December 21st, 2017

Blue Red

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1988

Cliff Richard - Mistletoe and Wine

"Mistletoe and Wine" is a song made famous as a single by Cliff Richard.

The song was written by Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart and Keith Strachan for a musical called Scraps, which was an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" set in Victorian London.

Scraps was first performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, London in 1976. The musical was renamed and adapted for television by HTV in 1987, and featured Roger Daltrey, Paul Daneman, Jimmy Jewel and Twiggy. As originally conceived, "Mistletoe and Wine" had a different meaning from that for which it has come to be known. The writers wanted a song that sounded like a Christmas carol, intending it to be sung ironically while the little matchgirl is kicked out into the snow by the unfeeling middle classes. By the time the musical transferred to television, the song had become a lusty pub song sung by the local whore, as played by Twiggy.

Cliff Richard liked the song, but changed the lyrics to reflect a more religious theme (which the writers accepted).

Richard's ninety-ninth single, it became his twelfth UK number one single, spending four weeks at the top in December 1988 - selling 750,000 copies in the process. It was the best-selling single of 1988 in the United Kingdom. In December 2007 the single entered at number 68 on the UK Singles Chart by virtue of downloads.

One of the record breaking statistics often cited about Cliff Richard is his achievement of number one hit singles in five consecutive decades, and Mistletoe and Wine is important to this record in being his only number one hit of the eighties.

Richard's version of the song was also used in a British public information film about drink driving. The film was part of the Drinking And Driving Wrecks Lives campaign, which films were shown during ad breaks over the Christmas period.

The boy singing a high solo in the end of the song is James Rainbird.

Blue Red

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1989

Band Aid 2 - Do They Know It's Christmas

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a song written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984 to raise money for relief of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia. The original version was produced by Midge Ure and released by Band Aid on 28 November 1984.

A new version was recorded under the name of Band Aid II in 1989, produced by the popular Hit Factory team of Stock, Aitken and Waterman and featuring a number of the year's most accessible artists, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Lisa Stansfield, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Wet Wet Wet and Bros. Bananarama also appeared, making Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward the only artists to appear on both versions.

The lyrics were rearranged for a more traditional "verse and chorus" structure, with the opening verse being split in two with a short repeat of the ending chorus being played at the end of both, followed by the "here's to you" section and a final lengthened version of the closing chorus (with commentary by Michael Buerk played over the closing in the music video).

The song again reached No. 1 for Christmas, raising more money and also making it the final number-one single of the 1980s. It was also the final song to be played on Top of the Pops in the Eighties.


Big Fun
Cathy Dennis
D Mob
Jason Donovan
Kevin Godley
Glen Goldsmith
Kylie Minogue
Chris Rea
Cliff Richard
Jimmy Somerville
Lisa Stansfield
Wet Wet Wet

I find that this version is very rarely played on the radio and wasn't to be found on Christmas compilations - to the point that a lot of people don't know this version exists or that it reached no1! In the 1990's I found this record one of the harder singles to find because everyone was saying to me that they didn't know there had ever been a Band Aid 2!!
Blue Red

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1990

Cliff Richard - Saviours Day

"Saviour's Day" is a song by Cliff Richard. It was written by Chris Eaton and produced by Cliff Richard and Paul Moessl. Eaton wrote the song in October 1989, and took his original version of the song with him to a Christmas party to show to Richard. Eaton had been warned that all of Richard's songs for the following year were already booked in and there wouldn't be any space for it. However, Eaton insisted that Richard listen to the tape he brought along, and so they left the party and listened to it in Richard's Rolls-Royce. Richard immediately liked the song and predicted that it could be a number one record.

It was the United Kingdom Christmas number one single in 1990, the second occasion Richard had a solo Christmas number one. It has subsequently been voted into lists of both the best and the most annoying Christmas songs.

The music video for "Saviour's Day" was filmed in Dorset, in the town of Swanage and at Durdle Door. The video was shot in September 1990. Richard and the extras in the video were asked to wear winter clothes for the Christmas song, but the day's filming took place on a warm September day with blue sky and sunshine. The video featured Richard and the extras singing together on top of the limestone arch of Durdle Door. Six years earlier, Tears for Fears shot part of the video for their 1984 single "Shout" at the famous Durdle Door landmark.

In the UK, "Saviour's Day" entered the UK Singles Chart on 8 December 1990 at number six. It went to number three the following week, and up a further spot in the week before Christmas. The song went to number one on the chart dated the week ending 29 December 1990, becoming that year's Christmas number one and replacing the previous week's UK number one by Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" A week later "Saviour's Day" dropped back down to number three, and spent only one more week in the top forty at twenty.

