Infographic breaks down 66 chart topping Christmas singles in the UK
Christmas is two weeks away and someone will be crowned with a No. 1 single. Who will it be? What single will they take to the top of the charts? Will it be No. 1 in certain countries or multiple countries? We won’t know until then, but Betway is suggesting it’s Ariana Grande, as of this writing. We dissect the 66 songs that have topped the UK Singles Chart on Christmas since 1952.
Believe it or not, only 12 of the 66 singles are Christmas songs. The most successful was “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid in 1984 which has sold more than three million copies – more than any other Christmas single. Bob Geldof and Co. beat “Last Christmas” by Wham! to top spot, though the latter has gone on to become the best-selling UK single never to reach number one. The most recent Christmas-themed No. 1 was Band Aid 20’s effort at “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 2004.
Love tops the list as the most popular subject with 22 of the 66 number ones dedicated to matters of the heart. Heartbreak is next with six. Included in this category is 1994’s Christmas No. 1, “Stay Another Day” by East 17, beating off competition from Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which was named holiday song of the decade in 2010 in the UK, despite never reaching top spot. Personal struggle, hope and novelty are all tied as the next most-popular subject with four No. 1’s apiece. The remaining No. 1’s are about lust with three, family with three, nature with two, war, education, loss, music and rebellion, while “Let’s Have Another Party” by Winifried Atwell in 1954 was entirely instrumental.
The Beatles, Queen, Spice Girls and Cliff Richard are the only acts to have had multiple Christmas No. 1 singles. The Beatles were the first to have multiple Christmas chart toppers as they scored with “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “I Feel Fine” and “Day Tripper” from 1963-1965. Two years later, “Hello, Goodbye” became their fourth Christmas No. 1. leaving the group undefeated with the most.
The Spice Girls are the only other act to have had three consecutive singles hit No. 1 at Christmas. They topped the charts between 1996-1998 with “2 Become 1,” “Too Much” and “Goodbye.”
Cliff Richard’s first came in 1960 with the backing band The Shadows and their hit “I Love You.” He later returned on his own in 1988 and 1990 with actual Christmas songs, “Mistletoe and Wine” and “Savior’s Day,” respectively.
Queen is the only act to have had the same song reach No. 1 at Christmas twice with “Bohemian Rhapsody” earning the top spot in both 1975 and 1991. The song and band have had a resurgence with the biopic of the same name becoming the No. 1 music film of all time since its release in theaters last month and garnering two Golden Globe Award nominations.
Pop has the most songs with 30 topping the charts at Christmas. Rock accounts for 11 with the aforementioned Queen doing it twice with the same song. Easy listening has had crooners take the No. 1 spot seven times between 1952-1976, the most recent being Johnny Mathis’ “When A Child Is Born.” Four novelty songs, three rhythm and blues, three choral songs, two soul, two dance, instrumental, folk, disco and a cappella have all topped the Christmas charts over the years.
Thirty-five percent of all Christmas chart toppers have been cover songs, totaling 23. Reality TV contributed eight No. 1’s between 2002-2014 with “Sound of the Underground” by Girls Aloud and “That’s My Goal” by Shayne Ward.”
Six charity singles have reached No. 1, including the three releases of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, Band Aid II and Band Aid 20 in 1984, 1989 and 2014, respectively.