Released today in 1986: Merry Christmas Santa Claus


Chrysalis CLAUS1

Could this truly awful novelty Christmas single from Max Headroom be the reason why his American TV show ended a few months later? No, as it happens, but it was a truly awful record all the same. But then, releasing terrible singles at Christmas is a tradition in Britain and 1986 was no exception. Max Headroom was joined by these, among many others:

The Barron Knights R-R-Rock Me Father Christmas (Medley)
Serial novelty hit makers, it’s only surprising that they didn’t make more attempts at the Christmas charts than they did.

Derek Jameson Yes Virginia (There Is A Santa Claus)
The B-side of his kitschy single Do They Mean Us? (name after his television series, they answer being ‘They surely do!’), flipped to be the A-side over the festive period. “When will people learn that drivel wrapped in Christmas paper is drivel all the same,” asked Record Mirror – although the lack of a question mark at the end of that sentence indicated the reviewer had little hope that people would ever learn. They still haven’t.

Frank Sidebottom Christmas Is Really Fantastic
Chris Sievey’s alter ego, particularly popular in the mid-80s, with his second annual Christmas EP. Frank was a bit of a Pollyanna, relentlessly optimistic despite his limited circumstances (not least having a papier-mâché head). Christmas was therefore a time where he really came into his own.

Spitting Image Santa Claus Is On The Dole
Not the first or last time, the team from the ITV latex puppet show ‘Spitting Image’ tried for a hit single. The B-side was The 1st Atheist Tabernacle Choir: “If you don’t believe in God, clap your hands/If you don’t trust in The Lord, then clap your hands/If you reject the possibility of a deity then clap your hands/and join the atheist Tabernacle choir.”

Bill Waddington Don’t Forget The Old Folks At Christmas
Included on this list despite a technicality: in my opinion, true ‘novelty’ records are those recorded by acts who don’t make music for a living, and Bill Waddington at one point certainly did. But in 1986, he was known only as a soap opera actor.

These singles also had to compete with the usual charity releases and festive tunes from established artists such as The Swingle Singers (“The Housemartins for the over 45s. No thanks,” said Record Mirror), Boris Gardner (“Of the many other seasonal offerings, Boris’s reggae-ish treatment of the Christmas alphabet is the least nauseating”) and Elaine Paige (“It must have smashed Elaine’s brains to get involved with this Santa-and-sleighs fiasco”).

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 8
MAX HEADROOM Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re A Lovely Guy) (Chrysalis CLAUS1)


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