There is something about this festive time of year that causes people who don’t normally give a stuff about the music charts to suddenly start caring about what will be No1 for Christmas. The question, therefore, is if so many people care, why are the actual choices such rubbish?
This wasn’t always the case. There was a golden age when the Christmas No1 was by real musicians with talent, producing original music, playing their own instruments and singing their own vocals. People like the Beatles (1963-5), Queen (1975), Mud (1974), Pink Floyd (1979) and, of course, the kings of Christmas, Slade (1973). And all this in an age where singles sales had to be in more than double digits to get to number one.
Merry Christmas Everybody will celebrate its 36th Christmas this year. It gets played every year and, love it or loathe it, everyone knows it. How many No1’s from the last 10 years could you name? Here’s a list – how many could you hum?
1999 – Westlife: I Have A Dream / Seasons In The Sun
2000 – Bob The Builder: Can We Fix It?
2001 – Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman: Somethin’ Stupid
2002 – Girls Aloud: Sound Of The Underground
2003 – Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules: Mad World
2004 – Band Aid 20: Do They Know It’s Christmas?
2005 – Shayne Ward: That’s My Goal
2006 – Leona Lewis: A Moment Like This
2007 – Leon Jackson: When You Believe
2008 – Alexandra Burke: Hallelujah
Okay, you could probably manage Bob the Builder, especially if you have kids. And ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, but that doesn’t count as it’s a repeat from 1984. And 1989. Even before that things weren’t great – the preceding three years were the Spice Girls and surely the worst Christmas No1 ever must remain Mr Blobby in 1993. No matter how many presents he gives to the needy in his annual Christmas schmaltz-fest, Noel Edmunds is never going to redeem himself from that atrocity. If you want the full list of Christmas No1s you can find it at http://www.everyhit.com/christmasnumber1.html.
And so to this year. Looking at the contenders there are a few genuine artists (Madonna, Shakira), but obviously they have no chance. There are re-releases (St Winifred’s Choir – please god no!) and has-beens looking for a come back (George Michael – also a re-release). The smart money, though, is on the winner of the X-Factor.
The X-Factor: don’t get me started. To say I am not a fan is something of an understatement, but I usually leave the grumpy whinging to my brother, Russell, who does it so well. The thing is, I have nothing against talent shows as such: in the past shows like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces launched genuine talent. The problem is that today the public seems to prefer to vote for whichever talentless freak provides the most entertainment on the show. Although this may make for a few weeks of good telly, if you’re into that sort of thing, it is unlikely to produce a genuinely good, memorable song at the end of it. Perhaps we get the No1 we deserve.
There is an X-Factor backlash in progress, with attempts to get Rage Against the Machine to number one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkuOAY-S6OY), but if you really want the No1 to be a bunch of muppets who don’t really play their own instruments or sing their own lyrics then you should at least admit it and get the real Muppets to No1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcEpdxsWZLA.