Christmas number ones: songs that have topped the Xmas charts in history from 1952 to 2019 - and who got the most

The annual race for the festive prize has been taking place for nearly 70 years

But as hopeful acts shuffle into position and await to be crowned the winner on Christmas Day, what can we learn from the history of the most coveted race in music?

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Historically, the Christmas number one is so tightly fought over because the volume of record sales in the UK peaks around the festive season.

(Images: Polydor/EMI/Phonogram/Epic/London/BBC/Frtyfve)

This means the Christmas number one is considered especially prestigious, more so than any other time of year – if you can outsell every other song at this time of year, especially those Christmas classics that make an annual resurgence in December, you really are doing well.

Here’s some history on the Christmas number one, and a full list of all the acts and artists who can proudly say they’ve held the top spot.

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When did the Christmas number one race start?

The first Christmas number one came in December 1952, the first year of the Officials Single Chart.

It was awarded to American singer and actor Al Martino, whose recording of ‘Here in My Heart’ outsold all other songs and remained at the top of the charts for nine weeks.

While Christmas number ones have existed as long as the Official Singles Chart has, it wouldn’t be until about 20 years after the chart’s introduction that the race for the top spot on Christmas Day became as hotly contested as it is today.

1973 was the year when Slade and Wizzard deliberately released festive songs in an effort to reach the top of the charts at Christmas. The victor in that case was the former’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, but both that track and Wizzard's ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ remain festive classics.

Who has had the most Christmas number ones?

Only two acts in history can claim to have had three Christmas number ones in consecutive years. Those are The Beatles and the Spice Girls (the Fab Four actually have four to their name, more than anybody in history), though YouTuber LadBaby is hoping to join their ranks in 2020.

On two occasions The Beatles had both the Christmas number one and the number two; the only other acts to do this are George Michael, who echoed the feat in 1984 appearing on both Band Aid and Wham! tracks, and Ed Sheeran, whose duets with Beyoncé and Eminem topped the charts in 2017.

Paul McCartney has been top eight times (with The Beatles, Wings and Band Aid on various occasions), and Queen's ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the only record to have reached the top spot twice at Christmas (though Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’ has been there three times, they were different recordings).

And according to the Official Charts Company, in “67 years of Christmas chart-toppers”, only 12 are “genuine” Christmas songs, eight are by TV talent show winners, four are novelty singles, and three are by choirs.

Every Christmas number one in history:

1952 HERE IN MY HEART AL MARTINO
1953 ANSWER ME FRANKIE LAINE
1954 LET'S HAVE ANOTHER PARTY WINIFRED ATWELL
1955 CHRISTMAS ALPHABET DICKIE VALENTINE
1956 JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN JOHNNIE RAY
1957 MARY'S BOY CHILD HARRY BELAFONTE
1958 IT'S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE CONWAY TWITTY
1959 WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THOSE EYES AT ME FOR? EMILE FORD & THE CHECKMATES
1960 I LOVE YOU CLIFF RICHARD & THE SHADOWS
1961 MOON RIVER DANNY WILLIAMS
1962 RETURN TO SENDER ELVIS PRESLEY
1963 I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND THE BEATLES
1964 I FEEL FINE THE BEATLES
1965

DAY TRIPPER/WE CAN WORK IT OUT

THE BEATLES
1966 GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME TOM JONES
1967 HELLO, GOODBYE THE BEATLES
1968 LILY THE PINK THE SCAFFOLD
1969 TWO LITTLE BOYS ROLF HARRIS
1970 I HEAR YOU KNOCKING DAVE EDMUNDS
1971 ERNIE (THE FASTEST MILKMAN IN THE WEST) BENNY HILL
1972 LONG HAIRED LOVER FROM LIVERPOOL JIMMY OSMOND
1973 MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY SLADE
1974 LONELY THIS CHRISTMAS MUD
1975 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY QUEEN
1976 WHEN A CHILD IS BORN (SOLEADO) JOHNNY MATHIS
1977 MULL OF KINTYRE/GIRLS' SCHOOL WINGS
1978 MARY'S BOY CHILD – OH MY LORD BONEY M
1979 ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL (PART 2) PINK FLOYD
1980

THERE'S NO ONE QUITE LIKE GRANDMA

ST WINIFRED'S SCHOOL CHOIR
1981 DON'T YOU WANT ME THE HUMAN LEAGUE
1982 SAVE YOUR LOVE RENÉE AND RENATO
1983 ONLY YOU THE FLYING PICKETS
1984 DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID
1985 MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE SHAKIN' STEVENS
1986 REET PETITE JACKIE WILSON
1987 ALWAYS ON MY MIND PET SHOP BOYS
1988 MISTLETOE AND WINE CLIFF RICHARD
1989 DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID II
1990 SAVIOUR'S DAY CLIFF RICHARD
1991 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY/THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES QUEEN
1992 I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU WHITNEY HOUSTON
1993 MR BLOBBY MR BLOBBY
1994 STAY ANOTHER DAY EAST 17
1995 EARTH SONG MICHAEL JACKSON
1996 2 BECOME 1 SPICE GIRLS
1997 TOO MUCH SPICE GIRLS
1998 GOODBYE SPICE GIRLS
1999 I HAVE A DREAM/SEASONS IN THE SUN WESTLIFE
2000 CAN WE FIX IT? BOB THE BUILDER
2001 SOMETHIN' STUPID ROBBIE WILLIAMS & NICOLE KIDMAN
2002 SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND GIRLS ALOUD
2003 MAD WORLD MICHAEL ANDREWS & GARY JULES
2004 DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 20
2005 THAT'S MY GOAL SHAYNE WARD
2006 A MOMENT LIKE THIS LEONA LEWIS
2007 WHEN YOU BELIEVE LEON JACKSON
2008 HALLELUJAH ALEXANDRA BURKE
2009 KILLING IN THE NAME RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
2010 WHEN WE COLLIDE MATT CARDLE

2011

WHEREVER YOU ARE MILITARY WIVES WITH GARETH MALONE
2012 HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER THE JUSTICE COLLECTIVE
2013 SKYSCRAPER SAM BAILEY
2014 SOMETHING I NEED BEN HAENOW
2015 A BRIDGE OVER YOU THE LEWISHAM & GREENWICH NHS CHOIR
2016 ROCKABYE CLEAN BANDIT
2017 PERFECT ED SHEERAN
2018 WE BUILT THIS CITY LADBABY
2019 I LOVE SAUSAGE ROLLS LADBABY
2020 ??? ???