It seems like a long while ago that I posted my first UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar post, but it’s not even three weeks. Today is December 18th which is obviously Day 18. That means that this time next week the jolly, fat, old, bearded bloke with a penchant for bright red suits will have been and apart from a few more days of turkey related meals Christmas will be over. But fear not, that still leaves room for 8 more Advent Calendar posts from me including todays. I can also promise you that there will actually be some Christmas songs coming up in a few days.
Anyway behind the little perforated door today you will find a song that has been UK Christmas number one on two occasions. It has been at the top for a total of 14 weeks! Firstly in 1975 for 9 weeks and then again in 1991 for 5 weeks. Probably an easy one to guess (especially as the pictures above give it away just a little bit), it’s the magnificent “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen. On paper it’s a song that would surely never work. It consists of some ballad, some opera, some heavy rock, a classic guitar solo, great harmonies, some nonsense lyrics and probably the kitchen sink as well. So if it shouldn’t work on paper it sure as hell does work on record. Listening to it again for this post caused me to horripilate (thanks to dictionary.com‘s daily post yesterday for that one, it means to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, well something like that anyway).
Whilst it spent a long while at the summit of the UK charts it only reached number 2 in the US and that was after a rerelease tied in with the ‘Wayne’s World’ movie in 1992. It originally went to number 9 in the US in 1976. The song was accompanied by what many consider to be the first ever pop video, some years before the birth of MTV. According to Brian May the band wrote most of their songs in the studio, but he says that this one was all in Freddie’s head beforehand. Mercury had wanted to record what he called a Mock Opera song. I presume this is some punning word play on the Rock Opera concept. When it was first a UK Christmas Number One in 1975 it was like nothing we had heard before. It’s second Christmas Number One appearance however was tinged with sadness as it came shortly after the death of Freddie Mercury in November 1991.
At just under 6 minutes it is also has one of the longest durations of UK number ones. This is probably the longest of all my Advent Calendar posts this year too, although that really wasn’t planned! The song has been covered by quite a range of acts, including; the Muppets, Pink, Rolf Harris (who also had a UK Christmas Number One himself with “Two Little Boys” in 1969), Flaming Lips and the Cast Of Glee. But the latter bunch cover anything and everything don’t they? You can see and hear all the above mentioned covers below after the original Queen version of the song and a medley of “Bohemian Rhapsody/ Radio GaGa” from their Live Aid set in 1985.