List of UK Singles Chart Christmas number ones
In the United Kingdom, Christmas number ones are singles that are top of the UK Singles Chart in the week in which Christmas Day falls.[nb 1] The singles have often been novelty songs, charity songs or songs with a Christmas theme. Traditionally the volume of record sales in the UK peaks at Christmas, with the Christmas number one being considered especially prestigious, more so than any other time of year, with bookmakers taking bets on the act who will be the chart topper. Many of the Christmas number ones were also the best-selling song of the year. Due to the common practice of dating a chart by the date on which the week ends, the Christmas chart is dated the end of the week containing 25 December. The most recent Christmas number one single is "Don't Stop Me Eatin'" by LadBaby.
The official UK Singles Chart began in 1952 after appearing in the New Musical Express; the positions of all songs are based on week end sale totals (from Sunday to Saturday until 2015, then from Friday to Thursday). Before 1987 they were released on a Tuesday due to the need for manual calculation. The emergence of a serious contest for the Christmas number-one spot began in 1973, when the glam rock bands Slade and Wizzard deliberately released festive songs in an effort to reach the top of the charts at Christmas, with Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" beating out Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" for the number one spot that Christmas. The Christmas number one single was not revealed on Christmas Day itself until 1994.
From 2002 until 2014, the Christmas number one was dominated by reality television contests, with the winners often heading straight to number one in the week before Christmas. This trend began when Popstars: The Rivals contestants released the top three singles on the Christmas chart.[nb 2] Between 2005 and 2014, the winners of The X Factor took the number-one spot on seven occasions. In 2007, the X Factor single was such a strong favourite for number one that bookmakers began taking bets on which song would be the "Christmas Number Two" instead. Rage Against the Machine's 1992 single "Killing in the Name" outsold Joe McElderry in 2009 following a successful Facebook campaign against this trend. This made them the first group to get a Christmas number one with a download-only single, and resulted in the most download sales in a single week in UK chart history. Similar campaigns in 2010 promoting acts such as Biffy Clyro, John Cage, and The Trashmen were unsuccessful.
The following year, the Military Wives and Gareth Malone, both involved with the reality television show The Choir outsold X Factor winners Little Mix and a host of social network campaigns for various novelty acts, and in 2012, a supergroup cover of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", supporting charities associated with the Hillsborough disaster, took the accolade ahead of The X Factor's James Arthur. Following the UK Charts' move to Fridays, the 2015 Christmas number one was revealed on Christmas Day; that year's chart was the first in a decade to not feature the X Factor winner's single in the top two. Amazon Music has released a number of exclusive festive tracks since 2018 recorded with acts such as Jess Glynne, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber, none of which have topped the charts. More recently, non-traditional acts have been successful with novelty songs released for charity, most notably YouTubers LadBaby who achieved number one in 2018, 2019 and 2020 raising money for the Trussell Trust.
The Beatles are the only act to have four Christmas number ones, three consecutively starting from 1963. On two occasions, 1963 and 1967, they had both the Christmas number one and the number two, the only act to have achieved this. As part of two acts, George Michael repeated the feat with Band Aid and Wham! in 1984, and Ed Sheeran did so in 2017 with duets with Beyoncé and Eminem. Paul McCartney has been top eight times with various acts. Cliff Richard has spent four Christmases at number one; two as a solo act, one with The Shadows and one as part of Band Aid II. The Spice Girls later equalled the record of having three consecutive Christmas number ones, from 1996 to 1998; Spice Girl Melanie C achieved a fourth Christmas number one as a member of The Justice Collective in 2012, which also gave Robbie Williams his third. In 2020, YouTube personalities LadBaby achieved a third consecutive number one.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, which reached the number-one spot at Christmas 1975 and 1991, is the only record to have reached the top twice. "Mary's Boy Child" is the only song to be Christmas number one for two artists (Harry Belafonte in 1957 and Boney M. in 1978), although "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has been Christmas number one for three generations of Band Aid. The original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is the second best selling single in UK history while "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the third best selling single of all time.
- This means that sales/streams on Christmas Day itself are not a factor in determining the Christmas number one.
- In addition to the two groups that were the focus of the show (Girls Aloud and One True Voice), who charted at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, the No. 3 on the chart was "Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)" by The Cheeky Girls, who had also been contestants on Popstars.
- Released as a double A-side.
- "Mistletoe and Wine" by Cliff Richard was announced as the 1988 Christmas number one a day later than usual, on Monday 26 December.