Heart snow

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1991

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody/These Are The Days Of Our Lives

"These Are the Days of Our Lives" is a song by the English rock band Queen. Although credited to the whole band, it was largely written by drummer Roger Taylor, and is the eighth track on the band's 1991 album Innuendo. Keyboards were programmed by the four band members in the studio, and conga percussion (a synthesised conga) was recorded by their producer David Richards (although it was mimed in the video by Roger Taylor).

It was released as a single in the United States on Freddie Mercury's 45th (And final) birthday, 5 September 1991, and as double A-side single in the UK three months later on 9 December, in the wake of Mercury's death, with the seminal Queen track "Bohemian Rhapsody". The single debuted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and remained at the top for five weeks. The song was awarded a BRIT Award for "Best Single" in 1992.

"These Are the Days of Our Lives" hearkens back to similarly themed 1975 Queen song "Love of My Life", twice using the line "I still love you". At the end of the song, Mercury simply speaks those words, as he would often do in live versions of "Love of My Life."

The accompanying video was the last to feature frontman Freddie Mercury as he was in the final stages of his battle with AIDS. The majority of the footage used in the video was filmed by Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher of DoRo Productions on 30 May 1991.

For the promotional video, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and John Deacon were present at the shoot, with additional footage of guitarist Brian May filmed some weeks later and edited into the footage, as he was out of the country on a radio promotional tour at the time of the principal film shoot. The video was shot in black and white to hide the full extent of Mercury's faltering condition from AIDS (following rumours about his health that had been at the centre of much media and public speculation for over a year) following on from its use in the video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" earlier in 1991.

Colour footage of the band filming the video later emerged, showing just how frail Mercury really looked, and justifying the band's decision to film in black and white out of respect for him. In this music video, Mercury is wearing a waistcoat with pictures of cats that was made for him by a close friend, and which he loved. With his knowing farewell look straight at the camera, Mercury whispers "I still love you" as the song ends, which are his last ever words on camera.

The version of the finished video serviced to the U.S. market also featured some animated footage produced by animators for the Walt Disney Studios, as Queen's North American record label, Hollywood Records, is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. In Europe, a different, 'clean' version of the video without the animated sequences was released.

"Bohemian Rhapsody"
is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury.

When it was released as a single, "Bohemian Rhapsody" became a commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976. It reached number one again in 1991 for five weeks following Mercury's death, eventually becoming the UK's third best-selling single of all time.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" was the first song ever to get to number one in the UK twice with the same version, and is also the only single to have been Christmas number one twice with the same version.  As a double A-side single with "These Are the Days of Our Lives" it stayed at number one for five weeks.


65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1992

Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You

"I Will Always Love You" is a song by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. The country track was released on June 6, 1974 as the second single from Parton's thirteenth solo studio album, Jolene (1974). The singer wrote the song, which was recorded on June 13, 1973, for her one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, from whom she was professionally splitting at the time.

In 1992, singer Whitney Houston recorded the song for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, her film debut. Houston was originally to record Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" as the lead single from The Bodyguard. However, it was discovered the song was to be used for Fried Green Tomatoes, so Houston requested a different song.

Houston and producer David Foster re-arranged "I Will Always Love You" as an R&B ballad. Her record company did not feel a song with an a cappella introduction would be as successful; however, Houston and Costner insisted on retaining the a cappella intro. The tenor saxophone solo was played by Kirk Whalum.

Houston's version was a massive worldwide success. It appears at No. 9 on NME's "Greatest No 1 Singles in History" list. In 2004, Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" finished at number 65 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. It was also ranked at number 22 on The Guardian's list of Britain's favorite 100 songs, published in May 2002.

The single spent 14 weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, which at the time was a record. The single became Houston's longest run at number one, smashing her previous record, which was three weeks with 1986's, "Greatest Love of All." It is also the longest running number one single from a soundtrack album.

The single debuted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Houston's tenth number one hit a mere two weeks later. It also dominated various other Billboard charts, spending 14 weeks at the top of Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart and 11 weeks at number one on its Hot 100 Airplay chart. The song also stayed at number one for five weeks on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and for 11 weeks on the Hot R&B Singles chart becoming the longest running number one on the R&B charts at the time, and remained in the top 40 for 24 weeks. It became Arista Records' biggest hit. The song was number one on the Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and R&B chart simultaneously for a record-equaling five weeks; Ray Charles' I Can't Stop Loving You in 1962 achieved the same feat on the same charts.

