How to get a Christmas Number 1

Fancy topping the festive chart? Here's how to make it happen.

You have to think big if you're going to get the biggest Number 1 of the year. You've got to be smart enough to both beat the competition and win over the great British public. We look at past Number 1s and trends over the last 65 years of the Official Singles Chart to come up with these handy hints, just in case you fancy having a crack at the top of the tree…

Avoid Christmas in the title

The rookie mistake many artists make is to assume all they have to do is release a Christmassy song – preferably with a seasonal title – and they're a shoo-in. Wrong! Only six Christmas Number 1s have had the word "Christmas" in the title – seven including Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody – and three of those were actually the same song, Do They Know It's Christmas.

A further five have had a vaguely seasonal theme, but the overwhelming majority have barely even considered Christmas. Fancy! So, binning off Santa and/or the Nativity is your best start.

Do it for charity

You might have to park your hopes of untold riches if you want to a Christmas Number 1 – almost a third of festive chart-toppers since 2000 have donated the proceeds to charity. Don't worry, we're sure your next single will make a fortune.

MORE: Every Christmas Number 1 ever

Make sure it's available to buy everywhere 

You have to get your song into one of the 6,500 genuine retailers who report their sales to the Official Chart. iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, 7Digital, and many more; we count all the major digital stores. Multiple purchases don’t count though, remember. Everything you need to know about meeting the Official UK Chart rules can be found here.

Enter The X Factor

Okay, so you have to brave rounds of auditions, boot camp, the six-chair challenge, judges' houses, live shows, the odd sing-off, the final and then, like, WIN the whole thing – but once you've got over that minor obstacle, the chances are pretty good.

Out of the last 10 Christmas Number 1s, six have come from the talented pipes of an X Factor winner. Yet another reason not to enter The Voice, perhaps.


You need to be channelling Burko, basically.

Get it onto streaming services

More and more people are choosing to stream music rather than buy, so you need to make sure your music is there for them – it all helps the journey to the top. Just some of the streaming services that contribute streaming data towards the Official Chart include Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, O2 Tracks, Tidal, Napster and plenty more.

MORE: The contenders for the Official Christmas Number 1 2017 

Be a man

While we're doing our best to smash the patriarchy, statistically, it's still a man's world where the Christmas Number 1 countdown is concerned. Booo! In the first 20 years of the Official Singles Chart, a woman featured on a Christmas chart-topper just ONCE – Winifred Atwell in 1954. Overall, 21 Christmas Number 1s have had a female involvement of some kind, with only five of those going to solo artists, but male domination has definitely decreased over the last decade or so – six of the last 10 years' Christmas Number 1s have been sung by women.

Be in a band

Bands fare better than solo artists in general. While the Beatles reign supreme with four Christmas chart-toppers to their name, you've more chance of of topping the Chrizzy countdown in modern times if you're in a girlband. Over the last 20 years, four Number 1s have been from girlbands – three of those from Spice Girls, so perhaps you should consider persuading them to get back together, and admitting you as a new member. Shouldn't be too hard, right?

If you're in a boyband, consider adding at least one lady to your membership – the last all-male lineup to score a Christmas Number 1 was Westlife in 1999.

Remember the physical collectors

Vinyl is B A C K in a big way and there are some people out there who still love a CD. HMV and Fopp still stock physical copies, and supermarkets are a good bet too.


It's all about the formats if you want a festive chart-topper. The boots might help too.

Do a cover version

One thing that inspires the public to get a song to Christmas Number 1 is if they already know it. 12 Xmas chart rulers over the last two decades have been cover versions. An even better way of securing the top spot is to cover a song that's already been Christmas Number 1. Mary's Boy Child has topped the Christmas chart twice, and Do They Know It's Christmas three times. Bohemian Rhapsody has done it twice, too, but both times with the original Queen version. Maybe join Queen and give it a go?

Get busy on social media

As thrilling as your selfies are, there's more to social media than sharing pics of your lunch and tweeting about how late your bus was. You need to werk it with your shares, RTs, likes and faves. Mobilise your fans and let them do the work for you. Make sure you tell your fans not to illegally download, either – these won't count toward the chart. Imagine how devo-ed you'll be if it doesn't make it, all because your fanbase did a dodgy download.


Make sure your devoted fans are stanning for your Christmas track on social media.

Release a novelty single

The last one was Bob the Builder in 2000, but both he and Mr Blobby (1993) were million-sellers, so the time is right for a wacky Number 1. Just look at it as cosplay – except, like, in front of the entire nation on Top of the Pops.

Involve Cliff Richard

Between and 1988 and 1990, the Christmas Number 1 was dominated by Sir Cliff. He had a festive chart-topper with the Shadows in 1960 too. With the living legend back in the public eye and about to go on tour, surely he'll be back to claim his throne once more. Make your move and get him signed up!

Get a remix!

Remixes (not cover versions) of your tune also count towards the same chart position, so if you release a few different versions of your contender, your adoring fans are more likely to snap it up. As long as the remixes are dent, of course , and not just a sleigh bell added over the top of your chorus – give value and give it generously. It's Christmas!


OK, so Mariah hasn't actually been Christmas Number 1, but a remix wouldn't hurt.

Be a bit miserable

Christmas is, for the majority of us, a happy time – the most wonderful time of the year in fact. However, as any regular EastEnders viewer will tell you, punters don't half love a bit of heartache and despair at Christmas time. According to our records and very complicated algorithm for working out the general mood of a song, around 25 Christmas Number 1s could be considered to be on the miserable side.

Picture the scene: you're staring out into the snow, Christmas tree lights blinking sadly behind you, as you blare out a gloomy, emotive track designed to get the tears falling. Spurned lovers, climate change, dead relatives, homesickness and getting old – all subjects guaranteed to get the Christmas playlists buzzing. What a world we live in.

Who are you backing for Christmas Number 1? Get involved in all the festive chart chat on Facebook, or on Twitter using our #XmasNo1 hashtag.

Article image: Rex

While we're waiting to see who makes Official Christmas Number 1 this year, why not check out every single one ever in our gallery below?

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Clean Bandit Rockabye 2016