The Needle Returns To The Start Of The Song

I'm not imagining it, am I? Time was when the final weeks before Christmas were a veritable flurry of activity as everyone lined their final ducks up, if not to dominate proceedings for Christmas itself but at the very least to be poised to strike in the new year.

But this is 2021, festive favourites and a handful of hardy souls are locked in place for the season and there is little motivation for anyone to do anything else until January.

So welcome then to Christmas -1 where we simply hold steady before the Christmas chart. That inevitably means another week of sales domination for Ed Sheeran and Elton John as Merry Christmas is No.1 for a second straight week, their sales down this week to 63,443 - which at least gives you an idea of what the proposed Christmas No.1 contenders have to aim for.

They preside over a static Top 7 as most of the usual suspects line up in a row. This does however mean that once more Last Christmas has the besting of All I Want For Christmas Is You, the two evergreen hits holding steady and 3 and 4 respectively. The one consolation I guess is that they are for now the only Christmas oldies in the Top 5, with Adele and - pleasingly - Gayle making up the rest of the numbers.

There are some strange shenanigans taking place with the sales performance of Sam Fender's Seventeen Going Under. After moving 9-9-8 in the past month it last week collapsed to No.15 only now to rally back to No.9 once again. The reason for this might be as straightforward as sales around these positions being similar, but the fact that none of the other tracks around it have shown such erratic movements almost makes you wonder if there was a chunk of its data missing last time around. [Although see below:]

When Alexa Comes Around

For two weeks running George Ezra's Come On Home For Christmas has shown up in the midweeks as having been on the verge of making the Top 10 only to fall short each time. Last week it ended up at No.26, this week it improves matters slightly but still only ends up at No.15. The reason for this is because Amazon are rather better than the likes of Spotify and Apple at reporting their data promptly for the midweek flashes to be compiled. It does however mean that tracks such as the Ezra ones which are exclusive to that platform present a slightly false position, their sales up to date when others are lagging. That lag is corrected at the end of the week, but that is primarily to the benefit of other tracks which have Spotify and Apple etc data to be added in. Amazon exclusives will always fall away once the final tables are in, as we can see here.

Official Charts note that this week marks a new record, with no fewer than 24 of this week's Top 40 singles made up of Christmas tracks, the most there has ever been prior to the Christmas and New Year charts themselves. The final one of these is Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad, a vintage track which had never really had much attention paid to it in the past but which has found its way into the public consciousness thanks largely to featuring prominently on DSP-curated Christmas playlists. It is No.40 this week, matching its all-time peak that it first scaled at the very end of last year. So you suspect it is destined to climb even higher over the next couple of weeks.

Come Up And See Me

And yet in amongst the cruft there are newer songs making headway. Leaping 42-25 are D-Block Europe and AJ Tracey with Make You Smile, a cut taken from Adz and Dirtbike's Home Alone 2 mixtape but which is starting to enjoy no small amount of seasonal virality. Again, these are the tracks to keep an eye out for, the ones poised perfectly to strike and make it big in three weeks time when the seasonal songs vanish as quickly as they came.

Brace yourselves then for the two most extraordinary charts of the year. All attention, as it always is, is focused on the next seven days and the sales and streams that will go to make up the "all-important" (but not actually important anymore) Christmas chart. Xmas No.1 will be determined by the most popular tracks from 17th-23rd December. But perhaps of equal note is the one for the following week, tracking sales and streams from 24th-30th December, the first two days of which being the times when streams of Christmas songs reach their annual crescendo. Despite plays of them drifting away to nothing from December 26th onwards, they will manage large enough numbers in the first two days to utterly dominate proceedings on the chart that follows.

Ladbaby and his steaming pile of dung is more or less a given to be No.1 next week, so that isn't remotely interesting. It is what happens after that which will be far more intriguing. Especially as with everyone on holiday there are few if any midweek sales flashes available to give us a clue. Stay tuned.