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The battle for Christmas number one has commenced

By | Published on Friday 16 December 2022

LadBaby & Martin Lewis

It’s the penultimate Friday before Christmas and I think we all know what that means. It means that the race to Christmas number one has begun. Since one minute past midnight this morning, every one of your streams and downloads has been nudging your favourite artists towards the most coveted chart position of the year, which we all definitely still care about.

Well, in theory every stream and download counts towards the big Christmas chart. Except where it’s a stream or download of a track that for some tedious chart rule reason isn’t eligible. Plus, of course, for most of the artists you’re streaming, the Christmas number one spot is well out of reach. If the artist isn’t actively trying to get there – or doesn’t even have a perennial festive favourite in their oeuvre – there’s basically no hope that they’ll get the Christmas Day number one honour this year.

So who is the running? That’s the big question, isn’t it? Well, worry not, I’m here to help. We’ve looked at the contenders and have picked out the ten we think are most likely to make it to the top of the chart next Friday, making them the number one single on Christmas Day 2022, before they crash out of the top 40 again the following week, as is the tradition.

When we first started planning this round up, there was still a chance that England might get to the final of the men’s football World Cup. There are various wintery football songs that would have been in the running for the top of the chart had the team made it to this weekend’s final game – even more so if they had won it. But thankfully, they crashed out last weekend, meaning we don’t have to deal with any of those tedious sporty pop tracks.

So, let us rejoice in not having to think about the 700th rework of ‘Three Lions’, and instead look at the ten singles that could be Christmas number one this year.

LadBaby – Food Aid 
Let’s just get this out of the way right now. YouTubers Mark and Roxanne Doyle – aka LadBaby – have had the number one single on Christmas Day for the last four years in a row. Can they do it again? Yes. Why would you even question that at this stage?

It’s all to raise money for food bank charity The Trussell Trust, and while you might think that the government could have figured out a way to end the widespread reliance on food banks in the UK by now, they have not. I mean, they haven’t even tried. And with the cost of living crisis raging, the need to support food bank operations remains more important than ever.

Last year the YouTube stars teamed up with Ed Sheeran and Elton John for their fourth festive release, ‘Sausage Rolls For Everyone’, a song which (I have just discovered) also went to number seven in New Zealand, for some reason.

It seemed like they probably couldn’t top that, but this year they’ve got together with finance expert Martin Lewis to record a new version of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ under the banner ‘Food Aid’.

And yeah, OK, that’s not really topping a collaboration with Sheeran and John, but you’re forgetting that when this latest LadBaby song was announced earlier this month an “exciting variety of musical collaborators” were also promised.

And who are they? No less than Paul McCartney, Stormzy, Adele, Robbie Williams, and both Liam and Noel Gallagher. Well, lookalikes of Paul McCartney, Stormzy, Adele, Robbie Williams, and both Liam and Noel Gallagher. Some of them not even particularly good lookalikes. A few of those fake celebs do a bit of singing, but really the new track is by the Doyles and Martin Lewis.

Will it get to number one next week? Yesterday I would have said certainly, now I don’t know. Will everyone see the big reveal – ie that Food Aid is just Lewis and a load of lookalikes – as a hilarious joke and another helping of classic LadBaby humour, or – in fact – as a bit of a let down?

The cause is still a good one, of course, even if more people seem to be expressing concerns this year about how a lucrative LadBaby business has been built on the back of these charitable records.

Presumably the Doyles wouldn’t have come back with a fifth track if they didn’t feel like they’d got a winner. But every year that they return in a bid to win the Christmas number one race, they inevitably increase the chances of there being a time when it just doesn’t happen.

Sidemen – Christmas Drillings (feat JME) 
LadBaby are not the only YouTubers vying for the festive number one spot. KSI-led YouTube rap group Sidemen are also in the running to top the chart.

This is all part of a challenge they set themselves recently. Splitting into two teams, both were tasked with writing a track to see who could get the most views on YouTube. One team was given a budget of £100,000, the other £100. The side with a hundred grand to spend hired JME to guest on their track and wrote a Christmas song called ‘Christmas Drillings’.

None of this was actually done with the Christmas number one in mind, but if you put out a Christmas song just before Christmas, then that puts you in the running. Both tracks were actually released earlier this month and currently ‘Christmas Drillings’ is sitting low down in the chart at number 58. We’ll find out later today if it’s risen any further in the last week, which could be an indication of its potential for topping the chart seven days from now.

