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Christmas Deluxe / 24 December 2017

I’m Streaming of a White Christmas: Ed Sheeran is no. 1

Just when you thought Ed Sheeran couldn’t get any more annoying, here in the UK he has just kept ‘our George’ – Wham!‘s Last Christmas – off the 2017 Christmas number one spot. The perennial festive favourite benefitted from an Andrew Ridgeley supported campaign to get it to the top (for the first time) on the first anniversary of George Michael’s untimely death, but sadly for fans, it fell two places short, and only made it to number three.

The fourth single from Sheeran’s ‘÷’ album, Perfect, is the Christmas number one, while in true salt-in-the-wound style, the singer-songwriter also features on the number two single, Eminem‘s River. Perfect had in fact already reached number four earlier this year, just after the album came out, thanks to those ludicrous chart streaming rules (now tightened) and there were six different versions via streaming in the last few weeks – including duet versions with Beyoncé and Andrea Bocelli – to all but guarantee the song’s festive chart dominance.

Is this any different to Frankie Goes To Hollywood issuing multiple 12-inch versions of Two Tribes back in 1984? Maybe not, but it almost feels like a cartel at the top of the global streaming charts these days – mates working together to ensure a stranglehold at the top. Beyoncé guests on a Sheeran track, Ed works with Taylor Swift, writes for Justin Bieber etc. Now he turns up on an Eminem track. Band Aid cooperation aside, I don’t remember such incestuousness back in the day. Can you imagine Frankie guesting on a Wham! 45 or a ‘Culture Club featuring Simon Le Bon’ single? It was every man for himself!

Maybe the problem was that the Wham! campaign was only semi-official and felt rather impromptu and late in the day. Also, while George’s bandmate gave it the thumbs up, were other ‘stakeholders’ fully engaged? George Michael’s official twitter account made no mention of it at all and even if the campaign had benefitted from the blessing of the estate (unknown), Sony probably didn’t have time to create any physical product to support it, anyway. One could imagine that a four-track CD single, priced at £3.99, featuring seven-inch version, Pudding Mix, Instrumental (first time on CD!) and Everything She Wants sitting on the counter of every HMV and in the racks in Sainsbury’s and Tescos in the UK would have appealed to the core demographic and could have made all the difference. Or maybe not. Even putting the lack of physical product to one side, the label-controlled Wham! facebook page plugged a few festive playlists that featured Last Christmas, but there was no specific mention of the campaign, to rally the half a million followers into any kind of action.

Perfect had combined sales of 85,000. 45,000 of those were downloads and the other 40,000 ‘sales’ were made up from six million streams (150 streams is one sale, so six million equates to 40, 000). Last Christmas sold 62,000 copies (split unknown), less than 5,000 behind Eminem, so in all likelihood the Wham! song would have secured number two if the ever-popular Sheeran hadn’t been involved.

So Last Christmas still remains the biggest selling single in the UK – with sales of over two million copies – never to get to number one. I’m sure that will change at some point, but just not it seems, in 2017.

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[…] is an interesting update to last year’s ‘Christmas Deluxe‘ which described how Wham!‘s Last Christmas failed to make it to the 2017 UK Christmas […]

Julian H

I have lots of respect for George Michael, he was a tremendous singer. But I can’t stand “Last Christmas”, so I was never a fan of this campaign to begin with.

What annoys me a bit is that Status Quo couldn’t get “It’s Christmas Time” anywhere near the top spot. Rick Parfitt also died last christmas, you know. And his christmas song is better than GM’s!

By the way: I hate 90% of Ed Sheeran’s music, but he has talent. He should just use it for well-crafted songs instead of tetratonic rubbish (Shape of You mostly consists of four notes!)…

Klaus

Just read in a German music mag that there was a campaign to get “For Those About To Rock (We Salate You)” to X-mas number one via downloads too as a kind of farewell to Malcolm Young. As i don’t read anything from GB that includes current charts (and am way too lazy to look it up on the internet) i wondered if anyone here can tell me to what effect that campaign came (if any)?

Julian H

Huh. I had no idea about that…

mino

In Italy they played Last Christmas billions times on the radio while Perfect not so many times…

David McIntyre

To all those who don’t like Ginger ninja (sheeran), there are some ‘shreds’ vids on youtube that are rather humourous. Just type Ed Sheeran shreds and I’m sure you’ll find something to make you laugh. Loads of acts have been shredded from One Direction to Elvis Presley some to great comic effect.

