For the very latest Christmas Number One odds from all the online and high street bookmakers, just go to Oddschecker.com
December 13th, 1pm
So what of the other contenders that were, given we are all but assuming Ed Sheeran has wrapped things up?
If you backed Rita Ora, sadly it looks like you did your money. Just like I did. Two weeks ago it wasn’t a completely fanciful notion that she might ascend to Number One and stick there, but crucially she needed to get there in the first place to have a position to consolidate. Three solid weeks of knocking at the door essentially sapped all the momentum she had with Anywhere and right now although still popular, the single is on the verge of fading away. Number 2 was for her a huge success, cementing her big mainstream chart comeback this year. But Christmas Number One was just never to be.
Do X Factor winners Rak-Su stand a chance? Certainly, they impressed the first week out, their debut single Dimelo complete with Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy in tow made good the potential deficit of not being available until Sunday evening. It raced to a solid Number 2 chart position to become the highest charting X Factor winner’s single for three years. But you still have to remember that these sales were largely front loaded, a result of the outpouring of support they enjoyed in the wake of triumphing on the TV talent show. In order to remain this close to the top of the charts they have to cross over into a wider audience. This is by no means impossible given the music they perform and the entertainment value they provide, but on midweek evidence this just isn’t happening. Dimelo remains a distant second on iTunes behind Perfect Duet and their Spotify streams are showing little sign of advancing beyond 160,000 or so a day. That’s barely enough to put them in the Top 30 streamed tracks of the moment. Number One is beyond them based on current evidence.
The one wild card remains the festive classics, and in particular the near-constant seasonal champion All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey. Just as last week, the weekend saw demand for the festive favourites go through the roof once more. The Mariah track is swapping places on a regular basis with Post Malone’s Rockstar at the top of the daily Spotify listings and has essentially moved into the pole position online it seems destined to occupy from now until the end of the year. It isn’t quite the most streamed track overall, the two competing versions of the Ed Sheeran song meaning that combined it is managing about 439,000 plays a day compared to Mariah’s 350,000. But that is by no means an insurmountable deficit. The jury is out on just how many streams the Bocelli version of Perfect will add, and as we move closer to Christmas itself and the demand for Christmas songs grows even larger it would be dangerous to completely rule out the possibility of an upset. And fascinatingly the bookmakers have not cottoned on to this yet. They seem to have a sentimental attachment to Last Christmas, pushing Mariah out as far as 9-1 in some place. If an upset does indeed take place that will be an absolute mugging for them.
Hoping that a 23-year-old record poses some kind of challenge to the market leader to give us some kind of race next week. That’s how far we’ve fallen people. Two more days of the phoney war to go anyway, then the survey for the Christmas chart can properly begin.
December 12th, 6pm
So with a few days having passed and the dust settled on the latest UK singles charts, what have we learned about the prospects for the Christmas Number One in a week and a half?
Well, working on the continuing theory that the single which replaced Camila Cabello’s Havana at the top of the charts is effectively nailed on, we can presume that Ed Sheeran and Perfect will be top of the charts for the next fortnight with some ease. The release of the brand new Perfect Duet version resulted in what Music Week reported as a 174.9% week on week increase in chart sales. The Ed Sheeran track vaulted to the top of the charts to give him his fourth UK Number One with a sale easily double that of his nearest rivals (who themselves clocked up that total in a little over four days).
Shortly after the announcement on Friday it became clear why his label rejected the idea of adding duet partner Beyonce to the single’s chart credits. Because there is yet another duet version of the track set for release, this being a rather less well kept secret this time around and so in short order, it was revealed that in the week of the Christmas chart itself there will be one final(?) version of Perfect released, this time with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli on co-vocals.
Now, whilst this may not quite give the single the kind of boost the Beyonce version did, it is yet another set of sales and streams to add to the cumulative today. This essentially pushes the single far out of the reach of practically everything else in the market. The multiple versions of the same single stunt has been tried before, most notably by “chartjacker” Alex Day in 2011, but never on this kind of scale by a mainstream and established act. The man who began the year by releasing two singles at once and nailing down the Top 2 for weeks on end and who released an album in the spring which saw every single one of its tracks enter the Top 20 is now going to top the charts for Christmas by gaming his single in a quite inspired manner.
Is it a racing certainty? Well yes, if you believe the bookmakers, with literally no value to be obtained from any kind of bet on Ed Sheeran (or his multiple partners) right now. But that’s not to say there aren’t other contenders. In the next update later tonight I’ll deal with who they are and just why they might still be in with a chance.