Having done songs named after days of the week, now I move on to how the months of the year have been represented through chart entries in the Official UK Singles Chart.
There have been many chart entries which go through several months of the year, such as ‘Obsession’ by Tich, which is about a crush which goes on for months. But this list will mainly be songs where the month is in the title, of course nothing all to do with the fact that those are much easier to find on polyhex.com and the Official Charts Company website. Look, it would take forever to find every single lyric mention of a month in every song that’s ever charted in the UK! Having said that, I’ll also include a few tracks where the month gets a mention even if it isn’t in the title, as well as a few album tracks which do mention a month in the title.
‘January’ was a number one single by Pilot in 1975. Though oddly enough it got to number one on the 1st of February in that year!
The track is quite summery, it mentions summer and sun. January is a summer month in the Southern Hemisphere, and this song was number one in Australia, but in Pilot’s native United Kingdom, January is very, very much a winter month.
Then again, the song ‘January’ has nothing to do with the month besides the name. Like many pop songs, it’s a love song where the title is a girl’s name. A girl named January. There are quite a few months which are often used as a girl’s name. April, May, June, July (OK, I’m joking with that last one, July doesn’t count, the closest you can get to that is “Julie”.) I have heard August as a girl’s name, Tommy’s girlfriend in the sitcom Third Rock From The Sun for example. And there is a female singer called September. But January is pretty rare. The first time I heard January as a name at all before was in ‘The Merchant’s Tale’ in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and in that January was used for a male character. But it has been used as a female name too. There are in fact two different women named January Jones who have an article on Wikipedia for example, one is a ’60s pop singer and the other is an actress famous for playing Betty Draper in Mad Men and Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class.
Anyway, back to talking about the song. The track isn’t heard so much these days, but it was used in an ad campaign for ASDA last year.
There is only one other UK chart entry with January in the title, and it shares with February…
… and February has no other UK chart entries where it is in the title except this one, ‘January February’ by Barbara Dickson.
It reached number 11 in 1980. Barbara Dickson is mostly known for musical theatre and her biggest hit in the UK Singles Chart is the 1985 charttopper ‘I Know Him So
Well’, a duet with Elaine Paige from the musical Chess. The video for ‘I Know Him So Well’ is known for being very ’80s, and the video for ‘January February’ looks even more so. Barbara Dickson wears a suit and bow tie, has a big perm and the set featuring a spiral staircase and lots of houseplants looks very dated, but the song itself is quite nice.
‘American Pie’ by Don McClean mentions February, referring to a specific day, the 3rd of February 1959, The Day The Music Died, when a plane crash tragically killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper.
It’s surprising there aren’t many love songs about February considering it is the month Valentine’s Day falls in, but as you probably expect romance features in a lot in pop songs, there are more love songs named after other months.
Though there are none for March. In fact, March has NO UK Singles Chart entries where it is in the title. There are plenty of songs with the word “march” in there, but they mostly refer to marching, as in what armies and marching bands do. Well, you can see why music will include marching sometimes, and perhaps that’s why there aren’t any songs with March the month in there.
I want to have at least one video for each month, so I’m going to have to cheat on this one. I’ll go with ‘Leeds, Leeds, Leeds (Marching On Together)’, the official anthem for Leeds United Football Club. My dad has been a lifelong supporter! It has technically reached number 10 twice, once in 1972 as a B-side, and again in 2010 as a digital download.
‘April Love’ reached number 7 for Pat Boone in 1957. It’s a very wholesome 1950s track, and talks about April Showers and “flowers for a first bouquet”. I kind of feel bad for not liking it that much, as it’s nice and sweet and I’m sure it’s a classic to many, but it’s little too sugary for me.
It wasn’t until 30 years later that there would be another April chart entry, ‘April Skies’, number 8 for The Jesus And Mary Chain in 1987.
This is definitely more my cup of tea. This is a marvellous track. It’s very dark and moody, and the guitars are classy.
