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Dec 28

Charts – 28 December 2019

Posted on Saturday, December 28, 2019 by Paul in Music

Well, it’s that chart again. A week too late for the Christmas number one (that’s the record which is already at number one on Christmas Day). But still a week where everyone was hammering the Christmas playlists. This week Christmas fell on a Wednesday, so those playlists were in full effect for six days of the chart week. And with nothing else going on… well, it’s a very Christmas chart. (I may as well mention now that there’s nothing on the album chart at all. Rod Stewart is still number one.)

The Ladbaby single, always a novelty, turns out to be a particularly extreme sort of novelty, dropping straight from number 1 to number 57 in its second week. That’s not a record, but it’s second place behind “Three Lions”, which made number 1 during the 2018 World Cup and fell to number 97 the following week after England were knocked out. Instead, the slightly surprising number one is…

1. Ellie Goulding – “River”

This Joni Mitchell cover is a Christmas song, but unlike most of the Christmas songs on the chart, it’s a new release – albeit an Amazon exclusive – and that means it’s not subject to the permanent lower weighting given to archive tracks. Without that rule it wouldn’t have been number one, so between that and the unusual nature of the chart week, it’s a number one with a bit of an asterisk next to it. How you feel about that depends partly on what you think the chart is there to measure. After all, people always did wheel out the same Christmas records year after year, and until the streaming era, nobody would have thought their absence from the chart was an issue. You can make a case that the streaming services’ Christmas playlists are more akin to radio airplay than to positive selections by listeners. But then again, the reality is that back catalogue Christmas music is what the public listens to at this time of year, and if the music industry finds the comparative irrelevance of contemporary records unwelcome, the problem is ultimately theirs.

Still, Ellie Goulding’s previous number 1s were in 2013 (“Burn”) and 2015 (“Love Me Like You Do”), and she wasn’t exactly on most people’s radar to pick up a third – this was at number 11 last week. So I imagine she won’t be too hung up about the technicalities.

Right, Christmas archive time! “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey climbs 8-2, making this three years running that it’s reached number 2. “Last Christmas” by Wham climbs 4-3, matching its position from last year. “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl climbs 14-4 (!), again matching last year. “Merry Christmas Everyone” by Shakin’ Stevens climbs 16-6, its highest position since being the Christmas number 1 on release in 1985.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid climbs 17-7, one place short of last year. “Step Into Christmas” by Elton John climbs 19-8, which is the highest position it’s ever reached – it only got to 24 on release in 1973. John Legend’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” leaps 34-9, and that’s an actual new release. It’s his highest position since guesting on Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” (which reached number 1 in 2015), and his highest position in his own right since “All of Me” reached number 2 in 2014.

“I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard climbs 29-10, its highest position of the download era; it got to number 4 on release in 1973. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Bublé climbs 24-11, a few places short of last year. “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande climbs 28-13, matching last year’s position. “One More Sleep” by Leona Lewis climbs 25-15, some way short of last year’s top 10 placing. “Santa’s Coming For Us” by Sia climbs 36-17 for a new all-time peak and seems to be on its way to perennial status.

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee climbs 32-18, slightly below last year. “Merry Xmas Everybody” by Slade climbs 31-19, and ditto. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson climbs 33-21, comfortably beating its previous all-time peak of 32, and giving her her highest chart position since 2015. And now we reach the records that are climbing into the chart…

22. Katy Perry – “Cozy Little Christmas”

Re-entry of last year’s Christmas single, which got to 23 first time round. It’s not very good.

24. Chris Rea – “Driving Home for Christmas”

Another predictable annual guest, which continues to get aired on TV with the wretched minor-celebrity-stuffed charity video from a decade ago. Will nobody point a camera at Chris Rea in a room and spare us the pain? “Driving Home” reached number 11 last year.

25. Andy Williams – “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Lower than two years ago, when it reached an all-time peak of 17; higher than last year.

27. Justin Bieber – “Mistletoe”

I know, I know, but it’s on a lot of the Christmas playlists. This reached number 21 on its release in (inexplicably) October 2011, and it returned to the chart last year at number 28.

28. John & Yoko featuring the Plastic Ono Band – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”

The original. YouTube does have one of the official videos for this, but it’s the one that’s full of graphic war footage, so it’s been marked as age-restricted and can’t be embedded. (Given that it’s not what people would expect from the video – particularly as a much more innocuous version is shown on TV – I have some sympathy with that call.) This track reached number 4 in 1972, and its all time peak was at number 2 following John Lennon’s death in 1980.

29. Coldplay – “Christmas Lights”

Originally number 13 in 2010. Its only other return appearance was two years ago when it reached 31.

30. Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock”

Believe it or not, this is a new entry – “Jingle Bell Rock” has not previously charted in the UK top 40, despite being released in 1957. Helms has had previous top 40 hits, the highest being “Jacqueline, which got to number 20 in 1958. Two covers of “Jingle Bell Rock” have previously charted in the UK: Max Bygraves’ version reached number 7 in 1959, and Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker managed a week at number 40 in 1962.

31. Bing Crosby – “White Christmas”

This has been back for three years running; its recent peak is 29, but its all time peak was number 5 when it was reissued after Crosby’s death in 1977.

32. Michael Bublé – “Holly Jolly Christmas”

Another genuine new entry, as this track from his “Christmas” album has not previously appeared on the singles chart. No version of this song has charted before. The original is the title track of a Quinto Sisters album from 1962, but the most famous versions are by Burl Ives, who recorded it for a 1964 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer special, and re-recorded it for a 1965 Christmas album.

33. Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Random as it may sound – and it’s certainly the beneficiary of Christmas playlists – this reached number 22 last year.

34. The Ronettes – “Sleigh Ride”

Okay, now at this point we really are just finding out what happens if people let the Christmas playlists stream for long enough. “Sleigh Ride” has never previously made the top 40 or even come close.

The original version of this song was an instrumental by Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra, recorded in 1949; the vocal version was first recorded by Leroy Anderson in 1950. The Ronettes version is the best known these days, but technically the only version which has previously made the top 40 was by the S Club Juniors, who released it as the double A-side of “Puppy Love” in 2002, and got to number 6. The Ronettes did have four top 40 hits in the UK, the biggest being “Be My Baby”, which reached number 4 in 1963.

35. East 17 – “Stay Another Day”

The Christmas number 1 of 1994, this made its first digital-era appearance last year, at number 36. It’s not actually a Christmas song, though the video and arrangement do their best to present it as one. East 17’s wardrobe choices were always questionable, but with hindsight it’s really striking how normal Tony Mortimer looks compared to the other three. For more remarkabl East 17 wardrobe decisions (from which Tony Mortimer again conspicuously opts out), enjoy the video to “It’s Alright”, in which the stylist has some thoughts on the topic of hats.

37. Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime”

Originally number 6 in 1979, this comes back every year. It made number 20 last year, so maybe it’s tailing off. And finally…

39. Dean Martin – “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

Dean Martin had plenty of hits in the 50s, including the 1956 number 1 “Memories Are Made Of This”. But this track hasn’t made the top 40 before, so it ranks as a new entry. In fact, nobody’s had a hit single with this one in the UK. Like “Sleigh Ride”, it doesn’t actually mention Christmas, just snowy weather, but that’ll do, right?

Bring on the comments

  1. Andrew Flavell says:

    Tony Mortimer looks like he is cosplaying as Captain Cold in his white outfit (it is the goggles that do it).

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