Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spurgeon’s General Warning: Christmas No. 1s (Part Three)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 7:45 AM

We're almost there! Thanks for continuing to check in as I count down all the U.K. No. 1 Christmas singles, from worst to best (Part 1, Part 2). This week, we're finally getting into some really good stuff: badass pop music, at least three bands that you almost certainly own records by and Nicole Kidman. No foolin'! Nicole Freaking Kidman.

And what might be the Christmas No. 1 in the U.K. this year? Well, according to betting site Paddy Power (that ... feels inappropriate to say), the top contenders are "X-Factor Winner," The Specials (thanks to Nelson Mandela's death), AC/DC, Susan Boyle and Elvis Presley ( ... ), and Lily Allen covering Keane for a department store ad.

I feel drunk. Let's just do this.

No. 32

Tom Jones, "Green, Green Grass of Home" (1966)

Where to put this? Here, I guess.

No. 31

Whitney Houston, "I Will Always Love You" (1992)

I just don’t like ballads! Also, I never bought the whole “Bobby Brown corrupted Whitney Houston” line. For one, grown women make their own decisions. For two, are you seriously trying to tell me that a teen model from a wealthy family in the 1980s didn’t do cocaine, like, all the time? Come on. Pop/R&B Whitney > Ballad Whitney anyway, even when she's covering Dolly.

No. 30

Pink Floyd, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" (1979)

The only people over the age of 14 who are still into this song had better be boarding school veterans who were abused by the headmaster.

No. 29

The Flying Pickets, "Only You" (1983)

“Hey Ashley, what band had a No. 1 Christmas hit in 1983 with an a cappella version of Yaz/Yazoo’s ‘Only You?’”

“Duh, everyone knows that’s The Flying Pickets, and they met while members of a ‘socialist fringe theater group.’ England is weird.”

No. 28

Girls Aloud, "Sound of the Underground" (2002)

As far as turn-of-the-century girl groups are concerned, you could do a lot worse than Girls Aloud. Like One Direction, they were formed thanks to a talent competition show. They are the Danity Kane to One Direction’s O-Town, if you will, only, like, good and successful. In the spirit of giving, here's another Girls Aloud song I really like, "Wake Me Up."

No. 27

Wings, "Mull of Kintyre"/"Girls' School" (1977)

I’m appreciating the work of Paul McCartney more and more as I eke my way into agedness: He is not a songwriter for the young. His gentle affability and basic un-hipness are comforting, much like this song. However, it is no “Wonderful Christmastime” which, in a righteous world, would have been the No. 1 in 1980 and every year thereafter.

No. 26

Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman, "Somethin' Stupid" (2001)

Oh yes, my friends, this happened. A 2001 duet between film superstar Nicole Kidman and then-resurgent-former drug-addict pop idol Robbie Williams. Is this from a film soundtrack, maybe? No. It was from a swing album Williams decided to record, Swing When You’re Winning, an album that ALSO featured Rupert Everett (OK) and Jon Lovitz (WHAT).

Anyway, this is pretty nice, if a little bizarre. I am also thoroughly pro-Robbie Williams.

No. 25-No. 22

The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1963)

The Beatles, "I Feel Fine" (1964)

The Beatles, "Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out" (1965)

The Beatles, "Hello, Goodbye" (1967)

These are Beatles songs. Not the best (“Your Mother Should Know”) or my favorite (also, totally coincidentally, “Your Mother Should Know”) (please re-read my “Mull of Kintyre” entry for further explanation), but here they are.

No. 21

Jackie Wilson, "Reet Petite" (1986)

“The song was reissued in 1986 following the showing of a clay animation video on the BBC Two documentary series Arena.”

So bizarro California Raisins, then. Huh. OK!

No. 20-No. 19

Spice Girls, "Goodbye" (1998)

Spice Girls, "Too Much" (1997)

OK, I don’t totally hate ballads. My adolescence was spent loudly whining about the Spice Girls, which was a completely incorrect thing to do. I hope that you can appreciate these songs, as I now do. And if not, well, here’s a massive BLOCK QUOTE from C.S. Lewis explaining why you’re wrong:

Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Nailed it!

No. 18

The Human League, "Don't You Want Me" (1981)

Don’t. Don’t you want me.

This song cracks me up. I love how it’s the perfect song for a drunken karaoke duet, because it goes from monotone-monotone-monotone-SCREAMING. Haha. Great fun.

No. 17

Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (1991)

This is NOT a chart re-entry thanks to Wayne’s World. For one, Wayne’s World was released in 1992, not 1991. For another, I’m not sure how much the British film-going public even cared about a movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch. (Presumably as much as you cared about Mr. Bean. No, sadly, this was a double-A-side with “These Are the Days of Our Lives” to mark the occasion of Freddie Mercury’s death at the end of November ’91.

Tune in next week on Christmas Eve to find out the Top 16 best songs ever to be No. 1 on Christmas Day, according to music purchasers and listeners in the United Kingdom, and me. It's heavily holiday-themed, and I'd say there is at least one surprise in the Top 5!

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