The Festive Number Ones, 1984-2009
With literally no one buying singles any more, here's a nostalgic trip back through time. We begin with the Festive Number One to define them all...
Do They Know It's Christmas. What new can be said about this record? Nothing that hasn't been said a zillion times before. Wham and Sir Fab Macca Whacky Thumbs Aloft rounded out a very seasonal top 3, with Madonna the top-selling non-seasonal record.
Merry Christmas Everyone. Shakin' Stevie beat off a spirited challenge from Whiney Houston (qv) to snatch the top spot with a week to spare, ahead of the Pet Shop Boys' (qv) future classic
West End Girls. Stevie's is not a record that sits easily on VH-1's best-seller marathons.
Reet Petitie. Everyone had expected the Housemartins' cover of
Caravan of Love to claim the festive best-seller, but they were surprisingly beaten to the punch by Jackie Wilson's re-released classic, accompanied by cheesy claymation animated video. Swedish rockers Europe completed the top three, but the only invocation of the C word in the entire 40 came from Spitting Image's wonderful
Santa Claus Is on the Dole."
Always on My Mind. The Pet Shop Boys provide what has to be the most barking festive topper ever. They'd kicked blue-eyed wonder and pre-release favourite Rick Astley (the Gareth Gates of his day) into touch, and survived a strong challenge from
Fairytale of New York."
Mistletoe and Wine. Cliff Richard sings from The Little Match Girl, written by half of the team who would go on to write the music for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Lord Cliff kicked the butt of Kylie and Jason, with Erasure rounding out the top end.
Do They Know It's Christmas. The Band Aid II project, put together by Stock Aitken and Flounceout, using all their stable's stars, including Cliff Richard, Kylie, Jason, Big Fun, and Bananarama. Top record that wasn't a five year old cover was Jason Donovan's
When You Come Back To Me", possibly his best of the SAW era. Jive Bunny placed in the top three, Andy Stewart in the top five (thanks, Mr Mayo). There was no new C-word in the 40, though Cliff and Van Morrison brought TV's famous god into the equation, and Deacon Blue pogoed about to
Queen of the New Year. Not that they'd ever admit to doing anything as uncool as pogoing.
Saviour's Day. When in doubt, buy a Cliff record, thought the Grate British Public, and they did. Not in any great numbers - total sales barely passed 250,000, by far the lowest-selling single in this list. Written by Chris Eaton, whose stripped-down acoustic version knocks the socks off the biggie. Beat out the combined challenge of Madonna's
Justify My Hard ECU and Vanilla Ice, and that's probably a good thing. Cliff was unceremoniously deposed from the top after just one week by Iron Maiden's festive number and latter-day party favourite
Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter. VH-1 never shows the latter song.
Bohemian Rhapsody. Be glad this got re-released, otherwise we'd have had to put up with Diana Ross's ultra-schmaltzy
When You Tell Me That You Love Me. The KLF were being the new Pet Shop Boys at #3 with Tammy Wynette, while Cliff, Shakey, and the Pogues (again) had the only mentions of the C-word in the 40.
I Will Always Love You. Whiney Houston provided the first festive upset in five years, holding off Kiddyfiddler's
Heal The World (#2), Take That (#4), and WWF (#5). Charles and Eddie's hit was in the middle of the top 5. Darlene Love's thoroughly wonderful
All Alone On Christmas was the only mention in the 40.
Mr Blobby. Take That are thoroughly stuffed, beaten by a pink and yellow spotted oik. Oh, sorry, that's Robbie Williams. Chaka Demus & Pliers rounded out the top three, with two Meat Loaf singles in the 10, alongside Dina Caroll's seasonal
The Perfect Year. St Ettienne's tribute to Annie Lennox,
I Was Born On Christmas Day, appeared in the 40.
Stay Another Day. East 17 were favourites from the start of November, beating out Mariah Cantsing's turkey and Bozone's breakthrough. Oasis released
Whatever the week before, boasting they would have the title sewn up. They only made #3.