Houston's single sold approximately 400,000 copies in its second week on the summit, making it the best-selling song in a single week (taking the record from Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You"). It broke its own record in the following three weeks, peaking at 632,000 copies in the week ended December 27, 1992, Billboard the issue date of January 9, 1993 (the week it broke its own record for most copies sold in a single week for any song in the Nielsen SoundsScan era). The record was broken by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight", selling 3.4 million in the final week of September 1997. "I Will Always Love You" was certified 4× Platinum in the U.S. for shipments of over 4 million copies by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 12, 1993, making Houston the first female artist with a single to reach that level in the RIAA history. According to Nielsen SoundScan, as of 2009, the single sold 4,591,000 copies, and became the second best-selling physical single in U.S. alone, only behind Elton John's single in 1997.

Houston's single made a massive international success, peaking at number one of the singles charts in almost all countries, including the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, spent 13 weeks at the top. The single also hit pole position in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Houston's 10-week reign in the U.K. set the record for the longest run at the top by a solo female artist in the history of the British singles chart. It is the only single to have ever topped the U.S., the U.K. and Australian singles charts for at least ten weeks. In the United Kingdom, the single sold over 1,550,000 copies, becoming the tenth best-selling single of the 1990s, and was certified 2× Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on January 1, 1993. It was certified Platinum for shipments of over 500,000 copies by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) in Germany. In Japan, "I Will Always Love You" sold over 810,000 copies, staying for 27 weeks on the chart, and became the best-selling single by a foreign female artist at the time, though the single did not top the record chart unlike most other countries.

Only a few hours after Houston's death on February 11, 2012, "I Will Always Love You" topped the U.S. iTunes Charts. Also, that same week after her death, the single returned to the Billboard Hot 100, after almost 20 years, debuting at number 7, and becoming a posthumous top-ten single for Houston, the first one since 2001. The song eventually peaked at No. 3, while in the United Kingdom, the song charted at number 10 the week of Houston's death.

Toilet roll

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1993

Mr Blobby - Mr Blobby

"Mr Blobby" is a novelty song performed by character Mr Blobby, famous for appearing in the TV programme Noel's House Party. It was written by Philip Raxster and produced by Paul Shaw and David Rogers, was released as a single and reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart on December 11, 1993, replacing Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)", which had been in the No. 1 spot for seven weeks. A week later, "Babe" by Take That demoted Mr Blobby from the top spot for one week. Mr Blobby made a surprise return to the No. 1 spot on Christmas Day, and remained there for another two weeks.

Mr Blobby was a bulbous pink figure covered with yellow spots, a permanent toothy grin and jiggling eyes. Mr Blobby communicated only by saying the word "blobby" in an electronically altered voice, expressing his moods through tone of voice and repetition. He first appeared in the 'Gotcha' segment of the second series of Noel's House Party, in which celebrities were caught out in a "Candid Camera" style prank. Mr Blobby was presented to the celebrities as if he were a real and established children's television character, in order to record an episode centred around the guests' profession. In truth, there was no "Mr. Blobby" TV series, and he was created purely for the prank. Mr Blobby would clumsily take part in the activity, knocking over the set, causing mayhem, and saying "blobby blobby blobby." His childish and unprofessional behaviour was calculated to irritate the celebrities taking part. When the prank was finally revealed the Blobby costume would be opened, revealing Noel Edmonds inside.

Once the first 'Gotcha' segments had aired, Mr Blobby was no longer usable as part of the 'Gotcha' sequences but he continued to make appearances on Noel's House Party with various members of the production team donning the costume.

The song "Mr Blobby" is regarded by some critics as one of the worst songs ever written.

An MTV critic said that Blobby "tried to kill music...with what might be the worst song of all time". Rupert Hawksley of The Telegraph ranked the track as the worst Christmas number one in history, arguing that Blobby "set the bar so low with this bizarre single, it's hard to imagine that it could ever be usurped". Daily Record writer Euan McColm named it the third-worst Top 10 single of all time, while Gemma Wheatley of the Daily Star called it the third most-annoying track ever written. It placed first in an HMV public poll of the worst-ever festive songs, and second in a VH1 viewer survey of the worst number one singles of all time. The track also came sixth in a Channel 4 poll of the 100 worst pop songs in history

A music video was created for the single and was filmed in the Kew Bridge Steam Museum. It spoofed several music videos such as "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer, "Stay" by Shakespears Sister, Snap!'s "Rhythm Is a Dancer", and ZZ Top's 3-man arm swing-and-point, featured in many of their videos.