One of our most popular articles was the Top Ten Horrible Histories Songs, and for good reason. Everyone loves HH and everyone loves Matt Baynton.
The only downside was keeping it down to just ten was not easy. Obvious solution to that! So please sit back and enjoy ANOTHER top ten of those wonderful songs.
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There is no ascending or descending order, they are all great
1. The George IV Song "Duchesses & Actresses" Sung by Jim Howick with Lawry Lewin
Not the first time a BBC series has done a first-rate parody of gluttonous George IV of the house of Hanover. The spoiled simpleton was bought to life in hilarity by the unlikely lean figure of the great Hugh Laurie in the BBC classic comedy series, Blackadder. So, it is for the second time we are laughing as Jim does a splendidly catchy routine lamenting the artery-clogging diet, lust for women, and tempestuous relationship with his ahem..."eccentric" father, the sitting monarch. in a situation not dissimilar to our current royal family, the heir apparent spent the majority of his life as just that.
It is not a parody of any particular song but the style of pop power-ballads, as Jim shows with his hands and memorable dice-throwing shots!
Also, to its credit, it mentions George and his flair for design. Often, he is remembered as a fat, abusive misogynist who squandered money and courted debauchery. While this was not to be ignored, he did have notable achievements. He modernised society and culture, he revitalised the royal architecture, designing among others the current home of the ruling monarch, Buckingham Palace, and Windsor Castle, as well as being in the chair for the defeat of Napoleon.
His contributions are contested, the majority hold him in disdain, but that is not the case for this hilarious song or the great Jim Howick. He delivers another routine of lovable physical comedy and deft lyrical satire. Lawry Lewin adds with his hilarious inserts as the ever-present father George III. "I'm a Kangaroo!"
2. Mary Seacole performed by Dominique Moore - Parody of Single Ladies by Beyoncé
The great thing about Horrible Histories is that it teaches us grown-ups a thing or two. I had never heard of Mary Seacole, Jamaican nurse from the Crimean War. Of course, I had heard of Florence Nightingale, but not this brave lady.
She applied to work in the hospitals but was refused. Not allowing this to deter her from what she saw as her duty, she set up independently on the battlegrounds and in the trenches, performing life-saving tasks while warfare ploughed on.
Later in life this remarkable lady used her own funds to start "The British Hotel" a hotel and boarding house for the war sick. People from all backgrounds came to her, soldier and officer alike.
Mary who was voted The Greatest Black Briton in 2004. She was widely loved, and when rendered bankrupt after spending everything on her hotel, was rescued by the grateful cured she had nursed in the notoriously bloodthirsty Crimean War.
The dance routine is fabulous, Dominique is a mover and a half! This is one time I most definitely prefer a remake to the original.
3. The Monarchs Song Performed by Simon Farnaby, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, Mathew Baynton, Ben Wilbond and Martha Howe-Douglas. Parody of Chas n Dave
Here we have the gang truly outdoing themselves. In an eye-catching serial of names, faces, facts, and dates, they go from William the Conqueror all the way to HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
Sang with memorable hooks, catchy quips, and with snippets of info regarding that subject’s reign: "A red hot poker killed Ed 2 that must have hurt him lots" for example. One of many crammed into the mix.
Must be remembered that this is a bloody good composition. In its own right. It fits every single monarch since 1066 and does it with tune, flow, and lyrical prose. yes, it is a good laugh but give it more credit, it is a technically proficient composition and a learning tool for many. The HH team make us laugh but they also bang out better tunes than most of the guest list of The Brits. Not romanticising the past or being a hipster, I am preaching the gospel of Baynton.
A special note for Jim's hilarious bits as Richard III doing the yap-yap mime as his story is told and getting progressively more rattled at each mention. Superb!
4. Blackbeard Performed by Jim Howick with Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond and Mathew Baynton. Parody of Gilbert & Sullivan
Little Jim Howick taking centre stage once again for this tale of bloodthirsty piracy and swashbuckling thievery on the seven seas with Bristol's notorious cutthroat rogue Blackbeard.
Difficult to find him quite so terrifying when he adds a musical "OH" to the end of each line a la Gilbert & Sullivan! Truly the kind of sketch Jim is made for, self-deprecation, physical comedy, a bit of jigging, and a burning beard.
One that really goes to town on giving you a fascinating history lesson at the same time as ensuring its special place in your head every time you are trying to sleep or concentrate for the weeks after you hear it. that said, when it is of this quality, who cares?
5. Dick Turpin: "Highwayman" Performed by Mathew Baynton with Jim Howick, Simon Farnaby, Laurence Rickard, Ben Wilbond and Martha Howe-Douglas. Parody of Stand & Deliver by Adam and the Ants
This time we see viewers favourite Matthew Baynton take the reins to tell us the nasty story of infamous English highwayman Dick Turpin. The usual high ratio of facts to words is present. We deal with the reign of terror this criminal spent, profiting from weary and fearful travellers using violence and dread to ensure full cooperation and even fuller coffers.