Finally, there’s the UK garage track ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’ by Omar, which reached number 48 in 2000. It’s samples ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’ by Prince. Well, it’s true that sometimes it snows in April. My parents got married in an April and it snowed!
When we think of a song about May, most of us will think of that “strolling through the park one day in the merry merry month of May” one, and if you’re wondering what that is called, it’s ‘Fountain In The Park’. It dates back to the 1880s, and has never been a hit single in the UK, but it’s still probably worth mentioning as it is probably THE May song.
The biggest hit May song in the UK singles chart is ‘First Of May’ by the Bee Gees, which reached number 6 in 1969. It doesn’t refer to May Day, but it does refer to Christmas! Christmas trees to be precise, apple trees too. But it could be a Christmas song. You know I mentioned ‘The Merchant’s Tale’ earlier? It’s about a lecherous old knight named January and his young wife May who cheats on him. The names are meaningful, with someone at the winter of their life and someone who is at the spring of their life. They are opposites. Yeah, alright, this is kind of an excuse to get my English Language & Literature A Level stuff in here, but like Pilot – ‘January’ was a summery song that was called January, ‘First Of May’ is a song which sounds Chrsitmassy but named after May.
I’m not keen on ‘First Of May’ though. It’s very nostalgic, and it comes off as a bit depressing and sickly.
My favourite May song to have entered the UK Singles Chart is this one from 1995, ‘Sweetest Day Of May’ by Joe T. Vanelli Project. It’s a house track, and is very uplifting, particularly the soulful vocals.
Roxette reached number 52 with ‘June Afternoon’ in 1996, a summer song talking about stuff like buying ice creams. The video is very brightly coloured featuring a painted rainbow, and is referencing the ’60s in general. Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery came out a year later in 1997, but looking back now the video does look very Austin Powers-ish.
BT got to number 19 with a trance track ‘Flaming June’ in 1997.
There were two June songs in 2005. ‘Seven Days In Sunny June’ by Jamiroquai, and ‘June July’ by Apartment.
Most of those songs refer to June being a hot sunny month with people having barbeques and diving in outdoor swimming pools. ‘June Gloom’ by The Like from 2006 perhaps
has the mood more accurate for British weather. That track is indeed very gloomy. It sounds a bit like ‘Creep’ by Radiohead actually.
As June is my birth month I’d like to include a video which is of a song I really like, and to be honest I don’t really like any of the June songs all that much! So I’m going to go ahead and include a song that just mentions June, ‘Dakota’ by the Stereophonics. This was a fantastic track, by far their best song and their only number one. Why couldn’t they have been this good all the time?
There’s ‘June July’ by Apartment, as mentioned above. ‘July’, a song which reached number 31 in 2000 by Britpop band Ocean Colour Scene also talks about the transition of months, with June becoming July. Another thing both those tracks have in common, aside from both being indie tracks released in the Noughties, is that they were both double A-sided singles. Apartment -‘June July’ was a double A-side with a track called ‘Everyone Says I’m Paranoid’, and Ocean Colour Scene – ‘July’ was a double A-side with a track called ‘I Am The News’.
Ocean Colour Scene – ‘July’ was also the theme tune to the TV series spin-off of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Staying in the Noughties, singer-songwriter Natty got to number 53 in 2008 with ‘July’. Not a cover of the Ocean Colour Scene track, this was a relaxed summer track looking back at July as “a lovely year”. Not sure how that works, but that’s what he says.
In 2010, Kelis got to number 32 with ‘4th of July (Fireworks)’. It has a similar concept and even some similar lyrics to ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry, which was also released in 2010. Both tracks use fireworks as a metaphor and the idea of “light[ing] up the sky like the 4th of July”. Katy Perry’s song was a much bigger hit. I wonder if being too specific about the date cost ‘4th of July (Fireworks)’? It is literally one day! Unsurprisingly, Independence Day isn’t something celebrated here in the UK. Not because we’re particularly offended by it, it’s more that it passes by unnoticed. Our big firework event is Bonfire Night, the 5th of November. Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ gets a lot of revived interest here then, and on New Year’s Eve, even though it doesn’t mention either of those events. Having said that, the UK is the only country where ‘4th of July (Fireworks)’ made the chart at all, so it’s probably more to do with profile, as Kelis has always done better in the British charts than in her native United States.
