List of UK Singles Chart Christmas number twos
Every year in the UK Singles Chart, there is a highly publicised race for the top slot on the chart immediately prior to Christmas, an honour known as the Christmas Number One. The UK public take a particular interest in chart performance and sales of singles are especially high in the two weeks before Christmas. The race for first position at Christmas has become a British institution and people will speculate, comment and bet upon the outcome.
The following is a list of UK Singles Chart Christmas number twos, songs that came in second place on the chart and thus suffered the ignonimy of falling just short of the Christmas Number One.
Although the Christmas number one is a highly coveted prize in the United Kingdom, the second-place finisher on the Christmas singles chart has also earned a certain degree of popularity, especially since the 1980s. In fact, on PRS for Music's 2010 list of the most popular Christmas songs of the year, all three of the top three songs on the list were songs that had finished second on the chart: 1987's "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues (beaten by the Pet Shop Boys' cover of "Always on My Mind"), 1984's "Last Christmas" by Wham! (second to Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"), and 1994's "All I Want for Christmas Is You", now considered a Christmas standard both in the UK and in performer Mariah Carey's native United States but one that lost the Christmas number-one to East 17's "Stay Another Day". ("Do They Know It's Christmas?" also appeared elsewhere on the PRS chart, as do several other Christmas number-ones; the order of the songs varies from year to year.) In some cases, the Christmas number-one is often a quirky novelty song that has little shelf life after the Christmas season, whereas the number-two can have a broader appeal that earns greater life in recurrent rotation (provided that the runner-up is also not a novelty song that was beat to the number one by a more popular tune). An example of this was 1980's "There's No One Quite Like Grandma", a song from the St Winifred's School Choir, a song that forced then-current number-one "(Just Like) Starting Over" by the recently deceased John Lennon out of the number-one spot (Lennon would return to number-one the week after Christmas).
The only group to have both Christmas numbers 1 and 2 in the same year is The Beatles, a feat they achieved twice, in 1963 and 1967. George Michael is the only artist to have been a Christmas number one and number two the same year in different groups (Band Aid at number 1 and Wham! at number 2 in 1984). Cliff Richard has finished second on the Christmas charts four times, the most of any act.
Another factor in the greater interest in the Christmas number two is the growing influence of reality television programmes on the chart. Popstars: The Rivals (2002) produced all of the top three singles on the Christmas UK Singles Chart. The Choir produced the number-one single in 2011. The most sustained reality-oriented run at the top of the Christmas charts has been The X Factor, whose winner has charted number-one or number-two on the chart every year since the second series in 2005. Bookmakers began to notice the X Factor trends in 2007, when, assuming the X Factor single would be a lock for the number-one (as it was), they started taking bets on who Christmas number two would be instead. The X Factor's dominance has also led to numerous novelty campaigns to attempt to prevent the show's winner from reaching the top of the chart; through 2010, only one (2009) was successful, with the X Factor winner finishing in the Christmas number two. Competition from both novelty and mainstream competitors jumped as The X Factor began to age in the 2010s; that show's winner has since finished second in both the 2011 and 2012 charts, in part because the series released the winner's debut single a week before Christmas.
List of Christmas number two singles
Tracks marked * did top the chart either in the run-up to, or shortly after, Christmas.
- Christmas music
- List of UK Singles Chart Christmas number ones
- List of Irish Singles Chart Christmas number ones
- Have a chart-topping Christmas, BBC, 23 December 2001
- "Survey Reveals White Christmas As Most Memorable Christmas Song: But Mariah Carey’s Hit Most Played", PRS for Music, 14 December 2010, press release. See also the 2009 and 2008 lists, which also feature all three of the mentioned songs. PRS did not publish a chart in 2011.
- Johnson, Andrew; Cooper, Claire; Richards, Victoria (20 December 2009), "Not quite Top of the Pops: Stuck at Number Two for Christmas", The Independent on Sunday
- Coleman, Maureen (18 December 2007), "X Factor has taken shine off seasonal number one", The Belfast Telegraph, retrieved 3 October 2012
- Kilkelly, Daniel (6 October 2007), "Bookies encourage Xmas number two betting", Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK), retrieved 17 August 2012, "William Hill is encouraging punters to bet on who will reach this year's Christmas number two spot. ... A William Hill spokesman explained: 'The annual X Factor single has wiped out a national institution. There's little real competition for the top single on Christmas Day, so we've opened a book to open the race up again.'"
- Dingwall, John (22 December 2006), "Just a Second", Daily Record
- David Thomas (29 Dec 2012), "Classic hits that only got to No. 2", Daily Mail
- "Christmas No.1s that should have been", ShortList
- Lynskey, Dorian (7 May 2004), "Near hits", The Guardian (London)
- Potter, Alistair (26 December 2011), "Military Wives Choir outsold Little Mix five-to-one in Christmas No.1 race", Metro