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Chart Watch Weekly - December 13th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
Two weeks to go and we are well and truly into that time of year when it isn’t so much a question of what songs are in the charts, merely in what order they all line up. And the song you were all expecting is indeed at the top, although that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with it.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • Making festive chart history.
  • Ladbaby makes the betting market break down completely.
  • Italy bucks trends as usual while Adele shuts out Mariah in the States.
  • The Monday midweeks. Ed, Elton and Amazon

When A Tired Is Born
Official Charts
With Merry Christmas at Number 1, @edsheeran now matches Take That’s total Number 1 tally, and only five acts in UK chart history have more: Madonna (13), Cliff Richard (14), Westlife (14), The Beatles (17) and Elvis Presley (21). https://t.co/hD6z5CJdPA
Official Charts forgot to make a nice graphic for us this week which is most unfestive of them, but the top end of the singles chart is as you would expect. Ed and Elton rocket to No.1 with the topically themed Merry Christmas. 76,708 was the single’s final chart sale, consisting of 8,101 physical copies, 14,055 downloads and the remainder via audio streams.
Sheeran tops the charts for the third time this year (following Bad Habits and Shivers) while Elton returns to the top of the British charts for the second time in the space of the last two months. And as regular readers here will note, this does indeed for the moment break his habit of only hitting No.1 with remakes or re-releases of older songs. Even if extraordinarily he’s about to reset that in fairly short order.
Elton of course already has one perennial seasonal favourite to his name already thanks to the regular chart runs of Step Into Christmas, a track that was little more than a throwaway novelty when first released and indeed only a minor chart entry (No.24 in 1973) when new. Elton himself has noted that it only became “loved” when the concept of compilations of Christmas songs came about in the mid-1980s and it was swiftly added to the canon of British favourites. Funny to think he tried again ten years later only for Cold As Christmas to peak even lower. And that has never again fought its way back into contention.
Ed Sheeran & Elton John - Merry Christmas [Official Video]
Ed Sheeran & Elton John - Merry Christmas [Official Video]
Merry Christmas has managed to become something quite unusual in this day and age - a brand new Christmas themed hit making its way to the very top of the charts. Because every one of the last few has been a golden oldie or a cover version of some kind.
  • January 2021 - Last Christmas by Wham! First released in 1984.
  • December 2020 - All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey. First released in 1994.
  • January 2020 - River by Ellie Goulding. A cover of an old Joni Mitchell song.
  • November 2014 - Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid 30. A cover of the famous original.
  • December 2004. Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid 20. Ditto.
  • December 1989. Do They Know It’s Chhristmas by Band Aid 2. Ditto
  • December 1989. Let’s Party by Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers. A medley featuring samples of three different Christmas songs (Merry Xmas Everybody, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and Another Rock And Roll Christmas by Slade, Wizzard and Gary Glitter respectively).
Essentially you have to go back to the 1980s to find the last truly original festive-themed songs topping the charts. The original version of Do They Know It’s Christmas in 1984 and Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone in 1985. Cliff’s two seasonal chart-toppers in this period do also deserve an honourable mention, save for the fact that Mistletoe And Wine (1988) was a tweaked version of a song from the stage musical “Patches” and was several years old by the time he got his hands on it, while Saviours Day (1990) as I noted at the weekend doesn’t specifically reference Christmas or explain exactly who the saviour is.
Roll Up
Now under normal circumstances you would expect the fun duo to have the No.1 position locked in from now until the end of the year. Nothing surely could remove them from at least the next two of the three remaining published charts in 2021.
Then on Friday this happened:
Official Charts
The rumours are true! @LadBabyOfficial are teaming up with @edsheeran and @eltonofficial for a record-breaking attempt at their fourth consecutive Christmas Number 1 🎅 🤶 https://t.co/5OscAYBYyV
Mark “Ladbaby” Hoyle had hinted that he was knocking things on the head having landed the No.1 position in Christmas week with his series of sausage roll-themed charity singles. But the chance for one last stunt was clearly too much of a temptation, particularly when the opportunity to collude with two megastars came up.
So now we know. Coming for Christmas week is Ladbaby’s own version of Merry Christmas on which Ed and Elton apparently contribute. And at a stroke all chance of speculating just what might or might not be the Christmas No.1 went out the window. This is the state of the betting market as of this evening (Monday):
Ed and Elton have gone from odds-on co-favourites out to a massive 7-1. The only people in any kind of position to make any money at all on betting on the Christmas No.1 market were those savvy enough to lay the two superstars before the existence and nature of the Ladbaby single was confirmed. From this moment on there is genuinely little point in investing, unless the bookies spin up a new “betting without Ladbaby” market, just as they did in the bad old days of X Factor dominance.
At the very least though this does raise the prospect of some intriguing new chart achievements. Namely:
  • Ladbaby becoming the first act in history to be Christmas No.1 four years running. Even The Beatles never managed this.
  • Ed Sheeran topping the charts with four different records in the space of a single calendar year. Something nobody has done since Westlife way back in 1999.
  • Two different versions of the same song replacing each other at No.1. Which has only kind of happened once before, back in 2004 when Eamon’s F*k It (I Don’t Want You Back) was replaced by Frankee’s FURB (F*k You Right Back). Two lyrically different but thematically similar songs set to the same melody.
Here’s a fuller list of the latest market, this time from Skybet who seem to sit alongside Paddy Power as the novelty bet layers of choice. Fair play to the Have A Word Pod who maintain a solid third in the market despite no mainstream attention at all. Meanwhile you will search in vain for anyone offering odds on The Kunts. Even though they remain the most likely randoms to have any kind of Christmas week traction.
Last Mariah
It was one year ago this week that Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You ascended to No.1 for the first time, and people like me were genuinely fearful that this had broken the dam, meaning there was nothing to stop it happening over and over again each year. Yet fast forward 12 months and Mariah’s classic is “only” languishing at No.4, and perhaps surprisingly lagging behind Last Christmas in the streaming stakes. Although for all we know that’s down to positioning on playlists rather than a shakeup in popularity.
The rise and rise of the Wham! favourite has been a long time coming, its legacy perhaps only enhanced by George Michael passing away on Christmas Day in 2016. In the first years of the digital era Last Christmas was just another song, frequently a distant third in the running behind Mariah Carey and, interestingly Fairytale Of New York which these days is frequently third or even fourth on the list of most popular Christmas songs. Tastes do evolve over time. Perhaps one day we’ll even be bored of Mariah Carey.
Across The Atlantic
Make that five Christmas singles in the American Top 10. All but one dating from the dawn of the rock and roll era. Adele for the moment is preventing Mariah Carey’s hit from topping the American charts for what will be the third year in a row. Easy On Me is No.1 in the States for the seventh week, making this the third time she’s had a chart-topping single spend that length of time at the summit.
In amongst the festive cheer there is still room for SZA to make a huge splash, her I Hate U single was a surprise drop during the week. It was the third most-streamed track in America last week and debuts above at No.7 on the full Hot 100.
SZA - I Hate U (Official Lyric Video)
SZA - I Hate U (Official Lyric Video)
A Land Down Under
ARIA
Here's the Top Ten singles on this week's #ARIACharts with @eltonofficial, @DUALIPA, @pnau, @Adele, @thekidlaroi, @whoisgayle, @glassanimals and more!

