Saturday 16 December 2017

Military Wives: Simon Cowell 'concedes' group will march to Christmas number one

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell

Richard Alleyne

SIMON Cowell has conceded that a group of British soldiers’ wives are likely to claim the Christmas number one spot over his X Factor winners.

The media mogul and his team usually release the reality show winner’s single in the week running up to Christmas, guaranteeing it top spot on a wave of publicity.

But an apparent oversight by executives has all but ended the X Factor's domination of the festive charts.

This year the debut by the girl band Little Mix has come out a week earlier than usual, meaning that sales are likely to peak too soon.

Their song, Cannonball, may have topped the chart yesterday, but it is unlikely to hold it for a second week, leaving the path to the top spot clear to rivals for only the second time in seven years.

The early release means that the Military Wives Choir is now the firm favourite to take the top spot with the charity song Wherever You Are.

On Monday, Cowell posted on Twitter, the microblogging site: "Congrats to Little Mix & congrats to Military Wives . It's a great cause & a worthy Christmas No.1."

It came after Cowell, the show’s producer, had earlier said: “I’m absolutely thrilled for Little Mix on their first number one. I think they have something really special."

Not that the tune written by Paul Mealor, the British royal wedding composer, needed much help.

Released on Monday, the Military Wives' song has racked up record pre-release sales “in the six figures” and has been championed by Chris Evans, the BBC Radio 2 presenter.

Bookmakers make the song 1/8 favourite to be Christmas number one, the firmest favourite this century. Sam Stevenson, 28, the soloist with the choir, said beating The X Factor would the “icing on the cake”. “It would be something to disrupt the boat a little bit,” she said. “Why should it always be them?”

The only other time The X Factor winners have failed to win the Christmas top spot was in 2009 when a campaign to oust the reality show launched the band Rage Against the Machine to number one. Mrs Stevenson, whose husband John is a lance corporal in the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, said: “I was all behind Rage Against the Machine ... I am not saying we are the same, but we have the same sort of message. They put two fingers up to Simon Cowell.”

A spokesman for The X Factor refused to comment on whether the Little Mix single had been accidentally released early. “The Little Mix single was released directly after the final on Sunday as is always the case,” he said.

The Military Wives Choir was the product of the BBC Two reality show The Choir. Proceeds from their single will go to The Royal British Legion and SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) Forces Help.

The Christmas number one will be announced on a special Christmas Day Top of the Pops on BBC One at 2pm.

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