For as long as we can remember, it’s the chart battle that generates the most publicity. It’s the one that people bet on every year. It’s the battle for the Christmas number one which is the big one!
We’ve spent hours looking at the Official Charts to gather these amazing facts about the songs that have been festive chart toppers since 1952.
And that is as good as any place to start, the first official Christmas number one, and in fact THE first Number One in the new singles chart, was ‘Here in my Heart’ by Al Martino. It was at the top for 9 weeks.
The Beatles were quite popular and became the first band or artist to have three consecutive Christmas number one singles, between 1963 and 1965. Then they had a fourth in 1967. That feat was equaled in the nineties by The Spice Girls who had three consecutive festive chart toppers between 1996 and 1998.
Cliff Richard featured on three consecutive festive number ones as well, but only two as a solo star, ‘Mistletoe & Wine’ in 1988 and ‘Saviours’ Day’ in 1990, and in between he was on Band Aid 2’s version of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’.
Which leads us nicely to that song. Versions of it have topped the chart in 1984, 1989 and 2004. (Band Aid 30 in 2014 was a number one, just not at Christmas). This means, by our reckoning, it’s the song that has topped the chart at Christmas the most. Here’s the often forgotten second version of the track.
The only song to reach Christmas number 1 twice by the same artist is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen in 1975 on its original release, and then again in 1991 following the death of Freddie Mercury.
The first festive favourite to actually feature the word Christmas (or its variants) was in 1973 when Slade topped the chart on the 25th with ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’. And only six more since have featured the word. Like this one from 1985…
For many years, the Christmas Number One belonged to the X Factor. The show produced 7 festive chart toppers between 2005 with Shayne Ward, until 2014 with Ben Haenow. However, in 2009, people had had enough so a campaign was launched to get Rage Against the Machine to the top. And it worked. Of course, the X Factor wasn’t the first TV talent show to produce an artist who reached the top spot at Christmas. That accolade goes to Popstars The Rivals in 2002, with Girls Aloud’s debut hit ‘Sound of the Underground’.
There have been some very unusual songs to top the chart at this time of year, which in all honesty, probably wouldn’t get close to number one at any other time of year. Yes, we are talking about Benny Hill, St Winifred’s School Choir, Mr. Blobby, Bob the Builder, and Ladbaby!
And spare a thought for a trio of the biggest Christmas tracks that didn’t even get to number one. Wham released ‘Last Christmas’ in 1984 but because of Band Aid, it stalled at number two for 5 weeks. It does win the award of being the biggest selling song ever in the UK not to be a number 1 single! In 1987, the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s ‘Fairytale of New York’ – the most-played Christmas song of the 21st century – was kept off the number one spot by Pet Shop Boys covering Elvis’ ‘Always on my Mind’. And finally, in 1994, Mariah Carey released ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. It was destined to top the charts before these four chaps from London put their big furry white jackets on!
So, there you have it, our fun* fact-filled look at Christmas Number One singles. Merry Christmas from all of us at KVH Studios!
(* because it’s ‘fun’, we haven’t mentioned – until now – the most depressing Christmas Number One from Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules and their cover of Mad World in 2003)