For those that don't know, the Christmas #1 in the UK, that being the single that tops the chart announced the Sunday before (or day of, as is the case this year) Christmas, is a big deal for chartwatchers. Oddmakers even get in the game. Sometimes it's pretty predictable, like last years "Do They Know It's Christmas 2004," but other years there have been surprises, like 2003's Christmas #1, "Mad World" by Michael Andrews Featuring Gary Jules, which beat out favorites by Pop Idols and The Darkness.
This year, the field still looks pretty open. Songs released 12/19 (the Monday the week of the Christmas chart) include "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" by Westlife & Diana Ross, "Merry Christmas Everybody" by Tony Christie, "Talk" by Coldplay, "Tears in Heaven" by Choirboys, and "First of May/When A Child Is Born" by G4 Featuring Robin Gibb. From what I've read, Westlife are the current favorite, although I have a hunch that won't hold up, given that it's the second single from their album, and they will likely be facing stiff competition. Westlife scored a Christmas #1 in 1999 with their ABBA remake "I Have a Dream." I wouldn't count out Tony Christie, who currently has the year's best-selling UK single, "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo." Choirboys is apparently a trio of prepubescent British boys, discovered singing in their school choirs after a nationwide search. G4 were the runners-up in last year's X Factor contest, Simon Cowell's new talent show since Pop Idol is no longer active in the UK. "Talk" is my favorite single from Coldplay's X&Y, but this being the third single from an album many many people already own, I think it would be lucky to even land in the top 10. I suspect it will be a big airplay hit around Christmas though, certainly shoring up X&Y Christmas sales.
Also, don't count out singles released 12/12 that could be big enough to spend a second week at #1, and thus become Christmas #1. The best shot there is for Robbie Williams, with his second Intensive Care single "Advertising Space," a big ballad that will surely be a big hit. Also coming out that week, "Don't Forget About Us" by Mariah Carey, "The Ballad of Paul K/Ultraviolet" by McFly, "See The Day" by Girls Aloud, "Goodbye My Lover" by James Blunt, and a remake of "Fairytale in New York" by the Pogues. More updates on this to come.