(April 12, 2021). It’s official. Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open” is the new No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 (dated April 17).
It displaces Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” and is the fifth new No. 1 single in as many weeks. Interestingly, “Door” debuted at No. 2 four weeks ago and had to wait while four other songs (one each by Drake, Cardi B, Justin Bieber and Nas X) took turns at No. 1 before finally getting its crown with the latest chart.
But more importantly, the Bruno Mars/Anderson .Paak super duo, which brands itself as an R&B band, is the first such act to top the Hot 100 in almost 30 years!
Before we get into the history, it’s worth pointing out that bands of any kind – that is, groups consisting of two or more members who actually play instruments – are few and far between these days, especially when it comes to those fortunate enough to top the Hot 100, Billboard’s marquee singles chart.
But when it comes to those that play soul/R&B music, the last time such a band topped the Hot 100 before Silk Sonic this week was when Prince & the New Power Generation reached No. 1 in November 1991 with their hit “Cream.”
That’s 29 years and five months since the last soul/R&B band topped the all-genre Hot 100.
There are a couple of asterisks here.
First, Silk Sonic is actually a duo comprised of individual solo stars – both of whom are credited parenthetically and whose individual chart histories are also padded this week (“Door” is Mars’ eighth No. 1 single, while .Paak earns his first). It’s not clear yet whether they’ll be a long-time or regularly performing collective.
They do have an album coming out this year and they’ve been endorsed by someone who knows a thing or two about real bands, the legendary Bootsy Collins (who reportedly coined the name Silk Sonic). But it remains to be seen whether this is a band we’ll be hearing from for any length of time beyond this year.
Secondly, Prince’s one-time backing band New Power generation was just that…a backing band. His purple majesty had a few of those over his hit-making career, including The Revolution, with whom he scored two No. 1 singles in 1984 and ‘86 (“Let’s Go Crazy” and “Kiss,” respectively). The Revolution-era smash “When Doves Cry” was billed as a solo Prince single and thus doesn’t qualify.
So if you exclude one-time ensembles and backing bands, then the last time a true R&B band topped the Hot 100 was in early 1991 when the trio of Surface hit the top with “The First Time.”
Of course, many R&B vocal groups have topped the chart since then – acts like Boyz II Men, TLC, SWV, Divine, Silk, BLACKstreet, Next, and more. But none of those acts played instruments and therefore don’t qualify as “bands” for this article’s premise.
On the contrary, since 1991, many bands who play music in other genres have topped the charts, but even they have been fewer in recent years.
Before Silk Sonic, the last band of any genre to top the Hot 100 was Maroon 5, who led the list in November 2018 with “Girls Like You” (featuring Cardi B). Before that, you’d have to go back to August of 2014 when the one-hit-wonders Magic! topped the chart with “Rude.”
Only three other No. 1 songs by bands topped the chart in the 2010s, and two of those were again by Maroon 5 (“One More Night” in 2012, and “Moves Like Jagger” in 2011). The other one was in by the now-defunct indie pop band fun., who topped the list with “We Are Young“ in 2012.
See the below table and a (reverse chronological) recap of the No. 1 songs by bands dating back to 1990 – a list so short it wasn’t hard to compile (averaging fewer than one per year). R&B bands listed in bold.
|No. 1 Song||Band||Year|
|1.||“Leave the Door Open”||Silk Sonic||2021|
|2.||“Girls Like You”||Maroon 5||2018|
|4.||“One More Night”||Maroon 5||2012|
|5.||“We Are Young”||fun.||2012|
|6.||“Moves Like Jagger”||Maroon 5||2011|
|7.||“Viva La Vida”||Coldplay||2008|
|8.||“Hey There Delilah”||Plain White T’s||2007|
|9.||“Makes Me Wonder”||Maroon 5||2007|
|10.||“How You Remind Me”||Nickelback||2002|
|12.||“With Arms Wide Open”||Creed||2000|
|14.||“Everything You Want”||Vertical Horizon||2000|
|17.||“I Knew I Loved You”||Savage Garden||2000|
|19.||“One Week”||Barenaked Ladies||1998|
|20.||“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”||Aerosmith||1998|
|21.||“Truly Madly Deeply”||Savage Garden||1998|
|23.||“Can’t Help Falling In Love”||UB40||1993|
|24.||“How Do You Talk to an Angel”||The Heights||1992|
|25.||“To Be With You”||Mr. Big||1992|
|26.||“Cream”||Prince & the New Power Generation||1991|
|28.||“More Than Words”||Extreme||1991|
|30.||“I’ve Been Thinking About You”||Londonbeat||1991|
|31.||“The First Time”||Surface||1991|
Congrats to Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak) on their first and hopefully not last No. 1 single!
DJRob 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.
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