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Six weeks at number one for Positions
Ariana Grande's Positions is at the top of the singles chart for a sixth week. Gary Barlow has his third number one solo album.

Ariana Grande stretches her run at the top of the singles chart to six weeks. Gary Barlow has the number one album.

Once again, Ariana Grande’s Positions has beaten off all opposition to get a sixth week at number one in the singles chart. It is now her joint longest-running chart-topping single matching the six week run of Thank U, Next two years ago.

In the week’s first update Positions was just a few hundred chart sales (sales plus stream-equivalent sales) of Mariah Carey’s perennial seasonal hit All I Want For Christmas Is You. As the week went on, though, Grande’s lead increased and Carey climbs twelve places into the run-up spot. It is, for now at least, the fourth successive year (and fifth in total) that the song has peaked at number two but it has reached that position earlier than in any of the last three years. Even when it was released in 1994, it didn’t reach number two until the equivalent of next week.

Wham’s Last Christmas is up seventeen places to number three, reaching the top ten for a fifth successive year.Little Mix drop one place to number four with their Sweet Melody. Miley Cyrus climbs back up to number five with Midnight Sky. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale Of New York climbs eighteen places to number eight. That classic has also made the top ten for five successive years, essentially since streaming became responsible for most “sales”.

Anyone longing for a new Christmas hit will not be impressed to know that the highest new entry of the week is a cover version of an old festive classic. There is nothing particularly bad (or good) about Justin Bieber’s version of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree which lands at number 21. It’s just that it seems a rather lazy way of notching up another hit. The original version, recorded by a thirteen-year-old Brenda Lee in 1958 but not a hit in the UK until 1962, re-enters at number nineteen. Round one to Brenda Lee.

There is, however, one brand new festive song in the chart this week. Ring out those solstice bells to hail the arrival at number 28 of Jess Glynne’s This Christmas. The song is only available on one website but the signs are that Alexa is just as keen on playing this in response to a request for Christmas music as she was last year to play Ellie Goulding’s River.

The one new entry not to mention Christmas does, nevertheless, have such a seasonal feel to it that it is hard to imagine it being a hit at any other time of the year. All You’re Dreaming Of, a new entry at number 35, is Liam Gallagher’s fifth solo top forty hit and one of his best vocal performances in a long career. Proceeds from the song will go to Action For Children, previously known as National Children’s Home.

This week has seen further progress in the completion of the Christmas bingo card. One box ticked off is the one marked “Moans about streaming and the number of festive songs in the chart”. The apparent extra appetite for hearing Christmas songs this year means that roughly half of the first top forty of December is made up of Christmas songs.

The week’s influx of festive fare allows us to tick off another box - “Suedehead makes whimsical comment about the full credit for I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”. Yes, it’s time to take a deep breath and welcome the return of Wizzard featuring vocal backing by the Suedettes plus the Stockland Green Bilateral School First Year Choir with additional noises by Miss Snob and Class 3C at number 23. Even if Miss Snob was a brand new teacher back in 1973 she will be well into retirement by now while some of her charges in Class 3C will be grandparents. How scary is that?

As has become the norm, the song that topped the 1973 Christmas chart ahead of Wizzard (who only got to number four) now trails it. Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody is at number 32. A third song from that year, Elton John’s Step Into Christmas was a relative flop at the time of release, reaching only number 24 after six of his previous seven hits had entered the top ten. It has reached a new peak in each of the last three years, climbing to number eight last year. It starts this year’s top forty run at number eighteen.

Not to be outdone in the sesquipedalian credit stakes, the official credit for John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) reads John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir. The song is back at number forty. The song reached its peak in 1980 after Lennon was murdered in New York at the beginning of December. It would be a gross misuse of the English language to refer to the monstrosity that beat it as a song. One place above Lennon is his erstwhile bandmate Paul McCartney with Wonderful Christmastime. Including his work with a well-known beat combo, McCartney has had at least one entry in the singles chart in every decade since the 1960s.

While most of the Christmas re-entries are forty years old or more, three of them date from this century. Ariana Grande’s Santa Baby is at number sixteen, Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath The Tree is at twenty and Leona Lewis’s One More Sleep which looked like being undeservedly forgotten before gaining popularity in recent years returns at number 33.

The festive re-entries are completed by Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas (without a “Three families maximum” remix) at number 22, Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock (recorded in 1957 but not a top forty hit until last year) at 38, Mickey Bubble’s Holly Jolly Christmas at 37, Andy Williams’ It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year at 36

Every time you think Gary Barlow has finally abandoned his solo career, he pops up with a new album. Each time that happens, his loyal fanbase dust off the cobwebs and go out and buy the thing. Seven years after his last solo album, Since I Saw You Last, the once and (maybe) future Take That singer gets his third number one with Music Played By Humans. If the song he performed on Graham Norton’s show last week is representative, the album is crushingly dull.

