Christmas number 1 is almost always scmaltzy, sleigh bell-accompanied dross. Almost always, that is. Breaking the rules are these 25 festive chart-toppers which are about as Christmassy as a Bahamas beach holiday. Or, in the case of the sleeve to Rage Against the Machine’s surprise 2009 winner, ‘Killing In The Name’, a monk doused in flames.
Pink Floyd topped the singles chart over Christmas in 1979 with ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part II’. Because nothing says ‘seasons greetings!’ like proggy weirdness, sex-dripped guitars and lyrics about fucking the school system.
Christmas number 1 in the States in 2004, Snoop’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ is probably not what you want booming on the radio on Christmas Day when your nan’s tucking into a box of After Eights. Snoop, incidentally, has gone through so many reinventions lately – Snoop Lion, Snoop Zilla etc. – that Snoop Reindeer is surely right around the corner.
Last year saw Christmas number 1 in the UK go to a cover of the Hollies’ ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ by the Justice Collective. It’s not often harmonica serves a purpose on a Christmas chart topper.
One of the track’s on Westlife’s double A-side ’99 Christmas number 1, ‘Seasons In The Sun’ is written from the perspective of a man with a terminal illness coming to terms with his fate. Perfect for anyone who likes their Christmas lunch with a side serving of THE GLOOMY SPECTRE OF DEATH AND DECAY.
“Oh cool, the song from Shrek!” proclaimed a nation of X Factor viewers as Alexandra Burke’s cover/merciless mutilation of ‘Hallelujah’ hit the Christmas top spot in 2008. The rest of us who remember Jeff Buckley, meanwhile, were served a sad reminder of a brilliant man who drowned in a lake. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Another Stateside Christmas chart topper, king of sex pest R&B R. Kelly collaborated with Celine Dion on ‘I’m Your Angel’. How do you reckon baby Jesus would feel about a man of Kells’ sordid reputation, a man whose new album is packed with croons of “I WANT TO MARRY THE PUSSY!”, marking this holiest of days?
“Na, na na na naaaa, na na naaaa, na na na na na, na na na naaaaa!” The lyric sheet to Ini Kamoze’s 1994 number 1 ‘Here Comes The Hotstepper’ isn’t exactly ‘Away in a Manger’ is it?
A morose piano ballad about the end of the world from a mind-bending indie flick about time travel and demonic bunny apparitions, you could say Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ 2003 chart topper ‘Mad World’ isn’t your average Christmas number 1. “Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow/No tomorrow, no tomorrow.” Chirpy.
Officially the only Christmas number 1 to feature the line “she’s a prick teaser”. ‘Day Tripper’ by the Beatles is an attack on “weekend hippies” according to John Lennon. Not a mention of Santa’s sleigh in sight.
Come on America – what are you doing making Nickleback’s MOR rock cringe-a-thon ‘How You Remind Me’ number 1 at any time of the year, let alone at Christmas in 2001? Not cool.
Murder is about the least Christmassy thing imaginable, right? Right. Which is why X Factor winner Matt Cardle gory butchering of Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many of Horror’ in 2011, bastardizing it into the horrendous ‘When We Collide’, earns a place on this list.
Bob The Builder’s ‘Can We Fix It?’ was the 21st century’s first ever Christmas number 1 in 2000. So at least we can pinpoint the exact moment pop music was doomed forever.
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy/There’s vomit on his sweater already.” No, not me at Christmas bracing myself for my mum making us all watch an episode of Mrs. Brown Boys, but the opening rhyme of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’, Christmas number 1 in the US in 2002.
You would have thought everyone’s too full of eggnog and snotty with winter colds at Christmas to feel sexy at Christmas, but that didn’t stop the record-buying public shooting Madonna’s lusty ‘Like a Virgin’ to Christmas number 1 in 1984 in the US.
Mr Blobby went to Christmas number 1 in 1993 – a song so bad I’ve been petitioning the United Nations ever since trying to get Noel Edmunds tried for war crimes. If you know what possessed Britain to buy this in their droves in ’93, you’re a wiser man than me.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ went to Christmas number 1 twice, in 1975 then again in 1971. An absolute banger, but completely bereft of Christmas vibes.
Why was ‘Earth Song’ by Michael Jackson ever Christmas number 1? There’s a time and a place for an eco-warrior lecture on the o-zone layer – Christmas Day isn’t it. Officially the only Christmas number 1 to feature dead elephants in its video.
Comedian Benny Hill was one of the first to make a real mockery of Christmas number 1 all the way back in 1966 with ‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)’. We salute you, Benny.
St. Winifred’s School Choir topped the Christmas chart in 1980 with ‘There’s No One Quite Like Grandma’. No, we have no idea why either. This makes me want to garott myself with tinsel.
“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” Funnily enough, the opening lyric to Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ never made it in any Christmas carols.
Rihanna went to Christmas number 1 in 2011 Stateside with ‘We Found Love’. Speaking of hopeless places, have you ever been to the local shopping centre on Christmas Eve to watch the frantic scramble for last minute presents? It’s a bloodbath.
Daryl Hall and John Oates are US Christmas chart toppers, having romped to the top spot in 1982 with ‘Maneater’, a song that paints women as manipulative psychos. “The woman is wild, a she-cat tamed by the purr of a jaguar,” goes the verse. I never did trust that Mrs. Claus.
A song about a special medicinal brew and its wily creator, ‘Lily The Pink’ by the Scaffold went to number 1 at Christmas 1968. That’s quite weird. It’s horrifying cover, however – LOOK AT THEIR CREEPY STARES! – is another matter altogether.
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’ was a US chart topper at Christmas in 2010. Hov should definitely write a Christmas album. ‘It’s an Egg Nog Knock Life’ anyone?