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With advance orders exceeding one million copies in the United Kingdom, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" would have gone straight to the top of the British record charts on its day of release (29 November 1963) had it not been blocked by the group's first million seller "She Loves You", their previous UK single, which was having a resurgence of popularity following intense media coverage of the group. Taking two weeks to dislodge its predecessor, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" stayed at number one for five weeks and remained in the UK top 50 for 21 weeks in total.
It was also the group's first American number one, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number 45 and starting the British invasion of the American music industry. By 1 February it held the number-one spot, and stayed there for seven weeks before being replaced by "She Loves You", a reverse scenario of what had occurred in Britain. It remained on the Billboard chart for 15 weeks. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" became the Beatles' best-selling single worldwide. In 2013, Billboard magazine named it the 44th biggest hit of "all-time" on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.