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Being Top of the Charts at Christmas |

Christmas Charts
  • On 12/12/2016

Christmas is of course a time for partying, and music is integral to that. In the UK becoming number 1 at Christmas charts has always been more important than to any other nation.

But will it always be so, or is it changing? What is the purpose of the number 1 spot today and what place does it have in the future?

Christmas music is dominated by heavily themed songs from decades ago, and what a Christmas number 1 needs to be constantly changes over the years. Recently it has been dominated by reality TV shows such as X factor.

The show in the UK has had 7 of the last 11 chart toppers at Christmas. Their appeal is dwindling however . Last year’s winner Louisa Johnson had the worst sales impact in the history of the show. Falling viewers is resulting in fewer votes from wallets too.

The Christmas period has never been an exact recipe for the music industry. Many of the hits we know and love today did not actually reach their intended target. Mariah Carey’s 1994 classic All I want For Christmas Is You only reached number 2 despite being in the top 10 every year since 2007.

Wham’s Last Christmas and Fairytale of New York are other notable singles which while being massively successful in the history books, neither actually held the number 1 spot at Christmas.

A recent popular alternative is protest songs, against the so-called factory produced music. Rage Against the Machine famously beat X Factor winner Joe McCelderry, after a movement from fans looked to usurp the show’s dominance. A similar campaign also took place on the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal song, Smells Like Teen Spirit.

This seems to be becoming an easier task as the music industry slowly changes. Gone are record sales as digital downloads and streaming replaces them. Christmas is really a festival of consumption and as buying music becomes easier there is less physical need to promote it. Especially in a holiday where there will be more shoppers is now irrelevant. This opens the door for a new kind of number 1.

Christmas extols the virtues of charity and it is this that has seen a surge in success. Starting with Band Aid in 1984 the trend has emerged from X Factor’s shadow. Last year in the UK the nurses of Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital choir got the Christmas number 1 spot (beating out Justin Bieber).

This of course has set off copycats this year, with the London Hospices Choir the latest. A song that everyone is looking to beat will be honouring the MP Jo Cox, who was killed earlier in the year.

The less importance the mainstream industry gives on Christmas the more it opens up new opportunities for the more niche and spontaneous songs. Charity songs is likely to be the direction it takes in the future, but with less importance placed on getting number 1 the benefits will be less in money raised.

Nevertheless the accolade of being on top of the charts come Jesus’ birthday will remain an attractive proposition for anyone hoping to make a name, or money. It is also getting easier by the year. Which is not a bad thing considering Simon Cowell used to run the show!

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