The Beatles remain a popular band decades after they broke up. A few musicians hated the band, but millions of people loved them. They sent several singles and albums to the top of the Billboard charts throughout the 1960s, but three Beatles records peaked at No. 2 in the United States because other Beatles albums kept them from getting to No. 1.
14 Beatles albums reached the top of the U.S. charts
The Fab Four released a steady stream of albums from 1963 to 1970. They existed for a short time but achieved incredible success as 14 of their studio albums raced to the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart. Still, the first Beatles album to debut at No. 1 was the first anthology compilation released in 1995.
Let’s look more closely at The Beatles albums that peaked at No. 2 because other Beatles albums held the top spot.
Note: We included studio albums only, not greatest hits packages, compilations, or reissues.
1. ‘Introducing… The Beatles’
The Fab Four’s U.S. debut sat unreleased for months before finally hitting store shelves in early 1964. Introducing…The Beatles included several of their earliest notable hits, including “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Love Me Do,” plus “Twist and Shout” and several other covers.
It’s impressive that The Beatles’ hit No. 2 with their U.S. debut. The only trouble was that Meet The Beatles dropped just 10 days later. That album featured nearly all original songs, including “I Saw Her Standing There,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “All Your Loving.” It reached the top of the Billboard charts less than a month after it came out and kept Introducing… The Beatles from reaching No. 1.
2. ‘Something New’
It’s easy to see why this Beatles album peaked at No. 2. Chalk it up to glut and redundancy.
Early July 1964 saw the A Hard Day’s Night Soundtrack hit the shelves in the U.S. Something New entered the world later in the month. The former was tied to a movie that hit North American theaters in early August and featured all original songs. The latter copied over several of the same songs (but not all of them, not even “A Hard Day’s Night”) and added the German-language version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” plus the Ringo Starr-sung Carl Perkins cover “Matchbox.”
Considering the albums shared many of the same songs and were released so close together, it’s not surprising that Something New peaked at No. 2 while A Hard Day’s Night held the top spot for 14 weeks.
3. ‘Yellow Submarine’
The song “Yellow Submarine” first appeared on 1966’s Revolver. A song by The Supremes prevented it from hitting No. 1 as a single. Two years later, The Beatles’ album Yellow Submarine peaked at No. 2. The White Album kept it from hitting the top spot.
The Yellow Submarine album faced a flooded Beatles marketplace. It was similar to Introducing… The Beatles and Something New in that way. The band released the White Album in November 1968. Yellow Submarine dropped in January 1969. It had a bit more breathing room than the other two Beatles albums that peaked at No. 2, but the White Album was also a dense double album that cost more to buy and required more time to fully absorb.
Yellow Submarine is more or less two EPs stitched together — Beatles on Side 1 and George Martin’s orchestral arrangements on Side 2. Considering only half of it features the Fab Four, it’s nearly a miracle it reached No. 2.
The Beatles kept The Beatles from hitting No. 1 in the U.S. three times, but most bands would kill for the Fab Four’s results. All three records that peaked at No. 2 received platinum certification (one million units sold) from the Recording Industry Association of America. Something New and Yellow Submarine went gold within a month, and Introducing… The Beatles went double platinum.
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