Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Number ones and number twos

Matt Cardle has good reason to celebrate this week - not only has he bagged the title of 'X-Factor champion' for 2010, he's also on course to secure the coveted Christmas Number One slot this weekend. Having shifted over 112,000 copies of 'When We Collide' (the song's proper title 'Many of Horror' was presumably deemed to be festively inappropriate), he's taken the clear lead in the race to the top spot.

Trailing way behind him are his Saturday night duet partner Rihanna, and 'Surfin' Bird' by The Trashmen; this year's nominated anti-Cowell track. The latter is such an annoying earworm of a song it actually formed the basis for an entire episode of Family Guy.

Last year's X-Factor winner Joe McElderry was famously beaten by Rage Against The Machine, in a campaign designed to teach Simon Cowell a lesson in humility and foregone conclusions. Although the activists claimed a moral victory, it was a hollow one, since they relegated the well-respected rap metal band to a list that included Westlife, Bob The Builder and Mr. Blobby.

That's the fundamental flaw that lies at the heart of our obsession with the Christmas Number One. It's a dumping ground for novelty records and seasonal cheese, saying precisely nothing about the musical tastes of the nation. Or Christmas for that matter.

And yet, year after year, we're treated to another round of sleigh-bell-infused tracks, cynically composed to provide the soundtrack to a meal of dry turkey breast and over-boiled sprouts. Even the composers seem ashamed of their contribution to the genre, with the writer of the most successful Christmas record of the last 30 years apologising for his role.

In an interview last month, Bob Geldof admitted that he's embarrassed by 'Do They Know It's Christmas', despite the fact that three different versions of the song managed to hit the top spot. He says "I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is Do They Know It's Christmas? and the other one is We Are The World. Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every fucking Christmas." At least now he knows how the rest of the record-buying public feels.

Over in Bulgaria, they've taken a contrary approach, choosing instead to conduct a poll to find the most annoying Christmas song. Facing off some stiff competition, the eventual victor was Wham!'s Last Christmas, according to campaign website www.nohohoho.org. One voter even went so far as to blame the shortlisted songs for seasonal bouts of depression and suicide, although it's possible that he might have confused George Michael's festive composition with 'Club Tropicana'.

The great thing about Christmas records is that it doesn't really matter about how good or bad the songs are. Like fake trees, gaudy coloured lights and chronically unamusing cracker jokes, they're part of the indefinable magic of Christmas for a culture that long ago discarded the religious significance of the holiday. So with that in mind, here's my pick for the greatest Christmas song of all time. Happy Winterval one and all...

No comments:

Post a Comment