Earth Song. Kiddyfiddler's record company was buying in more records than ever this year, and the song that inspired Jarvis Cocker's moon beat the spirited challenge of the Mike Flowers Pops' version of
Wonderwall. Cheers, Kev. Bozone remained in the top three, early favourites The Beatles could only make #9, and the Childliners' rubbish record was the only C-word. Other than Robson & Jerome, natch.
Two Become One. It was the best commercial single ever to come from Planet Spice, and they beat off a strong challenge from The Worst Number One Record Ever (So Far), from Toni Braxton's sublime
Unbreak My Heart, and from Madge's
Don't Cry for Me Argentina. Foolishly, Madge delayed the dance mixes into the new year, costing her another festive #2 single. Biggest obviously festive single of the year belonged to the Smurfs. 1996 was a very, very strange year.
Too Much. Two in a row for the Spices, beating out strong challenges from the Teletubbies and the BBC's Perfect Day project. Six of the festive top 10 sold a million - those three, plus All Saints (4), Aqua (7) and Elton (10), while Natalie Imbruglia (8) and Robbie (6) shifted 850,000 and more. Early favourites the Chicken Shed project could only make #16, and there wasn't an obvious festive single at all.
Chocolate Salty Balls. Isaac Hayes had been best known for the theme from Shaft, but had his biggest hit under the guise of South Park's Chef. He beat out a spirited challenge from the bookies' favourites, but the Spice's
Goodbye peaked a week too soon. Steps'
Tragedy finished at 3. Denise van Outen and Johnny Vaughan covered Kylie & Jason's
Especially for You. Jane MacDonald rose to infamy through a flea-on-the-wall documentary, and her
Cruise into Christmas sunk the 10. Bozone had a presence in the festive 10 for the fifth year running.
Seasons In the Sun / I Have A Dream. Pestside took over where Bozone left off, and deposed Cliff Richard's
Millennium Prayer. John Lennin's
Imagine was re-released into the top three. A worse top three than that may have been compiled once, but don't ask when. The top decent record was at #4, the Cuban Boys'
Cognoscenti -vs- Intelligentsia and South Park's Mr Hankey had the only mention of the C-word at the top of the pile.
Can We Fix It. Everyone expected Pestside to claim their second straight festive topper, but on the rails came the vocal talents of Morrissey. Neil Morrissey, that is, and in the guise of Bob The Builder, he took the year's best seller. Pestside fell short at #2, with Dido one place lower. The Sugababes had the top seasonal hit,
New Year, ahead of Craig from Big Brother's
At This Time of Year and Roy Wood and the Wombles
I Wish It Could Be a Wombling Christmas. Sheesh.
Something Stupid. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman. Bleeeugh. Gordon Haskell came from nowhere with
How Wonderful You Are, missed the top by a whisker, and left the 40 within a month. He deserved better. Daniel B'dingdangdong made up the three, ahead of S Club 7's third and final festive top 10 appearance, the only entry for Kate Winslet, and the Tweenies'
I Believe In Christmas.
Lose Yourself. Council Estate Slappers beat One Hit Wonders (or whatever these made-up bands were called) in a tedious battle promoted for television ratings. Excluding those cheats, and spin-off act the Cheeky Girls, Eminem ruled the roost, ahead of Blue and Daniel B'everyhourwhenyoupickaflower. Early contenders Death In Vegas could barely scrape into the 20, while the only remotely seasonal song was S Club Jr's
Mad World. Michael Andrews' stripped-down version of the Tears For Fears classic, with vocals by Gary Jules, made light work of pre-release favourites the Pop Idle Rejects, who redefined
rubbish on the radio. The Darkness's (the new KLF)
Christmas Time briefly led the roost, but didn't have the legs, and eventually took third place behind Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne's
Dirge. Leigh Francis, an unfunny comedian, and Will Young rounded out the five.
