At PPL we collate the top 20 most-played songs of the last year, so the most recent chart covers January to December 2015.
What we found is if you look at sales, the Official Chart and the Top 20 at Christmas doesn’t really reflect airplay or broadcast on TV. You have things like ‘X Factor’ tracks and chart singles that are not going to get the airplay that Mariah Carey, Wham! or The Pogues get at Christmas. And our chart is based on TV plays as well as radio plays – so it takes account of all the promos you hear over Christmas and what you hear in the background of certain TV shows too.
It’s a bit like wine. Sometimes it takes a while to know which ones are going to mature with age. The more recent Christmas classics are Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ and East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’. Further down the Top 20 you have Michael Bublé’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’, The Darkness with ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ and Leona Lewis with ‘One More Sleep’. We think the Leona Lewis one might be one that has got that staying power.
Sometimes these songs just take a while to really build momentum. In 2015 the most-played Christmas song was Mariah Carey's ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, the first time she’d been our number one. But the year before it was the Band Aid 30 single, which isn’t in our top 20 at all for 2015. When Band Aid 30 was our number one there was a corresponding fall for the original, because if you’ve got two versions of the same song then one takes airplay from the other. But this year we’re seeing the original reassert itself and Band Aid 30 is pretty much nowhere. Last year there was a bit of noise around Shakin’ Stevens too, with the 30th anniversary of ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’. That went up a few places. With the recent passing of Greg Lake, you would imagine ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’ will get a bump up the charts this year.
What’s the criteria for a Christmas song? If there are any anomalies or if we’re unsure if they really are Christmas songs, we’ll do a bit of research to see if they qualify. As well as the release time, we’ll look at the lyrics. You don’t qualify as a Christmas hit just because you came out in December.