The X-Factor has just finished which means that the race for Christmas number one is on. There is s till a certain cachet attached to having a Christmas number one single.
In no particular order and for no particular reason, a few thoughts about Christmas number one singles…
1) Simon Cowell has ruined it for everyone.
The past 10 years have been dominated by x-factor winners who have enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame and then disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Matt Cardle anyone? Shane Ward? Leon Jackson? (to name just three).
2) Very few of the songs are any good.
You have to go back at least 13 years to find a semi-decent song (Sound of the Underground, 2002), and that’s a stretch. The early 90s produced quite a few decent Christmas number ones including a re-release of Bohemian Rhapsody (’91), Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You (’92), and East 17’s Stay Another Day in 1994. Personally, I would argue that 2 Become 1 (1996) was the last “good” Christmas number one but I’m sure plenty of people would disagree with me about that!.
3) Few are about Christmas.
From the last 35 years only five Christmas number one songs are actually about Christmas (and three of those are the same song(!) – Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas).
4) The ones that didn’t make it are better than those that did.
Check out the list of Christmas number two singles. They’re a much better collection of songs than the number ones. Starting with Uptown Funk in 2014 the list also includes Take That’s Patience (2006), and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You (1994), and the timeless Fairytale of New York (1987).
5) Few do it twice.
Only a select group of artists have had more than one Christmas number one. This illustrious list includes Cliff Richard (obvs), Queen, and Band Aid. Only The Beatles and the Spice Girls have done it three times in a row (1963/4/5 & 1996/7/8).
6) Revealed on Christmas Day.
Back in the day, the official weekly chart would be revealed on Sunday. The Sunday before Christmas would be the official Christmas chart. Now the chart has moved to Friday which means this year, we get the Christmas chart on Christmas day itself. The 2015 winner will be announced by Greg James on Radio 1.
7) The rise of the protest vote.
One amusing side effect of the X-Factor’s dominance on the Christmas chart is that each year, someone, somewhere picks a random song and decides that this will be the ‘alternative’ choice. Quite who does this is not clear to me. Once the song is chosen, it is followed by a groundswell of support on Facebook, some decent coverage in the traditional media, and then occasionally, just occasionally, victory (see Rage Against the Machine, 2009).
Click the images below to view the list of Christmas number ones from the past 60 years.