The fight to be at the top of the U.K. singles chart on Christmas reached new depths of ridiculousness this year. The coveted slot — which has made chart-watching a holiday tradition in the U.K. over the past few decades — seemed destined to go to U.S. Pop singer Ava Max or superstar Ariana Grande, but then shit got weird. A British parenting blogger and YouTube star named Mark Hoyle campaigned heavily for the top spot with a horrific parody of an already horrific song, Starship’s ’80s nightmare “We Built This City.” Released under his parental-pundit pseudonym, LadBaby, Hoyle added a dad-joke twist to the song — you see, in his version, the city is built not on Rock & Roll, but on “sausage rolls” — and begged his social media followers to buy the single. Enough did that it overcame a huge deficit in streaming numbers that had some chart experts saying it didn’t have a chance at the No. 1 position come Christmastime. The silver lining? Proceeds from the sales of the single went to The Trussell Trust, a national network of food banks for the needy.
WARM: Presidential Musical Moves for the New Year
The President of the United States ushered in 2019 with warm wishes for all of his fellow Americans and shared a list of his favorite music from 2018. Just kidding — to celebrate the New Year, Donald Trump whined about his border wall on Twitter. And he clearly doesn’t like listening to anything but the sound of his own voice. But our last POTUS did offer some 2018 “Best Of” lists. Along with his favorite movies and books, Barack Obama dropped a rundown of his eclectic 2018 musical faves, which included songs by J. Cole, Hozier, Anderson East, Cardi B, Lord Huron, Courtney Barnett, Brandi Carlile, Kurt Vile and Malian singer/songwriter Fatoumata Diawara. Check the full lists here. Obama kicked off 2019 by making his first appearance on the Billboard charts. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda enlisted him to appear (speaking, not singing) on a re-wired version of the musical's "One Last Time," which hit the first R&B Songs chart of 2019 at No. 22.
COLD: Girl, There's No EU Without U
The entire British music zeitgeist seemed to catch a case of the giggles over the holidays. Besides the LadBaby delirium, another head-scratcher was the appearance of a Dutch boy band called Breunion Boys, who released a single pleading with the U.K. to remain with the European Union. The group — put together by a Dutch filmmaker and artist — dropped its single “Britain Come Back” right before Christmas and is reportedly undertaking a tour of U.K. pubs to spread the song's anti-Brexit message. The track takes a seductive “hey, girl” crooner approach to convincing Brits to reject the imminent separation, with lines like, “There’s always been a sea between us, we used to sail it together — but you’re leaving, now we’re falling apart. Britain come back to us, it’s not too late to turn around.” Though the singers and their Svengali have been doing the media rounds insisting it’s not, it’s all an obvious (subpar) joke — during an appearance on Good Morning Britain, one singer said he believes in the anti-Brexit cause because “I watch BBC almost every day. I've watched all the movies, like Love Actually. I feel very passionate about Britain and was planning to live here so I'm involved in that way.”