2023 Christmas number one contenders: Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ locked in chart battle with Sam Ryder

George Michael of Wham! and Sam Ryder pictured in a side-by-side image.

This year’s Christmas number one is a toss up between Sam Ryder, Wham! and Mariah Carey in what is widely considered to be the most unpredictable festive chart battles in years.

The UK’s Christmas number one will be revealed on Friday evening (22 December), and there’s already a sense of anticipation in the air.

It’s now looking like it will be a race between Wham!’s “Last Christmas”, Sam Ryder’s “You’re Christmas To Me” and, of course, Mariah Carey’s truly unstoppable classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.

Martin Talbot, chief executive at the Official Charts Company, told BBC News that the race feels “much more exciting than it has done for a few years” thanks to LadBaby – who had claimed the Christmas number one for five years running – pulling out.

“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,” Talbot said.

“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.”

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Whatever the result, it’s likely to make waves. If Wham! claims the top spot, it’ll mark the first time “Last Christmas” was the actual Christmas number one – the song has hit number one twice over the last three years, but it’s never held that position for Christmas week.

Mariah Carey has already broken some surprising chart records with “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. In 2020, her song finally reached the top spot in the UK 26 years after it was first released – and it could claim the top spot again after the Official Charts Company reported that it was racking up more and more streams in the lead up to the festive season.

Eurovision star Sam Ryder will be hoping to obliterate both classic songs and put his new track – which is an Amazon Music exclusive – in the top spot. He’s been heavily promoting the song for weeks, he told BBC Breakfast on Thursday (21 December).

“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!,” he 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.”

Another contender in the mix is The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s timeless “Fairytale of New York”. The song has taken on a reputation as something of an anti-Christmas song, thanks to its heart-wrenching lyrics. The song has had something of a chart resurgence in recent years, and it’s getting even more airplay this year following the tragic death of Shane MacGowan just weeks ago.

But as we all know, the Christmas number one race is unpredictable – and there’s still a lot that could change before the winning song is crowned.

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