Christmas music provide the soundtrack to the holiday season, yet some of the most well-known tracks we hear year after year seldom reach number one on Christmas Day itself.
With just a few days till Christmas, we’re getting closer than ever to finding out which song will be the official Christmas number one in 2023.
This year, it appears like The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York will face off against charitable TikTok group Creator Universe.
However, seasonal classics by Mariah Carey and Wham! will have something to say about it, and Sam Ryder has a chance to take the crown.
If The Pogues, Mariah Carey, or Wham! win in 2023, it will be the first time in chart history that any of them has been the official Christmas number one.
You read it properly, and they aren’t the only big holiday performances that have never received the coveted accolade everyone seeks.
Here are the finest Christmas songs that never charted…
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, first published in 1987, has become a seasonal staple, with fans passing it down the generations.
Following the loss of its creator and singer, Shane MacGowan, 2023 has provided us with a sharp, if melancholy, reminder of exactly how adored it is.
The famous song reached number two in the late 1980s, but was knocked off the top spot for two weeks by Pet Shop Boys’ Always On My Mind.
Fairytale of New York has re-entered the chart 21 times since then, but has never climbed higher than its original 80s peak.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Originally published in 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s peace-promoting holiday hymn took nine years to reach the top of the charts.
Soon after the singer’s death in December 1980, sales of Happy Xmas skyrocketed, propelling it to number two in January 1981, just behind another Lennon song, Imagine.
In 2003, a version by a group of Pop Idol finalists, including Michelle McManus, boosted the song back to number five. But that was the end of the Lennon-Ono song.
The moon was perfect for Sir Paul McCartney in 1979, but it wasn’t quite right enough for his cheerful songs to topple Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall.
The British audience didn’t appear to be in the mood for education or mind control at the moment, denying Sir Paul the chance to reach the top, with the song only reaching number six.
It has continued to chart over the years, but has never broken into the top ten again – sorry, Sir Paul! The spirit may be high, but your music has been on the decline since the late 1970s.
Walking in the Air
Little Aled Jones is most known for his angelic interpretation of Howard Blake’s tune and its relationship with the 1982 film The Snowman.
His rendition of the popular classic, however, only reached number 5 in 1985, the year Shakin’ Stevens reigned supreme with Merry Christmas Everyone.
Unfortunately, his crimson umbrella did not persuade enough people.
McFly released a cover of Walking In the Air in 2021, hitting number 25 on the UK Downloads Chart but not the actual chart.
Wham!’s 1984 classic Last Christmas had previously reached number one. In fact, it has ranked first four times in the previous three years.
But it’s never topped the charts on Christmas.
Back in 1984, it became the best-selling song of all time that never hit the top of the charts, selling 1.9 million copies until ultimately reaching the top in the early 2020s.
What stopped it from being number one in 1984? Band Aid. Since the publication of Do They Know It’s Christmas?, nothing else has really stood a chance, has it?
Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
Glam rock and Christmas go together, and Suffolk-based rock band The Darkness capitalised on a glam renaissance in the early 2000s to score a couple top 10 successes.
Among them was their entry in the 2003 race for Christmas number one, which is maybe the last classic race of its sort to this day. Three massive tunes were competing for the grand prize.
On that occasion, Gary Jules and Michael Andrews’ Mad World cover sold over 200,000 copies in a week, beating out The Darkness and Bo Selecta.
Despite losing that day, The Darkness’ bawdy rocker has remained a holiday classic, re-entering the top 100 in succeeding years.
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
Anyone over the age of 50 would tell you that the battle for Christmas number one was never more fascinating than in the 1970s – and they’d be correct.
The major lure of Top of the Pops back then was glam rock – outlandish clothing and make-up, quick rhythms, and choruses that stayed in your brain for months.
Slade, Mud, and Queen all tried their hand, as did Wizzard, whose song I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day appeared to be on its way to number one on the big day.
Until Slade disrupted the party with Merry Christmas Everyone, relegating Wizzard to fourth place. The song was re-released and re-worked four times – in 1981, 1984, 200, and 2007 – but it never reached the top place.
Step Into Christmas
Sir Elton John eventually got his hands on the Christmas number one in 2021, when he collaborated with Ed Sheeran and LadBaby on Sausage Rolls for Everyone, but it took him a long time.
Despite the fact that he already has his name on two Christmas songs: Merry Christmas, a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, due out in 2021, and Step Into Christmas, published in 1973.
It may be one of the most popular Christmas songs in the UK, but it barely cracked the top 30, peaking at number 25 at the time.
It wasn’t until 2019 that it achieved a new high of number 8, a feat it repeated a year later, demonstrating its ongoing appeal.
Who knows, maybe it will reach the top on the 25th one day.
White Christmas, first recorded and published by Bing Crosby in 1942, is a decade older than the UK chart itself. Al Martino’s Here In My Heart was the first ever UK number one and also a Christmas number one.
It initially charted in the United Kingdom in 1977, reaching number 5 while Sir Paul McCartney had the top position with Mull of Kintyre.
White Christmas has sold over a million copies in the UK to date, yet it has never topped the charts, despite entering the top 100 12 times since the late 1970s.
Even Michael Bublé’s rendition failed to chart.
All I Want for Christmas Is You
Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas single, like Wham!, has reached the top spot twice before, but never on December 25 – you can thank East 17 and five years of LadBaby for that.
However, it has gone dangerously close to becoming Christmas number one on several occasions in recent years, and it remains one of the most popular seasonal songs among the British population.
Could 2023, after all, be its year?
Source My Celebrity Life.