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A song about sausage rolls is Christmas number one
Nottingham Dad LadBaby has the 2018 Christmas number one single. The Greatest Showman soundtrack is the number one album for a 23rd week.

A song about sausage rolls is the surprise Christmas number one for 2018. The Greatest Showman soundtrack spends Christmas where it has spent almost half of the year.

As has been noted here before, the race for Christmas number one became less of an event when the year’s X Factor winner took the crown with ease for a number of years. Even in the years since that ceased to be the case, there has often been very little competition.. It should, of course, be mentioned that plenty
of pre-X Factor number ones also topped the chart with ease.

This year we actually had a genuine battle for supremacy. The initial contenders were the song that has been number one for the past six weeks, Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next, and Ava Max’s debut hit Sweet But Psycho. Monday’s update suggested that there was a third contender but, as with all the midweek updates, the previous day’s streaming data was missing from the figures. As the song in question was not the sort of song that usually does well on streaming sites, it seemed unlikely to be a genuine contender. However, as the week went on, the prospect of a surprise number one grew steadily.

The song that threatened to confound expectations that either Ava Max or Ariana Grande would be number one is by someone known for most of his life as Mark Hoyle masquerading as LadBaby. Yes, it is a novelty song. He has taken the Starship song We Built This City on Rock ‘n’ Roll and changed it to We Built This City On Sausage Rolls, even though his home city of Nottingham is known more for its lace.

Proceeds from sales of We Built This City (as it is officially titled here) will be donated to the Trussell Trust which is the largest provider of food banks in the UK. Actual sales of the song were well ahead of the two other contenders but, as is generally the case for novelty and/or charity songs, it was not picking up many streams. It goes without saying that it was in any event set to be the highest charting song ever to be about sausage rolls.

On Tuesday the BBC website published a story claiming to demonstrate that LadBaby would definitely not be number one. This only served to increase its sales lead, thanks either to people previously unaware of the song or to people wanting to prove the BBC wrong. Would it establish enough of a lead in real sales to get it to number one in the combined chart?

The BBC item led to a string of further news stories, bringing some welcome publicity to the race for Christmas number one. It became arguably the most-publicised festive contest since Rage Against The Machine beat Joe McElderry in 2009.

All that publicity helped We Built This City to build up unstoppable momentum and claim the number one crown with ease. Regardless of the quality of the song, many people will be pleased to see a song get to number one almost entirely on sales. The question now is how far it will fall next week. It could be the first ever number one single to spend just one week in the top forty.

Ava Max has to settle for the number two slot. Ariana Grande falls to number three after being the clear favourite just a week ago. Mariah Carey is up one place to number four with All I Want For Christmas Is You. Halsey’s Without Me is down two places to number five.

The only serious new entry is Ariana Grande’s Imagine at number eight. This is another song from her forthcoming new album and is an original song, not a cover of the John Lennon song of the same name.

One of the regular types of Christmas hit is the song by a primary school choir. Most of them are awful; most of the rest are worse. Perhaps the only credible use of a primary school choir in a Christmas hit is in the Wizzard classic. Nevertheless, parents who should be old enough to remember the derision with which previous releases have been met still allow their children to take part in one of these monstrosities. Perhaps these parents just assume that their little darlings cannot possibly make a record as bad as There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma.

Terrible though most songs by primary schools are, at least they have tended to avoid having titles that could be misconstrued as encouraging people to smoke. Flakefleet Primary School from Fleetwood, Lancashire, on the other hand, have recorded a song called Light Up. Perhaps they thought that a song about a chocolate bar (after the first part of their name) or even an ice cream product that uses said chocolate bar was too obvious.

Any hopes that Light Up would receive lots of free publicity were scuppered by the ode to sausage rolls. It ended up not even reaching the top forty.

Another three old Christmas songs re-enter the chart. Among them is another with a lengthy list of credits (dating from a time before it became fashionable), Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band With The Harlem Community Choir at number 29. The song reached number four when it was released in 1972 before going two places higher eight years later in the wake of Lennon’s assassination.

Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime enters at number 35 with Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody at number 36. The latter song was one of the few songs to take several years to sell a million copies in the pre-digital age.

