Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Homage to Christmas Number Ones

This evening we will find out who has achieved the coveted title of 'Christmas Number One' 2010.

I'm not particularly bothered to be honest. I was very pleased that 'Rage Against the Machine' broke the 5 year stranglehold that X-Factor had on the honour last year but this year, whether it's 'Bird Is The Word' or Matt Cardle that gets it, neither will go down in the pantheon of famous Christmas No.1's.

Or will they...

A definitive list of our festive chart toppers since the charts began in 1952 can be found here but I wanted to pick my own personal favourites.

I've already blogged about my favourite Christmas songs here and 4 of the songs that I mentioned were indeed Christmas Number Ones (those from 1974, 1978, 1984 and 1985) so I won't mention them again here.

The Festive Top of the Pops
I've often incessantly bemoaned the past decade as being the worst ever in pop history for Christmas Number Ones because the songs have no relevance to the season.

Yet, even I must admit looking back, that some of the top positions in years gone by could be accused of the same, but are nevertheless copper bottomed hits.

The Number Ones of the past 58 years fall, as I see it, into two categories - the classic and the comedy.

Comedy Christmas Number Ones
The chart toppers from 1969 (Rolf Harris' Two Little Boys), 1972 (Jimmy Osmond's Long Haired Lover from Liverpool), 1980 (St Winifred's School Choir's There's No-one Quite Like Grandma), 1993 (Mr Blobby) and 2000 (Bob the Builder's Can We Fix It?) all certainly share the quirk of being rather eccentric, novelty tunes.

Added to these is the joyful Numero Uno from 1971. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Benny Hill...

Benny Hill - Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)
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Another 'eccentric' Number One, but a hit all the same, came from 1983 - the unique, Flying Pickets.

The same could again be said for the Yule-tide chart topper of 1986. Another fabulous 'one-off' - this time from Jackie Wilson.

Classic Christmas Number Ones
Whilst they may not have been festive in nature, Christmas has also seen, interspersed by all the novelty acts above, hits from the biggest names of all-time. Elvis scored a Xmas No.1 in 1962 before the Beatles took Christmas by storm, bagging the title an unprecedented four times in 1963, 1964 1965 & 1967. Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was the only song to ever make the grade on 2 seperate occasions in 1975 and 1991 whilst Cliff Richard accomplished the Number One spot in 1960 (with The Shadows), 1988 & 1990. The Spice Girls then equalled the Beatles' hat-trick in 1996, 1997 & 1998.

But I want to pick out some other classic Christmas Number Ones of my own. To begin, a song I've long liked but only on looking up the information realised that it was actually a Xmas No.1. From 1959, Emile Ford & The Chekmates...

An absolute winner was the 1979 choice from Pink Floyd...

Now, admittedly, this next song shouldn't have made the grade. My Number One Christmas song of all time is 'Fairytale of New York'. But in 1987 it only made No.2. For me personally though, the blow is lessened by the hit that beat it. An Elvis re-make, it's the Pet Shop Boys...

A Very British Sense of Humour
But I think in a way, what these have all showed is that us British don't half enjoy being different when it comes to choosing our Number Ones at Christmas. From Elvis and the Beatles to the Human League and Whitney Houston to Mr Blobby and Rolf Harris.

So perhaps I should reluctantly admit that what we have seen over the past decade is merely a continuation of what has gone before over the previous 50 years.

So, to raise a toast to the eccentric, random, and let's admit it, at times completely insane British sense of humour that shows itself particularly at this time, I close with the Christmas Number One from the year of my birth, 1982.

He too was an Aston Villa fan and during the early 1990s was asked by manager Ron Atkinson to sing 'Nessun Dorma' at half time following a particularly poor first half performance by the team. He went on to run a restaurant named after himself, 'Renato's' in Tamworth but sadly passed away last year, 2009.

But I give you, in tribute to him, from 1982 when his and my Aston Villa won the European Cup, his Christmas Number One.

It's the British Christmas at it's worst, and therefore, looking at all of the above, by definition, it's best!

It's Renee and Renato!

Merry Christmas!


  1. (UK Christmas Number Ones since 1952) Christmas Number Ones since 1962)

  2. I'm not convinced that Two Little Boys was a 'comedy' song. Rolf Harris had had a very successful pop career up to that point with some big hits. Two Little Boys is a great song. (I'll give you 'eccentric').

    Most Christmas No. 1s haven't been particularly Christmassy, including Bo Rap - the biggest of them all :-)