"Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" Climbs U.K. Charts

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 12 2013 12:04 PM

"Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" Climbs U.K. Charts

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Thatcher haters are rallying around the song "Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead," from 1939's "The Wizard of Oz," as they celebrate the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Photo by Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images

A campaign by anti-Thatcher protesters following the former U.K. prime minister's Monday death may prompt the BBC to play "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" on its Sunday music charts show. That should be interesting, given that BBC execs aren't sure the show's target audience of 16-to-24-year-olds knows who Thatcher was.

As of Friday, "Ding-Dong!" is No. 3 on the Official Charts list, the one used by the BBC Radio 1's "Official Chart" show.  It's currently behind something called "Need U (100%)" by Duke Dumont and A*M*E at No. 1 and P!nk feat. Nate Ruess’ "Just Give Me A Reason" at No. 2. But the Munchkin-based ensemble number from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" is selling about 2,000 copies a day online, prompting the BBC to indicate that it will play the song if it remains on the charts. Now, the BBC's trying to figure out how to explain it to the show's audience. According to the Guardian, Radio 1 might bring in a news reporter to provide some context:

"it is understood The Official Chart Show presenter Jameela Jamil might have to invite a reporter from Radio 1's Newsbeat to explain to listeners why a track they are unlikely to be familiar with has charted. 'Among the 16- to 24-year-olds, a lot of people are saying they are not 100% sure who Thatcher is. Even though this seems extraordinary, they may not understand who that song would chart,' said a BBC source."
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The resurgence of "Ding-Dong!" isn't exactly spontaneous: Facebook and Twitter campaigns have encouraged Thatcher haters to download the song for precisely this reason. Unsurprisingly, the conservative wing of the British press has denounced the campaign and demanded that the BBC decline to play the song our of respect for the late conservative icon. The Sun, for one, has condemned the "hate-filled lefties" who "hijacked" the ditty, in its opinion.

The BBC won't make a final decision on giving the song airtime until the charts are finalized on Sunday morning.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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