It’s that most wonderful time of the year when Britain awaits the UK Christmas number one! What will it be? Funny that the Christmas #1 is such a British thing. Christmas music is big around the globe. There is an astonishing diversity of great Christmas song videos on YouTube. From Reggae to K-Pop and J-Pop to Highlife, you name it. Christmas songs have a market and a broad annual appeal. Recording a Christmas track can also be fun for artists. Many Christmas songs are fundraisers.
Still, it’s different in Britain. The airtime given to Christmas fundraisers in the UK, combined with the presence that The Official Chart Show on BBC Radio 1 once had, made the UK particularly fertile ground for the Christmas #1 to become a phenomenon. Songs are concocted specifically to be Christmas #1. Bets are made. Odds are given. It’s a thing! Stand up LadBaby! The 2023 Christmas song contender in this video is no novelty, but it is a fundraiser this year, and it is a sentimental favourite.
Fairytale of New York is on people’s minds due to the recent death and televised funeral of Shane MacGowan. The Republic of Ireland and MacGowan’s family and friends gave MacGowan the send off of a poet and beloved folk hero. A lovely version of Fairytale of New York by Glen Hansard was a highpoint of a funeral for the ages. A 7 inch vinyl version supporting Dublin Simon Community, a charity aiming to prevent and end homelessness, has been released. What about the other Christmas #1 contenders?
On Monday 18 December, Betting Odds had Wham! in the lead (Last Christmas, of course, at 4/7), The Pogues second (2/1), then Creator Universe (4/1), followed by Mariah Carey (20/1). So what’s this Creator Universe (people outside of Britain may ask)? It’s a collective of 30 TikTok influencers that has recorded Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (1973) for the Trussell Trust (against UK hunger and poverty). Let’s give the video a watch.
Well, that certainly has novelty written all over it, but they really ought to have selected out the stronger singers (or recruited some), and I’m not one to be prissy about off-key singing if it’s in the service of a good song. Still, it is for charity and, just maybe, it’s odd enough to grow to amuse one. Also, and significantly, this year’s field has opened up due to LadBaby not releasing a track.
Sky News adds Jack Harlow with Lovin On Me, Noah Kahan with Stick Season, and Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John with Merry Christmas to the above list of 2023 frontrunners. On Sunday 17 December, a new contender emerged from leftfield. Sam Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me sleighed up to number two, despite being available only on Amazon Music!
The counting for the charts started on Friday December 15, with the cut-off for sales and streams at 11.59pm on Thursday December 21. So what song is going to top The Official Chart Show on BBC Radio 1, Friday 22 December. The show starts at 4pm and has shifted to Friday as Sunday is a holiday.
The introduction to this fun video by Brendan Benson illustrates that even a full-on UK Christmas classic like Slade’s Merry X-Mas Everybody can be unknown outside the UK. Enjoy. Season’s Greetings from the Music Man!