Before I actually looked up the official list of UK Christmas No1s I already had a few belters in mind, Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is a particular favourite of mine, closely followed by Wham’s classic Last Christmas and I can’t put into words just how much I love to Step Into Christmas with Elton John every year…but I was honestly gutted to discover that none of these timeless songs were actually Christmas Number Ones! In fact, the official list is altogether un-Christmassy, disappointed is an understatement.
That said, I still wanted to celebrate the best (and shame the worst) UK Christmas No1s. Let’s get those stinkers over with first…
- Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby
You know it’s going to be a terrible list when Mr Blobby only makes it to number 5. Despite being repeatedly voted as the worst Christmas number one ever, and coming sixth in a Channel 4 poll of the 100 worst pop songs in history, I don’t think it’s that bad compared to what’s to come. In fact, he only appears on this list at all because I have a personal vendetta against the big pink blob after being called Mrs Blobby throughout primary school. It’s okay, I’m not scarred or bitter at all…
- Saviour’s Day – Cliff Richard
A song that is consistently voted into both best and worst Christmas number one lists, today it is sitting comfortably in our BAD list. In all honesty, the song itself isn’t that terrible, definitely not his face meltingly dire as his Millennium Prayer travesty, but it’s the music video that pushes it right off the Cliff (ba dum tsss!) Seeing Cliff-mas spinning around in his flowing white gown coat, arms outstretched, surrounded by a colourful crowd of followers is just too much for me. Cliff…you are not Jesus, deal with it. I’m pretty sure he would think this song sucks too.
- That’s My Goal – Shayne Ward
Whilst it’s not the worst X-Factor winner number one, it was the first of a horrific tradition of bland, monotonous, cringingly mediocre songs hitting the top spot at Christmas. And it is still pretty bad, just constantly waiting for a crescendo that never comes is just depressing.
- Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid 20
Following its original success in 1984 Do They Know It’s Christmas? has been rerecorded three times, each one reaching number one in time for Christmas, but the Band Aid 20 version is easily the worst. The singing is flat and uninspiring, it lacks the passion and emotion of the original version, and Chris Martin’s pretentious face during the opening lines is enough to make me turn it off and go back to watching Saviour’s Day instead.
- Mull of Kintyre – Paul McCartney and Wings
This five minute long snore-fest somehow clung to top spot for nine torturous weeks (although I managed to skip the torture by not being born yet, so I guess I can’t complain). Is there something about this song that I’m missing? It’s just horrible.
Let’s move swiftly onto the best Christmas No1s.
- Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
The 1984 version of this song is fabulous, yes it’s kind of sappy and some of the ‘celebrity’ vocalists are a bit Z-List but I can’t help love it, although I suspect it might just be because of my secret love for George Michael. His first line ‘But say a prayer…’ just gets me way more emotional than it should. Selling 3.78 million copies, 1 million of them in the first week, it definitely deserves to be in the GOOD list.
- Earth Song – Michael Jackson
Whilst it often gets a bit of stick for being a bit OTT and whiny, Earth Song remains Jackson’s best-selling single in the UK where it has sold 1.16 million copies. I lost count of the number of times my parents told me off for screeching out the epic chorus at the top of my lungs…on repeat.
- Stay Another Day – East17
This 1994 Christmas number one is the biggest hit from bad-boy pop group East 17. Tony Mortimer received an Ivor Novello songwriting award for this song about his brother’s suicide, yet despite the dark subject matter it remains a firm favourite in all Christmas music lists. The accompanying video of these self proclaimed bad-boys floating through the sky wearing white fluffy parker jackets whilst throwing some hip-hop shapes just makes it that much better.
- Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine
In 2009 a successful Facebook campaign was launched to prevent The X-Factor winner’s song gaining the Christmas number one for the fifth consecutive year. Killing in the Name hit number one 17 years after its initial release and became the first single to reach the Christmas number one spot on downloads alone. The line ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!’ just fills me with Christmas spirit.
- Bohemian Rhapsody
9 weeks at number one, this song is a genius, epic, masterpiece. What else is there to say? If you have friends who refuse to sing along, head-bang, play air guitar AND do all the different voices for the Galileo section, cut them off…you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
Despite not quite making it onto either list Whitney deserves a little respect for her cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You which, thanks to the success of her movie The Bodyguard that same year, bagged the Christmas No1 spot in 1992 and managed to stay there for ten consecutive weeks making it the longest running Christmas number one to date.