(November 17, 2021). Greetings from Europe! I am writing this article from Vienna, Austria, a major cultural center where music is both celebrated and honored.
And speaking of Europe and honoring music, three longstanding global pop music icons recently accomplished something noteworthy in the U.K. that, collectively, they had not done previously—a first-time feat whose recency is amazing considering how their careers have overlapped for nearly half a century.
Between them, superstars ABBA, Diana Ross and Sir Elton John have reached the top ten with 56 different albums since 1971 on the Official Charts Company’s album chart, which tracks the best-selling albums in the U.K. It’s an astonishing track record for any set of three artists, and with each of these venerable acts still making music and still achieving top-10 status on the Official Albums chart, their accomplishments are even more remarkable.
Collectively, Ms. Ross, Sir Elton and ABBA have spent an amazing 563 weeks in the U.K. top ten with those 56 albums. But the three of them had never accomplished what they achieved this past week, which they did for the first time in the five decades that they’ve been collectively charting: all have top-10 albums…at the same time!
The Official Albums chart has been home to 33 top-10 albums by Sir Elton John since his self-titled LP first entered the territory in February 1971. He’s had many classics since then, including Number Ones like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, Elton John’s Greatest Hits, and his most recent, The Lockdown Sessions, which topped the U.K. chart just two weeks ago.
Also in 1971, Diana Ross achieved her first top-10 set in the U.K. as a solo artist (after leaving the Supremes in 1970) with the album I’m Still Waiting, which featured the No. 1 title track—also her first in the U.K. I’m Still Waiting, which had been retitled from her third solo U.S. release, Surrender, to capitalize on the single’s success, would be her first of 13 top-10 entries on The Official Albums chart since leaving the Supremes (although two of those 13 albums were Supremes compilations in 1977 and 1989). Her latest to reach the top 10 is her new studio LP, Thank You, which entered the chart at No. 7 this week.
Then there’s ABBA, who began charting in 1974 and whose first top 10 was their 1976 Greatest Hits compilation. ABBA has since reached the top 10 on The Official Albums chart ten times, and all ten of those—including four hits compilations—have gone to No. 1. Their tenth did the trick on the latest chart, where their first new studio album in 40 years, Voyage, entered at the premier position. For good measure, ABBA’s quintessential Gold – Greatest Hits album re-entered this week’s U.K. top-10 chart in its 1019th week on the overall list.
And with that, ABBA, Elton and Diana account for four of this week’s top-10 albums and accomplish something the three acts had never done together in their collective careers—occupy the top ten simultaneously.
In the 47-plus years since ABBA joined Elton and Diana as perennial hit-makers, the three acts had never been ranked inside the top-10 at the same time despite their many overlapping releases. While there had never been a chart where all three were in the top ten together, there were many times when two of the three acts shared top-10 space, beginning in 1974 when Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was in the top 10 at the same time as Diana Ross’ joint effort with Marvin Gaye, entitled Diana And Marvin.
Then, two-and-a-half years later, while ABBA’s first Greatest Hits album was still in the top ten in August 1976, Diana Ross moved her solo Greatest Hits 2 album into the territory. Coincidentally, Elton’s first Greatest Hits album was charting in the top 30 after having been No. 1 earlier that year, but would never share top-ten space with ABBA’s and Diana’s compilations.
The closest the three legendary acts ever came to charting simultaneously in the top 10 before now was in January 1978 when Elton’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 was ranked at No. 6 while Diana Ross sat at No. 11 with the Supremes compilation 20 Golden Greats—billed as Diana Ross & the Supremes. ABBA was right behind Ross at No. 12 with their 1977 Arrival album. Ross’s album would join Elton’s in the top 10 the next week while ABBA held at No. 12.
Then, in a surprise move the following week, ABBA’s hotly anticipated new release, The Album, featuring the classic “Take a Chance On Me,” debuted at No. 1. But, in doing so, it pushed Diana’s album out of the top ten, making ABBA and Elton that week’s only top ten inhabitants out of this legendary threesome.
In an interesting couplet in November 1979, ABBA and Diana dominated the U.K. chart at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with newer hits compilation albums, but Elton’s studio LP, Victim of Love, released only a couple of months prior, failed to make waves in the U.K. and, consequently, Elton was nowhere to be found on the Official Albums chart.
So now the three legendary acts—all of whom are septuagenarians (Ross is 77, John is 74, and ABBA’s members range from 71 to 76)—occupy space in the U.K. top ten simultaneously for the first time in their storied careers and, ironically, all with studio albums.
Diana Ross’ Thank You entered at No. 7, while Elton’s recent No. 1, The Lockdown Sessions, tumbled to No. 6 and ABBA’s Voyage is perched in the No. 1 spot.
It’s a statistical anomaly that was made possible not only by the decisions of each artist to release new material at this juncture in their careers, but by the fact that each one still has a respectable following so many decades after their respective peaks in popularity. It’s a testimony to each act’s enduring popularity regardless of age or the length of time that has passed since their last releases.
It’s an irony so uncanny, you could file this story in either of two categories: 1) what decade is this, anyway? or 2) who says a career has to end before 70?
Or maybe a third category: this blogger had a little too much time on his hands to research all of this stuff!
Either way, congratulations to Diana, Elton and ABBA for their latest accomplishments and for quenching our collective thirst for all this music trivia and nostalgia!
DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
You can also register for free (below) to receive notifications of future articles.