By Daniel Lane
The 2013 Christmas Number 1 race is set officially kick off on Sunday (December 15). While there is still everything to play for for this year’s hopefuls, as far as the bookies are concerned, it’s between the winner of this year’s X Factor’s debut single, and AC/DC’s 1979 classic, Highway To Hell.
X Factor, which is celebrating its tenth birthday this year, has dominated the Christmas singles market in recent years; contestants from the show have been responsible for the five of the last eight Official Christmas Number 1s. Despite bowing out of the 2011 and 2012 Christmas Number 1 races due to TV scheduling (the respective series finished a week before the annual chart battles commenced), there is a strong chance that either Sam Bailey, Luke Friend or Nicholas McDonald could be crowned the king or queen of 2013’s Christmas Number 1 race by Scott Mills and Jameela Jamil on Sunday, December 22.
However, in 2009, X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s cover of Miley Cyrus’s The Climb was kept off the Official Christmas Singles Chart summit thanks to a social media campaign to get rock band Rage Against The Machine’s sweary 1993 single, Killing In The Name, to Number 1. For this year’s Christmas Number 1 race, the rock-loving British public have been throwing their weight behind a campaign to get legendary rockers AC/DC’s classic anthem, Highway To Hell, to the top of the Official Singles Chart. And, at the time of writing, their Facebook page has nearly 154,000 likes.
We spoke to Steevi Diamond, one of the campaign’s organizers, to find out more…
Steevi: “Quite simply, this was started as a celebration of one of rock’s most influential and faithful servants: AC/DC. They formed in 1973 (I was just 1 at the time) and they have been entertaining people all over the globe in that time. They’ve had tragedy in their time, too. They lost their lead singer, Bon Scott, in 1980, just at the time when they were breaking into the worldwide market. A lot of artists would have conceded at this point. Not AC/DC…
“They found a new lead singer [Brian Johnson], who was perfectly able to fill a rather particular pair of shoes, and carry on. They have never disappointed, both with recorded material and their live shoes, but for reasons beyond all logical reckoning, have never had a Top 10 single in the UK! This is an injustice that needs to be remedied. So what better way to way say ‘Thank-you for 40 years of amazing rock?’.”
“Highway To Hell was the last album that was recorded with Bon Scott, and the song Highway To Hell is arguably one of their most recognisable songs. There are recordings of this by both Bon and Brian Johnson, and is considered by many to be one of their greatest tracks. What’s better at Christmas than to be gathered around a fire, with mistletoe, mulled wine, air-guitaring like maniacs to one of the best songs ever recorded? 2009 showed the country that there are hundreds of thousands of people who want real music in our charts.”
“We have a very simple strategy: Remind everyone that in the 40 years that AC/DC have been giving us ball-breaking rock ‘n’ roll, they’ve never had a Top 10 single in the UK, let alone a Number 1. This is something that we can rectify; by getting everyone who has ever enjoyed AC/DC’s music to download this single from December 15. This is a grassroots campaign by the fans of AC/DC, and it’s their voices that will be heard.”
“We’re encouraging people to donate to the Feel Yourself Campaign, which is a charity to raise awareness in younger men and women about the importance of self-checking for breast and testicular cancer. We cannot ask the band directly to donate the proceeds to charity, as they have no official involvement. However, the UK public has a proud tradition of generous giving, and I am sure that people will be more than happy to donate to the Feel Yourself Campaign off their own backs.”
“X Factor has to be our biggest rival, but to be honest, the popularity is waning. I think the great British public is waking up and realising that there is a more to music that what a karaoke show on a Saturday tells us we should like. They’re realising that a few years down the line, most of the artists are residing in the ‘Where Are They Now?’ file. They have no longevity, and it’s not about music. It’s about the cult of celebrity.”
“When I was growing up, there was always anticipation about what song would be Number 1 and Christmas, and I think this is something uniquely British. From Shakin’ Stevens, to Band Aid and (of course) Sir Cliff Richard. This all changed in 2005, where the X Factor took over, and were seemingly guaranteed the Number 1 slot, until the 2009 Rage Against The Machine Campaign. I think that the X Factor took away the enjoyment of ‘What will be the nation’s Christmas Number 1 single?’, as it was assumed that X Factor would be the winner.
“And what winners they were… We can’t exactly say that they have had musical longevity. In 2047, will we be celebrating 40 years of Leon Jackson? Christmas Number 1s should be a major honour, not an assumption. As far as my personal favourite, I will have to go for the single that is the only single to be Christmas Number 1 twice, and that is Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (1975 and 1991).”
Whoever you’re backing in this year’s race, make sure you buy it between 00.01am on Sunday, December 15 and midnight on Saturday, December 21 for sales to count towards this year’s Official Christmas Singles Chart.
The Official Christmas Singles Chart Top 40 will be counted down on BBC Radio 1’s Official Chart Show with Scott Mills and Jameela Jamil between 4 and 7pm on Sunday, December 22, with the full Top 100 posted on www.officialcharts.com at 7pm.Back