Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pop Goes Christmas; Marion McMullen Looks Back on Festive Chart Hits That Have Provided the Soundtrack to UK Holiday Celebrations for Decades

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pop Goes Christmas; Marion McMullen Looks Back on Festive Chart Hits That Have Provided the Soundtrack to UK Holiday Celebrations for Decades

Article excerpt

Byline: Marion McMullen

ON the first days of Christmas my true love gave to me ... a Beatles record. Yes, you could blame the flood of Christmas records on the Beatles. The Fab Four began the tradition of releasing a Christmas record for their fans 50 years ago and now the race to have the number one hit on December 25 begins almost before the first letters to Santa have been sent off.

Of course, Dickie Valentine was singing the Christmas Alphabet back in 1955, but seasonal songs really got into their stride in the 70s with the likes of Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody, Mud and Lonely This Christmas, Johnny Mathis and When A Child Is Born and Boney M's Mary's Boy Child.

Everyone rushed out in 1984 to buy the Band Aid's charity single Do They Know It's Christmas? and kept the song at the top of the charts for five weeks. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure attracted an A-list line-up that included Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Bono, George Michael, Sting, Phil Collins Paul Weller, Status Quo, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Bananarama.

Band Aid II five years later repeated the success with a new version of the record featuring Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Cliff Richard, Bros, Chris Rea and Banarama again while Band Aid 20 was also back in the top slot in 2004 with a re-recorded version of the hit with Bono, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Dizzee Rascal, Snow Patrol, Katie Melua, Joss Stone, Robbie Williams, Ms Dynamite, Will Young, Sugababes, The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, Jamelia and Beverley Knight, Meanwhile, Sir Cliff Richard and Christmas number ones go back 53 years. He and The Shadows had the number one single in 1960 with I Love You, and Cliff topped the charts in 1988 with Mistletoe And Wine and Saviour's Day in 1990.

Shakin' Stevens was wishing us all Merry Christmas Everyone in 1985, but in recent years X Factor winners have automatically topped the singles charts ... although there have been a few surprises in recent years including the Military Wives with Gareth Malone and last year's The Justice Collective and He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

Surprisingly seasonal standards like Irving Berlin's classic White Christmas never made it to number one in the UK charts, but singer Bing Crosby pointed out: "Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'. …

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