There’s just one month to go until the winner of the biggest chart battle of the year is revealed: this year’s Official Christmas Number 1 will be announced on Friday, December 22.
The most coveted and hotly contested accolade in British pop music, the Christmas Number 1 race is a great British tradition that stretches back 65 years. During that time, we’ve seen the likes of 12 genuine Christmas songs topping the chart, eight TV talent show winners, three choirs, and two novelty singles.
This year’s Official Christmas Number 1 race kicks off Friday 15 December, running through to midnight on Thursday 21st. The Christmas Official Chart Top 40 will be counted down by Greg James from 4pm on BBC Radio 1, Friday December 22, with the full Top 100 published on OfficialCharts.com at 5.45pm.
Recent years have seen the race for the festive chart crown become more unpredictable than ever. 2015 saw The Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir nab the top spot from Justin Bieber after a surprise tweet from the global superstar encouraged the public to get behind the choir’s charity single A Bridge Over You, while last year saw Clean Bandit claim an unexpected victory with Rockabye.
Clean Bandit's Jack Patterson told OfficialCharts.com: "I still can't believe we actually got the Christmas Number 1! It was such a blur back then and everything has been ever since.
"I'm fully behind Wham's Last Christmas to get to Number1 this year. It's my favourite Christmas song and I love George Michael. I really like Rita Ora's song Anywhere - it's a real departure for her. If we did it again this year with I Miss You, well that would be absolutely absurd, wouldn't it?"
The X Factor’s grip on the Official Christmas Number 1 has loosened in recent years, with just three series champions claiming the festive top spot with their winner’s singles in the last eight years. And now with even more ways than ever to access your favourite music, the race is wide open; a current chart climber, a special one-off release, a Christmas classic, or a star-studded charity single could all feasibly claim this year’s crown.
Here are this year’s Official Christmas Number 1 2017 contenders, as it stands:
Wham!/George Michael - Last Christmas
Currently this year’s front-runner with the bookies is Wham’s Last Christmas. The duo’s wistful festive song famously peaked at Number 2 in 1984, losing out to Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? In fact, Last Christmas is the UK’s biggest selling single never to reach Number 1.
A Facebook and Twitter page have been launched (@LastXmas2017), with the drive to commemorate one year since George’s untimely death on Christmas Day 2016. Robert Redfin, who is one of the people behind the campaign, told OfficialCharts.com: “Christmas 2016 marks the day that an icon and legend sadly left the earth. As a huge fan of George he has been so inspirational with his charitable work, his unique voice, his heart felt lyrics and his honesty throughout his career.
“I believe that to mark the first year of his anniversary of his passing and to send out the love of George Michael this Christmas time, Last Christmas should get the Christmas Number 1 that it deserves, as it is a classic Christmas anthem in its own right, which never got the Number 1 spot. This is why I have pushed this campaign for this year."
Michael Ball & Alfie Boe with The Rays Of Sunshine Children’s Choir & Friends – Bring Me Sunshine (December 15)
After landing last year’s Christmas Number 1 album, Together, and bagging another chart-topping collection earlier this month, Together Again, Ball & Boe are fast-becoming a British Christmas institution.
This year, in the name of a good cause, the pair have set their sights on a Christmas Number 1 single, teaming up with Gareth Malone, Imelda Staunton, Jason Manford and even more celebs to be confirmed, to record a cover of Morecambe and Wise’s Bring Me Sunshine. Proceeds from the release will go to the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity.
The Chart Climbers
Could this year’s Christmas chart-topper already be in the chart? Clean Bandit managed it in 2016 with Rockabye, and a number of recent releases are currently scaling the Official Chart that have the potential to reach the top just in time to claim their place in chart history.
Rita Ora’s Anywhere, Ed Sheeran’s Perfect and Big Shaq’s Man’s Not Hot are all serious contenders that are seeing upward momentum inside the Top 10, but can any of them bring home the festive crown? Last year’s victors, Clean Bandit, are also inside the Top 10 with I Miss You ft. Julia Michaels - could the Christmas Number 1 be theirs for a second year in a row?
The big TV-backed records
X Factor winner’s single
This year’s final has taken place earlier than ever before, on December 2 - and there’s no telling if this will positively or negatively impact its chances of bagging the top spot this year. This year's champions Rak-Su have released their own, self-penned single Dimelo ft. Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy.
Elbow – Golden Slumbers
The band have released a cover of The Beatles track as the soundtrack to this year’s John Lewis ad. The song made its debut on last week’s Official Chart at 29 and with its heavy rotation on the nation’s TVs this seasons, could continue to climb in the coming weeks.
The returning Christmas classics
As well as Wham’s Last Christmas, several festive favourites are expected to make their annual return to the Top 40 this Christmas thanks in part to the increasing dominance of streaming. Last year saw no less than seven vintage tracks re-enter the fold, but could one of them go all the way this year? We could be seeing some Top 40 action once again from the likes of:
Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You (1994), which re-entered at Number 5 last year
The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York (1987)
Shakin’ Stevens’s Merry Christmas Everyone (1985)
Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas (1988)
Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (1973)
Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? (1984)
Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody (1973)
...all found themselves back in the chart. Could one of them go all the way this year?
Tracks to keep an eye on...
2003 Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus has teamed up with former Christmas Number 1 victors The Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir, plus Britain’s Got Talent finalists Missing People Choir, the Parrs Wood High School Choir and others are to release a cover of Sir Paul McCartney’s 1984 track We All Stand Together. Profits from the song will be split equally between the participating choirs in aid of their charity work.
Legendary singer-songwriter, Ralph McTell, has re-recorded his classic song Streets of London, with a choir made up of clients from Crisis – the national charity for homeless people – and guest vocalist Annie Lennox, to raise money for the charity as it turns 50 years old. Watch the video.
A brand new group called A4 have formed for a festive bid, made up of Storage Hunters' Barry Elford, The Voice 2016 contestant Marvin 'The Jazz Man', Simon Cowell lookalike Andy Penfold (amazing) and Steve Legge, member of the group Right Said Bruv, who audtioned for Britain's Got Talent. Phew! Their track, Four Kings, is out now.
Scouting For Girls are back with another Christmas track for 2017. Kids At Christmas, which features on their new best of Ten Add Ten, is out now.
Soul legend Seal has recorded a duet of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town featuring vocals from Frank Sinatra. It’s out on December 8.
London band Captain Ska, who scored a Top 10 hit in May this year with their Anti-Theresa May song Liar Liar, have revealed they are getting political again with a new track this Christmas. The song, called Sons And Daughters, reflects a "new mood for hope", member Jake Painter says. Proceeds from the song go towards the anti-austerity campaign group and used to buy supplies for food banks across the UK. Out December 15.
After a strong attempt last year, Salford musician James ‘Shinny’ Davenport is re-releasing his track Christmas Number 1 on December 15.