So today marks the start of what is by common consent in the UK, the one time of year when the entire nation suddenly takes a vested interest in its singles chart. Because as of midnight last night, the race to be 2017’s official UK Christmas number one is under way.
If you’re a betting person, the favourite at the moment is the man who started the year at the top, and looks set to end it at number one, if he can hang on there for this week and next – that man of course, being Ed Sheeran with ‘Perfect‘. Legendary chart commentator James Masterton’s live blog on this year’s race will be the essential reading for the coming week to see if he does indeed hold off all his competitors to achieve this.
In the meantime though, today we are bringing you our favourite Christmas number ones from years past – with a handy playlist to accompany them all!
1978: BONEY M – Mary’s Boy Child
If anyone ever asks you in a pub quiz over this festive season what song has managed to top the chart at Christmas in two different versions, the answer is this one. First at the top for Christmas 1957 via Harry Belafonte, the German disco doyennes Boney M took their dazzling version of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ all the way to the top 31 years later, selling 1.8 million copies in the process.
1994: EAST 17 – Stay Another Day
If Take That were the early 90s equivalent of The Beatles, then Walthamstow’s finest, East 17, were their grittier, rugged Rolling Stones-esque counterpart. But they were capable of showing their softer side from time to time – as they brilliantly did on 1994’s Yuletide chart victor. Although written by the band’s chief songwriter Tony Mortimer about the passing of his brother, Ollie, ‘Stay Another Day’ has remained a traditional December soundtrack ever since.
1996: SPICE GIRLS – 2 Become 1
And from one 90s pop classic that’s become as traditional as crackers and sprouts at Christmas, to another. The first of three back to back festive chart toppers for Ginger, Posh, Baby, Sporty and Scary (‘Too Much’ in 1997, and ‘Goodbye’ in 1998 were the other two), this gentle, guitar flecked ballad is unquestionably amongst most people’s top 5 Spice Girls songs. It even has a deer in its wintry, New York set video – and what could be more festive than that?
2000: BOB THE BUILDER – Can We Fix It?
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Really Alex? But, I argue, that this festive chart topper is all about context, if for nothing else than proving that the tastes of the British public are quite unlike any other in throwing up some quirky surprises – and more so at Christmas. Who can forget the infamous Rage Against the Machine vs. Joe McElderry-gate from 2009?
Essentially an extended, two step styled version of the theme from the popular BBC children’s animation series, voiced by Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey, it was nothing short of brilliant to see this throttle Irish boyband/stool sitters Westlife – then smugly on a run of seven consecutive chart toppers – in the first Christmas chart of this century, shifting under a million copies in just four weeks to become the best seller of that year to boot.
2002: GIRLS ALOUD – Sound of the Underground
When Popstars: The Rivals aired on ITV in the autumn of 2002, anyone who was anyone seemed to be backing the winning boyband, One True Voice (remember them? Thought not) to take top honours that Christmas with their lame-o Bee Gees cover that Westlife could have recorded in their sleep.
But they did so, without reckoning on Cheryl, Nicola, Nadine, Kimberley and Sarah – aka the show’s winning girl group, Girls Aloud – coming out the blocks with their career starting, Xenomania helmed disco pop/drum’n’bass/surf guitar fed banger ‘Sound of the Underground’ – proof if needed, that sometimes pop reality shows bring us some brilliant artists in the process.
What have been your favourite Christmas number ones of years past? Who do you think will take it this year? Comment below or Tweet me and let me know your thoughts!