Could anyone have ever predicted that this would hit #1? Cake hadn't put out an album since 2004 and hadn't had a big, big hit since 1998. As a matter of fact, this is their first #1 album in their entire career. Maybe there are just that many fans of Chuck.


9. Vampire Weekend, Contra

Billboard 200 No. 1, 2010
Love them or hate them, Vampire Weekend made a big splash in 2010 by breaking into the No. 1 spot on an independent label (XL), something almost unheard of before them. Even indie-rockers Modest Mouse signed to a major label before they hit No. 1 in 2007.


8. Prince, "Batdance"

Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, 1989
Hip hop was barely making a dent in the charts, much less club remixes with hip-hop, funk and metal overtones -- all thrown in with a lot of samples from Tim Burton's first Batman movie, but the popularity of that film and Prince improbably propelled this song to No. 1.



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