Margaret Thatcher, the divisive former Prime Minister who died of a stroke on Monday afternoon, may have another musical footnote to her legacy next week: chart catalyst.
A macabre Facebook campaign, titled "Make 'Ding dong the witch is dead' number 1 the week Thatcher dies" and which launched yesterday, has been driving sales of the "Wizard of Oz" classic, originally sung by Judy Garland, in the wake of less-than-fond remembrances from the likes of Morrissey and an outpouring of anti-Thatcher sentiment online.
The Official Charts Company, the industry standard charts provider for the U.K., wrote today that three versions of "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" are currently placing in the Top 200 songs chart, with Judy Garland's recording at No. 54, Ella Fitzgerald's 1961 version at No. 146 and the Munchkins' cover at No. 183. Combined, they would place the song at No. 40 with 2,500 in combined sales. As OCC points out, however, Judy Garland's original will "likely… move into the Official Singles Chart Top 40 in its own right by Sunday if it maintains its current momentum."
According to iTunes sales aggregator LivePopBars, Garland's version is currently the digital retailer's second most popular song, sandwiched between Pitbull and Justin Timberlake (when we started writing this story it was at No. 5).
Meanwhile, British artists have been taking to the web to express their admiration -- at least in the case of Spice Girl Geri Halliwell -- and disdain for Thatcher. One tweet in particular seems especially prescient now, from Welsh band Los Campesinos:
— Los Campesinos! (@loscampesinos) April 8, 2013
Another anti-Thatcher tune, Elvis Costello's "Tramp the Dirt Down," is also making its way up the U.K.'s iTunes chart, currently sitting at No. 80. Referring to Thatcher, Costello sings: "When they finally put you in the ground / I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down."
The U.K. has in recent history incubated a strange, cheeky singles market that is seemingly more receptive to viral campaigns and humor -- especially at Christmas time. In 2012, for example, a novelty hit courtesy of Shahid Nazir's "One Pound Fish" came in at No. 29 after his market stall jingle became a viral hit on YouTube. In December 2011, the U.K.'s holiday charts were a race between the Military Wives, "The X Factor" and its yearly not-so-traditional holiday song competitor, a song recorded in 1960 about an Italian donkey and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the latter of which was elevated due to another Facebook campaign. Two years prior, Rage Against the Machine's song "Killing In the Name Of" was the beneficiary of another holiday-time social media campaign which eventually drove the song to #1 in the country and resulted in the band playing a free concert in London to celebrate the achievement.