It’s probably worth noting that collectively, across their various YouTube channels, Sidemen have a lot more subscribers than LadBaby. It’s not all about that though, is it? Can Sidemen compete with the LadBaby machine? Can the real JME compete with a fake Adele? Time will tell.

One thing is for sure though, this is the only track on this list that has a verse about murdering Santa with his own sleigh.

Lewis Capaldi – Pointless 
Lewis Capaldi joked last week that this track was getting “hammered in the charts by Christmas songs”, before saying that he had “a gripe to grind with [Michael] Bublé”, whose 2011 version of ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’ was charting higher.

After that, Bublé responded via TikTok insisting that he had no beef with Capaldi and would be backing ‘Pointless’ to get to Christmas number one. Will that be enough to nudge it up to the top of the festive chart? No, don’t be silly, I just thought that story was fun and worth another mention.

Lewis Capaldi has no chance.

Raye – Escapism (feat 070 Shake) 
Another seeming rank outsider, but this very much not festive song was number two on the latest chart after going viral on TikTok.

Can Raye ride that social media wave all the way to number one next week? Well, all indications are that when this week’s chart is published later today, she will have fallen slightly. She should still be in the top five though, so who knows?

Stormzy – Firebabe 
Also not festive, but looking like being in this week’s top five – in an upwards trend – is Stormzy’s latest single ‘Firebabe’.

Stormzy’s everywhere at the moment – he’s even got a lookalike in that LadBaby video – having just released his latest album, and clearly a lot of people are choosing to listen to him over festive tunes just now.

It’s probably going to be an uphill struggle to jump far enough up the top five in the next week to get to the top spot, but it’s not impossible.

Lizzo – Someday At Christmas 
Lizzo recently released this cover of Stevie Wonder’s 1967 track as an Amazon Original and it is rising up the charts fast. Expect to see it in the top ten this week, up from 31 (and 52 the previous week).

It definitely has momentum behind it – despite being an Amazon exclusive – and should end up in a good position next week. A good position or the best position?

Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You 
Mariah Carey’s always popular Christmas classic is currently at number one in the singles chart and looks like having no trouble staying there again this week.

We’ve seen this before though. Carey’s 1994 track does very well every December as people start dusting off their Christmas playlists, simply by being a very popular Christmas song. It finally make it to number one pre-Christmas in 2020, 26 years after its release.

But when it comes to the more strategic Christmas chart battle, it’s never yet been able to compete. Last year it ended up at number four, which is good, but not – I think we can all agree – number one.

Wham – Last Christmas 
Another always popular Christmas classic, ‘Last Christmas’ ended up at number three on last year’s Christmas chart, ahead of Mariah Carey, when it was actually the most streamed track of the week running up to Christmas. It was at number three last week and we’re expecting it to rise at least one place this week.

But as those more active campaigns to top the chart come into play today and over the next week – pushing people to buy downloads, which carry more weight on the chart – the fact that it’s mainly being streamed will put Wham’s festive favourite at a disadvantage.

Ed Sheeran & Elton John – Merry Christmas 
Here’s an interesting one. This was the big contender for last year’s Christmas number one – right up until the point that LadBaby announced that they would be coming back for a fourth time.

Then it turned out that Sheeran and John would also be appearing on that LadBaby track, which guaranteed them the festive top spot, but also put this song out of the running. We’d sort of forgotten that it existed, but apparently lots of other people hadn’t, because it’s made a very strong showing in recent weeks.

Sitting at number four on last week’s chart, it is currently the main rival to Mariah Carey and Wham for this week’s number one. Could the song make a big comeback this year and break LadBaby’s run of Christmas number ones? It’s success is likely to be mainly down to streaming activity, so that may prove to be its undoing, but we shall see.

The Kunts – Fuck The Tories 
What would Christmas be without The Kunts? They’re back with their third attempt at topping the festive chart. They’ve never yet managed it, but they’ve made it to number five twice, with ‘Boris Johnson Is A Fucking Cunt’ in 2020 and ‘Boris Johnson Is Still A Fucking Cunt’ last year.

All this despite the fact that their campaign has a much lower budget than any of the other contenders, and the sweary content of their band name and songs means they get very little media support and absolutely no radio play (although there is a SFW version).

This year Boris Johnson is no longer UK Prime Minister. So – while feelings about him may remain the same – The Kunts have turned their ire on the entire Conservative Party with ‘Fuck The Tories’. I guess it sends pretty much the same message as the LadBaby single, but in clearer terms. And feels less like an attempt to sell some merch.

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