Last Christmas, Nottingham-born “dad blogger” Mark Hoyle found himself in eclectic company with Rage Against The Machine and Mr Blobby when his sausage roll-themed parody of Starship’s ‘We Built The City’ became the UK Christmas number one single.
This unlikely rise to the top was largely made possible through the huge following Hoyle commands with his online persona LadBaby, which boasts over five million followers across his various social media channels.
Hoyle decided to use his platform for good last year as his sort-of-festive chart entry ‘We Built This City On Sausage Rolls’ was released to raise money for the Trussell Trust, whose mission is to end poverty and hunger in the UK. The single raised enough money to fund 70,000 food packages which have been given out at food banks across the country over the past 12 months.
This year, LadBaby is back with ‘I Love Sausage Rolls’ — a take on Joan Jett‘s ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’, of course. NME caught up with the social media star ahead of today’s single release (December 13) to see if he’s confident about raising plenty more money for charity this year by successfully scoring back-to-back Christmas number ones.
NME: Hello, LadBaby. There’s less than two weeks to go until Christmas and the bookies reckon you’re going to dominate the festive charts again. How are you feeling about the prospect of consecutive Christmas number ones?
LadBaby: “It’s crazy, isn’t it? It was crazy to be in the conversation last year, and the fact that we’re even being talked about [this year] and that it could even be possible is just madness. You look at who you’re up against: Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey — it’s the 25th anniversary of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ this year, too. It’s just mad.”
What do you make of your rivals for Christmas number one this year?
“I’ve been listening to everything because, as far as I’m aware, I can listen to everything up until Friday [December 13] and then after that I’m not going to listen to anything because I know every stream counts. The disappointing thing is Stormzy, because I’m genuinely a massive fan of his and I’m not going to be able to buy his new album or listen to any of the songs because it might all make a difference!”
Sausage rolls: they did the business for you last year, so was it an obvious novelty theme to return to for this year’s effort?
“If you’d have asked me two months ago if I’d ever do a song again, I’d have probably said: ‘Never!’ I didn’t think the world needed to hear my singing voice again. But we went and spent some time with the Trussell Trust, and seeing how much of an impact the money from last year’s single, which paid for 70,000 emergency food packages, has made on the charity we knew we had to do something again. If we can achieve anything like we did last year, it would be worthwhile.
“Over the last couple of weeks, people have been sending us messages saying: ‘Are you doing a song?’ So we thought we’d give people what they’ve been asking for.”
‘I Love Sausage Rolls’ is, naturally, based on Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Did it take five minutes or five hours to choose that song in particular?
“It was a song that kept cropping up from our online followers; a lot of them kept suggesting it. We then sat around our house for two or three days listening to the top 50 karaoke songs, both UK and US, just to see which songs came up. The exciting thing for us last year was seeing how many people could sing along to it; the amount of videos we got of families on Christmas Day dancing with their kids and singing the song, everyone knew the words instantly. I think that’s really important: we wanted this to be feel-good, a bit of fun and we wanted a song that, from the minute it starts, you can sing along, enjoy it and have a laugh. ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is always in the top 10 of almost every karaoke list, so it was sort of a no-brainer.”
Would you ever write an actual Christmas song? They make an awful lot of money…
“I don’t know if I could! I’m not that good to [be able to] write a song that isn’t just having a bit of fun with something everybody already knows. I’d never say never, though: I said I’d never release a song again, and yet here I am! So I don’t suppose you can ever rule anything out.
“I don’t know if people would think [a LadBaby Christmas song] would be a bit more serious. I think this should be a bit of fun, really. And I don’t think I should be writing a real song, should I? I don’t think the world needs that…”
Tell us about the charity you’re raising funds for again this year, the Trussell Trust.
“We went and spent some time with them to learn how food banks work and learn more about the current situation in the UK. They said the money we raised last year was the equivalent of 70,000 emergency food packages, and knowing in the last six months they’ve had to give out 800,000 packages just shows that the need is so great. There’s four million children living below the poverty line, and in the UK we shouldn’t be in a position in this day and age where there’s children in the UK that can’t eat.
“For us, there’s not anything more important at Christmas: Christmas is about giving, and that’s what we want to do.”
Is the growing dependence on food banks now a national crisis? What needs to be done?
“I think it should be at the forefront of people’s minds. Obviously there’s so many issues and so many things going on [at the moment]… but I think there has to be a way that everybody in this country can eat, can’t there? There shouldn’t be people who can’t feed their children and are struggling just to get by. We just want to bring as much attention to that as possible, and whether it’s through downloading this song or even just [people] hearing the message behind it and then going to their local food bank to donate food, then that’s a job well done for us.”
What will people’s money from the song directly go towards?
“It’ll go to the front line of feeding people and families, making sure that people have enough to eat. That’s where the money from last year’s song went to, and that’s what we want to achieve this year. But we wanna raise more funds than we did last year, and if the chart position isn’t as high, then so what? We want to raise the same amount of money as last year, or even more — that’s the real goal. If we raise more money for charity, then we’ll be happy with that.”
What’s your pitch to the British music-buying public, then? They backed you last year, so why are people going to get LadBaby to Christmas number one again in 2019?
“Oh, I don’t know that they are! [laughs] I mean, we’ve done a song that hopefully helps people have fun at Christmas: something you can sing at home with your children and have a bit of fun [with]. It’s all in the spirit of Christmas.”