Christmas number one battle most 'exciting' in years as race enters final day

Wham! and Sam Ryder are neck-in-neck in the race to be named 2023's Christmas number one.

Who is in the running to be Christmas number one as race enters final day Giorgio Perottino / Stringer via Getty Images

The race to take the Christmas number one spot has entered its final day, with the chart battle deemed one of the most exciting in years.

Thursday marks the last day streams and sales will count for the artists hopeful of topping the charts ahead of Christmas Day, with Sam Ryder, Mariah Carey and Wham! all vying for the top spot.

It’s said to be one of the tightest-run battles in years, with YouTubers LadBaby, who have been number one for the past five years with hits such as ‘I Love Sausage Rolls’ and ‘Sausage Rolls for Everyone’ featuring Elton John and Ed Sheeran, not entering the 2023 race.

Wham!’s classic festive tune Last Christmas is currently leading the race, but Eurovision Song Contest runner-up Sam Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me is the newest festive song making the top ten.

It comes as the final Christmas chart will be released on Friday in which the winner of number one will be announced.

Physical sales count for more than streams in the chart’s rankings, with newer songs carrying more weight in terms of moving up the list. Wham! and Pogues classic Fairytale of New York have both been reissued on vinyl, while Ryder’s song is available to buy on CD.

Noah Kahan’s Stick Season and Jack Harlow’s Lovin On Me are also in the top ten, with Christmas classics such Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree also making the top of the pile.

Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company said the fight for the top spot “feels much more exciting than it has done for a few years” and that the field is “much more open” this year.

He said: “LadBaby have dominated for the last five years and I think by the time it reached its fifth Christmas number one last year, people were keen to see something a bit fresh and a bit new.

“We’ve obviously got the classics that are coming back into the charts, we’ve got the usual run of charity records driven by ordinary people who just want to raise some money for good causes, and we’ve also got one or two really interesting releases as well, like Sam Ryder.”

Ryder told BBC Breakfast he has taken inspiration from the likes of rockers The Darkness and Stevie Wonder for his festive offering, and that he has done a number of performances to try and help boost his chances.

He said: “We’ve done 26 performances in the last six days, doing everything we possibly can to make this Christmas miracle come true – because it’s not often you find yourself in a chart race against the almighty Wham!” the singer said.

“But, with massive respect to those absolute legends, there’s always room for new music and new artists coming through and attempts at putting new Christmas music out there.”

A song featuring on streaming services’ Christmas playlists can also help boost the chances of making number one. Talbot said: “Playlists have a big part to play, and they are influential in terms of the chart when it comes to Christmas.

“That said, particularly with a Christmas number one race, the key is not to rely on streaming – it’s to generate sales, whether they be downloads or physical releases.”

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