Sunday 18 February 2018

Christmas singles: Who can beat The X Factor to Christmas No. 1?

Can the Wombles, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga or Nirvana beat the X Factor to Christmas No.1?

Paradoxically, it’s never been easier nor harder to be top of the Christmas pops. It’s easier because you no longer need a costly marketing campaign, or even a new single to release, as people can just download any song they fancy from pop’s back catalogue online. Yet, it’s harder because The X Factor has become almost permanently entrenched as the provider of the biggest-selling end-of-year single. Since 2004, the talent show winner has hit number one five times out of six.

Yet this hasn’t deterred the usual bewildering array of acts from getting in the festive spirit. This year, the main opponent to The X Factor looks to be Nirvana, campaigned for by the same Facebook people who took Rage Against the Machine to the top in 2009. However, this week, Gareth Malone’s Military Wives Choir joined the race along with Lady Gaga – either of whom could topple Simon Cowell’s act.

The big news, however, is that this year the chart will be announced on Christmas Day. This skews the game against The X Factor because the final takes place on December 12, and the winner’s first week’s sales – usually the highest – will be out of the Christmas count. Canny competitors may wait until December 19 to release their single to take advantage of this. And, given that the talent show has failed to connect with its audience in quite the same way as usual, the field is open.

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