Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead

Album: The Wizard Of Oz Soundtrack (1939)
Charted: 2

Songfacts®:

  • This is one of several individual songs performed by Glinda (Billie Burke) and Dorothy (Judy Garland) in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The group of songs celebrate the death of the Wicked Witch of the East by means of the tornado. Like many quotes from the movie, the phrase "Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Dead" entered the popular lexicon as a way to describe the downfall or departure of an unpleasant woman.
  • Composer Harold Arlen penned the song along with lyricist E.Y. Harburg. Arlen. Arlen recorded a duet version with Barbra Streisand that can be found on Streisand's 2002 CD, Duets. Glee cast members Lea Michele and Chris Colfer sang an identical rendering on the Season 3 premiere of the Fox TV series.
  • In 1967, The Fifth Estate recorded a #11 hit on the Hot 100 with their version, which also contained a classical interlude interpolating the bourée from Michael Praetorius's "Terpsichore." It became the highest charting rendering of any Wizard of Oz song.
  • Shortly after the April 8, 2013 death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, sales of this song surged in the UK thanks to a Facebook campaign and other efforts in the anti-Thatcher camp to send the song up the charts. The ploy worked, as the song made it all the way to #2, falling behind "Need U (100%)" by Duke Dumont.

    This presented a conundrum for the BBC, who run a countdown show on their Radio 1 network. They couldn't ignore the chart position, but also wanted to respect Thatcher's friends, supporters and relatives. Their compromise was playing about 7 seconds of the song with this intro: "Tributes poured in across the world for Margaret Thatcher when she died on Monday, but there were also people throwing street parties around the UK."

    The same week, another campaign in support of Thatcher got the 1979 Notsensibles song "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher" up to #35. The BBC played that one in its entirety.
  • The "Make 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead' #1 the week Thatcher dies" Facebook campaign was originally set up in 2007 as a mocking memorial to the British prime minister. Originally the campaign asked people to download Ella Fitzgerald's 1961 version, as at 51 seconds, it was feared Garland's original may be too short to qualify for the official chart. Following Baroness Thatcher's death the campaign kicked into gear and it soon became clear the Wizard of Oz rendition was eligible to chart.
  • Though the campaign just failed in its primary aim to reach #1 it did result in one achievement - the record for being the shortest song to ever make the top 10 of the UK singles chart.

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