Wham, never liked them back in 84-85. Still dont like them or their tunes except for a different corner (GM solo I know).

Charts, never trusted them, especially after reading Frederick Dannin’s Hitmen book back in 1990 and the whole payola nonsense of the 1970’s and 80’s. Frank Zappa also spoke out with regards to gangster practices during the 1960’s to get album sales up, sorry I dont have a link for that as it is an old interview from many moons ago.

Happy Xmas Paul and keep up the work on your utterly fantabulous website

Adam

I don’t listen to mainstream radio, so am out of touch, but I did watch the Christmas TOTP this year, and what surprised me is how many of the songs seemed to sound pretty much the same. A mumbling bit to start it off, then an out of tune wail, back to mumbling, maybe I’m just getting old. I also realised I had heard Ed Sheeran after all, in an advert, ‘Shape of You’, I’d been thinking I’d escaped him!

Gerry

If anyone lives near or in Leeds and is after the Bowie CD set Crash Records t have 1 left for £75 collection only from shop. Its on line in their sale as I type.

Tom Richardson

I bet if Ed Sheeran had released a cover of ‘Last Christmas’ it would have been number 1 with a bullet! Now THAT would have been a kick in the you-know-what’s!! :(

Benjamin Adams

There was also a social media game this year (unsure if it’s been around before), “Whamageddon.” You lost if you heard George’s version of “Last Christmas” before Christmas Day. Cover versions didn’t count.

Rob

I’m glad I kept the Top 40 charts I used to cut out of the papers, in the golden days of the mid 80’s.
No, I’m not being sarcastic!
I always made a note of my favourite new entry, even if I didn’t much care for anything that week.
Obsessive. Oh yes…

MARK LEVY

I’m sick of it. I thought X Factor was bad but Ed Sheeran has killed the charts!

Philip

At least X Factor seems to have lost the guaranteed number one spot at Christmas

baward

My son (19) and his buddies look at me slightly askance when I talk of physical media like CDs & DVDs. Anything they consume music-wise, they stream or download. None of them has a CD or DVD player, its all done on their mobile phones.

Jan Hansen

Apparantly the “rough mix” is available on the Icon Edition of “A Very Special Christmas”.
http://www.averyspecialchristmas.org/albums/icon

Jan Hansen

The Japan-only Pudding Mix-Edit should be released on CD.
There is also one more mix out there (“rough mix” on YouTube).
I would buy suck a thing! :-)
1) Last Christmas
2) Last Christmas (Pudding Mix)
3) Last Christmas (Instrumental)
4) Last Christmas (Pudding Mix Edit)
5) Last Christmas (“Rough Mix”)

martin farnworth

the old saying familiarity breeds contempt couldn’t apply more with Ed Sheersh**. A glorified busker now targetting the American market. As an 80s child I was never a huge fan of the megastars of the day George Michael, Madonna, Prince or Michael Jackson but at least they all had some sort of star quality that somehow elevated themselves above the rest.

The occasional chart campaigns such as Last Christmas (hard to think of that many) are a mere echo of the excitement/interest in the Top 40 of the past- new entries, high climbers etc. Having said that I’d be hard pushed to find anyone I know who cares about such things.

RJS

“A glorified busker now targetting the American market”

Keep up – he broke the American market with his debut album!

martin farnworth

i stand corrected. although some of his music now sounds more like it’s aimed for that. i would like to turn it off but i am not in control of what radio stations i am forced to listen to at work!

Klaus

farnworth

If you really would like to know about the star quality of Ed Sheeran i advise you to ask your wife, daughter, sister or even mother about him.
They’ll most certainly will tell you that he’s so normal, just the guy next door, but for his ability to write good tunes and make you feel like he’s writing and singing just for you. Many of the ladies find him good-looking and cuddly like a teddy bear too (though as to why this is brings my imagination to its limits).
And he is certainly only the last in a row of, say, Phil Collins, James Blunt, Cliff Richard and many others.
I think that some of the comments here not sound like they’re coming from guys (and gals) in their forties, fifties and sixties, but from jealous teenagers.

