Leona Lewis, First UK Woman In 21 Years To Top Billboard Hot 100

When the last British female solo artist topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, Maggie Thatcher was beginning her third term as UK Prime Minister, the Berlin Wall was still standing, the first Lethal Weapon movie was a huge hit, and Hilary Duff hadn’t been born yet.

Good times.

On June 6, 1987, English sensation Kim Wilde hit No. 1 in the U.S. with a remake of The Supremes‘ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Her stateside success was short-lived, of course; she never had a top 40 song again in the States. UK solo artists like Annie Lennox, Dido, Lisa Stansfield, Des’ree, Donna Lewis, Natasha Bedingfield, and even Amy Winehouse all tried and failed to repeat Wilde’s feat. (The Spice Girls did claim the No. 1 spot for four weeks in February 1997 with “Wannabe”.)

However, the streak has been broken: X Factor winner Leona Lewis has claimed the pinnacle position on the Billboard Hot 100 today. Her debut single, “Bleeding Love,” leapt from No. 8 to No. 1 in one week. (It spent six weeks atop the UK singles chart last year.) This comes, as The Times reports, after a big appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, after which the host raved, “You’re the real deal!” And it comes when “American radio and the MTV network have become hostile to British rock and pop, preferring ‘nu-metal,’ rap, and glamorous homegrown R&B stars such as Beyoncé.”

Leona is currently out-buzzing the big American divas. Mariah Carey‘s new single, “Touch My Body,” can’t seem to get into the top 10; who knows if her much-ballyhooed performance on this week’s The Hills can give her some momentum. Madonna‘s new track only piggy-backs on the chart success of Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. And Janet Jackson‘s “Feedback” has gone bad; it peaked at No. 19 and plunged down the chart.

Here’s the list of U.S. No. 1 singles from UK female solo artists:

Petula Clark‘s “Downtown” (1965)
Petula Clark‘s “My Love” (1966)
Lulu‘s “To Sir With Love” (1967)
Sheena Easton‘s “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” (1981)
Bonnie Tyler‘s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (1983)
Kim Wilde‘s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (1987)
Leona Lewis‘ “Bleeding Love” (2008)

In other news:

  • Will potential throat surgery jeopardize Leona’s success? (The Sun)
  • A drug overdose is the No. 1 suspected cause of death for Corinne Bailey Rae‘s husband. (E!)
  • Duran Duran gave a shambolic, Winehouse-worthy show in New Zealand – and they don’t have a husband in prison to use as an excuse: “Simon Le Bon forgot the lyrics and bassist John Taylor stormed off stage, according to a published report…Taylor, 47, abandoned his instrument and walked off stage, apparently in reaction to a segment in which the group’s members donned matching satin suits and headsets to play a medley on keyboards and an electric drum set. ‘I could not dance to that. These people came here to dance,’ Taylor said, after he returned to the stage, according to the [New Zealand] Herald. Le Bon forgot the words to ‘Hungry Like the Wolf,’ one of the band’s biggest hits, the Herald reported.” (Yahoo!)
  • Billy Corgan talks trash on both Winehouse and Radiohead in Rolling Stone: “If you were a kid today and you’re looking at the bands who are successful right now, you think, if you don’t sort of sell out and let somebody make you a star, go on American Idol, then you can’t be successful…And when the message on Amy Winehouse’s drama is better than music, and for Radiohead, publicity is better than music – no disrespect to them. But I think it’s a bad message to young bands of how to make it happen. It’s almost like the evil stepchild of the rap bling-bling thing, like, the only way to make it work is I’ve got to come up with a gimmick.” (Stereogum)
  • Speaking of publicity, Foals are guest-editing Guardian Music today.
  • The Franz Ferdinand boys have decided not to have Girls Aloud producer Brian Higgins work on their next record. “We just realized that we’re not really a pop group,” says drummer Paul Thomson. (Guardian)
  • Sugababes singer Amelle Berrabah and her boyfriend Freddie Fuller open up about Amelle’s sister Samiya‘s rape claims against Freddie, which have been disproved. (The Sun)
  • Liam Gallagher, looking unusually cheery with wife Nicole Appleton.
    (The Sun)
  • Boyfriend Jamie Hince likes to wear Kate Moss‘ clothes? Perhaps, Kate should be raiding his wardrobe – to avoid incidents like this.
  • Taio Cruz knew “Umbrella” was a hit before Rihanna got her mitts on it – but he couldn’t convince his record company to let him produce it. He sent it to Britney Spears: “They sent it back saying it doesn’t work for her. So I demo-ed it and brought it to my record company in London, but they didn’t think it was that much of a hit.” (Telegraph)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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