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Album: The Best of Cliff Richard (Columbia)Released: 1968Charted:
"Congratulations" is the longest single-word title and is also the longest (legitimate) word to appear in the title of an UK chart-topper.
John Paul Jones, later of Led Zeppelin, played bass guitar on this.
As well as the English version, Cliff recorded it in French, German and Spanish.
This came in #2 in the Eurovision Song Contest, losing out by just one vote to Massiel representing Spain with "La La La
This was written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, who the previous year penned Sandie Shaw's Eurovision winning song "Puppet On a String." In 1970 they had another chart-topper with England World Cup Squad's rendition of "Back Home."
The song originated when Coulter gave Martin a new melody with the title, "I Think I Love You." Coulter recalled in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "He said that you either loved someone or you didn't. He looked for a five syllable word which would fit the melody and came up with 'Congratulations.' The whole package with Cliff, that title, the brassy intro and the slow down and the key change in the middle was a good one. It was well put together for Eurovision and to be honest, we stole that slow down from Edith Piaf's 'Milord'."
Coulter recalled the Eurovision contest in 1000 UK #1 Hits
: "We were in the Royal Albert Hall (in London) and we had a very partisan crowd supporting Cliff. It looked as if we were going to win easily but the old enmities came to play and West Germany marked us down. The song that won, 'La La La' sank without trace and 'Congratulations' has proven with time that it really was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. I would settle for coming second with 'Congratulations' selling six million records and writing a song that has clothed and fed and educated my children than writing a song that has won Eurovision and disappeared without trace."
Despite losing out in the Eurovision Song Contest, this topped the charts throughout Europe selling several million copies. "Congratulations" has also become an all-purpose standard in the UK. It was performed outside Buckingham Palace following the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 and also the following year at Southampton docks when the victorious British troops returned after the Falklands war.
In 2008 it was claimed in a documentary that Cliff Richard lost out in the Eurovision Song Contest because of a fix by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Producer Montse Fernandez Vila alleged Franco bought votes so that Massiel won the competition. Spanish TV presenter Jose Maria Inigo added: "It was a fix. Massiel won Eurovision with bought votes."