Alan B

I have never understood the Media’s obsession with “The Christmas Number One”. There is a number one record every week of the year. A record that gets to number one in July is still a number one record. It’s utter nonsense.

bob

Well actually not really, the Xmas number one has traditionally usually been the biggest selling number one of the year, in the biggest selling chart of the year. That is why all of the major artists released singles in December.

WillumH

Here in the US Ed Sheeran’s #1 Song “Perfect” is selling for $0.69 while Wham!’s “Last Christmas” $1.29.

colinthebruce

The charts – I think as we all know – are dead and redundant. I cannot fathom how a streaming can possibly count – its like me walking over to my turntable or record player, and whatever I play there counting towards the charts. yes- ridiculous. Still, given the awfulness that was TOTP Christmas day there is no good music anyway- everything had that same “Ed Sheeran” Shape of you rewrite vibe.

Rob

Underworld – Beaucoup Fish, currently £29.99 on Amazon

Henrik Kirkegaard

Most importent
Great christmas and happy new year to Poul and sde
Super work in 2017
I hope you Will make the top 10 of sde albums of 2017
That World be perfect

Rune T

>But the charts do not indicate sales. They indicate how many times a song has been streamed!

Exactly.

I would argue that streaming charts says a lot more about how popular a song actually is than what sales or radio play has ever done. It is a way more accurate representation of what is ‘hot’ at any given time than the charts of old.

RJS

“I think the singles chart could be saved, and be more representative of what the entire population is doing,”

Not sure what you mean when you say the “entire population” but face facts – more people stream and watch on YouTube than buy. The landscape has completely changed and no matter how much you might yearn for the old days, things aren’t going to go back to the way they were. The MP3 killed off physical sales of singles and streaming will eventually kill-off MP3 sales. The BPI charts are irrelevant. To see what’s popular (“trending”) people head over to Spotify, Apple, Amazon, etc. streaming libraries and YouTube. The days of listening to the Top 40 countdown on Radio 1 on Sunday evenings when the latest No.1 would be revealed is another distant memory, likewise the publication of the charts in tabloids, music magazines, Ceefax and the TOTP Thursday night countdown. The relevance of Top 40 is over and has been for a number of years!

Daran

But that is entirely because they have made it irrelevant. You are totally missing the point RJ. New technology and media formats has not made charts irrelevant anymore than the death of cassette and vinyl from CD made them obsolete in the 80’s and 90’s. They are obsolete now entirely because of the absurd way they have changed the rules to qualify for inclusion. Paul is on the money when he says you should have to actually do something to qualify.

With all digital music (download and stream) effectively ‘live’ and ready to be included the charts every week how on earth can there be any confidence in a system where one or two trending tweets about the theme music on a TV advert on Monday be in the top 10 by the end of the week when the record company had not planned anything that week to prepare the track for release? It”s a nonsense. I stream some stuff – I noodle around Spotify from one song to the next to check stuff out. AND THAT COUNTS IN THE CHARTS! It’s no different to passively listening to a radio show and hearing all the songs played – that is not included, so why should the not very active activity of streaming tons of tracks that you have no real interest in buying be included.

It’s like they have made every device and it’s owner a personal radio station and register millions of people’s streams as sold airplay! That is ridiculous.

RJS

“You are totally missing the point RJ”

I’m not missing any point. People who refuse to accept that technology and the way that people listen to music has changed over the the past 15 years are the ones missing the point.

Daran

But we are not discussing how people listen to music are we. We are talking about how the charts are worked out. Is there any justification for a Spotify playlist created by a celebrity that a million people click on and play through having every track stream counted in chart statistics when you have not been actively involved in selecting any of the tracks yourself in the play list, when the same songs listened to by a million people on a breakfast radio show counts as just one radio station airplay! Both are totally passive listening experiences. If there is any reasoning behind it I’m all ears…

It’s not just that it makes little sense, it appears to make no sense whatsoever.

Murray Robbins

I love watching Sheeran videos with the sound turned down and using Zappa guitar solos as the soundtrack. The multiverse resumes stability.

Lenny K.

