Bruce Springsteen is without doubt one of the most influential songwriters ever. Some have even said that he was the 1970’s answer to Bob Dylan. Despite his incredible success, the New Jersey native has never had a number one single in the American charts. In fact, according to ultimateclassicrock.com’s list of artists with no number one single ,(here), there are quite a few legends of the rock world that have failed to reach the top spot in the singles chart.
ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Green Day, Oasis, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Journey, Judas Priest, The Kinks, and Metallica are just a few titans from the rock world who have never managed to have a number one single. So, how is it that a great musician like the Boss has never had a number one single in the States? His product.
It’s not that Bruce Springsteen is selling a bad product; it’s that he’s selling the wrong type of product. As well as being a brilliant performer, Bruce Springsteen is also an incredible songwriter. He’s not just a pop star, he’s an artist that writes all his own music and as a result he composes multiple songs every year. Due to this, the sale of Springsteen’s music comes primarily from albums and not singles. This is because Bruce Springsteen has a large following of loyal fans that want to hear all his new music and not just the one song which is being promoted as a single. As a result, his fans buy his albums instead of his singles. And because the American Billboard chart’s Hot 100 is a singles chart, and Springsteen sells more albums than singles, he has never managed to get the top spot on the singles chart.
Which makes sense, if people have Bruce Springsteen’s album which already has his single on it, they aren’t going to buy the single again because they already have it. It’s also why Springsteen has managed to top the album chart on several occasions throughout his career. This phenomenon doesn’t just apply to Bruce Springsteen either, The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s lonely Hearts club Band album is considered one of the greatest albums of all time, but it is also one of the only Beatles albums which has no number one single on it. So, it’s not that Springsteen’s music isn’t good enough to reach number one, it’s that it’s so good that people want a collection of his songs instead of just one song.
By Daragh O’Leary