December 10, 2017

10 Christmas songs you thought got to Number One… but didn’t.
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor,

10 Christmas songs you thought got to Number One… but didn’t.

We hear them every year, and anyone could be forgiven for assuming they were Christmas Number Ones...but they weren't. Here are ten festive tunes that you could have sworn had the top spot at Chistmas, but didn't quite make it:


Wham: Last Christmas (1984)

In 1984 Wham! were one of the biggest acts around and in any other set of circumstances they would surely have reached No.1 with their Christmas classic: ‘Last Christmas’ became the biggest selling single not to get to No.1. Unfortunately for George Michael and Andrew Ridgely, they were stopped in their tracks by the mega-selling charity behemoth of Band Aid. Bob Geldof & Midge Ure’s rousing, star-studded Christmas anthem was unstoppable, and so the boys had to settle for second prize.

John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1980)

That this song did not get to No.1 - particularly following the recent death of John Lennon - could be considered surprising in itself, but the real shocker here is that ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ was beaten to the top spot by a choir of girls singing about their Grandma. Yep. John Lennon was beaten by St. Winifred’s Choir’s ‘There’s No One Quite like Grandma’. Seriously, 1980, what were you thinking?

Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmastime (1979)

The second ex-Beatle on our list, Macca missed out on the top by some distance, with his jolly festive ditty peaking at No. 6. The coveted top spot that in 1979 was rather surprisingly taken by Pink Floyd, a band not in the habit of releasing singles at all, who were reluctantly persuaded to release ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ by their record label. Not that McCartney was too worried, having already bagged a Christmas No.1 two years earlier with Wings’ ‘Mull Of Kintyre’.

Aled Jones: Walking In The Air (1985)

One of the most common misconceptions about any Christmas song is that Aled Jones sang ‘Walking In The Air’ on the animated film The Snowman, but he didn’t. The version in the film is actually sung by a young choirboy named Peter Auty, although it was Jones’ version that was released as a single, peaking at No. 5 in the chart over Christmas in 1985. That year’s No.1 was Shakin’ Stevens with Merry Christmas Everyone.

Wizzard: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day (1973)

One of the most all-pervading Christmas songs of all time, Roy Wood’s famous classic was famously beaten to the top of the charts by another of the most all-pervading Christmas songs of all time, Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, in 1973. However, that hasn’t stopped the song from becoming standard fare each December for radio stations across the land ever since.


Kirst McColl & The Pogues...
Kirst McColl & The Pogues...
John Lennon & Friends...
John Lennon & Friends...

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping (1981)

Despite being a staple on every Christmas song compilation album in living memory, not only did this brilliant festive tune from The Waitresses fail to reach the No.1 spot, it didn’t even chart. Its biggest success was after a re-release in 1982, but even then the song only peaked at No.45. Instead, in 1981 everyone was getting down to the sounds of Human League with their massive hit ‘Don’t You Want Me’. Sheffield Lads 1, New York Girls 0.

Kirsty McColl & The Pogues: Fairy Tale of New York (1987)

Widely regarded as one of best Christmas songs ever, this may be be the biggest surprise on the list, but it’s true - this classic from Kirsty McColl & The Pogues was beaten into the No.2 spot on its release in 1987 by the Pet Shop Boys, with their cover version of Always On My Mind.

Mel & Kim: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (1987)

Another casualty of the Pet Shop Boys’ chart dominance in 1987 was this little number from the odd pairing of Kim Wilde and comedian Mel Smith, left trailing in the wake of the electronic duo and Shane Macgowan’s merry band of drunks, peaking at No. 3. Released as a charity single in aid of Comic Relief, it was originally recorded by Brenda Lee back in 1958. It wasn’t a hit for her either until she became more popular in the early 60s, finally charting in 1964 but again peaking at No.3.

The Darkness: Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) (2003)

The Darkness were at the peak of their popularity in 2003 and this purpose-built, tongue-in-cheek singalong from the retro rockers looked nailed on for the No.1 spot, but then out of nowhere came obscure singer Gary Jules with his cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’, surfing into the charts on a wave of popularity thanks to its appearance in the film Donnie Darko.

Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas is You (1994)

If you’d have said to Mariah Carey in 1994 that this would be one of her most enduring hits, you might have been have been laughed at, but that’s the way it’s panning out for this genuinely brilliant Christmas belter. Unfortunately for Mariah though, she hadn’t counted on four lads from East London upsetting the apple cart, storming to the No.1 spot with their balled, ‘Stay’. East 17 were hot property at the time and the song bagged its writer Tony Mortimer an Ivor Novello for his efforts.

This article was originally published on December 24th 2013

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