My favourite July song though is the gorgeous ‘Winter In July’ by Bomb The Bass, which reached number 7 in 1991. It’s one where everything comes together, intriguing production by Tim Simenon, beautiful vocals by Loretta Heywood, and a very atmospheric video.
The August song I am most familiar with is ‘August’ by Rilo Kiley, but that was never released as a single, it is on their 2001 album Take Offs And Landings.
There has only been UK Singles Chart entry namechecking August in the title, and it’s another one which is sharing with another month! It is ‘August October’ by Robin Gibb, which reached number 45 in 1970. Most of these songs which have two months in the title are two months which follow on, like ‘January February’ and ‘June July’. ‘August October’ mentions a few other months too though; May, April, July, September and November.
‘August October’ is “baroque pop”, that is pop which includes instruments often used in classical music like the harpsichord or the oboe among others.
Robin Gibb of course also appeared on ‘First Of May’ as part of the Bee Gees. But apparently he released a cover version of that with just himself with The X Factor series 1
runners-up G4 in 2005! That very much passed me by!
For a September song you could have, well, ‘September Song’ by JP Cooper from last year. It’s a serviceable, wistful nostalgic-yet-regretful teenage love song and got to number 7 in 2016.
There is another ‘September Song’, but it is completely different. It reached number 51 for Ian McCulloch in 1984, and it is condensing someone’s lifetime into one year. It’s actually an American standard dating back to the 1940s.
David Whitfield reached number 3 in 1956 with ‘My September Love’. It’s another nostalgia for a romance one, talking about leaves which match his girlfriend’s golden hair. People do associate romances with the time of year it happened, and indeed with what songs were popular then.
‘September In The Rain’, performed by Dinah Washington reached number 35 in 1961, and uses September as a signal for the coming of winter, which it is in the Northern hemisphere. The nights get darker earlier, leaves turn brown and fall off, and the weather gets less appealing to be outdoors in too. In ‘September In The Rain’ though, even though spring is around it still may as well be September as the relationship is no longer there. ‘September In The Rain’ is another American standard and was originally from the 1937 musical film Melody For Two.
Carole King got to number 3 with ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’. In a way, that title looks like the complete opposite of ‘September In The Rain’ but it has a similar concept. The weather has been nice, all the protagonist’s friends have been enjoying picnics by the beach, but while her loved one is away it “might as well rain until September”. It sounds a bit passive-aggressive, to be honest. But to be fair apparently it was popular with high school students who were missing their partners during the school holidays and from people who had someone serving in the military and was away for a long time.
‘Come September’ by Bobby Darin reached number 50 in 1961. It was the theme tune to a 1961 romantic comedy of the same name, which Bobby Darin himself appeared in. Not as the leading man though, that was Rock Hudson.
Natalie Imbruglia had a track called ‘Come September’ on her 2001 album White Lilies Island album, but it’s a different song. For one thing, it has lyrics, whereas the Bobby Darin one is an instrumental. The Natalie Imbruglia track was never released as a single, but I wanted to mention it as it is lovely. It’s more of a “going through tough times but hope that things will get better” song than a love song.
‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ by Green Day reached number 8 in 2005. It’s a very personal song to Green Day’s frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, as it is about the death of his father. It also became associated as way of getting through horrific world events, becoming associated with the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the video starring Jamie Bell and Evan Rachel Wood shows a story based on the Iraq war. It is a very beautiful song, and you see why people responded to it.
