Christmas number ones: Which regions have had the most hits?

Photo of Wham! from the 1980s
Image caption,2023 is the year for Last Christmas by Hertfordshire-formed Wham!\

On the day the ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham! was announced as the 2023 Christmas number one, the BBC’s data elves have been delving into the festive hits over the decades. Which parts of the UK have had the most success with topping the charts – and which meaty pastry staple features in almost as many Yuletide number ones as Christmas itself?

Several contenders – including Mariah Carey, Sam Ryder, The Pogues and Wham! – were up for this year’s crown.

The Official Charts Company describes the festive countdown – which started in 1952 – as being part of the UK’s “cultural history”. Since then, 72 songs have nabbed the top spot, ranging from novelty hits, charity fundraisers, and occasionally a genuinely festive classic.

The Official Charts are responsible for deciding on the winner – you can find out more in our quick guide – and it was announced on BBC Radio One with Jack Saunders from 16:00 GMT.

Over the years, although a lot of the UK’s favourite Christmas music has come from the US and Canada – hats off to Michael Buble – home-grown talent has tended to do better when it comes to crowning the Christmas number one.

But what about within England? Which region is the most successful when it comes to crafting a festive chart topper?

Battle of the regions: who tops the charts?. Number of Christmas number ones from artists in each region per one million people. Data shows a bar chart of the regions by number of christmas number ones. London has the highest number while the South west has the lowest. .

Perhaps unsurprisingly, London-based artists like East 17 have had the most Christmas number ones, even when population is factored in.

The North West with musicians like The Beatles and the East Midlands – see LadBaby – also perform well – but the South West doesn’t quite have the same sparkling success when it comes to the festive charts, although it was bolstered by Bananarama’s turn on Band Aid II and Coldplay’s Chris Martin featuring on Band Aid 20.

The other nations have also all contributed to Christmas number ones over the years, with Wales leading the musical ranking by having the likes of Tom Jones among its numbers.

How do the other nations fare when it comes to Christmas number ones?. Number of Christmas number ones from artists in each nation per one million people.  .

The stars atop the tree

Some artists have managed not one, not two, but three Christmas number ones.

The Spice Girls – who of course represented Merseyside, Leeds, Hertfordshire, Essex and London – had three in a row, while Liverpool’s The Beatles also had three in a row – with a fourth two years later.

Cliff Richard – who was actually born in India but grew up in south-east England – achieved three festive chart toppers, two as a solo artist and one with The Shadows.

Mark and Roxanne Hoyle sat next to Father Christmas
Image caption,LadBaby (Mark and Roxanne Hoyle) are not competing for a sixth Christmas number one

But Nottingham-based LadBaby broke all these records by clocking up five Christmases at the top with their sausage roll-themed hits – We Built This City (2018), I Love Sausage Rolls (2019), Don’t Stop Me Eatin’ (2020), Sausage Rolls For Everyone which featured Suffolk-raised Ed Sheeran and London-born Elton John (2021), and Food Aid (2022).

Their success means sausage rolls feature in almost as many festive number ones as Christmas itself, which actually only features in the title of eight chart-topping hits.

The surprise runners-up

Incredibly, classics such as Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas and the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York have never reached the festive top spot.

Both were contenders for the crown this year – along with Essex’s Sam Ryder, who came second with ‘You’re Christmas To Me’.

Martin Talbot, CEO of the Official Charts, said the Christmas number one race was “as important to the festive season as Christmas trees, mistletoe and mulled wine”.

He added: “It is beyond a chart race, it’s a tradition, unique to us, part of our cultural history.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *