The race for Christmas Number 1 has always been a tricky beast. Songs that have become festive staples that you might assume reached the top spot, in fact, didn’t. One such holiday classic is Wham’s Last Christmas.
Released in 1984, Last Christmas was a shoe-in for the top spot. That was, of course, until Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas was released and blew everything else out of the water. Still, Wham’s somewhat melancholic offering landed just behind it at Number 2, making it the biggest selling Number 2 single in Official Charts history.
Various re-releases and renewed interest in the song helped it creep back into the Top 40 nine times over the years, but it was earlier this year, following the sad and untimely passing of George Michael on Christmas Day 2016, which saw the song propelled to Number 7.
Following George’s death, fans Tony Rudd & JJ took to Facebook on Boxing Day last year (@lastXmas2017) to start a campaign in a bid to finally get Wham’s Last Christmas to Number 1.
“The campaign seemed like the right thing to do and a nice touch to mark a year since George’s passing,” Tony said. “It never achieved the top spot, plus we'd have an actual Christmas song at Christmas Number 1.”
There have been social media campaigns to get songs to Christmas Number 1. The most notable, of course, was that in 2009 where Rage Against the Machine’s track Killing In The Name beat out X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s cover of The Climb. While that campaign might have been drawn out of a frustration that The X Factor had claimed the illustrious Christmas Number 1 for four years consecutively, this campaign is about celebrating George Michael’s legacy. They’ve even garnered the support of the George’s former Wham band mate.
In an article for The Mail on Sunday, Andrew Ridgeley publicly supported the campaign. “Last Christmas remains the biggest-selling UK chart single never to have taken the Number 1 spot – pipped to the post by Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas,” he wrote. “George was passionate about getting his songs to Number 1, which is why it is important to me now that the anniversary of his death be marked by an accolade of this kind.”
Having Andrew’s backing only solidified why their campaign was so important. “To have his blessing feels such a privilege and we hope he's happy with how we are doing this,” Tony said.
Indeed, Andrew’s comments echo those of his late-bandmate. In an interview from 1984 with Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys fame - then working as a music journalist for Smash Hits - George said: “My aim is for our Christmas single to sell a million and a half.”
Thankfully for George, Last Christmas well exceeded the million and a half figure he dreamed up, and has so far sold over 1.8 million copies. But just like in 1984, this year Last Christmas is up against some stiff competition, namely Ed Sheeran’s Perfect.
“Ed Sheeran, being the incumbent as it were, is going to be the Goliath,” Tony admits. “He's not going to relinquish the top spot without a proper battle, is he?” Indeed, Ed Sheeran currently sits at Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart, and thanks to a remix of the song featuring Beyonce, and another with Andrea Bocelli, due for release on December 15.
Still, it would mean the world to George Michael fans if, finally, Last Christmas could reach the summit in time for Christmas.
“Personally, it's probably my favourite Christmas song of all time, and for many others too, so to have that as the Official UK Number 1 on Christmas Day would be a wonderful moment for all over the country,” Tony concludes.. “It would also culminate the end of a sobering, yet fun year-long campaign too, and of course adding Wham! to the list of Christmas Number 1s which we can all look at in years to come and say, ‘We did that.’”
The race for this year's Official Christmas Number 1 starts on Friday, December 15, with the winner revealed on Friday, December 22.
Look back at every Christmas Number 1 single in our gallery below: