Chart analysis: Wham!'s festive classic triumphs to claim Christmas No.1 title for first time

Chart analysis: Wham!'s festive classic triumphs to claim Christmas No.1 title for first time

After landing the Christmas No.1 for five years in a row, LadBaby graciously stepped aside this year. Their decision not to compete resulted in a more keenly-fought yet lower key competition with Last Christmas by Wham! emerging to fill the void, taking the Christmas title for the first time, while spending its third straight week and sixth week in total at No.1

The Christmas No.2 behind Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas when first released in 1984, Last Christmas finally gets to wear the yule crown after increasing consumption 27.02% week-on-week to 61,784 units, with a newly-released green vinyl 7-inch contributing 2,436 sales, a CD reissue 1,963 sales, and digital downloads 2,346 sales alongside sales-equivalent streams of 55,039. On the unadjusted Top 200 Combined Tracks chart, where ACR is not imposed, consumption of Last Christmas increases 21.03% to 116,824 units. Last Christmas was written and produced by George Michael, who was half of Wham! alongside Andrew Ridgeley and who, poignantly, will be No.1 on the seventh anniversary of his death, on Christmas Day.   

In the whole of chart history, Last Christmas is only the fourth oldie to be No.1 at Christmas, emulating Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson (a 1957 track that was No.1 in 1986); Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (No.1 at Christmas in 1975 in its original incarnation, and No.1 again as a double A-side with These Are The Days Of Our Lives in 1991); and Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine, a 1992 track that became the unlikely Christmas No.1 in 2009 ending a successful campaign to prevent The X Factor from providing the Christmas No.1 for the fifth year in a row.      

Last Christmas’ tenacity was enough to ward off a challenge from Sam Ryder, whose You’re Christmas To Me single explodes 10-2 with consumption up 92.91% week-on-week to 55.858 units, the highest for a No.2 for 27 weeks. That total includes 2,623 copies on CD – in which format’s chart it debuts at No.1 – and 9,002 digital downloads.. Ryder played more than 30 live shows in the week and may get another chance to reach No.1 next week, but for the moment You’re Christmas To Me matches his previous peak, as set by his 2022 debut hit and Eurovision entry, Space Man.

Last Christmas wasn’t the only existing Christmas hit to get physical (again) this week. Fairytale Of New York, The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl’s 1987 No.2 classic was re-released on vinyl for the first time in over a decade. Despite this, and a campaign to get it to No.1 for the first time following the death of Pogues leader Shane MacGowan last month, Fairytale Of New York dips 5-6 (42,876 sales, including 2,402 on 7-inch). Just as Christmas Day marks the seventh anniversary of George Michael’s death, it would have been the 66th birthday of MacGowan. Fairytale Of New York, incidentally, also fails to top the chart in Ireland this week, where Noah Kahan scores a notable double, topping both the singles and albums chart with Stick Season 

Christmas playlists provide much of the rest of the Top 10 again, the seasonal titles not yet mentioned being: All I Want For Christmas Is You (3-3, 50,344 sales) by Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas (6-5, 44,272 sales) by Ed Sheeran & Elton John, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (7-7, 41,673 sales) by Brenda Lee, It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (8-9, 33,382 sales) by Michael Bublé and Merry Christmas Everyone (12-10, 31,107 sales) by Shakin’ Stevens.

Preventing Christmas songs from making a complete takeover of the Top 10 are Stick Season (2-4, 48,480 sales) by Noah Kahan and Lovin On Me (4-8, 41,434 sales) by Jack Harlow.

Every record between No.3 and No.10 recorded the highest weekly consumption yet for 2023.

LadBaby donated profits from all but their first Christmas No.1 to the Trussell Trust. In their absence this year, the baton is seized by Creator Universe – a loose grouping of social media ‘stars’ – whose recording of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day also benefits the charity, and tops the digital download chart (20,183 sales). It derives little from sales-equivalent streams as it debuts at No.29 (20,922 sales). That means it is behind Wizzard’s perennial original, which moves 27-26 (22,291 sales), 50 years to the week since it peaked at No.4. In the Top 40 for the 12th year in a row, and the Top 75 for the 17th, it passes the 2m mark in digital era consumption this week with a to-date tally of 2,004,721 units.       