- This song originally peaked at #25 on the chart in 1993; first download-only single to be a Christmas number one, which it achieved as a result of a successful Internet campaign.
- A cover of a Biffy Clyro song, originally titled "Many of Horror".
- The Justice Collective was the name taken by a group of British musicians and football personalities who released the song in aid of various charities associated with the Hillsborough disaster.
- A mashup cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song "Bridge over Troubled Water" and Coldplay's "Fix You".
- Versions of "Perfect" featuring Beyoncé ("Perfect Duet") and Andrea Bocelli ("Perfect Symphony") counted towards the placement; however, due to chart rules, only Sheeran was officially credited.
- Douglas, Jayne (23 December 2001). "Have a chart-topping Christmas". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Meighan, Nicola (2004). "Why do we still love Christmas number ones?". BBC. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Sound of silence vies to be Christmas number one". The Daily Telegraph. 16 October 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "The story of the single". BBC News. 23 March 2001. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
- "FAQs". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
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- Shennan, Paddy (13 December 2011). "Will Christmas Number One hopes 'The W Factor' (The Wombles) or 'MW Factor' (The Military Wives) beat The X Factor?". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Official UK Top 40 with Bruno Brookes". BBC Genome. 25 December 1994. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Girls Aloud top festive chart". BBC News. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- Swash, Rosie (16 November 2007). "X Factor faces online Christmas chart challenge". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- "Rage Against the Machine beat X Factor winner in charts". BBC News. 20 December 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
- "X Factor's Matt Cardle beats Biffy Clyro, Surfin' Bird and John Cage to UK Christmas Number One". NME. 19 December 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
- "Military Wives Choir capture Christmas number one". BBC News. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- Sexton, Paul (23 December 2011). "Military Wives & Italian Donkey in Race for U.K.'s No. 1 Christmas Single". Billboard. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- "Hillsborough single is Christmas number one". BBC News. 24 December 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- "The Official Chart on BBC Radio 1 to move to Fridays from July - Greg James to present the weekly show from 4-6pm". BBC. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "The Christmas No 1!, The Official Chart with Greg James - BBC Radio 1". BBC. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- Furness, Hannah (21 December 2015). "NHS Choir in the lead in race for Christmas number one". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
- Blake, Jimmy (22 December 2015). "Christmas number one: Why the X Factor is an outsider". Newsbeat. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- "The demise of the X Factor Christmas Number 1". The Independent. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- "New Christmas songs by Jess Glynne and Justin Bieber set to enter Top 40". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
- "Jess Glynne enters Christmas Number 1 race with festive cover". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
- "Christmas number one: Why is the festive chart-topper such a big deal? - CBBC Newsround" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "LadBaby claims Christmas number one". ITV News. 21 December 2018.
- Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (20 December 2019). "LadBaby takes Christmas No 1 with I Love Sausage Rolls" – via www.theguardian.com.
- Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (25 December 2020). "LadBaby reach Christmas No 1 for third year in a row". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
- "All the Christmas number ones". Children's BBC. 16 December 2002. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
- "Do They Know It's Christmas?". BBC Radio 2: Sold on Song. BBC. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- "The UK's top 50 million-selling singles". NME. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- Myers, Justin (13 December 2013). "Every Official Christmas Number 1 ever!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
- "Christmas Number Ones – Singles". EveryHit. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
- "Thirty years of Christmas No 1s". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
- Masterton, James (20 December 2004). "Christmas Commentary from James Masterton". London: LAUNCHcast. Archived from the original on 31 December 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
... This actually did happen back in 1988 when Christmas Day fell on a Sunday (the usual chart day). This resulted in the chart show being broadcast a day late on Monday 26th and with the industry agreeing that the crowning of Cliff Richard as that years Christmas Number One would take place then. ...
- "Paul McCartney guests on Hillsborough charity single with Robbie Williams". The Guardian. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- "NHS Choir beat Bieber to UK Christmas number one". BBC News. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
- "Ed Sheeran claims Christmas Number 1: "It's an actual dream"". Official Charts Company. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
- Savage, Mark (22 December 2017). "Ed Sheeran is number one for Christmas". BBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
though chart rules mean Beyonce is denied a credit on the Christmas number one, with Sheeran's original counted as the lead track.
- "LadBaby pulls off Christmas chart upset". BBC News. 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
- Robinson, Peter (10 December 2015). "Drugs, austerity and Thatcher – what Christmas No 1s tell us about Britain". The Guardian.
- Clarkson, Natalie (15 December 2014). "What's the most important factor when making a Christmas number one?". Virgin.