With December in our midst, unhealthy speculation begins on who will sell the most singles over Christmas day.Why?
In the UK there is not a strong lineage of festive themed number ones as a quick look at this illustrates. The first being Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody with few taking the top since: Mud, Wings, Band Aid (a few times), Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard (a couple of times). Just as often the summit is taken by novelty records like Scaffold’s ‘Lily the Pink’ or Mr Blobby. This years X-factory winner has been pushed back a week, to avoid embarrassment of missing out on the top spot, what are this years picks that are screaming out to be the soundtrack to your Christmas and want your capital.
Most likely is The Justice Collective’s cover of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother written by The Hollies. Proceeds from the track go towards the legal costs for a new inquest in the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989. More of a guest-list than a song, it features Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Mel C, Mick Jones, John Power, Paul Heaton and Shane McGowan amongst others. Even is complete with Band Aid-esque studio footage for its video. Has the feel good appeal of giving to charity even if the song is, unlike the original, not worthy of repeated listenings.
…a shame to peddle a celebration on a weak effort…
Hollow anniversaries prompt us to part cash with the tenth year since Girls Aloud’s first number one Sound of the Underground so they are releasing Beautiful Cause You Love Me to give a ten year closure on their achievements. A forgettable uninspiring ballad. Seems a shame to peddle a celebration on a weak effort. Another anniversary marks the 25th year that Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl missed out on the number one spot. However in this time period it has reached the charts ten times over the festive period including every year for the past seven years. Great song but one gets the feeling of money for old rope.
Gabrielle Aplin’s cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Power of Love promotes John Lewis more than the birth of Christ. In a similar vein to John Lewis’ schmaltzy Smiths cover from yesteryear. Sentimentality to the max with strings, soft heartfelt voice and mawkish lyrics makes one unsure of what is being promoted; Aplin, Frankie, Christmas or John Lewis.
…just trying to flog a dead horse with mush and sentiment…
Kylie’s selling point is both anniversary and cover but of her own song On a Night Like This, its a celebration to her making noises for 25 years. Not as punchy as the original, and again, money for old rope or just trying to flog a dead horse with mush and sentiment. Other released for the same goal include Carly Rae Jepsen’s This Kiss. Conor Maynard’s Animal, Robbie Williams’ Different, The Killers’ Here With Me as well as the obligatory novelty song brought by Muhammad Shahid with £1 Fish. These probably won’t make a big splash but will cause underdog enthusiasm from core fans.
With the single format slowly being laid to rest as other formats are taking president (like Youtube or Spotify), Most of these singles are here to comfort or indulge the buyer, a safe bet on selling through familiarity of a cover, the feel good pleasure of giving to a charity over Christmas and a trick of anniversary to give cosy closure at Christmas. Cynically, the majority are tailored to fit an indulgent period in order to maximise our spending. Why should we really care which performer flogs the most singles over December 25, there is nothing too artistic, thought-provoking or interesting on offer just a deluge of dross easily convertible into cash. But why should we expect anything different from a saccharine period?