Surprises don’t just pop up under the tree at this time of year, they crop in the UK music charts too. Amongst the usual line up of festive tunes we hear year after year like Band Aid and Shakin Stevens, there have been plenty of unexpected chart hits that we’re pretty sure no one saw coming.
Our friends at bgo bring you the lowdown on some of the most surprising Christmas Number Ones of all time.
Bob the Builder, Bob the Builder, Can We Fix it!, 2000
Who would have thought that a children’s cartoon character could take the coveted chart top spot? Well, in 2000, everyone’s favourite animated labourer proved that ‘Yes he can’!
Bob the Builder only hit British TV screens in the April of 1999. But by the first Christmas of the new millennium, we were all enjoying a jolly-good sing along to this CBBC star’s cheery anthem. In fact, his release even managed to beat prominent US rap star Eminem, much-loved boy band Westlife, and crowd-pleaser Robbie Williams to the chart top spot. Good on you, Bob.
Benny Hill, Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West), 1971
When this one starts playing, it’s hard not to feel a bit of nostalgia.
Full of innuendo, it’s perhaps not the most conventional of Christmas tunes. Nevertheless, in 1971, comedy-legend Benny Hill’s cheeky song about naughty Ernie, the old man intent on wooing lonely widow Sue of Number 22, proved a surprise yuletide favorite.
It managed an impressive four weeks at the top and, in recent years, was even revealed to be one of former Prime Minister David Cameron’s eight favorite records. Quite the feat for a humble (if rather bawdy) milkman.
Leona Lewis, A Moment Like This, 2006
For the past decade, the X Factor has had the monopoly on the Christmas Number One title. And whilst there have been some – err – less than successful artists to come out of the show, Miss Leona Lewis was a rare gem to emerge from the usual line up of one-hit, fame-hungry talent-competition winners. She’s certainly a Christmas miracle we didn’t see coming.
Her victory single, ‘A Moment Like This’, stormed the charts in 2006, and she’s since brought more festive cheer to her loyal fans, having sold well-over 20 million records worldwide.
The Spice Girls, Goodbye, 1998
Whilst the X Factor may have a stake on the number one spot these days, back in the nineties, The Spice Girls were sleighing the festive charts. In 1998, Sporty, Baby, Posh and the rest of the entourage released ‘Goodbye’, the single that saw them bag their third consecutive Christmas Number One. It was a shock success for the Brit group, with only The Beatles having pulled off such an achievement before. Talk about girl power.
Gary Jules, Mad World, 2003
Christmas is supposedly the most wonderful time of the year. So, it’s rather surprising to find Gary Jules’ rather creepy, but no-doubt beautiful, ‘Mad World’ laying claim to the 2003 Christmas Number One position.
That year, British band The Darkness were the bookies’ favorites to clinch the sought-after title, with their tune ‘Christmas Time’. But the guitar-wielding rockers were pipped to the post by outsider Jules, who also out-sold Avid Merrion’s feel-good sing-along, “Proper Crimbo.”
Rage Against the Machine, Killing in the Name, 2009
Whilst it doesn’t quite scream Christmas, it turns out ‘Killing in the Name’ does scream 2009 Number One. It’s the signature song of rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, first released in the early nineties.
Filled with profanities that would pierce the ears of innocent elves across the North Pole, this anarchic anthem was pushed to the top spot by a successful Facebook campaign, intent on knocking the X Factor single off its usual prime position.
Just goes to show where a loyal social media following can get you these days…
Want to place your bets on this year’s hit?
With the countdown to the 25th well under way, it’s time to place your bets on which song is ready to claim this year’s Christmas Number One. And if you’re ready to test your luck on more than just the charts over the festive period, why not have a shot at online slots too? You’ll find plenty of merry titles, including Fruit Shop: Christmas Edition and Secrets of Christmas, ready to play. Good luck!
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.