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.)