Still waiting for the original 7″ version (early mix) on cd btw…

Gary C

I worked in record shops in the 80’s and 90’s and the skullduggery I witnessed ranged from small time bribery ie ‘free copies for stock’ or concert tickets, to wholesale rigging of the charts.
I wouldn’t get to dewey eyed about the good old days of physical product as far as sales are concerned.

Jim

Tbf, Sheerin could be number one 52 weeks a year with versions of the same song feat. a different person every week and I wouldn’t notice because I gave up on the charts being meaningful years ago and having streaming included, excluded or otherwise will make no difference. If you give it a go, you’ll feel better for it.

If Last Christmas is number one in your house this year then that’s all that matters.

Happy Christmas everyone. Except Sheerin, of course.

Mark stuart

I can’t understand how sheeran is selling out multiple nights at Wembley stadium and others round Europe next year.

Schu

Fairytale of NY, now that is a great Xmas song! Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Dave

Hey Paul,

Don’t really know where else to say it, this seems as good a place as any – hope you hand your family have a GREAT Christmas and Happy New Year – THANKS for all the work you do here and pointing out those freakin’ deals that somehow end up costing me so much money ;)

Mike

Bring back killing in the name of ..no that’s a Christmas joint!

Jenna Appleseed

Also funny how dissing 80s artists in the comments gets people reacting like they’ve committed blasphemy & accusing people of being trolls but dissing current acts you don’t like is fine.

Albert Tatlock

That twaddle is Xmas Number One?! A schoolkid could write better. ‘You between my arms’?! It doesn’t even scan. And ‘rhyming’ said line with ‘Lying on the grass (trying to make the word ‘grass’ sound like ‘arms by saying ‘grarse’ makes it even more cringeworthy. If this pillock is the best Britain can do then we are in trouble. How can we forget that other ‘classic’, with the genius that was ‘She played the fiddle in an Irish band. But she fell in love with an Englishman’? Macca and Dylan, where are you?!

Sheeran does stupid music for stupid people.
God bless George…

Evripidis

Ed sheeran deserves success. He’s a great songwriter and In twenty years Tim he Will be up there with the classic pop singles of the past. He is an accomplished musician and he is All these things that make pop great In The 10’s. Although I didnt like his Last album as much as his previous efforts this guy deserves much more thank some of you imagine.

IpsoFacto

Lol thats the christmas cracker joke of all time

Poptones

I don’t like Ed Sheeran but not a big fan of Wham either. Just checked the top 10 and Fairytale of NY by the Pogues & Kirsty McCall is ranked 7 this week. I love that song. I purchased the original 7″ when it was released 30 years ago and the album If I Should Fall From Grace with God one month later in january 1988. They should release a Super Deluxe Version of that album.

Louise

The fact they’ve had to change the streaming “rules”several times already makes it a flawed way of calculating. I’ve also read (though this may not be true) that you can set up a playlist on Spotify & the like to play his single all night and it will count for the chart. Though quite why anyone would want to listen to his drivel is beyond me…

DaveM

‘I’m Streaming of a White Christmas’ – genius! Made me LOL.

MusicFan

Allowing streaming to be included in chart eligibility has made the charts irrelevant and void of any validity.

Sadly it just doesn’t make sense and does not give any reflection of what anyone is buying. The record companies must be really confused as people are just not buying product.

Very sad indeed!

George will always be number 1!!!!!!!!

MC

RJS

“The record companies must be really confused as people are just not buying product”

They’re not confused at all. They allow their music to be available on streaming sites. There are no physical singles to buy because they wouldn’t sell and people are not going to pay a quid for an mp3 when they can stream a song on Spotify or YouTube. The landscape has changed and single charts are irrelevant. It’s all about what’s “trending” nowadays! Anyway, Happy Christmas to Paul Sinclair and all SDE’ers and I hope the box sets you’re all dreaming of are released in 2018!

JackC

Anyone know if there is a demo version of Last Christmas buried away in the vaults?

Michael Khalsa

The 12″ from Japan of ‘Last Christmas’ though listed as Pudding Mix is a different version. I think it was released in error. From what I understand (and I collect Wham!) there have been the 1984 single mix, Pudding Mix, 1985 single mix (which is the popular one) & the instrumental. 5 released versions in total.

