I can only assume the Great British Record Buying Public had had a collectively tough day. They got home, put their feet up, their coat on a hook, their cocoa by their side and their copy of “Michael” on the gramophone. And they were soothed. Fifteen years later we were still rowing the boat ashore, Hallelujah, in school assemblies.
If you look at the list of 1961 Number Ones you see no consensus, no binding thread or trend, Elvis hit the top regularly but the songs he used skipped haphazard from style to style. Instrumentals, death dramas, folk songs, throwbacks and teenage girls swap back and forth at the top of the chart, diverse and directionless. A lot of the songs are pretty bad: “Michael” isn’t, I think it’s sweet and sincere (and the whistling is so pretty), but the idea of such a modest song at the top of the pop charts is odd. Not unpleasant, just odd.