- 13 Mar 19
Can you name the rest?
Over the weekend, Hozier became the fourth ever Irish artist to reach the No. 1 spot in the US, with his new album Wasteland, Baby! The big question is: who are the other three? But first some facts and figures!
Hozier's latest LP, released via Rubyworks/Columbia in the U.S. on March 1, earned 89,000 equivalent album units sold in the States in the week ending March 7, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 75,000 were in actual album sales: a hugely impressive number in the current climate of lower album purchase levels.
Wasteland, Baby! follows on from Hozier's 2018 EP Nina Cried Power, and his phenomenal self-titled debut album, released in 2014, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. That debut album went to No.1 in Ireland.
Hozier's U.S. chart-topping success follows on from the example of U2 and Sinead O'Connor – and one Niall Horan – for these are the three who have achieved this extraordinary feat in the past.
It comes as no surprise that U2 have been by far the most successful Irish band across the Atlantic, with The Joshua Tree, Rattle & Hum, Achtung Baby, Zooropa, Pop, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, No Line On The Horizon and Songs of Experience all hitting the No.1 spot on the U.S. charts.
Meanwhile, Sinead O'Connor went to No. 1 with her classic 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got, which contains the global smash hit 'Nothing Compares 2 U'.
Having had four No.1 albums as a fifth of One Direction – they were the first band ever to have four consecutive No.1s with their first four albums – Niall Horan also reached the top spot with his debut solo album Flicker back in 2017.
Here's a list of some Irish artists who've nearly (in some cases very nearly!) reached the top spot – and some of whom have gone on to sell a huge number of albums.
The great Donegal star tended to be a bit of a slow burner. She reached No.2 in the U.S. with A Day Without Rain (2000). She's also gone on to sell over 80 million albums in total – and rising.
Reached No.2 with Hozier (2014). Has now surpassed that with his new record.
Science & Faith climbed to No. 3 (2010). They doubtless still have the top spot in their sights.
Got to No. 4 with To The Faithful Departed (1996). Overall, they have sold almost 50 million albums. While their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? peaked at No.18 in the U.S., it went on to sell over 5 million copies in the States alone. Sadly, lead singer Dolores O'Riordan died in January 2018.
Not many people in Ireland appreciate just how successful the Celtic Woman phenomenon has been. The group's album A New Journey, released in 2007, reached No. 4.
Gary Lightbody and his troupe have been consistent big sellers in the U.S. However, their biggest chart success was with Fallen Empires (2011), which reached No.5. Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid co-wrote seven songs and co-produced two on Ed Sheeran's X album – which was a U.S. No.1, and sold in excess of 4 million copies there.
The Commitments Soundtrack
The album of the acclaimed movie (based on Roddy Doyle's debut novel, The Commitments), which featured Andrew Strong on vocals, peaked at No.8 – but stayed on the Billboard 200 charts for an astonishing 76 weeks.
Van has remained one of Ireland's most successful artists for over 50 years. Some of his songs remain among the most played ever on U.S. radio, most notably 'Brown Eyed Girl'. However, his biggest US hit record came recently, with Keep Me Singing reaching No.9 in 2016.
Gilbert was one of the great pop phenomena of the 1970s. But he was also as songwriter of real substance – indeed he still is. His biggest U.S. hit was with Himself (1971), which reached No. 9 . It included the unforgettable No.1 single, ‘Alone Again'.
The scale of this Irish girl-pop band's success is often underestimated. They peaked at No.12 in the U.S. with their eponymous album in 1999. That contained their biggest hit single, ‘C'est La Vie’, which reached No.9 in the US singles charts.
The great Irish rockers' failure to capitalise on their break through with Jailbreak (1976) has oft been told. It peaked at No. 18, after the classic single 'The Boys Are Back In Town' had climbed to No. 12.
Other great US chart achievements involving Irish musicians:
• Irish guitarist Henry McCullagh had a major hand in a U.S. No.1 – he played guitar on Paul McCartney and Wings’ No.1 album Red Rose Speedway.
• Similarly Gerry Leonard was guitarist on the David Bowie album The Next Day, which reached No.2 in the U.S. Leonard wrote the music for one track, ‘Boss of Me’.
• Dublin drummer Fran Byrne was a member of Ace – their debut LP Five-A-Side got to No.11 in the U.S. It featured the huge hit single and radio favourite, ‘How Long’, which reached No. 3 in the singles charts.