-SG-

Top 10 for that old chesnut isn’t bad. This is Ed’s time, in 30 years when he is old and fat things will not be the same. I actually think December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) would have been a much better pick to remember George Michael, and a much better song.
Merry Christmas Paul, thanks for all of the good articles and deal alerts this year.

RJS

Why the fuss? Charts are meaningless. If ‘Last Christmas’ means so much to you, just play it and enjoy it instead of fussing about where it got to in the charts.

negative1

NO they’re not meaningless. Charts matter to some people because they indicates sales and popularity. That translates to money. Music is a business, less money means less business. There are peoples jobs that are impacted by sales, also it impacts the artist.

Obviously you’re not a musician or artist, which is why you don’t care.

RJS

But the charts do not indicate sales. They indicate how many times a song has been streamed! The amount of sales, both digital and physical, is miniscule nowadays. This is not the 1980’s where you walk into Woolworths and see a big display of the week’s Top 40 singles. Times have changed.

juzzyb

My niece is glad that Ed Sheeran is no,1 and reckons he is ‘The Ginger Jesus’. Not my bag, but I reckon he is pretty talented and has done at least a couple of good tunes. I know a lot of old farts get a bit snotty about him, though. As for ‘Last Christmas’, well it’s wearing a bit thin now. Merry Xmo!

Michael Fevergeon

Why does it matter who’s number one on the charts? It’s pretty impressive that Wham! made it to number 3 without help from the industry… The song is still the biggest selling single in the UK and has been and will be cherished every holiday season. Ed and Em both have a long way to go to now if they will be remembered like George is…

mino

The english are sad people… George you are and you will always be our N° 1! Happy Christmas!

Daran

We are not sad. We love Last Christmas! But as others have said it has been released in the UK multiple times, and on dozens of compilations. Paul was spot on, for this to be a no1 now it would need to be a EP style single release with a coordinated campaign to push it – this had neither, hence it has failed to hit the top spot again. As George says, ‘maybe next year’.

tom

Spot On @Auntie Sabrina re no X Factor number one. That’s got to be progress!

Cosmo Castanza

Never before has there been an opportunity to listen to so much different music for so little money ……and all the younger generations appear to want is middle of the road music their grandparents would approve of.

Rickjapan

Paul, Merry Christmas to you and everyone else, we get it earlier here in Japan, time-wise!

Thanks as always for a great website, my life would definitely be less interesting without it.

Maybe the lack of number one status for Last Christmas is precisely because everyone has it already?? lol Incidentally, the equivalent “not a number one but has become a classic” here in Japan is Christmas Eve by Tatsuro Yamashita, a really pretty tune with an interpolation of Pachelbel’s Canon, and it comes in both Japanese and English versions, too. You just can’t escape it here at this time of year.

In response to some of the earlier comments, I, too, really can’t understand Ed Sheeran’s appeal, but that’s purely my opinion and obviously lots of people love him, so that’s their choice and I’ll just butt out and listen to what I damn well want to! (hello Kate Bush, Eurythmics, Alphaville et al and not forgetting that unrecognized genius, Joe Henry)

Anyhow best wishes to everyone, and looking forward to more good music in 2018!

Daryl

I don’t understand Ed’s appeal at all. That being considered, I would have bought Last Christmas this year, but I knew nothing about the appeal. Shame it wasn’t more widely reported.

Ern

Interesting point you brought up about Frankie’s multiple 12 inches that were released. The difference is that fans of the music had to physically get off their arse to buy the music. You were committed to it and it felt legitimate if a song done well or not on the chart.

Happy Christmas Paul to you and your family.

Pete

It’ll be interesting to see how high it stays with all the streaming it will get this week. Still an outside chance it may hit the top.
PS All the best Paul, keep up the great work on SDE.

Klaus

Here in Germany there’s absolutely no need to stream “Last Christmas” as seemingly every radio station in the country is playing it about twice an hour.
Forgive me George (and Paul) for saying so but what started as a decent pop song has now become one of the most annoying songs ever.

Auntie Sabrina

Well done to Ed and Wham! At least it’s not the X Factor winner, whomever that was. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all.

Lee Williams

Loving the CD Single idea for Last Christmas. I’d love a similar thing for Band Aid. 7”, original 12” and the ‘One Year On’ 12” too.

mike

It has been released several times on cd single, see discogs.

Lee Williams


What has been released several times on CD Single?