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Ultravox’s “Vienna” Voted Best #2 Single In The UK

January 1, 2013 | Posted by Joseph Lee

NME reports that Ultravox’s “Vienna” has been voted the best #2 song of all time in the UK, in a poll organized by BBC Radio 2 and the Official Charts Company. The song was released in January 1981 and even though it had a lot of radio play and sales, it wasn’t enough to get #1 against Joe Dolce’s “Shaddup You Face”.

Next is The Pogues and Kristy MacColl’s “Fairytale of New York”. The song was first released in 1987 and is called the best Christmas song of all time by many. It was kept from the top spot from the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of “Always on My Mind”, which was originally a hit for Brenda Lee and later covered by Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley.

The poll was created to celebrate sixty years of the singles chart. DJ Tony Blackburn will play the entire top 40 on his three-hour New Year’s Day show, The Nation’s Favourite Number Two Single. He was one of several experts (including Radio 2’s Ken Bruce and Janice Long, Radio 1’s Annie Nightingale, Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot and former NME staffer and BBC 6 Music presenter Steve Lamacq) who made a list from 941 singles which made it to #2. Listeners for BBC Radio 2 voted.

Midge Ure, Ultravox singer, said: “We are extremely pleased and very humbled to have been given this honorary number one, especially knowing the outstanding records which were also in the running – ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Wonderwall’ to name just a few. A huge thanks to everyone who took the time and effort to vote for ‘Vienna’. It has restored our faith in the idea that the public will always recognize the good in music, and that this song has proved this.

Radio 2’s music head Jeff Smith added: “Vienna’ is a brilliant track; a true classic. It was up against hits by some of the world’s biggest acts – ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen, ‘Rocket Man’ by Elton John and ‘Rolling In The Deep’ by Adele. The countdown is packed with some amazing songs.

Here are the top ten #2 singles and the song that held them off in parenthesis.

1 – Ultravox – ‘Vienna’, 1981 (Joe Dolce – ‘Shaddup You Face’)
2 – The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York , 1987 (Pet Shop Boys – ‘Always On My Mind’)
3 – Don McLean – ‘American Pie’, 1972 (Chicory Tip – ‘Son Of My Father’, Nilsson – ‘Without You’)
4 – James – ‘Sit Down’, 1991 (Chesney Hawkes – ‘The One And Only’)
5 – The Stranglers – ‘Golden Brown’, 1982 (The Jam – ‘Town Called Malice’)
6 – The Kinks – ‘Waterloo Sunset’, 1967 (The Tremeloes – ‘Silence Is Golden’)
7 – The Beatles – ‘Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields Forever’, 1967 (Engelbert Humperdinck – ‘Release Me’)
8 – Queen – ‘We Are The Champions’, 1977 (Abba – ‘The Name Of The Game’, Wings – ‘Mull Of Kintyre/Girls’ School’)
9 – The Beach Boys – ‘God Only Knows’, 1966 (The Beatles – ‘Yellow Submarine’/’Eleanor Rigby’)
10 – A-ha – ‘Take On Me’, 1985 (Jennifer Rush – ‘The Power Of Love’)

Notable songs to not make the list include The Who’s “My Generation” (#12), Oasis’ “Wonderwall” (#13), Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” (#34) and Elton John’s “Rocket Man” (#37). Oasis was held off by Robson And Jerome’s “Up On The Roof”. A cover from Mike Flowers Pops was released a couple of months later and went to #1. Robson and Jerome also kept Pulp’s “Common People” from getting #1 with their cover version.

Other famous #2s include Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart”, T-Rex’s “Ride A White Swan”, and Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen”. The Pistol’s John Lydon has previously said he thinks the song (which was released in the Queen Silver Jubilee year of 1977) was held off on purpose by government forces. The song was held off by Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”.


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Joseph Lee
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