Check out https://t.co/bfON5BRaDU for all of this week's charts! https://t.co/0T9Y8PSgLJ
And so to Australia where in a surprise changing of the guard Adele is turfed from the top and Elton and Dua climb back. Meanwhile, Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber remain lodged in the Top 3, just threatening to take pole position back as soon as everyone’s back is turned. Just as in America it is the six month old single that doggedly refuses to due.
As we noted last week, it is the height of midsummer in the southern hemisphere but they still love a Christmastime hit. Mariah Carey is duly slammed into the Top 10 and Michael Buble is just outside with It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.
Fear not though, a pair of British superstars are coming to rescue the Aussies too:
Euro-vision
The damn Mariah Carey track is taking a stranglehold on Italian tastes as well, but she can’t quite manage to overcome the appeal of another local act. Nailing down the No.1 positions on both singles and albums charts in Italy is rapper and TV personality Marracash.
The success of the track Infinite Love has come as something of a surprise, so there isn’t a formal video for it yet. His official current single is the one languishing at No.3, so enjoy this one instead.
Marracash - CRAZY LOVE
Marracash - CRAZY LOVE
Midweek Teases
We are set for one more week of Ed and Elton it seems, Merry Christmas nicely ahead of the rest of the market. The Top 3 seems set to be made up entirely of festive songs, with Mariah Carey and Wham duking it out for second place.
If you want intrigue or suspense I’ve got nothing to offer you, the pop music market has packed up and gone home for the winter. The only fascination I guess comes from predicting where the Amazon originals will land. George Ezra threatened to reach the Top 10 last week only to fall some distance down the table when the final tallies arrived. He’s presently No.10 on this week’s midweek as well. Something tells me that’s a false position, Amazon’s data is more up to date than that of Spotify or Apple - and of course Amazon exclusives don’t benefit from a late-week boost when they finally all catch up.
Adele should have the No.1 album again, making it four weeks in a row for 30. The last album to manage that kind of sales lead for so long? Ed Sheeran’s No.6 Collaborations Project back in 2019.
See you next week for the final push, this time next week we will have a good idea of how the Christmas No.1 “race” really is shaping up.
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The new UK charts are announced by Radio One from 4pm every Friday, can be seen in full on officialcharts.com and musicweek.com, and I’m now back on chart-watch.uk with my own detailed charts analysis later that same evening.
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James Masterton
James Masterton @chartupdate

From the world famous chart analyst, a weekly roundup of everything fit to print from charts worldwide. Considered coverage of the stories generated by the UK charts along with a summary of events taking place on pop charts in Europe, across the Atlantic, and on the other side of the world.

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