The battle for the Christmas Number One Single is as much a part of the festive season in the United Kingdom as mince pies and the Queen’s Speech. The festive charts have been dominated by X Factor winners in the last ten years, but with this year’s winner not the favourite, there is much interest in the 2016 contest, not least among bookmakers. Let’s take a look at the top ten contenders:
A cross-party group of politicians have teamed up with musicians such as David Gray and Ricky Wilson to produce a single in honour of the murdered MP Jo Cox. The song is a cover of The Rolling Stones’ hit "You Can’t Always Get What You Want", and proceeds from the single will go to the Jo Cox Foundation. Odds vary widely on whether the group can take top spot in the Christmas chart, with bet365 offering the longest of 100/1.
Another contender inspired by a death is "Saturn 5" by Inspiral Carpets. The band’s drummer Craig Gill suddenly died last month and following his passing, fans and friends of the Manchester band have come together to get one of their biggest hits to number one. While Gill’s death made national news, the song is a long shot at 80/1 with Coral.
In recent years there have been a number of Christmas Number One entries from choirs, and this year the London Hospices Choir, consisting of 300 hospice patients, families, staff and volunteers, have covered Mike & The Mechanics’ song "The Living Years". It led the way after the first day of sales on Saturday but this was before streaming figures had been tallied, and the choir’s effort is now as long as 100/1 with Coral.
The nation has been touched by the story of Bradley Lowery, a five-year-old boy with a rare form of cancer, and two sisters from the North East decided they wanted to do their bit. Olivia Crawford and Georgia Fletcher have written and recorded their own song, with all proceeds going to the charity set up in Bradley’s name. "Our Superhero (A Christmas Wish)" is 50/1 with Winner Sports to be Christmas Number One.
Former One Direction member Louis Tomlinson has released his first solo work in collaboration with producer Steve Aoki. "Just Hold On" entered the charts at number two last week but Tomlinson certainly has enough young fans to get him to number one. The single is 33/1 with Ladbrokes to climb up.
Unusually, this year’s entry from the winner of the X Factor is not a cover, and is actually about Christmas. That may appeal to some people but the programme does not have the same level of popularity it once had and the 2016 winner Matt Terry is not fancied by the bookies. Ladbrokes are offering odds of 50/1 for "When Christmas Comes Around" to take top spot.
Little Mix have emerged as a late contender for this year’s Christmas Number One with their single "Touch", which was only at number 23 in last week’s chart but had moved up to number three in the midweek update issued by the Official Charts company. If they do make it to number one, they’ll be the first girl band since Girls Aloud in 2002 to be Christmas Number One. They are in the top five favourites with most bookies, but you can get longer odds of 50/1 with Betfair.
Second in the midweek chart was "Human" by BRITS Critics’ Choice winner Rag 'n' Bone Man. The critically-acclaimed song, which has received extensive radio play, moved up from eight to five in last week’s chart and is 14/1 with William Hill to climb even further to number one.
A campaign by a group of football supporters could upset the pop stars in the battle for Christmas Number One. "Glad All Over" reached the top of the UK charts in 1964 but the song is used by supporters of several football teams, and now a campaign led by Rangers fans could get the song back there. It reached number eight in the iTunes chart within 48 hours of the campaign being launched, and is 7/1 with bet365 to be at number one on Friday.
The current occupant of the top spot is Clean Bandit and having been in the charts for eight weeks, "Rockabye" is the overwhelming bookies’ favourite to stay there. The single was just ahead of the competition in the midweek update, and the best odds you can get of them holding on are 1/10 with Ladbrokes.
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