The strange death of the Christmas number 1
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It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. No- not 1789; I’m talking about 1973 of course. Remembered for industrial disputes and the three-day week amongst other things, 1973 was also the year in which Wizzard released I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and Slade released Merry Xmas Everybody and the Christmas number 1 was born. Several Christmas corkers followed, from the Elvis-tinged saccharine of Mud’s Lonely This Christmas to East 17’s jingly-jangly Stay Another Day; the coats sported by the boys in its video an inadvertent advertisement for the culling of polar bears. But what has become of that great tradition today? We’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re presiding over the death of the genre altogether, and it’s not only the X Factor to blame for this - though it inevitably bears a sizeable share of the burden. The last Christmas number 1 to actually be about Christmas was in 2004 with Band Aid 20's re-recording of the original 1984 hit Do They Know It’s Christmas? It was also the last year in which The Christmas number 1 was not a song by an X Factor winner, until 2009 when the top spot was taken by the only slightly more soothing Rage Against the Machine. But let’s be frank: does anybody really care about the Christmas number 1 anymore? It’s not like the last decade wasn’t graced with a few strong contenders anyway; they just struggled to make it very far. Coldplay’s well-crafted ode to melancholia Christmas Lights was released in 2010 and despite their being one of the biggest bands in the world only made number 13 in the UK charts.
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