It’s the tensest day in the Christmas music calendar. Usually reserved for X-Factor winners, charity campaigns, or just your regular popular tune, the Christmas Number 1 is no simple affair. And with it finally being here, what better way to preempt its arrival than to run you through all of the possible contenders for the top spot? (Plus, ya know, there’s not actually a lot being released this week, so there’s probably more to talk about when looking at who might win that coveted crown this afternoon when the official charts are announced). With that in mind, here is our run-down of Ed Sheeran’s attempt to crown his stellar 2017 by winning the top spot with one of three versions of the same song, Eminem’s surprise surge to challenge him (even if Sheeran guest features on that track also), some actual Christmas songs trying to make a splash, and the rest. Got your mince pies ready? Then let’s begin.
Ed Sheeran – ‘Perfect’
Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé – ‘Perfect Duet’
Ed Sheeran & Andrea Bocelli – ‘Perfect Symphony’
If it wasn’t clear that Ed Sheeran intended to dominate 2017, it certainly is by now. As if ‘Perfect’ wasn’t enough on its own, a few weeks ago he gave us the ‘Perfect Duet’ with Beyoncé, following that up with the ‘Perfect Symphony’ with Andrea Bocelli. If one of these don’t end up at or near the Christmas Number 1 spot, Ed will most likely be feeling a little cheated. He’s already had ÷ top the album charts within three days of its availability and headlined Glastonbury, why not also get Christmas Number One? Certainly it would make for a ‘Perfect’ end to the everyday popstar’s already incredible year.
Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran – ‘River’
As we saw last year with Clean Bandit‘s ‘Rockabye’ (featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie), it doesn’t have to be Christmassy to be Christmas Number 1. That being said, I really hope that Eminem‘s latest doesn’t make it. Featuring Ed Sheeran (will he ever leave us be), the track talks of an affair and unwanted pregnancy, the stuff Christmas dreams are made of. All jokes aside, although the single is pretty good, the number 1 spot needs to be reserved for those who truly deserve it/an X-Factor winner/those in opposition of an X-Factor winner. Let’s hope this year doesn’t repeat the trends of last and returns Christmas Number 1 into the realms it’s used to.
Rita Ora – ‘Anywhere’
Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – ‘Havana’
Elsewhere, Camila Cabello has had an impressively strong showing with her fourth single ‘Havana’ – you know, that slow, seductive late summer hit that feels just like watching a dusky evening sunset with a drink in hand in the titular city. It’s so far spent 19 weeks in the charts and goes into this week at number 4, so with its alluring replayability pretty much guaranteeing streams even over the festive period, I wouldn’t rule it out.
Meanwhile, Rita Ora‘s most recent single ‘Anywhere’ has been hovering somewhere around the top 5 for the last six weeks, so with a bit of a push from fans, could the songstress behind summertime hits ‘Your Song’ and the Avicii collaboration ‘Lonely Together’ be headed for a perfect Christmas? It seems unlikely she’ll surpass Ed Sheeran or Eminem, and there’s the resurgent George Michael to contend with, so for either of these more mainstream pop hits to take the top spot before Christmas would take many by surprise; then again, they’re both solid pop hits that are bound to get plays as we head into party season, and although previous chart position is no guarantee of success, they’re definitely both worth keeping an eye on (and adding to your end-of-year party playlists).
Rak-Su ft. Wyclef Jean and Naughy Boy – ‘Dimelo’
Given that seven of the past 12 Christmas Number 1s have been from X Factor winners, you can’t ignore 2017 victors Rak-Su and their latin-R&B-rap debut single ‘Dimelo’. That said, it’s been three years since that top spot went to the X Factor winner, and it feels as though the show is fading from the national psyche somewhat (I didn’t even know it was on until I saw Rak-Su had won), so winning the X Factor and plucking Christmas Number 1 are far from going hand-in-hand any more. Regardless, ‘Dimelo’ is still a fairly decent upbeat, summery bop à la ‘Havana’, so worth checking out at the very least.
Wham! – ‘Last Christmas’
Mariah Carey – ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’
Who knew there was also the possibility of an actual Christmas song making it to number 1? ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ is a timeless Xmas tune, Mariah’s high notes are unparalleled and those sleigh bells are perfectly positioned. I wouldn’t be mad if this old one made it back to the top spot.
There’s also a campaign from George Michael fans to get ‘Last Christmas’ to Number 1, marking one year of his passing (on Christmas Day). Another Christmas classic, it would be a wonderful tribute to the artist. The single failed to make it to the top spot during the 80s and it seems like no better time for it to make it now. Michael’s velvety vocals smooth over the entire record, causing us all to forget our problems for a minute to get into the proper Christmas spirit. Although it may be nice for the newbies to have a crack at it, I’m sure we all wouldn’t be complaining if a vintage one made a reappearance.
Michael Ball & Alfie Boe ft. The Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir & Friends – ‘Bring Me Sunshine’
Choirs With Purpose ft. Michelle McManus – ‘We All Stand Together’
Ralph McTell ft. Crisis Choir and Annie Lennox – ‘Streets Of London’
Even if they may not beat Sheeran, Eminem or Wham! to Number 1, the charity single race is well and truly on with Ball & Boe, Michelle McManus, and Ralph McTell all releasing warm, touching hits for the holiday season. Ball & Boe have teamed up with the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir to record a Morcombe & Wise classic and raise funds for seriously ill children in the UK; former Pop Idol winner and presenter Michelle McManus is covering Paul McCartney hit ‘We All Stand Together’ along with a collaborative choir of 1400 voices in support of 11 different charities; and Ralph McTell has remastered his own timeless song with help from activist Annie Lennox and voices from Crisis, the national charity for homeless people. They’re all delightful, they’re all in raising awareness for great causes, and they’re all well worth your time to listen to and support.
Big Shaq – ‘Mans Not Hot’
Because it’s currently in the Top 10, he recently released a festive remix, and if 2017’s told me anything, it’s that literally anything can happen, even if that thing is a hilarious (if instantly-triggering) grime parody – whose actual lyrics include “The ting goes skrrrahh (ah) / Pap, pap, ka-ka-ka (ka) / Skidiki-pap-pap (pap)” – making it to Christmas Number 1 above all the other entries we’ve looked at. Merry Shaqmas.
Selected Other Releases
Cardi B ft. 21 Savage – ‘Better Cardi’
Dr Vades – ‘You’re The One’
Gavin James – ‘Hard To Do’
Good Charlotte – ‘Awful Things’
Imagine Dragons & Khalid – ‘Thunder/Young, Dumb & Broke’
Kesha – ‘This Is Me’
Laura Marling – ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’
Migos – ‘Stir Fry’
Panic! At The Disco – ‘Feels Like Christmas’
Zoe Nash – ‘Rather Die’
This Week In Records: Playlist Edition
This week, our shiny Spotify playlist contains all our picks for Christmas Number 1, as well as our pick of the best singles out this week. Give it a follow for a wonderful dose of musical newness right there in time for breakfast every Friday morning!