One of the most celebrated niche genres of music is Christmas songs. For nearly a century, artists have battled for the top spot in the charts during the festive period. It has produced some anthems which have stood the test of time and continue to be some of the most popular songs played throughout Christmas and New Year.
The market for Christmas number one in the United Kingdom has been subject to huge debate for many years. Over the last decade, there has been less hysteria, but it is still a popular market. So much so that gambling operators often have betting markets for what song will reach Christmas number one. Large, reputable operators like Betway offer a whole range of different markets, as well as a variety of online casino games.
There are the glaringly obvious things that Christmas songs have in common, such as the fact they are all centred around the festive period. There are notable exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, all Christmas songs are focused on the festive period and the festivities that come with it. Growing up in the United Kingdom is synonymous with some of the huge hits we will discuss today. Despite some of these songs going back over 80 years, they represent nostalgia, happiness and a time to rejoice for millions across the country.
People in the UK associate a multitude of things with Christmas songs. You may remember spending Christmas shopping or spending quality time with your family and friends in your younger years. Dancing around the Christmas tree with your family and beloved family pet. If you’re interested in what type of music your dog might enjoy, Betway also has a specific blog on this subject. The songs we will mention today likely play a big part in the soundtrack when it comes to creating these memories.
Dating back to the 1970s, many rock groups that were popular in their day would release Christmas tracks. Some of the most notable tracks were released in this decade. Most notably, Slade’s song “Merry Xmas Everybody” and Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” were battling for Christmas number one in 1973.
These two songs are still some of the most popular songs around Christmas and achieve substantial amounts of airtime nearly 50 years later. Although plenty of famous Christmas songs were released in the preceding years before the 1970s, this is when the fiercest chart battles took place to obtain bragging rights as the nation’s favourite Christmas song.
Songs that predate the 1970s but still receive considerable coverage include the likes of “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. Huge stars of other generations, such as Elvis Presley, released iconic Christmas songs that are still celebrated today.
A notable exception from the 1970s was John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) which maintained a solid Christmas sentiment, but a passionate anti-war slogan also underpinned it. This wasn’t the only example of activism and Christmas song combining to make a notable hit. In 1984, some of the biggest musicians of their time, including Bono and George Michael, who sadly passed away in 2016.
George Michael also had a huge Christmas hit with “Last Christmas” in 1984. However, “Do They Knows It’s Christmas?” smashed all chart records then, and it remained the fastest-selling single in the UK until Elton John surpassed it in 1997. It remains, to this day, the fastest and best-selling Christmas song in the United Kingdom.
In 2009, American metal band Rage Against The Machine reached Christmas number one in the UK. They didn’t release a Christmas song, and “Killing In The Name Of” is a far cry from some of the other festive tunes we have already featured in this article. A grassroots campaign to stop the monopoly of mainstream TV shows taking Christmas number one gathered serious momentum and stopped the X Factor winner from taking the top spot.
Although the competition between artists has cooled off considerably over the last decade, it is considered a golden age of Christmas music. On a more general note, the years between 1970 and 2005 saw hundreds of artists competing for the top spot in late December. Although some of these songs may not make some of the greatest-ever lists, they still hold a special place in the hearts of people who grew up listening to them.
Another notable thing that Christmas songs have in common is that they were almost exclusively written and performed by the artist. Except for the X Factor winners, almost all of the most notable Christmas songs have been written by the band or solo artist that initially penned them.