(October 31, 2023).  This week’s top 10 albums, according to Billboard, include an incredible nine that have been No. 1 (with the current topper by influential pop-punk band Blink 182, plus eight others that have topped the chart this year).

The lone exception is the one that debuted this week at No. 3: The Rolling Stones’ latest, Hackney Diamonds.

Hackney Diamonds sold enough albums in its first week—101,000 album equivalent units (of which 94,000 were traditional album sales)—to make a lofty splash into the top three, enough for a bronze metal but not quite enough for the top prize (see table below). 

Still, its placement is not bad for a group that’s been charting since Lyndon B. Johnson was the U.S. president. (For those counting, that was ten Commanders in Chief ago; there have also been 14 U.K. Prime Ministers in that time!)

To further put this in historical perspective, when the Stones’ first U.S. release, entitled England’s Newest Hit Makers, first charted in America, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had not yet been passed, both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were still alive, and people were still generally (and wrongfully) referring to the whole of the U.K. as “England.”

That was 59 charted albums ago for the seemingly ageless, timeless wonders who are largely heralded as the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band (Beatles fans don’t come at me, they’re regarded as the world’s greatest band…without the rock-and-roll modifier).

Give The Stones’ Hackney Diamonds a listen above.

But back to this week’s chart.

It’s remarkable that in any given week, nine of the top ten albums (and twelve of the top 13) are all current or former No. 1s—possibly a first since Billboard’s album rankings became a weekly tally in March 1956.

It’s a testimony to the staying power of those albums, several of which, including blockbuster sets by Morgan Wallen and Taylor Swift (plus SZA’s album at No. 11), have been at or near the top for months on end.

But even more astonishing is the fact that the group with the lone non-No. 1 in this week’s upper echelon was making chart-topping albums before any of the acts responsible for the other entries were even born. 

In fact, the Stones had scored two of their No. 1 LPs—Out of Our Heads and Sticky Fingers—before the birth of Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus in March 1972.  At 51 years old, Hoppus is the oldest person in this week’s top ten who is not a Rolling Stone. 

The Stones had scored three more No. 1s (Exile on Main St.Goats Head Soup, and It’s Only Rock and Roll) before the other two Blink 182 guys—Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker—were born.

If you exclude Blink 182 and only factor in the remaining top ten artists—all solo acts—then the Stones achieved all nine of their career No. 1s on the Billboard 200 before any of those artists were born.

Five years transpired between the band’s last No. 1, 1981’s Tattoo You, and the birth of Aubrey Graham, the Canadian rapper better known as Drake, who didn’t come along until October 1986.

Tattoo You featured one of the Stones’ most ubiquitous hits—easily their most popular of the 1980s—“Start Me Up.”  That iconic song—the lead single from the album and one whose campy video has generated many a meme this century—peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 exactly 42 years ago today (Oct. 31, 1981).

In contrast, the lead single from Hackney Diamonds hasn’t even dented the Hot 100, making the new Stones LP the only one among this week’s top ten to not include a Hot 100 chart hit.

In another time, the lead single off any Stones album would’ve been a guaranteed pop hit…likely even top-10.  

The first singles released from every Stones album between 1971’s Sticky Fingers (“Brown Sugar”) and 1989’s Steel Wheels (“Mixed Emotions”) all reached the top 10 on the Hot 100 with one exception, the title track from 1974’s It’s Only Rock and Roll, which stopped at No. 16.

That’s ten out of eleven consecutive Stones albums that generated a top-10 smash out of the gate.

“Angry,” the album’s lead single, failed to make the Hot 100

Decades ago, the current album’s first single, a rousing track called “Angry,” would have easily garnered extensive pop radio play out of the box (that phrase obviously dates me).  The tune is certainly catchy enough, with all the Stones’ trademarks including signature guitar riffs by Keith Richards plus Mick Jagger’s trademark yelping of the hook over a strong backbeat (in this case sticked by Charlie Watts’ replacement Steve Jordan).