While Take That were on hiatus before what was to be a triumphant return, Steps emerged to become one of the biggest names in British pop although some girlband fared rather better in the charts. Every so often, their members apparently get bored with counting their money and decide to try and make some more. Hence the arrival this week of another Steps album, What The Future Holds. The future will probably bring yet another Steps comeback album at some point. In the meantime, this one is at number two.

Michael Ball and Alfie Boe’s Together At Christmas slips two places to number three. A return to the top later this month cannot be ruled out. AC/DC’s Power Up is down to number five.

The different ways in which different generations consume music is illustrated starkly by the album at number four. While the top two new entries are from acts whose most successful period was around two decades ago, the third highest is by one of the most successful singers of the day. So successful, in fact, that she is currently enjoying huge success with Midnight Sky. Yes, it’s Miley Cyrus. Her new album, Plastic Hearts, might have been considered a contender for number one but it was not to be.

The final months of the year have traditionally been a time for the release of Greatest Hits albums although there have been fewer of them more recently. This week two of the biggest chart acts of the 1980s get new hits collections in the top forty. Shakin’ Stevens (back in the singles chart as ever with Merry Christmas Everyone) is at number ten with Singled Out while Spandau Ballet’s 40 Years - The Greatest Hits is at fifteen.

One fact which went unremarked last week (because I missed it) was the departure from the top forty of Ed Sheeran’s ÷. With No 6 Collaborations Project having dropped out several weeks before, that meant that Sheeran had no albums in the top forty for the first time since January 2017.
Published on: 2020-12-04 by BuzzJack.com Suedehead2 || 2082 Views
Comments (8)
 
Popchartfreak
4 Dec 2020 - 20:31
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Miss Snob was not my teacher in 1973 as I was in the 5th year when I bought her festive efforts in gatefold picture sleeve. If you'd told me that Wizzard, Slade and Elton John would be back every charting xmas until the End of Time I would have been:
1) incredulous
2) overjoyed
3) gobsmacked to have heard of the sci-fi concepts of "the internet" and Star Trek's communicator being an actual thing.
4) stunned that I was still doing personal charts and ignoring all 3 of 'em!
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Suedehead2
4 Dec 2020 - 20:36
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The only one of the three I bought (in the 3rd year) was Slade.
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Popchartfreak
5 Dec 2020 - 21:00
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Turns out (I did some research after getting annoyed by the peak positions of all Xmas classics including original chart runs except for Wizzard & John & Yoko) that the Wizzard song used since 1981 is a re-record. Here I was just thinking it was me thinking it didn't sound as good as it did in 1973, and it's quite literal. Miss Snob and the original kids choir were all replaced when the master tapes were lost!

I will have to dig out the original cos I swear it sounded better back then... smile.gif

John & Yoko was a remaster, apparently, but since when do remasters not count towards chart performances?! Since remixes, which sound nothing like the single version, all count, there is no reason why on Earth a remaster and an identikit re-recording shouldn't. I'm sure Taylor Swift will agree with me (currently re-recording her entire back catalogue, a la ELO and Simply Red who also got peeved at not having control over their own recordings)...
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Suedehead2
5 Dec 2020 - 21:55
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I hope Miss Snob still gets royalties.

I think some of the re-recordings (unlike Taylor Swift) are simply because the original masters were lost or destroyed as happened with so many television programmes of that era sad.gif
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Alohomara
6 Dec 2020 - 19:56
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"Santa Baby" should be swapped for "Santa Tell Me" in the segment talking about Christmas re-entry songs from this century.
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Chig66
8 Dec 2020 - 23:14
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Ah, it's that time of year again and all is right with the world...

I always think fondly of you when I think of the full Wizzard credit, and I've typed it out in full on my brand new spreadsheet of Christmas hits, where I am tracking this year's explosion of seasonal songs! Stockland Green School still exists, by the way, although it's no longer bilateral. It's a stone's throw from Spaghetti Junction, within the roar of the M6.

On a related note...

About five minutes' walk from where I've lived for the last 23 years, on the main road in Balsall Heath, there's a building which has been brought back to life in the last year or so, after falling into disrepair for many years. It is Moseley School Of Art, now reopened as a community centre. I've walked past it a million times and never paid much attention to it. I only found out this year that one of its students was a certain Mr Roy Wood! And also Christine McVie. I was gobsmacked to think that those two used to hang out in my 'hood. (Not that I was here at the time!)

Useful links here, if anyone's interested:

http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.com/2016...road-story.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moseley_S...,_Balsall_Heath
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Suedehead2
9 Dec 2020 - 17:45
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All hail Moseley School of Art (as long as it wasn’t named after Oswald).

December wouldn’t be complete without the full Wizzard credit biggrin.gif
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Chig66
17 Dec 2020 - 13:46
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Thankfully, the spellings are different. The fascist was Mosley.
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