Whatever happened to the Christmas Number One?
It’s easy to blame its demise on The X Factor – and sure, that’s what has dominated the charts for the last few years. But, even when it dies its surely imminent death, I’m not sure the issue will go away. If you discount Band Aid 20 (which I do, frankly) then we haven’t had a Christmassy song topping the festive charts since 1990. Where did it all go wrong?
I don’t take issue with all the tracks which have taken that top spot. Some of them have been bangers. The Spice Girls dominated for several years; I can’t have beef with girl power. East 17 stole the title from Mariah in 1994; I can make my peace with that. My household owned two copies of the Mr Blobby single; I am part of the problem.
I hear people say that nobody tries to create new Christmas classics anymore – but I reject that claim. Somewhere along the way, in a collective bout of teenage contrarian sentiment, we decided as a society to reject the concept of festive jollity.
It was ours for the taking, all packaged up in a chintzy bow. But we allowed a dirgey Tears For Fears cover to take Christmas Number One when we could have had the joyful romp that is Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End).
You guys, it has everything. Silly, semi-rude puns. An abundance of jingle bells. A supremely singable chorus. The inevitable children’s choir. All with a deliberate, self-aware, super fun sheen of camp.
And yet, in with that, the lyrics speak of heartbreak and disillusionment and of nostalgic longing for the Christmas magic of childhood. THAT’S EXACTLY THE STUFF WE LOVE, MILLENNIALS. WHAT WERE WE WAITING FOR?
Put this on your playlists this year. Put it there forever. It may not be the Christmas song we deserve, but it’s the one we need.
Semi-relevant addendum: From 2009 to 2014 I lived near a curry house on the Holloway Road which had a massive banner outside to celebrate its endorsement as THE BEST CURRY IN EUROPE. The givers of the accolade? THE DARKNESS.