As is done on various occasions we are reminded that the colourful folk-hero image that has adorned this particular rogue is totally spurious and not even close to the truth. We are reminded he was neither dashing nor charming. Rather ruthless and murdering. We learn of his capture and his fate in the ear=pleasing canto sound that we are used to, and it is a definite highlight of the show this one
6. Cleopatra "Ra Ra Cleopatra" Performed by Martha Howe-Douglas with Ben Willbond and Mathew Baynton. Parody of Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
The long-time gone story of the infamously cruel and eccentric Egyptian Ptolemaic ruler Cleopatra. Martha Howe-Douglas has a gift for physical comedy and she also one heck of a dancer, a feat that should not be overlooked.
There are the usual gruesome nastiness-filled factoids about incest and murder that you would expect to find in any kids show. Somehow it feels justified here. Always backed up with research, education and a truckload of entertainment and laughs so that if you were offended or annoyed by it, it is time to retire...from oxygen
7. It’s a New World (Pilgrim Fathers) Performed by Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe- Douglas, Ben Willbond, Laurence Rickard and Simon Farnaby. Parody of Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys feat Jay Z
One of our family faves! A really lyrically fruitful composition with the usual musical and tone changes to prevent being too close to the original. Martha is hilarious as the hunched over Pilgrim Mother plonking at the harpsichord as Alicia Keys and as a tonic to the fun we learn how the horrors and the near death experiences were caused by lack of shipping know-how, agriculture and a bafflingly illogical choice of cargo. Also is mentioned how being taught to survive and saved by a meal from Squanto, the Indian and the roots of Thanksgiving. A brave choice to base it around a festival the majority of your viewers know nothing about, but that is Horrible histories for you, teaching and learning, not reminding and telling. Long may it reign.
8. Boudicca Performed by Martha Howe-Douglas with Mathew Baynton, Jim Howick, Ben Willbond and Laurence Rickard. Parody of general Alternative Rock Genre
Another entry led by Martha Howe-Douglas. She seems to have deservedly earned her place as queen of the list, this time playing Queen of the Celts. Telling the gruesome story of the treatment at the hands of the corrupt Roman ruling and leading an uprising and destroying the Roman strongholds of "Colchester, London, St Albans" (now try getting that out of your head when you try to sleep tonight!) and being killed rather than taken as a prisoner of Rome. Fun and furious and in my opinion better than the Kate Nash version from the movie. An accolade indeed. Great stuff!
9. Henry VII the Original Tu-Tu-Tudor Performed by Mathew Baynton with Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Simon Farnaby. Parody of Glam Rock
With a take on band such as The Sweet, T-Rex and others of the 70's we take a look at the little-known Henry VII. Being the king who reigned before the most famous king of English history makes it difficult to be made a memorable figure in history classes. Yet if that is the case, who better to turn to than the Horrible Histories clan? They take a look at his time on the throne, Defeating the hated Richard III, making sure the wealthy lords paid the tax they owed to the crown as well as the workers, and fighting off pretenders to the throne as well as defending Blighty against foreign hoards. This was a ruler who did not make a song and dance of everything, but had a song and dance made about him. with Matthew Baynton no less! Can't get much better than that!
· WWII Girls
· Born 2 Rule (4 Georges)
10. The Few Performed by Mathew Baynton, Jim Howick, Ben Willbond, Simon Farnaby and Laurence Rickard a parody of Relight My Fire by Take That
The hardest choice in my first top ten list of Horrible Histories songs was to not include this. The boys sing a fitting tribute to the fighter pilots of the RAF and the Czech and Free Polish forces for the Battle of Britain. Always sensitive when trying to parody recent history but as is expected the best in business do it with class and aplomb. There is humour but also unquestionable deference and respect for those men who climbed high in Spitfires and Hurricanes to outgun the superior numbers and tech of the invading Luftwaffe air force. Dogfights. sorties, it is all here and is polished off with a somber salute to Winston Churchill's epic speech thanking "The Few".
In recent years it has become trendy among "the hip", studenty type so-called intellectuals to sully the name of Mr Churchill. It is valuable work like this that shows how absurd, ugly, spurious, and wholly ungrateful these tight-trousered little oiks really are. So, thank you HH gang for reminding a generation that are seemingly forgetting what happened just how important things are. We knew we could rely on you (sorry for a bit of a personal rant there but it is a subject I am close to)
THE ONE I WISH IT WENT TO 11 FOR: Victoria and Albert
I loved this one, but I had too many other royal ones to include it, but for me it warrants more than an honourable mention. It is a parody of love songs but is truly heart-breaking and informative, not to mention hilarious with Jim hurting himself and Martha (of course) and her facial expressions. It is again done with such craft and skill it is superb and I had to slide it in.
I know I have done two top ten lists. I could almost do endless ones, I am not saying other ones are bad, to my mind they are all great. I cannot see me doing another as I do not wish to dilute the brand. If you have enjoyed my list, please sign up for more of the same at the top of this page
All pics courtesy of BBC unless stated