Coldplay Make US Chart History

Coldplay Scores Top 10 U.S. Debut ‘Speed of Sound’ (Reuters)

Coldplay became the first British band since the Beatles to score a single debut in the U.S. top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the music magazine said on Friday. The single, “Speed of Sound,” opened at No. 8 on the chart, which ranks sales and airplay, making Coldplay the only other U.K. band besides the Beatles to register such a hit.

The Beatles first graced the U.S. chart in the week of Sept. 14, 1968 when “Hey Jude,” the Beatles’ first single on their own Apple imprint, entered the chart at No. 10, according to Billboard. A year later, the Beatles’ “Get Back” also opened at No. 10. In 1970, the Beatles’ “Let It Be” became the highest Hot 100 debut at the time when it bowed at No. 6. The Beatles’ “Free as a Bird” debuted at No. 10 in 1995.

I’m puzzled that this is some sort of record. It’s not particularly unusual for a highly popular artist’s new album to debut at #1 on the album charts, so I’m a bit surprised that it happens so infrequently on the singles charts. Or is it the British aspect of this that’s so unusual? Are there that few British bands who are highly popular in the U.S. these days? I’m aware of Coldplay and have a few of their singles in MP3 format but wasn’t even aware they were from the U.K.

Update: Stereoboard adds to my confusion while also shedding a bit of light:

Coldplay Make US Chart History

Coldplay have made chart history in the States by becoming the first British band since 1968 to enter in the US Top 10 singles charts. The band’s new single, ‘Speed of Sound’ entered the US chart at No 8. The Beatles, with ‘Hey Jude’, was the last British based artist to make a US Top 10 new entry way back in 1968.

‘Speed of Sound’, which has already become the biggest selling download of all-time, is released in the UK tomorrow and is expected to be next weeks number one by a distance.

Most of the North American success of ‘Speed of Sound’ has been thanks to its download strategies. The US singles charts are combined from downloads and radio airplay. Record companies have largely abandoned CD singles in the USA.

So, the song has been widely distributed digitally and presumably given wide airplay before its “release” in physical form? That would seem to make the record less meaningful.

FILED UNDER: General, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.