Wham!, Sam Ryder and Mariah Carey are all vying for this year’s Christmas number one, in one of the most open chart battles in recent years.
Thursday is the last day for streaming and sales counts before the Christmas charts are announced on Friday.
Wham!’s classic Last Christmas 1984 led the way, with Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me the top new release.
YouTuber LadBaby has been the Christmas number one for the past five years, but decided not to enter the 2023 race.
The Christmas chart battle “feels a lot more exciting than in previous years”, according to Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company.
Talbot said there is a “more open field” this year.
“LadBaby has dominated for the last five years and I think when it hit its fifth Christmas number one last year, people were desperate to see something fresh and a little new.
“Of course we have the classics that are coming back into the charts, we have the charity records that are usually pushed by ordinary people who just want to raise some money for a good cause, and we also have a song or two. very interesting releases too, like Sam Ryder.”
The former Eurovision Song Contest runner-up has been busy drumming up support for her single.
Ryder told BBC Breakfast on Thursday that he could understand why some people think “all the new Christmas songs are rubbish”, but said he took inspiration from festive classics by Darlene Love, Stevie Wonder and The Darkness.
“We’ve done 26 shows in the last six days, doing everything we can to make this Christmas miracle a reality – because it’s not often you’re in a charts race against the almighty Wham!” said the singer.
“But, with great respect for these legends, there is always room for new music and new artists to emerge and strive to provide new Christmas music.”
Last Christmas by Wham! is a favorite – it originally reached number two in 1984 and has been number one twice in the last three years, but never on Christmas week itself
You’re Christmas To Me by Sam Ryder is an Amazon exclusive and is being promoted heavily by the company including on Christmas music playlists and the soundtrack to the film Your Christmas Or Mine 2
All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey was number two in 1994 but like Last Christmas, the number one Christmas ranking in recent years was denied by LadBaby
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl never hit number one but gained support following the death of Pogues singer Shane MacGowan last month
Merry Christmas by Ed Sheeran & Sir Elton John went to number one before and after Christmas when it was released in 2021, but Christmas was actually denied number one that year by – you guessed it – LadBaby
This graph is compiled from streaming and sales in the week leading up to midnight on Thursday night.
That blow! and Pogues songs have been reissued on vinyl, while Ryder’s singles are available on CD – with physical sales counting more than streaming in the chart formula.
Streaming new songs also carries more weight – meaning Ryder and Sheeran/Sir Elton have a greater chance of competing with rousing classics.
And a song’s placement on a streaming service’s Christmas playlist can also have an impact.
So even if Ryder’s song isn’t on services like Spotify and Apple, it’s likely it will show up to Amazon users requesting celebratory songs from Alexa.
“Playlists play a big role, and influence the charts come Christmas time,” Talbot said.
“However, especially with the number one race at Christmas, the key is not to rely on streaming – but to generate sales, whether that is in the form of downloads or physical releases.”