In a fortnight’s time this year’s Christmas number 1 will finally be revealed following weeks of speculation over who will take the most coveted title in the UK charts.
For much of the last decade it seemed to be a very closed race as year after year the winner of the X Factor took the crown with their debut single. A total of 7 winners of the singing competition have claimed the Christmas number 1 spot, the most recent of which being Ben Haenow with his cover of ‘Something I Need’ back in 2014. An X Factor number one is no longer assured, however, with the rising popularity of campaigns to prevent the winner from reaching the top. The most notable of these was back in 2009 when an unexpected battle between Joe McElderry and Rage Against the Machine saw the latter come out on top. It prevented the show from obtaining 5 consecutive Christmas number ones, although they did manage to add another to their collection the following year with Matt Cardle’s ‘Many of Horror (When We Collide)’ cover.
Alongside these campaigns, charity singles have also become popular contenders for the Christmas title, with last year’s number one going to the cover of ‘A Bridge Over You’ by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir following a tough battle against Justin Bieber. The pull of helping a good cause often leads these singles to do well, especially when they’re boosted by a great deal of online support.
The thing is, I have a problem with all of these songs becoming number one. The reason why? They aren’t Christmas songs! Not since Band Aid 20 released their cover of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ back in 2004 has the Christmas number one gone to an appropriately festive song (not that the song was that joyful). Given it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year I’d expect everyone to buy something a little more merry.
I’m probably overreacting when I say I have a problem with these songs hitting the top spot because a fair number of them I do actually like. What gets on my nerves, though, is that ever since the X Factor was toppled from the number one spot in 2009, no major campaign seems to have revolved around supporting a Christmas song. I know I’m quite biased saying this given that I’m not a fan of rock music, but why pick ‘Killing In the Name’ over something that’s appropriate for the holiday season. It’s as big a contrast to Christmas as you can get, and it spoils what is supposed to be an uplifting and happy time of the year.
It’s not just the ‘Rage Against the Machine’ campaign that bugs me. Without trying to badmouth any of the charities, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t choose to cover a Christmas song when it’s being released to tie in with the festive chart battle. Not only is it an annoyance that it strays away from the music that I (and many others) like to listen to at this time of year, but also seems like a missed opportunity for raising money for their respective charities. The resurgence of many Christmas classics in the charts every year proves how successful this genre of music can be, so why not make the most of that?
The purpose of this post is not to complain, though. Not entirely anyway.
Having looked at this year’s contenders for the Christmas number one, there’s quite a good chance that a festive song will hit the top spot for the first time in over a decade. I’m placing my hopes on Mariah Carey’s classic ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ now that streaming forms such a large part of the chart statistics. The song has reentered the UK top 40 every year for the last decade, and given it always does well on downloads alone, the addition of streaming might see the 1994 track finally hit the top spot. I certainly wouldn’t be complaining given that it tops the list of my favourite Christmas songs ever made.
Although not likely to reach the heights that Carey’s track might, other festive classics like ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogue’s featuring Kirsty MacColl, and Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ are also in the running for Christmas number one. Their popularity is likely to see them enter the top 40 at least, but it would probably take something special to see them sell/streamed enough to overthrow all of their competition.
One of the bookie’s favourites to reach number one is ‘If Everyday Was Christmas’, the debut single by 11 year old Cruz Beckham. The Bieber-esque track is not one that I’d buy, but I give it my support on the basis that it’s an original track that is wonderfully festive, qualities that make a worthwhile chart-topper at this time of year. Plus, all the proceeds made from the track go towards charity, giving people more of a reason to buy it.
Finally, with a performance confirmed for this week’s X Factor final, Australian superstar Kylie Minogue might be lucky, lucky, lucky enough to see her new single ‘At Christmas’ climb the charts if all goes well. The song is taken from her repackaged festive album ‘Kylie Christmas’ which I wrote a review for back in November. Given Kylie’s lack of chart success in recent years I don’t see this track making it to number one come December 23rd, although the X Factor has been known to help many songs sell more copies after being performed on the show. Even with poor ratings, there are still over 5 million people watching the singing competition every weekend, so at the very least I’m hopeful that this might help the song enter the top 40. That’s not asking for much really.
It’s hard to say which song will prevail. As last years chart battle proved, things can completely change come the end of the week. My feeling right now is that it won’t be a festive track that takes the Christmas number one this year, although I’m still holding out hope. You never know what might happen.