The Silly “UK Christmas #1” Season Is Here

The whole concept of being excited about which song finishes at #1 on the charts the last week before Christmas is foreign to anyone outside the UK.  But trust me:  this is a big, big deal to music-loving Britons.

Have the #1 at Christmas has been a prestigious thing since 1952 when Al Martino became the first with “Here in My Heart.”  Not only does it mean that you’ve sold more records than anyone else in this all-important shopping season, but you’ve made your backers happy because they won some money.

British bookies take millions of pounds in bets on who will be end up at #1 for Christmas, turning the event into something that even non-music fans can get into.  This has led to all manner of subtle and not-so-subtle campaigns to influence (some would say “fix”) the charts.

Sometimes, though, it has nothing to do with money.  Take the case of Rage Against the Machine’s #1 finish with “Killing in the Name” in 2009, an achievement made possible by a grassroots Facebook campaign to promote a #1 that had nothing to do with any of Simon Cowell’s creations.  Last year, though, it was Matt Cardle, the winner of the British X Factor competition.  Damn you, Simon.

What about this year?  

A Facebook campaign has been launched to push Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in hopes of holding off Amelia Lily, another X Factor thingy.  Ladbrokes, one of the bookies taking bets on the Christmas #1 has her as 7-2 favourites while Nirvana is a very close second at 4-1.  

Read about other songs/artists in the running here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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