Christmas music – it’s an inescapable part of the season. From November to New Year’s radio stations, shops and public squares blast the same dozen or so holiday classics endlessly reworked by a wide range of artists in various styles. For example, Bing Crosby’s signature “White Christmas” has been covered by performers as diverse as Lady Gaga, Rascal Flatts and Cee Lo Green. I don’t know about you but there’s only so many times I need to be cheerfully informed that “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” or repeatedly advised that “Santa Claus is (in fact) coming to town.”
But as inundated as we Americans are with festive holiday carols, we don’t have anything quite like the venerable British institution of the Christmas number one. I first heard of of this annual contest when I became acquainted with rock legend Billy Mack from Love Actually. In this radio interview he does a pretty fair job of explaining the Christmas number one concept and what it can mean for a washed-up musician’s career.
Although the UK Singles Chart has been documenting number ones since 1952, it wasn’t until the early 70’s when Christmas-themed songs started making a significant showing during the holiday season. Novelty tunes and songs benefiting charities are also popular during this time of year. And while I read that “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” has been number one on three different occasions, the original 1984 Band Aid version has no equal in my opinion.
Who will capture the coveted Christmas number one honors in 2013? Susan Boyle, Lily Allen, Robbie Williams or, at 100 to 1 odds, could Retrobot possibly pull off an upset win?
All I can say is I’m thankful the decision’s not in my hands.