Sunday, June 7, 2009

A stroll down novelty lane

Somebody has ranked the Greatest Novelty Songs, saving me from the arduous task of sifting through and choosing between timeless classics like "Disco Duck'' and "Ahab the Arab.''

You must remember some of these songs. You heard them playing endlessly on the radio. You learned the words even though you didn't want to. You couldn't get them out of your head.

Fifty-one years is a long time, but not long enough to forget "Purple People Eater'', which topped the Billboard charts for six weeks in 1958 and ranks No. 4 among the Greatest Novelty Songs on

Written and recorded by Sheb Wooley (who played cattle drive scout Pete Nolan on "Rawhide'') "Purple People Eater'' soared to No. 1 in just three weeks of airplay in June 1958. Amazingly, only three weeks earlier another Novelty nugget had been at the top, David Seville's "Witch Doctor.'' Ooo eee, ooo ah ah...

The only thing that kept those songs from being back-to-back No. 1s was "All I Have to do is Dream'', which was not a shabby interlude by the Everly Brothers.

Here are your Top 10 Novelty Songs, whose criteria includes "originality, wit, humor, and lasting popularity'':

1. They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Ha, Napoleon XIV
2. Monster Mash, Bobby "Boris'' Pickett
3. Charlie Brown, The Coasters
4. The Purple People Eater, Sheb Wooley
5. Alley Oop, The Hollywood Argyles
6. Witch Doctor, David Seville
7. Open the Door, Richard, Dusty Fletcher
8. Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, Allen Sherman
9. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Elmo & Patsy
10. Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor, Lonnie Donegan

If I were to rank these myself, "Hello Muddah'' would definitely be closer to the top. But I'm not going to do that because, thankfully, somebody already has. Here's the complete list.

No comments:

Post a Comment