New York, NY (Top40 Charts) It's a commonly held view that music charts don't matter anymore. People engage with music via streaming more than they do by heading to stores and buying music (or paying to download it). Therefore the question of who's sold the most records in a particular week is immaterial. We've never believed that to be the case on this website, and if anyone does hold that opinion, we invite them to take a look at the United Kingdom. At around this time every year, the contest to hold the number one single in the charts on Christmas Day reaches its most intense.
Americans have always looked at the festive chart battle in the UK with a raised eyebrow. Holding the top spot over the holiday season in the USA is viewed with no more importance than it is at any other time of year, but in the UK, it's one of the biggest chart battles of the year. Who can forget that time when the seemingly endless run of number one singles by X-Factor winners was broken by a re-issue of Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing In The Name Of,' for example? Or the time when the Gary Jules rendition of 'Mad World' from 'Donnie Darko' topped the charts and gave the country the least-Christmassy number one single imaginable?
Because of all the attention that's foisted upon the song that reaches number one at Christmas and the artist that recorded the song, many performers vie for the position every year. Getting a Christmas number one is like having your own online slots that you can spin every year and collect money from. It's also a little like an online slots casino in that you don't actually know what's going to happen when you release a song. The most brilliantly recorded and produced track can get nowhere. The most unlikely contender can end up walking away with the prize. That's what makes it so much like online slots - the odds are almost unknowable, and anything can happen when you decide you're going to take a punt at it! 1990s boyband East 17 are still cashing in on their hit 'Stay Another Day' every twelve months. Last year's winner was a song about sausage rolls by a member of the public. Almost literally anything can happen - so who's in with a chance this year?
LadBaby - I Love Sausage Rolls
This is the same act that topped the charts against all the odds last year and might be about to do it again. Last year they hit the top spot with 'We Built This City On Sausage Rolls,' a snack-themed cover of Starship's 'We Built This City.' This year it's 'I Love Rock And Roll' by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts getting the same treatment. For any confused American readers, a sausage roll is a cooked sausage surrounded by flaky pastry. We assure you it's delicious. The prospect of lightning striking twice for the same performer sounds unlikely, but the fact that all proceeds from the song are being donated to charity may help its case.
Stormzy - Own It
It's been a huge year for British rap and grime star Stormzy. He became the first black British solo artist to headline the world-famous Glastonbury Festival in the summer, and now he has the prospect of a Christmas number one single within his reach. He's assembled an all-star team to help him in the effort - Ed Sheeran and fellow rapper Burna Boy also feature on the track. LadBaby is still considered to be the frontrunner at the time of writing, but all of that can change within the space of a few short days.
Jarvis Cocker - Running The World
This would be the least festive of the songs in the running to claim the crown. Jarvis Cocker is best known as the frontman of Pulp - a band who had big hits with 'Common People' and 'Disco 2000' during the 1990s. 'Running The World' was originally released in 2011 but has been backed by an internet campaign in the aftermath of the recent election victory by the Conservative Party in the country. We can't reprint the lyrics here, but trust us when we say that it has very uncomplimentary things to say about the sort of people who hold positions of power. As a protest song, it might fit the national mood.
Tones & I - Dance Monkey
Whatever happens, Tones & I has had an incredible run with 'Dance Monkey.' It's already been at the top of the chart for eleven weeks, and in the process has broken records. Tones & I is an Australian singer-songwriter, and by staying at the top for such a long time, she's eclipsed the achievements of Rihanna, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion. No female solo artist has ever had so many consecutive weeks at number one, but sadly for her, she's unlikely to hold on for a twelfth week in the case of such a sudden rush of opposition.
At the less likely end of the market, popular radio DJ Chris Moyles has a Christmas single out, Ellie Goulding's cover of 'River' by Joni Mitchell is selling well, and Dua Lipa's 'Don't Start Now' isn't out of contention yet. Lewis Capaldi, who's dominated the UK charts for so much of 2019, is also likely to finish within the top five with his track 'Before You Go.' In among the crowd are some well-established Christmas hits from the past, including Wham's 'Last Christmas,' Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' and the always-controversial 'Fairytale of New York' by the Pogues, which some radio stations are refusing to play this year because of the lyrical content.
It will be a hard-fought battle until the very end. Right now, the LadBaby song is outselling everyone else by almost ten to one in physical sales but barely features in streaming charts at all, where the Stormzy track rules the roost. Will one of them walk away with the crown, or will one of the other contenders surprise us? We'll have to check in on the UK charts this coming Sunday to find out!