Cadet and Deno Driz re-enter at number 38 with Advice.

Shortly after last week’s commentary was posted, the Official Charts Company released a news item that sums up how much the singles market has changed since the introduction of downloads. The Killers’ Mr Brightside was a fairly modest hit when it was first released in 2004, peaking at number ten and having just a four-week run in the top 100. However, over the next fourteen years it has become the band’s signature song and has continued to be downloaded several hundred times per week. The song has now become one of just 177 songs to have sold one million copies in the UK. Its number ten peak is the lowest of any song to have sold one million copies.

There is an air of inevitability about the identity of the Christmas number one album. As the big new releases came and went it seemed increasingly likely that ir would be the album that topped the chart for most of the first half of the year, The Greatest Showman soundtrack. And so it has come to pass. It has now accumulated 23 weeks at the top, bringing it level with Adele’s 21 as the longest-running number one album of the century. Only three soundtrack albums, two Beatles albums and a Simon And Garfunkel album have spent longer at the top. The Greatest Showman’s tally is still a mere one-fifth of the total accumulated by the South Pacific soundtrack.

Michael Bublé’s Love climbs back up to number two. George Ezra’s Staying At Tamara ‘s slips to number three. The Roy Orbison / RPO collection Unchained Melodies stays at number four. Take That remain at number five with Odyssey.

The title of the album Springsteen On Broadway might have led to a few people scratching their heads. Surely one of rock’s greats hasn’t recorded versions of Broadway hits such as I Dreamed A Dream, Happy Talk and You’ll Never Walk Alone? Well, he hasn’t. It is, in fact a live album recorded on Broadway.

Bruce Springsteen has long been a singer whose marathon live performances are the stuff of legend. Now well into his sixties, a Springsteen gig can still last two to three hours although they are not quite as energetic as they once were. That reputation explains why it was something of a surprise that he didn’t release a live album until 1986, roughly a decade into his career. When that live album arrived, it was on three CDs or five vinyl discs. Some of the songs had never been released in his name before. These included Because The Night, a song he co-wrote with Patti Smith and which was a hit for her in 1978. Despite the hefty price tag, the album reached number four in the UK and number one in the USA.

Anecdotes have always been part of a Springsteen performance and his Broadway shows were specifically centred around his autobiography; some of the anecdotes are included in this album. His live shows have also often included acoustic interludes. These shows were an entirely acoustic affair. Both factors made this new album a much more attractive buy for fans. It enters at number six.

The Springsteen album is the only new entry of the week. There is a re-entry for Elton John’s Diamonds compilation at number 38.

If there was a prize for the oddest release strategy of the week it would surely go to the people responsible for deciding to release Zayn Malik’s new album in the last full week before Christmas without a physical version. Perhaps they decided that his fans wouldn’t even want a physical copy of the album as a present so chose to ignore one of the biggest weeks of the year for CD sales. Alternatively, perhaps they had so little faith in the album that they are hoping it misses the chart altogether so that they can pretend it never existed. Whatever the reason, it has missed the top forty.

This is the last Suedehead Chart Commentary of 2018 as there will be no ramblings next week. It should return for the first chart of the new year on 4 January 2019.

In the meantime,

Happy Christmas
Feliĉan Kristnaskon
Joyeux Noel
Fröhe Weinachten
Hyvää Joulua
Häid Jõule
Nollaig Shona
Su Kalėdomis
Feliz Natal
Vesel Božič
Весела Коледа
Crăciun fericit
Καλή Χριστούγεννα
Счастливые Рождество
Linksmų Kalėdų
Boldog Karácsonyt
Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Nadelik Lowen
Published on: 2018-12-21 by Suedehead2 || 69512 Views
Comments (4)
26 Dec 2018 - 12:04
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Happy Christmas, Suedehead! I'm a regular your Chart Commentary reader and have downloaded most likely every one of your review since ... wait a bit, checking up... May 2010! laugh.gif
26 Dec 2018 - 21:45
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Thanks Zilva!
7 Mar 2019 - 6:42
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7 Mar 2019 - 15:40
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