(On a really, really, really shallow note considering the depth the song has, Billie Joe Armstrong does look very gorgeous in the video, and Jamie Bell is quite cute in it too).
The ultimate September song though has to be this absolute classic, ‘September’ by funk soul band Earth, Wind & Fire. It reached number 3 in 1978.
Earth, Wind & Fire did a Christmas remix of it called ‘December’, i.e “the 25th day of December”. It works better than you might expect, it sounds Christmassy with the horns and some alliteration, “day of december”. But the original version is definitely the best.
Surprisingly, there are no Halloween tracks which have charted with October in the title!
As well as Robin Gibb’s ‘August October’, there’s ‘When October Goes’ by Barry Manilow, which reached number 85 in ’84. It’s a piano ballad which notes that when October goes it’s the start of winter, so the protagonist hates to see October go.
My favourite October song is by an act who were my favourite band when I was in high school, JJ72 with ‘October Swimmer’. It still sounds good today, it is a shame they never quite made it big.
The ’90s was very much November’s heyday in UK singles chart terms, as all the chart entries with November in the title came in the ’90s.
‘November Rain’ by Guns N Roses got to number 4 in 1992, and is a big power ballad. There are very grand production values both for the song itself and the video, which is one of the most expensive ever made. There’s an orchestra, a wedding and a funeral. It is all probably best remembered though for Slash’s guitar solo performed outside a church.
‘November Spawned A Monster’ by Morrissey got to number 12 in 1990, and is about how people with disabilities are treated by others.
‘Gone ‘Till November’ by Wyclef Jean (number 3 in 1998) is about how he will be, er, gone till November. More specifically it’s another song about being separated from a loved one for months, this time from the point of view of the person who is going.
While Valentine’s Day and Halloween aren’t mentioned in songs named after their month, that is not the case with the UK’s previously mentioned firework event, Bonfire Night. ‘Born On The 5th of November’ by Carter U.S.M. got to number 35 in 1995. It mentions fireworks and writing names with a sparkler. It has a similar concept to another ’90s track, ‘I Was Born On Christmas Day’ by Saint Etienne & Tim Burgess, which mentions November but is of course referring to the 25th of December, which leads us nicely to:
There is a bookend that the only two months that can claim a UK number one single named after them are January and December, and they came just a year apart from one another.
‘December ’63 (Oh What A Night)’ by The Four Seasons reached number 1 in the UK in February 1976 and topped the US charts in March 1976. Like many of these songs, it’s looking back at a past time and a relationship (or at least, a memorable night, possibly even his, er, first time). It is a bit more upbeat than the other songs of its type though.
There are a few Christmas songs which have December in the title.
One of my favourites, in fact one of my favourite Christmas songs in general is ‘December Will Be Magic Again’ by Kate Bush, recorded in 1979 but released as a single in 1980 making number 29. It has a spooky fairytale feel to it, which is probably why you get fanmade videos of it using clips from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a film which came out in 1993. The single cover for ‘December Will Be Magic Again’ does have a cartoon on it as it happens, of a lion dressed as Santa.
The X Factor series 2 runner-up Andy Abraham performed a duet with TV presenter Michael Underwood for the swing style Christmas song ‘December Brings Me Back To You’ which got to number 18 in 2006.
George Michael got to number 14 with ‘December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)’ in 2009, about memories of childhood Christmas.
The most recent December named chart entry was ‘Remember December’ by Demi Lovato. ‘Remember December’ reached number 80 in 2010, and is an odd electrodance-rock hybrid of a song.
There are a few dark December songs. Rock band All About Eve released ‘December’ in 1989, peaking at 34, and it is a fairly gothish song. ‘A Long December’ by Counting Crows (number 62 in 1996) is a downbeat track about a long December concluding a bad year.
Also from 1996 is ‘Flowers In December’ by Mazzy Star, which reached number 40. The harmonica is great, and Hope Savadol’s vocals are exquisite. It has a goth-ish themed video with a Victorian setting, iron gates and fog.