The only other new entries to the Top 75 are Pink Friday Girls (78-60, 10,061 sales) and FTCU (No.73, 9,069 sales), both tracks from Nicki Minaj’s latest album, Pink Friday 2. Minaj has now had 71 Top 75 hits, and also has a new peak this week with Lil Uzi Vert collaboration Everybody (53-52, 11,524 sales). 

Cher is back in the Top 40 for the first time in over a decade and the Top 20 for the first time in 22 years with DJ Play A Christmas Song which vaults 41-20 (24,591 sales). She thus becomes the first female solo artist ever to have a Top 40 hit with new material in seven separate (and consecutive) decades, scoring in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. At the age of 77 years and seven months, she also becomes simultaneously the oldest female solo artist to have a Top 40 – replacing Shirley Bassey who was the first and previously only female solo septuagenarian to do so when The Living Tree reached No.27 in April 2007, three months after her 70th birthday – and the oldest female to have a Top 40 hit at all, replacing Hylda Baker who was 73 when her abominable version of You’re The One That I Want (a duet with 64-year-old Arthur Mullard) reached No.22 in 1978. Recognised by Guinness Book Of Records as the first artist to have a Top 40 hit in seven consecutive decades, Tina Turner only did so if you include Ike Turner collaborations and after the fact remixes and remakes. In every real sense, the only other act to have new hits in each of seven decades is The Rolling Stones but even they can’t quite match Cher, because while she has made the Top 40 each decade, they didn’t get higher than No.61 in the 2010s.  

Four weeks after debuting at No.75, Jorja Smith’s cover of East 17’s Stay Another Day reaches another new peak, climbing 20-18 (26,295 sales).

There are also new peaks for: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (18-16, 27,673 sales) by Dean Martin, Winter Wonderland (49-31, 20,552 sales) by Laufey, Lose Control (59-49, 12,586 sales) by Teddy Swims and Jingle Bells (74-67, 9,360 sales) by Meghan Trainor,    

Recorded 70 years ago, Santa Baby first made the Top 75 for the late Eartha Kitt in 2016, when it reached No.63. Three years later, it reached a new peak of No.55 which it revisits this week (10,930 sales), simultaneously being certified platinum for digital era consumption of 620,485 units. Kitt died on Christmas Day in 2008, at the age of 81, but Santa Baby composer Philip Springer and lyricist Joan Javits Zeeman are still with us at 97 and 95, respectively. Zeeman set fresh lyrics to Springer’s tune in 1954 – a year after Santa Baby – with Kitt again recording the track as This Year’s Santa Baby. In it, she tells Santa that he was ‘a dear last year’, but complains about the gifts, saying the Cadillac ‘is falling apart, won’t start’, the yacht ‘sprang a leak’ and the sable is not ‘in the pink’ while pleading for a private plane, a white mink, some land on the Florida coast, money for her pet charity (herself), a pear-shaped swimming pool, and even ‘The Queen, Elizabeth”. Kitt also revisited Santa Baby is a shorter, faster-paced less nuanced version in 1959, after moving from RCA Victor to the Kapp label. Santa Baby was later a No.31 hit for Kylie Minogue in 2017, in which version it has achieved digital consumption of 839,441 units. It has also been recorded by a large number of other famous women, including Ariana Grande, Madonna, Miss Piggy, Taylor Swift, Pussycat Dolls, Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, Paloma Faith, Macy Gray, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, Lauren Spencer Smith, LeAnn Rimes and, on her current hit album, Cher.

In total there are eight Christmas/winter songs in the Top 10, 16 in the Top 20, 32 in the Top 40 and 45 in the Top 75 (excluding Stay Another Day and Stick Season, per previous columns). In the same week last year, there were six Christmas/winter songs in the Top 10, 14 in the Top 20, 29 in the Top 40 and 43 in the Top 75. 

The last year in which there were no Christmas songs in the chart, incidentally was 1970. The following year also looked like being a blank, but in the very last chart of 1971 The Carpenters charted at No.45 with Merry Christmas Darling.   

Overall singles consumption is down 0.39% week-on-week to 28,974,432 units, 13.37% above same week 2022 consumption of 25,557,939 units. Paid-for sales are up 10.81% week-on-week at 332,373 – 22.85% below same week 2022 sales of 430,802.

Photo: Official Charts Company

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