Music is an essential part of any Christmas party, but have you noticed how many festive chart-toppers barely even mention a snowflake or a bauble, let alone Santa himself and his strange habit of plunging down your chimney?
Only twelve Official Christmas Number 1s have acknowledged the festive season; the rest are just the tunes people happened to love the most as the year came to an end. Because there's more to Christmas than jingle bells, so we count down the biggest selling chart-topping hits associated with the most wonderful time of the year.
Do They Know It's Christmas?
Despite its overarching air of melancholy, the UK's top-selling festive chart-topper is both Christmas-themed AND a Christmas Number 1. The second biggest selling single of all time, Band Aid and their clanging chimes of doom first hit the top in 1984, spawning three successful cover versions which also went to Number 1. It's the only Xmas hit to sell over 3 million units - 3.82 million to be exact.
Not particularly festive, but Bohemian Rhapsody has got serious Christmas credentials, scoring the Christmas Number 1 twice with the exact same version, sixteen years apart, on its first release in 1975 and again in 1991, following the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury. An impressive 2.6 million copies later, and it's the third biggest selling song of all time. See all of Queen's biggest albums and songs in their chart archive.
Mull of Kintyre
The Official Singles Chart welcomed all kinds of unusual, unlikely hits in the '70s, and 1977's Christmas Number 1 was the mega-selling Mull of Kintyre from Wings, led by none other than former Beatle Paul McCartney. With 2.09 million copies sold, it's Macca's top selling single ever, more than any of his Beatles hits. What are the chances? Take a look at Wings' UK chart history
Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord
The UK's fourth biggest Christmas smash has got the lot: glitz, campery and, of course, actual Jesus popping up in the lyrics! Mary's Boy Child has hit Christmas Number 1 twice by separate artists: Boney M's disco-lite version from 1978 – like we said, the '70s were wild – is the biggest, though, with 1.89 million sales. Harry Belafonte's version is at 14, from 1957, on 1.19 million. See all Boney M's UK hit songs and albums
I Want to Hold Your Hand
The Beatles have the record for the most Christmas Number 1s – four – and three of them make the Top 20. Biggest selling, however, is the first: I Want to Hold Your Hand is on 1.82 million.
I Will Always Love You
The biggest selling Christmas Number 1 by a female solo artist, Whitney's dramatic rendition version of Dolly Parton's ballad soundtracked the movie The Bodyguard, topping the charts for ten weeks. 1.66 million of you bought this one, belting out the high note at Christmas karaoke, aided no doubt by potent eggnog. See all of Whitney's UK chart hits in her archive
This relatively Christmassy Leonard Cohen cover from Alexandra Burke ruled the festive rundown in 2008. The first X Factor winner's single to be released on download right after the final, Hallelujah has sold 1.32 million copies and its nearest competition for Christmas Number 1 was another cover of the same song, this time by Jeff Buckley.
Merry Xmas Everybody
Slade's classic shouty and raucous festive fave first hit the chart way back in 1973, becoming that year's Christmas Number 1, and the sixth and final chart-topper for the band. Since that first release, it's returned to the Top 40 ten times, peaking the highest in 2017, at Number 16. It's sold 1.32 million.
2 Become 1
Not a Christmas song, no, it's actually a thinly disguised sex education campaign, but 2 Become 1 topped the charts at Christmas 1996 and the girls look like they're half-frozen in the video, don't they? Luckily, they sold 1.14 million copies of this song, earning them enough cash to invest in hats, scarves, and an oil-filled radiator so they could warm up in time for their next two Christmas Number 1s. In our recent interview with Emma Bunton she reveals 2 Become 1 is her fave Spice Christmas song.
The Official Top 20 bestselling Christmas songs
|1||DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS?||BAND AID||1984|
|3||MULL OF KINTYRE/GIRLS' SCHOOL||WINGS||1977|
|4||MARY'S BOY CHILD/OH MY LORD||BONEY M||1978|
|5||I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND||THE BEATLES||1963|
|6||I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU||WHITNEY HOUSTON||1992|
|7||DON'T YOU WANT ME?||HUMAN LEAGUE||1981|
|8||I FEEL FINE||THE BEATLES||1964|
|9||WE CAN WORK IT OUT/DAY TRIPPER||THE BEATLES||1965|
|11||MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY||SLADE||1973|
|12||GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME||TOM JONES||1966|
|13||EARTH SONG||MICHAEL JACKSON||1995|
|14||MARY'S BOY CHILD||HARRY BELAFONTE||1957|
|15||DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS?||BAND AID 20||2004|
|16||ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL (PART 2)||PINK FLOYD||1979|
|17||2 BECOME 1||SPICE GIRLS||1996|
|18||THAT'S MY GOAL||SHAYNE WARD||2005|
|19||CAN WE FIX IT?||BOB THE BUILDER||2000|
|20||WHEN WE COLLIDE||MATT CARDLE||2010|
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Listen to Every Official Christmas Number 1 on Spotify below:
Article image: Rex