Yodelling hamster tries to knock St Cliff off pedestal as Christmas No 1

Once upon a time, the Christmas number one hit single was the province of crooners and swooners. A song in the fine tradition of "White Christmas", evoking sleigh bells and glistening tree tops, would top the charts.

Once upon a time, the Christmas number one hit single was the province of crooners and swooners. A song in the fine tradition of "White Christmas", evoking sleigh bells and glistening tree tops, would top the charts.

But on the eve of the new millennium, the contenders for the final number one of the 20th century hardly match the Bing Crosby classic.

This year, the most likely number one will be either Sir Cliff Richard's rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" set to the music of "Auld Lang Syne", or the dance mix of a yodelling hamster, taken from the eighth most visited Internet site.

If that doesn't appeal, how about the "Children's Promise" sung by everyone from the Spice Girls to Robin Williams, the Hollywood star, or "Mr Hankey, the Christmas Poo", by the children from the South Park television series?

The words of this charming little ditty are: "Mr Hankey, the Christmas Poo, He loves me and I love you, Therefore vicariously, he loves you."

A Radio 1 insider said: "It's true there are no big guns this year but then there are not many big bands around. You would have thought that for the last chart of the millennium everyone would have made more effort."

Sir Cliff, second favourite to be number one after Westlife, who have released a double A-side including a cover of Abba's "I Have A Dream", is top of the charts despite receiving very little airplay.

Both Radio 1 and 2 refused to include Sir Cliff's song, of which the kindest description was a "dirge", on their play lists, but the ebullient Christian bachelor's fans went out and bought the record anyway.

A spokesman for his record label, Chrysalis, said yesterday they were "praying" for the Christmas number one.

What has squeaked in with a good chance started as dancing hamsters, on a cult Internet site featuring a crowd of cartoon rodents dancing and yodelling to a tune from Disney's Robin Hood. Now The Cuban Boys, who met on the Internet and communicate largely via e-mail because two of them live in Preston and two in Eastbourne, have taken a sample of the sound and released a single, "Cognoscenti versus Intelligentsia".

They may sound like Pinky and Perky on speed but the band has found an unlikely champion in the DJ John Peel. He said: "This has to be, honestly, the most requested record I've played on the radio since "God Save the Queen" [by the Sex Pistols]."

Having repeatedly played it, he conceded it was "spectacularly irritating ... but also wonderful at the same time".

John McKie, the editor of Smash Hits, said the race would probably be won by Steps, Westlife or S Club 7, the biggest pop bands around , but it could go to an outsider. "There is something romantic about the British charts and the way the public can just decide to get behind a song and make it go all the way like Mr Blobby," he said.

"I don't think it will be South Park but I would be very happy to see The Cuban Boys at number one.

"As for Cliff, fair play to him. I don't like the song but ... the radio refused to play it and he still made it."

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power