Cult film soundtrack reaches heights of Christmas No 1

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The Independent Culture

The bleak soundtrack to a cult film has seen off competition from schmaltzy balladeers, retro-rockers and Pop Idol to emerge as this year's Christmas number one.

In one of the closest-run festive chart battles for years, Michael Andrews and Gary Jules defied the bookmakers' odds with their cover version of the Tears For Fears song "Mad World", which reached number three in 1982. The Californian duo recorded the track three years ago for the independent film Donnie Darko.

Midweek sales figures showed the Darkness's "Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)" was ahead by a tiny margin of 3,000. But the soundtrack, which features only vocals and piano, overtook the rock band at the weekend, thanks to widespread radio play. The Darkness dropped to number two.

Andrews said: "This was so unexpected. It's an incredible thing for me to be able to enter into the mainstream like this with one of my best friends.

"It's testament to the fact that people do like honest, simple music. You break something down to its most basic parts and people just react."

Jules said that as a musician who had been working for years with little exposure, remaining an unknown in the US, the recent round of interviews and performances in the UK had been "thrilling".

The bookies' favourite, a cover of the Plastic Ono Band's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by the Pop Idol finalists, was largely snubbed by record buyers and limped into the charts at number five. Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne, whose ballad "Changes" was knocked off the top spot by "Mad World", slipped to number three.

The Welsh comic Avid Merrion, star of Channel 4's Bo Selecta!, had hoped to emulate Mr Blobby and Bob the Builder by reaching number one with a novelty record, but "Proper Crimbo" only reached fourth place.

Will Young fell from two to six with "Leave Right Now", while the Black Eyed Peas' "Shut Up" is at seven.

Atomic Kitten entered the chart at number eight with "Ladies Night", beating girl group rivals the Sugababes, whose track "Too Lost In You" debuted at number 10.

Shane Richie's "I'm Your Man" cover is at nine.

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