December 16, 2013

Benny Hill? Pink Floyd? Mr Blobby? It's the 10 most unlikely Christmas Number Ones…
by Tom
Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

Benny Hill? Pink Floyd? Mr Blobby? It's the 10 most unlikely Christmas Number Ones…

Well, it's that time of year again. This Sunday (December 22) marks the announcement of 2013's Christmas Number One single, with X-Factor winner Sam Bailey the heavy favourite to take the crown with her new single, a cover of Demi Lovato's hit 'Skyscraper'.

In recent years, X-Factor winners have dominated the race, taking the spot five times in the last 10 years, with the likes of Leona Lewis, Shayne Ward and Alexandra Burke among those to grab the top spot.

In the years before that, lots of heavyweight popstars took it in turns to duke it out for the festival top spot, with Westlife, Whitney Houston and the Spice Girls (who took the spot for three years in a row between 1996 and 1998) among those victorious.

That's not to say there haven't been some quirky winners over the years though, way more than you'd think. We've rounded 10 of the most unlikely recipients of the Christmas Number One spot.

 

Benny Hill – 'Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)'

They don't come much more eccentric than this. Recorded in 1970 by comedian Benny Hill, this innuendo-laden track about the adventures of Ernie Price, a 52-year-old milkman who is locked in a battle with the scurrilous bread deliveryman 'Two Tonne Ted From Teddington' for the affections of Sue, a widow who lives nearby.

Eventually the two men duel, using the goods they sell as weapons, and sadly, Ernie meets his doom after being hit with a rock cake in the heart. This leaves Ted and Sue free to marry, but Ernie's not finished yet, and vows to haunt them as a ghost.

Of all the Christmas Number Ones, this is one of the most bizarre. Recorded by a man who could barely sing and actually quite sad. It struck a chord with the British public though, who made it their Christmas chart topper in 1971.

 

Pink Floyd – 'Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)'

Back in 1979, Pink Floyd were pretty adamant that they didn't do singles. So when it was put to them by producer Bob Ezrin that they should release their track 'Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)', complete with a children's choir singing the powerful 'We Don't Need No Education' hook, the band were initially extremely resistant.

Eventually, Ezrin talked them round and the track was released complete with a choir of children from Islington Green School, near the band's studio. The track was then mixed and released on November 23 in 1979; it hit Number One and stayed there over Christmas.

 

Mr Blobby – 'Mr Blobby'

In December 1993, Take That were selling records by the truckload and looked an absolute shoo-in to be Christmas Number One with their new single 'Babe'. Noel Edmonds, however, had other ideas. Mr Blobby, the enormous mascot of his Saturday night TV show Noel's House Party, had bizarrely become one of the nation's favourite TV characters and it was decided to release his theme song as a Christmas single.

To everyone's surprise, it hit Number One, which, looking back now, seems really, really weird. Maybe you had to be there…

The Scaffold – 'Lily The Pink'

This one might actually be more bizarre than Mr Blobby. Released in 1968 by Liverpool folk/comedy trio The Scaffold (who included poet Roger McGough in their line-up), the track is a reworking of an old folk song titled 'The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham'. Featuring the likes of Elton John, The Hollies' Graham Nash and Cream's Jack Bruce, this strange ode to a "medicinal compound" invented by Lily the Pink, stayed at Number One for four weeks.

 

Rage Against The Machine – 'Killing In The Name'

The most recent of our entries from 2009, this was an act of pure, en-mass rebellion. In early December of that year, DJ Jon Morter and his wife Tracy launched a Facebook campaign to get Rage Against The Machine's battlecry single to Number One and prevent an X-Factor winner taking the Christmas crown for a fifth year in succession.

Pledging to give the profits from the single to charity, the campaign, which soon received the backing of Rage Against The Machine, quickly gathered momentum and eventually proved victorious, beating X-Factor winner Joe McElderry by a full 200,000 sales to take the top spot.

 

Emile Ford & The Checkmates – 'What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?'

Written back in 1916, this version of do-wop standard 'What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?' unexpectedly took the top spot in 1960, beating out competition from pop darling Adam Faith and his hit 'What Do You Want?'.

 

Michael Andrews & Gary Jules – 'Mad World'

2003 and The Darkness have gone from being dismissed as a joke karaoke outfit to a multi-million selling, festival headlining behemoth. To top off a stunning year, the Lowestoft classic rockers decided to have a crack at getting a Christmas Number One with their innuendo-packed single 'Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)'. With a suitably over-the-top video, they looked nailed on to take the top spot, there was no novelty hit to compete with, no talent show winner, what could possibly stop them?

Their unlikely defeat came from the most leftfield of artists, an unknown singer-songwriter named Gary Jules, who'd recorded a cover of Tears For Fears' doomy electro track 'Mad World' for the soundtrack to Donnie Darko, the critically acclaimed indie flick starring a young Jake Gyllenhaal.

Originally released in 2002, seemingly from nowhere, the song picked up momentum in the weeks leading up to Christmas and eventually pipped The Darkness to the top spot. Jules, who seemed rather baffled by the track's success at the time, has since enjoyed a stable, if unspectacular career, without ever hitting these heights again.

The Flying Pickets – 'Only You'

Originally a hit from Yazoo's Upstairs At Eric's album in 1982, this acapella version of Alison Moyet and Depeche Mode's Vince Clarke short-lived project was recorded by choir The Flying Pickets and took the Number One spot in 1983. In the process, it became the UK's first acapella Number One.

 

Dave Edmunds – 'I Hear You Knocking'

This 1955 blues classic has been recorded numerous times, but most successful by British pub rocker Dave Edmunds. Much of Edmunds' material is poppy and upbeat, but this is scratchy and rough and yet it's his biggest hit. Strange…

 

Renee and Renato – 'Save Your Love'

A proper novelty hit. Released in 1982, this duet between then 42-year old Italian operatic singer Renato Pagliari and young British singer Hilary Lester was unlike anything else in the chart. This strangely ornate duet sounded like the background music for a suburban pizzeria and it only hit Number 13 in its week of release in November, but picked up momentum and ended up scoring the Number One spot, ahead of tracks by Culture Club and The Human League. Christmas eh? It makes the record buying public do crazy things…

 

You can check out all the runners and riders for Christmas Number One over on our download store.

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