It used to be easy predicting the Christmas Number One single.
A generation ago any record with a festive slant had a chance of topping the charts on the 25th of December. More recently, the X-Factor winner’s first post-success song was a near-certainty to outsell any other artist, as fans of the show rushed to make sure of their copy as soon as it was made available.
These days, though, those one-time golden rules have turned into dust quicker than a soap star’s yuletide offering is offloaded into the bargain bin.
Dan Roebuck, resident TV & novelty betting expert, sums up those in the running for Xmas no.1…
It is true that charity singles can still enjoy plenty of airtime over the holiday period – three of the last six best-selling tracks over Christmas have been for a worthy cause – while Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name Of’ proved that a protest vote is possible if the nation gets together.
However, as the race for year’s number one hots up, you get the feeling that we’re entering a new era of Christmas hits.
New Numbers Make For Uncertain Estimates
For punters looking to predict this year’s best seller, it’s worth bearing in mind how sales are measured.
Gone are the days the top 40 was based purely on the number of downloads, CD singles, cassette singles and vinyl sold.
Since 2015, audio streams were also included, to reflect the growth of platforms such as Spotify. From January this year, the new chart conversion rate was altered to 150 (from 100) streams equivalent to one actual sale. This, in theory, has created a more fluid chart with newer artists able to enjoy prominent positions.
Take Nothing for Granted in Race To Number One
Last year proved to be a cautionary tale for punters, when X-Factor winner Matt Terry, who recorded ‘When Christmas Come Around’, was the 6/4 market principle two weeks before the big day but failed miserably, while charity offering and second favourite, Friends of Joe Cox (with You Can’t Always Get What You Want), also lost out.
After Terry’s futile attempt to displace incumbents Clean Bandit a fortnight before Christmas, the Cambridgeshire band’s odds were shortened to 2/1 to hang on to top spot– which is exactly what they did.
Sheeran’s Soulful Submission
In a lively betting heat, that has already seen a number of gambles over the course of the last few months, Ed Sheeran is the current favourite, at 1/2.
The Suffolk strummer’s release of his duet of Perfect with Beyonce saw the track rise to the top of the charts a fortnight ago and, with the singer potentially set to issue another collaboration ahead of Christmas Day, there is more than every chance that he has top spot locked in.
This year’s X Factor winners, Rak-Su, could only enter the chart in second place and dropped to number six on Friday, at 10/1 it offers little value. If their track, Dimelo, was going to reach number one, surely it would have done so immediately off the back of their success on the ITV show.
Returning favourites such as Wham’s Last Christmas (13/2) and All I Want For Christmas, by Mariah Carey (12/1), have both risen in the charts in recent weeks but history suggests their trajectory won’t rise any further.
Time For Grime or Late Adele Entry?
If there is to be an upset, it might have fallen to Stormzy, whose ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ could see some crossover between traditional buying habits and streaming. However, the song has dipped two weeks on the spin in the top 40. An upswing in the next set of numbers is needed if odds of 25/1 are to be landed.
That leaves the curious case of Adele, who on Saturday morning was trading as the second favourite at 5/2, following rumours of a pre-Christmas single release. With little information at time of writing, this could easily be a gamble gone wrong, but if she does issue a track the current price could look huge come the 25th.