Do They Know It's Christmas? Once again, some people from pop gathered to re-make an old song. Though the players - mainly Chris Martin of Coldplay and Bono Hewson of U2 - plugged the charity aspect, this session was all about careers, not charity; it helped to bring Dizzy Rascal's to an end, and exposed Joss Stone as a caterwauling harridan. Steve Brookstein won some reality show or other and put his version of
Against All Odds to number two, dislodging Ronan Bleating and Prat Stevens' version of
Father and Son, which Bleating had covered with his band Bozone in 1995. Top record that wasn't at least twenty years old went to Kylie Minogue, with Lemar Obika ending the top five. Top mention of the C word went to a reject from Brookstein's reality show, Paul Holt's
Fifty Grand for Christmas was down at 54; biggest record with a vaguely festive theme went to serial Band Aid hater Morrissey's
I Have Forgiven Jesus.
The JCB Song. Nizlopi was a two-man band, Luke Concannon and John Parker. The number one single, about Concannon's journey to school, had flopped on first release in summer 2005, but hit the heights after a line-drawn video entered high rotation on the television music channels. A re-release of
Fairytale of New York took the runner-up position as it did in 1987, with the 1991 number two,
When You Tell Me That You Love Me, re-recorded by Diana Ross and Westlife, making number three. Amongst Christmas-themed entries, the Crazy Frog's version of
Jingle Bells was number 5, the Water Babies'
Under The Tree made 26, and
Is This The Way to Santa's Grotto, credited to Santa, was 29 - it was a re-working of Tony Christie's
Amarillo song that had been the biggest seller of the year. All of these were out-sold by
That's My Goal, recorded by Shayne Ward, but this was a product of a television casting show, cynically released to take the festive top spot.
Patience. Take That reformed early in 2006, and their first new single in slightly more than ten years hit the top spot in mid-November, remaining as the best-seller to the end of the year. McFly's
Sorry's not good enough was the only other new song in the top 5 - the Council Estate Slappers covered Tiffany's
I think we're alone now, Cascada did
Truly madly deeply, and the
Fairytale... was back in the top five. They just beat out Clif Richard's
21st century christmas, The Annoying Thing's take on
Last christmas, and Ricky Tomlinson's
Christmas my arse. Downloads allowed Slade to make 21 with a song from 1973. All of these were outsold by casting show winner Leona Lewis and her interpretation of
A moment like this, but we ignore such cynicism.
What a wonderful world. Eva Cassidy may have been dead for eleven years, but that didn't stop her from having the best-seller, in a posthumous duet with Ketevan Melua. Leona Lewis took the runner-up spot with
Bleeding love, a song first released in October.
Fairytale... appeared in the top five for a third consecutive yuletide, Soulja Boy and a thirteen-year-old re-release from Mariargh Cantsing rounded out the top five. Lots of old festive records were re-activated on downloads, and there were new peaks for Andy Williams'
The most wonderful time of the year and Nat King Cole's
The christmas song. The only new festive song to make the top 40 was the Killers's
Don't shoot me Santa at 34.
Run. Originally recorded by Snow Patrol in 2004, Leona Lewis's version was released three weeks before the christmas chart, and regained the top spot from Leonard Cohen's
Hallelujah, which plunged 1-6 on the christmas chart. Beyonce Knowles's
If I were a boy was number two, and all of these songs had been promoted on Simon Scowell's The X Fools show during the autumn. James Morrison and Nelly Furtado worked on
Broken dreams at number three. Geraldine McQueen has peaked at number 3 with
Once upon a christmas song, but it fell to 7 for the chart that counts.
Fairytale... was the only one of nine festive oldies to crack the top 20, and Basshunter's
Jingle bells (69) was the only new festive song around.
Killing in the name. The subject of a Stop Simon Cowell campaign on social networking sites, but they concentrated their efforts in the week before the festive chart. Still, there were enough sales to keep Lady Gaga's
Bad romance off the top, with Sheryl Cole and William's
3 words at number three.
All I want for christmas is you made the top 20, and there were new festive songs from George Michael (
December song (I dreamed of christmas), 31) and Bob Dylan (
Must be Santa, 40).