It sure was weird to hear "We Are the Champions" by its lonesome, separated from "We Will Rock You," on Casey Kasem's American Top Forty from February 21st, 1978. It's like hearing "Admiral Halsey" isolated from "Uncle Albert." "We Are the Champions" was at Number Four that week, behind three Bee Gee-heavy products: Samantha Sang's "Emotion," which more or less showcases her playing Merry Clayton to the Brothers Gibb's Rolling Stones; Andy Gibb's "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water"; and the Bee Gees' own "Stayin' Alive," at Number One for the third consecutive week.
The Number One spot would be Gibb-ruled from Christmas Eve, 1977, when "How Deep Is Your Love" took over, through May 20, 1978, when Wings' "With a Little Luck" reached the top slot. Except for a three-week interregnum for Player's "Baby Come Back," Barry Gibb would be instrumental in every song at the Number One spot for six straight months, including those mentioned above plus the Bee Gees' "Night Fever" and Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You," which the three older Gibb brothers wrote. (The Bee Gees' version was the B side to "Stayin' Alive.") If you like string-based disco music underneath falsetto singing with clipped phrasing, this was your Camelot.
That's not my cup of tea, so I'd rather talk about "We Are the Champions." Why, when it's so inextricably linked to "We Will Rock You," was it on the charts by itself? "We Will Rock You" preceded "Champions" on Queen's News of the World, with only a split-second gap between the two, signaling that the two songs were to be played together. "We Will Rock You" was the B side to "Champions," and I certainly recall most radio stations playing the two songs as a single offering.
One source lists "We Will Rock You" as reaching Number 52 on the Billboard Hot 100, which I don't quite understand. It's not like it was the double-A-sided single "Hey Jude"/"Revolution," where the sales were obviously intertwined but the airplay could be tracked separately; most stations were playing the two Queen songs together. I imagine it was quite the headache for the boys at Billboard back in 1978.