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U.S. Duo Tops British Christmas Day Chart

December 22, 2003

LONDON (AP) _ A little-known U.S. duo won the race for the coveted No. 1 spot on the British Christmas pop music chart.

Surprise contenders Michael Andrews and Gary Jules beat local favorites, glam rockers The Darkness, to lead the official weekly chart Sunday with their ballad ``Mad World″ from the cult film ``Donnie Darko.″

Holding the top spot on the Christmas Day chart is considered a great honor in Britain and every twist and turn of the festive battle is keenly reported and debated. This year’s race was considered the tightest in many years.

``Mad World,″ a somber and sparse take on the 1982 Tears for Fears song _ which doesn’t even mention Christmas _ features Jules’ vocals and Andrews on piano. It initially was considered a longshot, but requests from the public and strong radio play gave it a late boost.

``My first reaction was just that it was unbelievable,″ Andrews said when he heard the news. ``This was so unexpected. It just took off. It’s an incredible thing for me to be able to enter into the mainstream like this with one of my best friends.″

Jules, who dashed over to Britain for a three-week whirlwind promotional tour as the single gained ground, was similarly surprised.

``It feels crazy. I really, really, honestly didn’t believe it would make it,″ he told the British Press Association from his home in Los Angeles, where he returned Saturday.

``I know it was close and everything but I honestly thought, it’s a really great song and people love it, but because it’s Christmas people are going to go for a Christmas song.″

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