336. ‘Young Love’, by Donny Osmond

We’ve heard this one before, haven’t we…?

Young Love, by Donny Osmond (his 3rd and final #1)

4 weeks, from 19th August – 16th September 1973

Cast your mind all the way back to early 1957, when blue-eyed, all-American heartthrob Tab Hunter was crooning his way into the hearts of many with his own version of ‘Young Love’. I wasn’t keen on it then – and I quote: “I’ve listened to ‘Young Love’ several times now, trying to find something to like about it, but I can’t do it. It’s insipid. And that’s it” – and I ain’t much keener on it now.

It’s a pretty faithful cover – the same lullaby guitar and lyrics, with a few strings thrown in for that trademark Osmond schmaltz. Donny sounds like… Donny. It’s not as teeth-grindingly terrible as ‘The Twelfth of Never’, but it’s no ‘Puppy Love’. Who’d have thought, when I gave ‘Puppy Love’ it’s glowing review, that it would wind up being the best of Donny Osmond’s three chart-toppers!

No, I’m going to play nice. Yes, this is complete tripe, but as I say every time: I am not the target audience for it. Same way that I will not be the target audience for New Kids on the Block, Boyzone, Westlife or 1 Direction, when their times come. Plus, it’s a song by a fifteen year old kid. No way would I want any of the stupid things I did, said, wore, or released on 7” vinyl around the world, aged fifteen, held against me. I’ll let him be…

But then, oh Jesus, he starts talking. Even Tab Hunter didn’t go this far… Just one kiss, From your sweet lips, Will tell me that our love is real… Donny, son, you’re making it really hard for me to not write terrible things about you… You just know that this was the exact moment in the song where girls across the country leant in to give their Donny posters a good hard snogging.

It’s short, at least, two and a half minutes and we’re through. That’s it as far as this young man’s solo chart-toppers are concerned, though he does have one more #1 coming up soon with his brothers in tow. I feel we need write no more.

Except, I guess it’s interesting that back in the fifties, at the same time as Tab Hunter took this to the top first time around, right on the verge of the rock ‘n’ roll revolution, that it was common for artists to cover songs from the twenties and thirties. Connie Francis took ‘Carolina Moon’ to the top, Bobby Darin did the same with ‘Mack the Knife’, while Tommy Edwards used an old melody in ‘It’s All in the Game’. This disc marks the first time, of many, that a former #1 will return to the top as a cover version. And, scarily, the 1950s are to the 1970s what the 1930s were to the ‘50s…

301. ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’, by Middle of the Road

On with the next three-hundred! And our 301st #1 gets going with a promising glam rock stomp. Seriously, this is a great record… for the first three or four seconds.


Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, by Middle of the Road (their 1st and only #1)

5 weeks, from 13th June – 18th July 1971

Then the handclaps come in, and a voice that sounds like a knock-off Lulu. Where’s your mama gone? (Where’s your mama gone?)… Little baby bird… Far, far away… Mummy bird’s gone, flown the coop. Where’s your papa gone? (Where’s your papa gone?)… Daddy bird too. That’s half the song.

Then: Last night I heard my mama singin’ a song, Woke up this morning and my mama was gone… Oo-wee, Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep! That’s the second half of the song. It gets annoying, quickly. Did anyone say ‘bubblegum’?

No, that’s harsh. ‘Bubblegum’ needn’t be a dirty word. ‘Dizzy’, for example was a fine slice of bubblegum pop. I should have asked: did anyone say ‘cloyingly irritating novelty’? This is a record that shouldn’t appeal to anyone over the age of five. And yet, we all know it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ in its entirety until now, but I sure as hell knew that chorus.

The lyrics – the four lines that make up this entire song – are actually quite sad. The singer is either a bird, abandoned in her nest. Or the singer is a child, abandoned by her parents, who sees an abandoned bird and feels a sense of kinship. To her credit, though, she’s not wallowing in despair. Oh no. She sounds as if she’s determined to make something of her life regardless of the tough start. Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep chirp!


I don’t mind a novelty, but this song makes very little sense, and midway through the chorus starts repeating over and over, and over. Let’s go now! You frantically check that this record isn’t actually six minutes long. All together now! No, just forty seconds left, thank God. One more time now! Phew.

Middle of the Road were (‘are’ actually, they’re still going) a Scottish band, who had a brief burst of fame in the UK in the early seventies, with this and other hits such as ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’ – which I listened to and found to be not as bad as their only #1. They were huge across Europe – I guess the simple lyrics and sugary tunes translated well – and I’ve seen some sources label them as a predecessor to ABBA. (Which is like saying the first ever wheel carved from a hunk of rock by a hairy caveman is a predecessor to a Ferrari.)

Anyway, that’s that. Had Middle of the Road arrived at the top of the charts just a few weeks earlier, then Dana would have had some stiff competition for ‘Worst Chart-Topper’ last time out. But they’re safe, for now…

Enjoy all the previous 300 number ones with this playlist (I promise most of them are better than this.)

