Monday 22 December 2014

AAA Christmas Number Ones

This is our sixth Christmas together, dear AAA readers. In that time we've given you various festive AAA articles: AAA Christmas songs (naturally!), Christmas carols, AAA songs about snow and finally last year's 15 AAA presents we'd like to see under our tree in 2014 (sadly not one of which came true!) As I'm running out of ideas, here's every single AAA single that was number one during Christmas week either in Britain or America - and join with me in cursing the fact that we haven't had one for 30 years now! (Perhaps that will all change this year?...Erm, we can but hope!)

1) UK 1963: The Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" Festive Rating: 7/10

The Beatles' fourth single and second or third number one (depending what record chart you use) started off a grand tradition of festive fab four number ones that will last for as long as they bother to keep releasing singles near Christmas. The song isn't Christmassy, obviously, but is full of a sort of festive bouncy cheer. The Americans, meanshile, went very festive with the Singing Nun at number one.

2) UK 1964: The Beatles "I Feel Fine" Festive Rating: 8/10

Ditto the next fab four festive number one, a cheery Lennon song full of goodwill to all men and women. No wonder he's feeling fine: The Beatles have had a busy and productive year across 1964 including three Ed Sullivan shows, the 'A Hard Day's night' film, two best-selling LPs, a ridiculous amount of touring and four mega-buck singles, of which is the last. The Beatles were at number one in America until Christmas week, when they got bumped down by The Supremes' latest 'Come See About Me'.

3) UK 1965: The Beatles "Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out" Festive Rating: 4/10

This single isn't quite as festive - 'day trips' are more of a summer thing, whilst 'We Can Work It Out' is very likely to be said more than once during family get-togethers on Christmas day it doesn't really invoke the ho-ho-ho spirit. The Americans, shockingly, went with another British band - The Dave Clark Five, for 1965's festive number one and the song 'Over and Over'.

4) USA 1966: The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" Festive Rating: 7/10

While in Britain old ladies everywhere were unwrapping copies of Tom Jones' 'Green Green Grass Of Home', America went wild for a band more associated with Summer (but who weirdly always sold more copies of singles at Christmas: perhaps they worked better as memories of summer times during cold weather?) 'Good Vibrations' is a natural fit for Christmas, depending on how festive your day is going, although the theremin is a more natural fit for Halloween.

5) UK 1967: The Beatles: "Hello Goodbye" Festive Rating: 3/10

The Beatles' last Christmas number one in Britain, this song has nothing to do with Christmas and no one can quite decide whether it's a 'happy' or 'sad' song. Our take on things is that it's Paul trying to rally to keep the fab four together, though, in which case that sounds very like the realities of Christmas to me!

6) USA 1967: The Monkees: "Daydream Believer" Festive Rating: 8/10

The Monkees had an amazing year in 1967 - this is their fourth number one single in 1967b and one of their best loved songs (Britain won't get it until the new year, strangely). Davy Jones' summery vocal and the band's cosily intimate performance somehow manages to be very Christmassy without actually using any festive words.

7) UK 1977: Paul McCartney and Wings: "Mull Of Kintyre" Festive Rating: 5/10

To be fair, Mull Of Kintyre was at number one for near enough a quarter of a year and was nearing the end of it's long run by this point, so it was never intended by anyone I don't think as a Christmas number one (the first for a solo Beatle despite many attempts - in case you're wondering Lennon's 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' was too late for xmas 1971, the 1972 re-issue peaked at #3 in the UK and was kept off the 1980 #1 spot by another Lennon record, 'Startin' Over'). It's not that festive, although given that a lot of Scottish shortbread gets sold at Christmas over here at least there's a link (of sorts). America never really 'got' this single (where it was the non-charting B-side of the even less festive 'Girl's School'), instead going for the charms of The Bee Gees' 'How Deep Is Your Love?' (That depends, I should imagine, on what you got for Christmas!)

8) UK 1979: Pink Floyd "Another Brick In The Wall Part II" Festive Rating: 0/10

However that's nothing on what must surely be the most non-festive number one in history. Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' album is very gloomy and so is their spin-off single. Imagine the scene: it's Christmas week 1979 and you need a stocking filler, so what are you gonna buy? That's right, a bunch of school-kids chanting 'we don't need nar ede-yoo cay-shun' while Roger Waters sings about how rubbish and restrictive Britain's post-war educational system is and how this is adding to the feelings of paranoia, persecution and mental illness of character Pink. And a ho-ho-ho to you too! The Americans, meanwhile, got drunk to Rupert Holmes' 'The Pina Colada Song'.

9) UK 1981: The Human League: "Don't You Want Me?" Festive Rating: 2/10

Similarly I don't see many links from our last UK AAA Christmas number one, in which the Human League rescue two damsels in distress from working in a cocktail bar only to find themselves spurned. Feeling that wasn't quite festive enough, the Americans decided to  plump instead for Olivia Newton John's 'Physical' (because nothing says 'Christmas' more than a puffed up screechy singer preaching about going to the gym).

10) USA 1983: Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson: "Say Say Say" Festive Rating: 2/10 Finally, America was given a neat solution to who to choose for festive number one in 1983. After The Beatles, Michael Jackson has scored more number ones than any other act - so what better than a Beatle and Wacko performing together? Nobody seemed to notice that the lyrics to the snappy 'Say Say Say' are actually quite depressing and more about a split than festive togetherness. Oh well, the UK got even more depressed that yuletide thanks to The Flying Pickets' 'Only You'.

That's all for this week - and very nearly for the year! Be sure to join us for our final issue of 2014 in which we'll have our yearly review of the year! Bye for now!

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