Getting a UK Christmas number one single in the charts is something on every musician’s mind at this time of year. The race is always intense and every credible artist wants to have the top spot on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the credible artist who takes the top slot. In the UK, Christmas number ones have an alarming habit of being awful. Novelty tunes are rife in December and when fun is a high priority, everyone seems to have a sudden love for cheesy music! Here is a guide to the worst UK Christmas number ones of all time.
10. Can We Fix It – Bob the Builder (2000)
In 2000, a children’s cartoon character won the UK Christmas number one spot, beating off competition from Eminem. Bob the Builder’s theme tune became something of an anthem that year and his success prompted him to release further singles such as Mambo No.5 in 2001. The love for Can We Fix It faded rather rapidly once the decorations came down though, which secured its place as one of the worst Christmas number ones ever.
9. Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) – Benny Hill (1971)
Benny Hill was, and will always be, one of Britain’s best loved comedians. In 1971 he released the hilarious Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West). Although the song was clearly much loved, it is one of the worst UK Christmas number ones of all time, mainly because it’s not really a song. It’s mostly talking and while the comedy lyrics will bring a smile, it certainly isn’t an average Christmas song.
8. Savior’s Day – Cliff Richard (1990)
Sir Cliff Richard is another British treasure. With his history of releasing Christmas singles, he was often said to be the most feared artist in the battle for the Christmas number one. He had great success with Mistletoe and Wine in 1988 but Saviour’s Day was a far more bland effort. The music is nice and the words are nice but it is definitely not one of Sir Cliff’s best.
7. Lonely This Christmas – Mud (1974)
Lonely This Christmas is still a commonly featured song on Christmas albums to this day. The reason it makes the worst UK Christmas number ones list is not because the song is bad, but because it will suck the Christmas spirit out of you faster than you can say, “Bah Humbug!”. It’s all about someone who is alone on Christmas Day after their lover has left them and the whole feeling of the song is one of misery. It is definitely not a song you want to be listening to as you eat your Christmas lunch!
6. Lily the Pink – Scaffold (1968)
This is novelty music at its absolute worst. Lily the Pink is a modified version of “The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham”. Lydia Pinkham was born in 1819 and was famous for making a herbal remedy to ease menstrual cramps – hence the “medicinal compound” lyric. Although Lydia Pinkham was a very useful lady, the topic is definitely not very seasonal.
5. Save Your Love – Renee and Renato (1982)
Save Your Love is an operatic nightmare of a song. While it is vocally quite beautiful, the lyrics are exceptionally cheesy. Nobody would expect such a song as a Christmas number one because it doesn’t fall into any of the usual categories of Christmassy or novelty – it is simply dreadful. Renee and Renato’s follow up single didn’t fare nearly as well, and their third single didn’t make the chart at all.
4. There’s No One Quite Like Grandma – St Winifred’s School Choir (1980)
This sugary sweet tune was released by a choir from a British primary school in 1980. It’s all about the joys of having a Grandma! While the sentiment is lovely, the song is not. However, the song is no match for the video which is performed by well groomed little boys, and girls dressed in pretty dresses with pink bows in their hair. Last year, the choir re-united now they are all grown up and recorded a special version of the song for charity.
3. Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine (2009)
2009 saw the UK getting its worst Christmas number one in years. Rage Against the Machine were backed by a group of anti X-Factor campaigners to prevent last year’s X Factor winner Joe McElderry from getting the top spot. For the previous few years, X Factor winners had always claimed the Christmas number one and the British public decided to show Simon Cowell who is really boss by putting an end to the show’s reign. Lyrically, Killing in the Name is horrific. There is nothing to it and it ends with a repetitive string of the f word. It is definitely not something you want to play when you have Grandma over!
2. Long Haired Lover From Liverpool – Jimmy Osmond (1972)
Long Haired Lover From Liverpool is another tremendously bad UK Christmas number one featuring little Jimmy Osmond in a hideous Christmas jumper. This song further raised the popularity of the Osmonds and made Jimmy the youngest person to ever have a UK number one at the age of nine.
1. Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby (1993)
The worst UK Christmas number one of all time goes to Mr Blobby. For those who are unaware; back in the nineties there was a TV show called Noel’s House Party. Presenter Noel Edmonds opened up his “house” every Saturday and celebrity guests would show up, plus there were fun games for the studio audience to join in with too. Mr Blobby was the annoying pink character with yellow spots who used to barge into the show and fling himself at anyone who was appearing which caused hilarity among the audience. Mr Blobby was a really big deal in the nineties, and was given his own theme park as well as stealing the 1993 Christmas number one from Take That.
The worst UK Christmas number ones of all time are mainly those which are not in keeping with the spirit of the season or are novelty tunes meant only for a bit of fun. We can never know which songs will be number one for Christmas in years to come, but hopefully they won’t get any worse than this!
Lily the Pink