“Angry” is as capable of conjuring up images of Jagger’s still youthful frame strutting across a stage with random jolts of energy propelling his flailing arms and hips in every direction as anything else in the band’s repertoire. 

Even the album’s second single, the gospel-like ballad “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” (featuring Lady Gaga on backing vocals and Stevie Wonder on keyboards, but sadly not harmonica) has been universally praised by critics as one of the best late-period anthems by the Stones, one that stands up well against some of the band’s greatest early hits.

By the way, Gaga’s stellar, peak-range performance on “Heaven” evokes memories of the one famously given by Merry Clayton on the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” in 1969.

The Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga perform “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” live

In 2023, it would be a minor miracle to get anything by an act over the age of 40 in regular rotation on mainstream radio (Beyoncé’s Renaissance triumphs in 2022 notwithstanding, of course).

But the Stones, whose members are practically twice that age, are well beyond the age of needing radio support to achieve the kind of sales that would normally be reserved for artists whose songs are all over the airwaves (or, more accurately today, soundtracking thousands of TikTok user-made videos).

Mick Jagger turned 80 this July.  Keith Richards will be 80 in December. 

The late drummer Watts, who is credited for playing on two of Hackney Diamonds’ 12 tracks, was 80 when he passed in 2021.

Ronnie Wood, the baby of the bunch, is 76.

Even the bulk of the Stones’ superstar guest list are all past their 70th birthdays.  Paul McCartney is 81.  Elton John is 76.  Stevie Wonder is 73.

Former Stone Bill Wyman, who plays bass on the rocking track “Live By the Sword” is a mere 87!  That song’s producer, Don Was, is 71.

I don’t know if Billboard or other chart historians are keeping track, but a top-three album by a group whose primary members were all at or approaching 80 years of age when they recorded it (not to mention with at least four prominent guess musicians all over 70) has to be some kind of first!

By the way, Stones fans will relish the fact that “Live By The Sword,” one of the two tracks featuring the late Watts, includes all five of the band’s classic lineup of Jagger, Richards, Wood, Watts, and Wyman.

The truest Rolling Stones track in decades includes its classic lineup of five plus guest Elton John on piano

Only Hackney Diamonds guest artist Gaga is under 40, at 37, but still older than all of the other solo acts in this week’s top ten (she’s seven months older than Drake).

While we’re on this subject of age and endurance, it’s worth pointing out that, with Hackney Diamonds, the Stones became the first act to achieve a top-10 album in seven consecutive decades: the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s, ‘10s and ‘20s.

This week’s remaining top ten acts, combined, have just one top-10 recording prior to the 21st century: Blink 182’s Enema of the State squeaked in at No. 9 in 1999. 

The Stones had achieved 34 of their 38 top-10 LPs by then (and their 38 is the most among all acts, btw).

And finally, Hackney Diamonds is the Stones’ 60th charting album overall on the Billboard 200, which equals the combined total of all the other solo acts in this week’s top ten.  Blink 182’s eleven chart albums brings the non-Stones total to 71.

The bottom line: they may own the only album in this week’s top ten to not have hit No. 1, but the group that was once deemed England’s Newest Hit Makers are still a force to be reckoned with…one that continues to gather no moss.

Or as Jagger sings poignantly on the album’s twangy new ballad, “Depending On You”: “I’m too young for dying and too old to lose.”

Amen, brother.

Here is this week’s top ten, according to Billboard (chart dated Nov. 3, 2023):

This wkArtistTitlePeak
1.Blink 182One More Time1
2.DrakeFor All The Dogs 1
3.Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds3
4.Bad BunnyNadie Sabe Lo Que Va 1
5.Morgan WallenOne Thing At A Time 1
6.Taylor Swift Midnights1
7.Taylor Swift Lover1
8.Zach Bryan Zach Bryan 1
9.Rod WaveNostalgia 1
10.Olivia Rodrigo Guts1


DJRob (he/him/his), lifelong Stones fan, is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop, rock and (sometimes) country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.

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