Music would be nothing without numbers. Songs are all about numbers. They’re about the number of times you repeat the hooks, the number of lyrics you have, and the number of beats you have per line. For mainstream artists, songs are also about the number of weeks it takes to get to #1 on the Billboard charts. A solid one-two-three-four is the bedrock of any great dance music anthem. Numbers can be entertaining, and some musicians have found ways to play with numbers in fun and unusual ways.
We want to honor songs with numbers in their titles. It might not teach you to count higher than ten, but it will hopefully get you reminiscing and singing along. We have assembled a list of, what we think, are the best songs that have numbers in their titles. The list includes some of the all-time greats by artists like Chuck Berry, Jay-Z, Madonna, U2, and so much more, along with some of the more recent songs. Enjoy.
Back to Zero by The Rolling Stones
Back to Zero was released as part of The Rolling Stones’ 1986 album, Dirty Work. The song was written and produced by Keith Richards, Chuck Leavell, and Mick Jagger. The song was written over the fear of a possible nuclear war. This song is also the only song where Chuck Leavell has been given a writing credit.
Here’s a fun fact: The band’s earliest members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had met each other for the first time when they were just 5 years old. They met at the Wentworth Primary School but at that time they weren’t friends with each other. Also, even though it is a clichéd fact that members of rock bands sleep with guitars, but it became a reality in The Rolling Stones band. In the sessions for 1973’s “Goat Head Soup”, guitarist Keith Richards was found to be sleeping with his guitar.
99 Problems by Jay-Z
The Black Album featured some of the most iconic Jay-Z songs, and 99 Problems is undoubtedly one of them. “I got 99 problems, but a b*tch ain’t one” was actually taken from Ice-T’s song of the same name. The song elucidates the troubles Jyga faced while trying to up his rap game and make a name for himself. He recounts having to deal with racial profiling from a police officer who wanted to search his car without any justifiable reason. The song reached number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song came in at #2 on Rolling Stone’s top 100 songs of the ’00s. On the updated list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the song was added and came in at #172. The song was listed at #14 on Pitchfork Media’s top 500 songs of the 2000s (decade) and in October 2011, NME placed it at number 24 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”.
One More Night by Phil Collins
Anything Phil Collins touches turns to Gold. One more night, the song featured in Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required, was/is no exception. Being a drummer, it’s not unexpected that Collins began this song on a drum machine. He explained to Playboy that he was playing around with the device when inspiration hit: “I had a tempo in mind. I was thinking of one of the Jacksons’ songs actually when I strung a chorus on it. The line ‘one more night’ just fit what I was playing. The rest of the song was written very quickly.”
The song reached the #1 spot in the US and other countries from around the world. The song was released in 1984, but even though more than 3 decades have passed, it’s still regarded as one of Phil’s greatest hits. The song was also featured in the 1986 Martin Scorsese drama The Color of Money, starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman.
Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega
Mambo No. 5 is a jazz dance and mambo song by Cuban musician Pérez Prado, which was released in 1950. The song was initially done in 1952 by the Cuban-Mexican bandleader Perez Prado. Known as the ‘King of the Mambo,’ Prado recorded various mambos, and when he ran out of inspiration, he would number them, and “Mambo No 5” was one of a series of 8.
Lou Bega, the German artist, gave the song a new life when he sampled the last 30 seconds of the original song and featured it in his debut album, A Little Bit of Mambo, which was released in 1999. Bega once told Fox News that the story behind the song was a simple one. “I dated a lot of pretty nice ladies when I was younger,” he said. “These names of my past, you know, just came to me, and I wrote it down, got the melody, and the rest is history.” Asked if he had a favorite, Bega replied, “My favorite is Sandra, that’s why she was the one in the sun.”