Following Baroness Thatcher’s death in April 2013, a high-profile Facebook campaign and a media storm turned the Wizard Of Oz classic into an unexpected chart hit.
For over 70 years, Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead was nothing more than a 'jolly' ditty – despite its macabre title and lyrics – from classic 1939 movie The Wizard Of Oz, as the Munchkins celebrated an end to the oppression of the Wicked Witch of the East.
When Baroness Thatcher died on 8 April 2013, those who may not have been the biggest fans of the former Prime Minister began to download copies of the song. Thanks to a highly publicised Facebook campaign, it soon looked like these sales were to be reflected in the Official Singles Chart that Sunday.
Just one day after the Baroness’s death, three versions of the song were appearing in the Top 200, by Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Munchkins. Combined sales of 2,500 would’ve placed the song at Number 40.
Judy Garland’s version led the way at that stage, despite the fact the leading lady – who played Dorothy Gale in the film – doesn’t appear on the song at all. The original 1939 movie recording (formerly credited under differing names such as 'Judy Garland' and 'The Munchkins' across retail services) was then recredited to Wizard Of Oz Film Cast, with sales of the same sound recording counting towards the same chart position.
As media attention on the campaign increased, the song experienced a sales surge, showing up in the Official Chart Update that Wednesday at Number 10.
Listen to a clip of Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead before we continue its Official Charts story:
As we moved on to Thursday that chart week, the song showed no sign of slowing down, having sold 20,000 copies, but was still quite far behind that week’s best-selling single, Need U (100%) by Duke Dumont FT A*M*E, which was leading by 14,000 copies.
Not only was Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead in with a chance of being the most controversial Top 10 song of all time, it was also on course to being the shortest. The Wizard Of Oz Film Cast’s version ran to just 51 seconds.
Soon, a new controversy sprang up around the song – should BBC Radio 1 play Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead during its Official Chart Show that Sunday? Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper confirmed that the track wouldn’t be played in full, but a clip would be included as part of a news report during the show.
In Friday’s final sales update before the Official Top 40 was announced, the track moved up to Number 3 behind Duke Dumont FT A*M*E and Pink’s Just Give Me A Reason. Could the power of the public take it all the way to the top? Official Charts Company analysis since has shown that record-buyers in Scotland and the North West of England were particularly behind the campaign to get the song to Number 1 – with those regions being responsible for a disproportionate number of sales of Ding Dong that week.
Despite seeing a sales surge of 18,000 in the last couple of days before the chart was announced, Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead finished the week over 5,700 copies behind Duke Dumont and A*M*E’s track, with a final sales tally of 52,605.
It wasn’t the only Baroness Thatcher-themed song campaign to make its mark on the charts:Notsensibles’ 1979 single, I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher, made its Top 40 debut some 34 years after it was first released. The track, which featured in Meryl Streep’s 2011 Margaret Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady, was adopted in the wake of the Ding Dong! uproar by supporters of the late Prime Minister and landed at Number 35.
Listen to Ella Fitzgerald's extended version of Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead: