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. Novelty songs, charity songs or songs with a Christmas theme have regularly been at the top of Christmas charts. 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. 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 before 25 December, but comprises sales for the week before that. The most recent Christmas number one single is "We Built This City" 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.
Since 2002 the Christmas number one has been 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 1] From 2005 to 2008, 2010 and 2013 to 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, participants from 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.
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 Christmasses 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.
"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.
|1952||Al Martino||"Here in My Heart"||9|
|1953||Frankie Laine||"Answer Me"||8|
|1954||Winifred Atwell||"Let's Have Another Party"||5|
|1955||Dickie Valentine||"Christmas Alphabet"||3|
|1956||Johnnie Ray||"Just Walkin' in the Rain"||7|
|1957||Harry Belafonte||"Mary's Boy Child"||7|
|1958||Conway Twitty||"It's Only Make Believe"||5|
|1959||Emile Ford and the Checkmates||"What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?"||6|
|1960||Cliff Richard and The Shadows||"I Love You"||2|
|1961||Danny Williams||"Moon River"||2|
|1962||Elvis Presley||"Return to Sender"||3|
|1963||The Beatles||"I Want to Hold Your Hand"||5|
|1964||The Beatles||"I Feel Fine"||5|
|1965||The Beatles||"Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out"[nb 2]||5|
|1966||Tom Jones||"Green, Green Grass of Home"||7|
|1967||The Beatles||"Hello, Goodbye"||7|
|1968||The Scaffold||"Lily the Pink"||4|
|1969||Rolf Harris||"Two Little Boys"||6|
|1970||Dave Edmunds||"I Hear You Knocking"||6|
|1971||Benny Hill||"Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)"||4|
|1972||Jimmy Osmond||"Long Haired Lover from Liverpool"||5|
|1973||Slade||"Merry Xmas Everybody"||5|
|1974||Mud||"Lonely This Christmas"||4|
|1976||Johnny Mathis||"When a Child Is Born (Soleado)"||3|
|1977||Wings||"Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School"[nb 2]||9|
|1978||Boney M.||"Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord"||4|
|1979||Pink Floyd||"Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)"||5|
|1980||St Winifred's School Choir||"There's No One Quite Like Grandma"||2|
|1981||The Human League||"Don't You Want Me"||5|
|1982||Renée and Renato||"Save Your Love"||4|
|1983||The Flying Pickets||"Only You"||5|
|1984||Band Aid||"Do They Know It's Christmas?"||5|
|1985||Shakin' Stevens||"Merry Christmas Everyone"||2|
|1986||Jackie Wilson||"Reet Petite"||4|
|1987||Pet Shop Boys||"Always on My Mind"||4|
|1988||Cliff Richard||"Mistletoe and Wine"[nb 3]||4|
|1989||Band Aid II||"Do They Know It's Christmas?"||3|
|1990||Cliff Richard||"Saviour's Day"||1|
|1991||Queen||"Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"[nb 2]||5|
|1992||Whitney Houston||"I Will Always Love You"||10|
|1993||Mr Blobby||"Mr Blobby"||3|
|1994||East 17||"Stay Another Day"||5|
|1995||Michael Jackson||"Earth Song"||6|
|1996||Spice Girls||"2 Become 1"||3|
|1997||Spice Girls||"Too Much"||2|
|1999||Westlife||"I Have a Dream" / "Seasons in the Sun"[nb 2]||4|
|2000||Bob the Builder||"Can We Fix It?"||3|
|2001||Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman||"Somethin' Stupid"||3|
|2002||Girls Aloud||"Sound of the Underground"||4|
|2003||Michael Andrews and Gary Jules||"Mad World"||3|
|2004||Band Aid 20||"Do They Know It's Christmas?"||4|
|2005||Shayne Ward||"That's My Goal"||4|
|2006||Leona Lewis||"A Moment Like This"||4|
|2007||Leon Jackson||"When You Believe"||3|
|2009||Rage Against the Machine||"Killing in the Name"||1|
|2010||Matt Cardle||"When We Collide"[nb 4]||3|
|2011||Military Wives with Gareth Malone||"Wherever You Are"||1|
|2012||The Justice Collective[nb 5]||"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"||1|
|2014||Ben Haenow||"Something I Need"||1|
|2015||Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir||"A Bridge over You"[nb 6]||1|
|2016||Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie||"Rockabye"||9|
|2017||Ed Sheeran[nb 7]||"Perfect"||6|
|2018||LadBaby||"We Built This City"||1|
... 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. ...
though chart rules mean Beyonce is denied a credit on the Christmas number one, with Sheeran's original counted as the lead track.
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