Xmas Music Notes

Irritating or an essential part of Christmas celebrations or both? Whilst overtly Christmas records might be a thing of the past (the last one with the season of goodwill remotely mentioned in the title was in 2004 with the rehash of Do They Know It’s Christmas). However, with more records sold in the run up to Christmas than a typical chart week, the Christmas Number 1 is THE chart topper every artist wants to achieve. And it has been this way since the Official Singles Chart began 60 years ago and the first specific Christmas song that got to number 1 was in 1955 with Dickie Valentine’s Christmas Alphabet. Would you believe it would be another 18 years before a Christmas number one had Christmas in its title with Slade’s enduring and would some say, iconic Merry Christmas Everybody.
To have a Christmas Number 1 on your musical CV means you really are the best of the best; capturing the hearts and minds of the nation. However, not all of the biggest selling Christmas singles have been to Number 1 (two in the Top 10 peaked at Number 2, and one peaked at Number 5), and not all of the biggest selling Christmas singles have necessarily been, well, Christmassy.
To celebrate Christmas here are the biggest selling Christmas songs of all time. Note best-selling does not necessarily mean best: but they have captured the essence of what this special time of year is about.
At Number 1 on the countdown is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? – The landmark charity single helmed by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to help raise funds and awareness for the 1984 Ethiopian famine. Featuring an all-star cast including members of The Who, U2 and Genesis to name but a few, Do They Know It’s Christmas? has sold a staggering 3.7 million copies to date and is the second biggest selling single of all time. The 20th anniversary version of the track is at Number 6 in the countdown with sales of 1.17 million copies.
Mary’s Boy Child also appears twice in the Top 10, making its first appearance at Number 2 with Boney M’s 1978 rendition (which has sales of 1.85 million copies), while Harry Belafonte’s 1957 original is at Number 5 (with sales of 1.18 million).
Wham!’s Last Christmas, which we can officially confirm is the biggest selling Christmas song to have never reached Number 1, is at Number 3 in the chart with sales of 1.68 million. The Top 5 is completed by Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody at Number 4, which has sales of 1.21 million copies to date.
The full Top 10 is as follows:
1. Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid 1984
2. Mary’s Boy Child – Boney M 1978
3. Last Christmas – Wham! 1984
4. Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade 1973
5. Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte 1957
6. Do They Know It’s Christmas? Band Aid 20 2004
7. White Christmas – Bing Crosby 1942
8. Fairy-tale Of New York – The Pogues 1987
9. The Millennium Prayer – Cliff Richard 1999
10. When A Child Is Born – Johnny Mathis 1976
© 2012 The Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

There are probably many veteran musicians who wish it could be Christmas every day, judging by the earnings decades-old songs can muster at this time of year. While Wizzard haven’t made the top 10 of bands with the highest royalties from their Christmas song this year, it remains a lucrative business for Slade, who beat the band to the 1973 Christmas number one with Merry Xmas Everybody.
It is reported that songwriters Noddy Holder and Jim Lea will each be benefiting from the £500,000 estimated royalties the song is estimated to have earned this year. The Pogues are reported to make around £400,000 every year from their whiskey-soaked ballad The Fairytale of New York.
Mariah Carey is thought to earn royalties of £376,000 every year from her hit All I Want For Christmas Is You, which was announced recently as the most-streamed Christmas song of all time. However, given that the star has a string of festive side-projects, including A Christmas Melody, her directorial debut in which she also stars, and a recent New York appearance in which she insisted she was referred to as the Queen of Christmas and paid $300,000, it’s likely that figure is higher. According to PrezzyBox’s Christmas Royalty Calculator, which estimates musicians’ festive earnings in real time, Carey has coined more than £390,000, while Wham!’s Last Christmas has earned the Eighties heartthrobs more than £470,000. The statistics give weight to the fictional life of Nick Hornby’s character Will Freeman (the main protagonist of About A Boy), who was able to live in luxury thanks to royalties generated by his father’s composition of a successful Christmas song.
The estimated annual royalty earners in full:
1. Merry Xmas Everybody, Slade: £500,000
2. Fairytale of New York, The Pogues: £400,000
3. All I Want For Christmas, Mariah Carey: £376,000
4. White Christmas, Bing Crosby: £328,000
5. Last Christmas, Wham!: £300,000
6. Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney: £260,000
7. Mistletoe and Wine, Cliff Richard: £100,000
8. Stop the Cavalry, Jona Lewie: £120,000
9. 2000 Miles, The Pretenders: £102,000
10. Stay Another Day, East 17: £97,000
Whichever Christmas song rocks your boat: Have a great one!

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