Given the seeming homogeneity of many hit songs, it might come as a surprise that some very strange and unconventional songs have found their way to the top of the pop charts in the past. Some are novelty song
s, some are just weird...
"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" is the perennial example of a strange hit, featuring a distorted voice and no musical instruments other than tambourines to keep rhythm. The 'song' reached #3 on the US charts and #4 on the UK charts. The single's b-side was a reversed version of the a-side, cleverly retitled "!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er'yehT". | Wikipedia
"Soul Makossa" is a strange proto-disco piece with lyrics in Duala, a Cameroonian language. A chant repeated through the song was adapted by Michael Jackson and used on the song Wanna Be Starting Something
. A version of Soul Makossa hit #35 on the US charts. | Wikipedia
"O Superman" by experimental musician Laurie Anderson may be the strangest song in this list. With a repeated squeaky blip as a beat and vocoded lyrics, it recalls the more recent Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap
. O Superman, however, towers above Hide and Seek in terms of sheer weirdness. The lyrics quote answering machine messages and the unofficial motto of the US Postal Service, and the song incorporates occasional strange instrumentation. The song reached an unexpected #2 on the UK charts. | Wikipedia
"Ant Rap" by Adam Ant isn't really a rap so much as an extended, almost structureless chant over rhythm sounds with a chorus (also not sung) to tie it together. Despite being described by its writer as "an attempt to do a record that had no fucking music on it, and take the piss"
, it reached #3 on the UK charts. (Previously
"Star Trekkin'" by novelty act The Firm holds the dubious distinction of being the only filk
song to hit #1 on the UK charts. It's an oddly patterned piece, with each verse introducing a new line, in the manner of the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The tempo increases through the song. | Wikipedia
And it's easy to forget that the Flaming Lips' novelty single "She Don't Use Jelly" was a hit outside of indie circles, reaching 9 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and 55 on the Billboard 100. | Wikipedia
has a good, but inevitably incomplete, list of strange hits.