The Number Ones

October 24, 1960

The Number Ones: Brenda Lee’s “I Want To Be Wanted”

Stayed at #1:

1 Week

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.


Never On Sunday was a Greek romantic comedy about a sex worker and an American tourist, and it became an improbable US hit in 1960. The movie was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, including Best Director and Best Actress. The movie also featured an Italian song called “Per Tutta La Vita,” and an English-language country version of that song became a #1 hit for a 15-year-old singer. Pop music history is weird.

“I Want To Be Wanted” is a song about romantic desolation, about worrying that you’ll be alone for your whole life. And Brenda Lee, who certainly didn’t sound 15, did all she could with the song, delivering with the poise and command of an old-school orchestral-pop crooner. But even more than “I’m Sorry,” her first #1 hit, “I Want To Be Wanted” is just a slight, weightless trifle of a song. No matter how well she sang it, it just evaporates upon impact. It’s pretty, and it’s not really anything more.

GRADE: 4/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s a short and charming video of Brenda Lee talking about the Ramones, who went into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame at the same time as she did:

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