What Beatles’ Record Did Kelly Clarkson Break?

kelly-clarksonHere’s your bar-trivia question of the day- What Beatles’ record did Kelly Clarkson break?

Well, the whole strange little story begins with one of the Beatles’ greatest songs: “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

In January of 1964, the Beatles were in Paris, staying at the five-star hotel, the famous “George V”.

They were staying there during 18 days of concerts they were giving at Paris’ Olympia theater. John and Paul had an upright piano sent up to their room for them to compose new songs on. (In these early days of Beatlemania, John and Paul still pretty much composed together- “Eyeball to Eyeball” type composing, as John would later call it.)

But this was no joint effort; this song was Paul’s baby. One of the first McCartney rock “classics”. It is also very rare in the early canon of Beatle records in that it is completely sung by just one person- none of the legendary “Beatle harmonies”- no, this one was Paul and Paul alone.

Even John, never one to be shy about grabbing credit, stated “That was Paul’s completely.” Though later added in his trademark fashion, “Maybe I had something to do with the chorus. I always considered it his song.”

What was “Can’t Buy Me Love” about? According to Paul it was just like it sounds- “The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well but, they wouldn’t really buy me what I want.”

Paul, years later, in the flush of being one of the most popular, successful, wealthy singers of all-time was to amend this statement and say: “It should have been ‘Can Buy Me Love.'”

The critics and those who love to “analyze” and “figure out” the “meanings” of Beatle songs came to a different conclusion. According to some, “Can’t Buy Me Love” was about either “prostitutes or lesbians”.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” was recorded on January 29, 1964, at EMI’s Pathe Marconi studios in Paris. It therefore became the only English-spoken Beatles’ song ever recorded outside of Britain. (The Beatles had also recorded German versions of both “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in Paris during this stay).

“Can’t Buy Me Love” was to become the Beatles’ third #1 record in a row- a new, unparalleled feat in recording history. (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” had preceded it to the top of the charts.)

Even more incredibly, when it hit number one, it gave the Beatles the top five songs on the charts- a record that may well stand for all-time.

The song also had 2.1 million advance orders- another record for the Fab Four.

But Kelly Clarkson had nothing to do with any of this. Soooooo… what Beatles’ record did Kelly Clarkson break?

Well, “Can’t Buy Me Love” was released on March 16, 1964. It was to make the jump from number 27 on the charts to number one the next week. This was the biggest single-week leap of any record from one spot to going #1 in musical history.

And this Beatle record stood for almost four decades, until the year 2002.

In October of 2002, a young singer named Kelly Clarkson released a song called “A Moment Like This“. It was this song that bumped out the boys from Liverpool. You see, Kelly’s song made an unbelievable jump- from #52 to #1- in one week, to break the long-held Beatles’ record.

Of course, while the Beatles held the record for nearly four decades, Clarkson would not be so lucky.  Maroon 5 in 2007 managed to make the jump from #64 to #1 in a week with “Makes Me Wonder“. They only held the record for a little over a year when T.I. smashed it going from #71 to #1 in 2008 with “Whatever You Like“. T.I. then beat their own record the next month with “Live Your Life” which made the jump from #80 to #1. A mere one month later, Brittany Spears smashed that record with “Womanizer” going from #96 to #1.

This all brings us back to Kelly Clarkson. You might think it would be practically impossible to beat a jump like #96 to #1 in a week on a top 100 list, but Clarkson did it. In January of 2009, she reclaimed this particular throne with “My Life Would Suck Without You,” which went from barely registering on the Hot 100 chart at #97 to #1 the next week. She’s held the record ever since.

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  • Actually, since we’re talking about actual, physical 45 RPM singles in the Beatles case and highly suspect, nearly unverifiable “virtual” record charts of the ’00s, the records are apples to oranges. The evidence of record label tampering with the so-called “sales charts” these days is overwhelming and rampant, meaning these “records” are garbage. The Beatles record stands, and will stand forever, since no one actually owns a Kelsey clarkson single and you won’t see one for sale on eBay in 40 years. The Beatles’ single was affected by the real-world physical factors like distribution of the records, availability in record stores, dissemination in juke boxes and many more. This is why the “jump” is significant and meaningful. Sound files that don’t actually “exist” can’t be compared to a real, physical product like a vinyl 45. So what if a sound file “jumps”? It doesn’t affect anything. There are an infinite number of copies of this girl’s song and they can be distributed all over the world in a second. There’s no lag in manufacturing more until they hit the record shops (as if they existed anymore) which gave the record resonance.

    These types of claims are absurd anyway, with so and so “breaking” a Beatles record: the Beatles dominated not only music but pop culture in every way. I’ve never heard a clarkson song that I know of and she’s indisguishable in my mind with Katy Perry and about 5 other girl singers, and for good reason: she’s nothing but a mass-produced musical product much like Cheerios and string-cheese and about as lasting and important in the long run.