John Lennon & Yoko Ono

1980 Christmas Top 40

Christmas 1980 was something of a subdued affair. Chartwise there was a fairly standard mix of Christmas songs, novelty records and songs that had been hanging around for a while and just happened to be caught up in the festive singles buying frenzy, but as the country was still struggling to come to terms with the death of John Lennon less than three weeks earlier, two of his best known singles leapt back into the top ten to join the one that had already been there before his passing. Given the circumstances he was an absolute certainty to take the Christmas number 1 spot, right? Well…

The full top 75 for this week can be found on the Official Charts Company site.

Party Starters

Other than Kool & The Gang’s perennial favourite Celebration at number 25 there aren’t many floor fillers here, although Adam and the AntsAntmusic at 7 and Spandau Ballet‘s To Cut A Long Story Short at 16 might get the hipsters on their feet. Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out is still hanging around at 35; and while it’s certainly no Dancing Queen, you might be persuaded to shake a leg to ABBA‘s Super Trouper at number 5. The rockabilly revival is kicking off with the Stray Cats’ Runaway Boys at number 10 and if you want to stoke up the moshpit we’ve got AC/DC‘s Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution at 27, Status Quo’s double A-side Lies / Don’t Drive My Car at number 12 and the completely impossible to dance to Flash by Queen at 15.

Party Poopers

It’s a pretty gloomy time all round, still less than a month since John Lennon’s murder which means the erstwhile Dr Winston O’Boogie has several records in the chart, the gloomiest of them all being Imagine at number 9. Not really entering into the festive spirit is Gary Numan at 28 with This Wreckage, while Barry Manilow shows up at 22 with Lonely Together which includes the absolute clunker of a line “You lost your baby, me the same.” Not literally, one hopes. The Police could have been good for a boogie but not with De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da at number 6, with its memorable couplet “When their eloquence escapes you/Their logic ties you up and rapes you.” Mmm, festive. Similarly bad vibes from the usually reliable Bad Manners, whose Lorraine at number 36 has a chorus consisting mainly of the line “When I find her I’m gonna kill her.” In fact the whole ska and reggae scene seems to be on a bit of a downer; you might stomp to Madness‘s Embarrassment at number 8 despite lines like “How can you show your face when you’re a disgrace to the human race?” but you’d probaby draw the line at UB40 down at 38 with that evergreen Christmas hit The Earth Dies Screaming. Own up, who spiked the punch with downers?

Related:  "Entertainment for the lost and lonely" - Top of the Pops, 26 March 1981

It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaas!!!

There’s a reasonable number of actual Christmas songs in the Christmas chart; Kate Bush is at 32 with December Will Be Magic Again, while the Barron Knights apply their patented “humorous new lyrics to three fairly recent hit songs” technique to Another Brick In The Wall, Day Trip To Bangor and The Sparrow in Never Mind The Presents at number 17. Yes, only three years late with the Sex Pistols-referencing title. Meanwhile there’s a titanic struggle going on in the top five, with Jona Lewie’s not-really-a-Christmas-song Stop The Cavalry holding the number 3 spot from the challenge of John & Yoko’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) which enters at 4.

Novelty Island

Depending on your definition of “novelty records”, there are a few hanging around, most notably Chas & Dave’s Rabbit at number 13. Further down there’s the horror of a country novelty song, It’s Hard To Be Humble by Mac Davis at 29, one place above Dennis Waterman’s Minder theme I Could Be So Good For You at 30. Meanwhile British rockabilly revivalists Matchbox effectively kill their career with a medley of Over The Rainbow / You Belong To Me at 19.

The number 1

Having peaked at number 8 in November, John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over rocketed back up the chart to number 1 in the days following his death, only to be deposed in Christmas week by the St. Winifred’s School Choir. By law every grandmother in the country was forced to receive a copy of There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma in her stocking on Christmas morning, to be stashed away at the back of a cupboard and never played again.

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