Christmas Number 1's are a funny old bunch. Some Christmas classics didn't get anywhere near the top spot, while others are a bit.... "This?! Really?!" Anyway, raise a glass of egg-nog and toast the definitive list of the ten best Christmas number 1's, like, ever.
10. Earth Song – Michael Jackson (1995)
WHAT ABOUT ELEPHANTS?! We kick off with this curio, which is decidedly un Christmas-like (apart from the obvious Jackson as Saviour of Mankind metaphor). Although this song is quite clearly preposterous and you sort of have to suspend your belief in (well…pretty much anything) to get through it, I have a real soft spot for ‘Earth Song’. MJ is back to lecture us on our destructive ways, complete with images of poor African villagers and a giraffe falling over. But then THE WOLRD FIGHTS BACK (cue wind machine). Messiah complex? Nah, of course not….
9. Lonely This Christmas– Mud (1974)
The most downbeat, depressing Christmas Number 1, with nary a glimpse of tinsel in the unyielding despair. Turkey dinner for one and pass the advocaat.
8. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens (1985)
I’d go as far to say this is Shakey’s best moment. He wisely waited a year and held the record back so the Band Aid behemoth could do it’s business in 1984, and then conquered all. Amazing knitwear choices as well, before the “Christmas Jumper” was a thing.
7. 2 become 1 – Spice Girls (1996)
The first of three in a row Christmas Number 1’s for The Spice Girls, and the best of them. It’s basically an ode to shagging all night (but done responsibly, eh Emma). What Jesus would have wanted. The video sees them all flashing a bit of leg and boob in wintery New York, apart from Mel C who sensibly dons a gillet with matching gloves. Also, a deer incongruously appears in Times Square at the end, unrelated to anything.
6. The Sound of the Underground - Girls Aloud (2002)
The last decent Christmas number.1 . Given the song and the video were done at breakneck speed to engineer the Popstars The Rivals chart battle, an accidental mini-classic was created, complete with a twangy Beach Boys surf guitar. There’s a sweet lack of slickness about the whole thing that makes it sort of great. Best bit….Kimberley’s Yorkshire accent on “It’s a mixed up siggnnnn!” She’s right Bradford, oor lass.
5. Stay Another Day – East 17 (1994)
No other song screamed THIS IS A CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE than ‘Stay Another Day’. And in case we missed being hit over the head with it, they tacked on some pealing church bells and a gong at the end. Subtle. Video vibe: polar bears about to nick your car stereo.
4. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (1975 & 1991)
Reached the Christmas Number 1 spot twice, grudgingly number 4 on this list. Ok, it is a great song, but my God, Queen, Virgin Radio and the rest of the human race want you know that IT IS A CLASSIC. But it’s inescapability makes me feel a bit trapped. Mamma Mia, let me go!
3. Always on My Mind – Pet Shop Boys (1987)
1987 was a competitive year, but ‘‘Ver Pets’ held off The Pogues and Rick Astley by giving Elvis the ‘poppers’o’clock’ treatment and officially creating the best cover version ever. I've gone for the TOTP Christmas performance, for the laughably sherried-up audience who had clearly been at the subsidised BBC bar.
2. Merry Xmas Everyone – Slade (1973)
Ubiquitous, all conquering, over-familiar but still great. But do I detect a slight wearisome vibe to this record? It's there in the shorthand of "Xmas" in the title, like a dashed-off Christmas card. And it's there in the lyrics. We go from "So here it is" (thank God), to "Everybody's having fun" (which has a forced, organised jollity to it). We are all having fun aren't we?
Even if there is a hint of repetitive, Christmas-by-numbers- ennui, it's swept along by Noddy's gravelly treacle voice, and that guy on the guitar with the amazing haircut. A classic. Maybe the old songs are the best?
1.Don’t You Want Me – The Human League (1981)
We finish with this little classic, a vindictive take of panicked loss of control on one hand, and empowerment on the other. Not the most Christmas-like of sentiments, it has to be said. It is of course, amazing, but will stave off saying anything else as it may appear elsewhere on the blog. There is an iconic "trapped in car headlights" video to this, but have gone with the TOTP performance, complete with silly-string ending. The larks!