279. ‘Sugar, Sugar’, by The Archies

The second last #1 of the 1960s brings up one of its biggest hits. Eight whole weeks at the top, tying with Elvis’s ‘It’s Now or Never’ (1960) and The Shadows’ ‘Wonderful Land’(1962) for the honour of longest-running chart-topper of the decade. And when you hear the chorus, you begin to understand why…


Sugar, Sugar, by The Archies (their 1st and only #1)

8 weeks, from 19th October – 14th December 1969

Sugar – do-do-do-do-do-do… Awww honey, honey – do-do-do-do-do-do… You are my candy girl… And you got me wanting you… It’s a chorus that everyone can sing, imprinted on our collective consciousness. In fact, to call it a ‘chorus’ isn’t very accurate – it is pretty much the entire song. As a record, it is undeniably catchy…

But then so are crabs. To be honest – ‘Sugar, Sugar’ is annoying, it’s simplistic, it’s basic… It’s bubble gum, and then some. Candy floss, sherbet and a huge dose of saccharine for good measure. I just can’t believe the loveliness of loving you… I just can’t believe the wonder of this feeling too… After a couple of listens you start to get a sugar-headache.

It’s one of pop music’s great clichés – love as candy. We’ve already had ‘Sweets for My Sweet’ at #1, and there will be more to come. ‘Candy Girl’, ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’, ‘Sugar Baby Love’… You can make quite the list… ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ (a classic, I won’t deny), ‘Brown Sugar’ (a filthy Stones’ take on the theme.) You catch my drift…

There are glimmers of hope here: the low-key verses contrast nicely with the all-out bubble gum of the chorus. And the ‘ad-libs’ towards the end are fun. Pour a little sugar on me honey… Aw yeah… (maybe a young Def Leppard were listening.) All in all though, and I say this as someone who loves pop music, ‘Sugar, Sugar’ is a bit much. I’m glad when it’s over.


Adding to the sickly effect is the fact that The Archies were a cartoon band, plus a dog, that featured in their own TV variety show, ‘The Archie Show’. To me, they look like the ‘cast’ of ‘Scooby-Doo’ went and formed a band. Their records were recorded by session musicians, several of whom quit when they didn’t get any royalties from their hits. Despite the fact that just two weeks ago we had simulated orgasms at #1, I’d have to say that ‘Sugar, Sugar’ is the more offensive record.

In fact, this is perhaps the icing on the cake for the cynical second half of 1969. We’ve had horrifying visions of an apocalyptic future, and now an equally pessimistic vision of the future of pop music. We’ve had a pre-manufactured band from a TV show at #1 already, but it feels very unfair to compare The Monkees to this… They were real musicians who quickly broke away from their confines. Here you can’t help picturing a cynical record executive laughing and chucking wads of dollar bills in the air… “Who needs real people? Who needs real instruments? It’s mine! All mine!”

Or maybe that’s too much. We’ve had so much amazing music hit number one over the past decade, so perhaps we can cut this record some slack. It what it is, and what it is is fine in small doses. Assembly-line bubblegum is here to stay, and we’ll have to get used to it as we delve into the 1970s…

271. ‘Dizzy’, by Tommy Roe

Into the next thirty #1s, with perhaps the most ‘sixties’ sounding chart-topper that we’ve come across yet. It’s pure swinging-sixties montage music, a pop song that you would use in between scenes in an Austin Powers movie. You can see swirling lava-lamp colours, and mini-skirted girls jiving. Yeah baby!


Dizzy, by Tommy Roe (his 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 4th – 11th June 1969

It’s a song that just about manages to stay on the right side of ‘cool’, rather than ‘cheesy.’ And considering that this is a song that uses terms like ‘fellas’ and ‘sweet pet’ in its lyrics, that’s a pretty impressive feat. It’s catchy, that’s for sure, and the drums are real swingin’. The strings too, have a kind of tongue-in-cheek drama to them. Plus, I keep losing count of how many key changes are crammed into its three minute run-time.

The title itself is also very sixties. ‘Dizzy’, because he’s in love, man. You’re makin’ me dizzy, My head is spinnin’, Like a whirlpool it never ends… I’d say it’s a chorus that’s entered the common tongue – though whether that’s down to this original or the comedy version that will take it back to the top of the charts in twenty years’ time I don’t know.

I prefer the pre-chorus, though – one that builds up an irresistible head of steam: Girl you’ve got control of me, Cos I’m so dizzy I can’t see, I need to call a doctor for some help… I like it. A nice palate-cleanser of a disc. A short, sweet blast of late-sixties goodness.


Tommy Roe’s story is quite interesting. ‘Dizzy’ was a huge comeback for a singer who had failed to have a chart hit of any kind in the UK since 1962-63, when he had had big success with the Buddy Holly influenced ‘Sheila’ – a US #1. Considering the massive changes in popular music that have happened in the past seven years, this was a pretty impressive feat. Not that the comeback lasted very long… One #24 follow-up single and that was that.

Still, it might go some way to explaining the winning combination of bubble-gum and mild psychedelica that makes ‘Dizzy’ such a funky pop tune. One foot in the past, one very much in the present. Tommy Roe continued to record and tour throughout the seventies and eighties, before announcing his retirement officially in 2018, aged seventy-five.