Last night was a special Christmas show : 


Futureheads - Christmas Was Better In the 80s
Wombats - Is This Christmas


Kinks - Father Christmas
Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone


Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody
Wombles - Wombling Merry Christmas


Annie Lennox - The Holly and the Ivy (A Christmas Cornucopia)
Summer Camp - Christmas Wrapping


Susan Boyle - Away In a Manger (The Gift)
Adam Faith - Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop)


The Fab Four Freakout : 


Beatles - Christmas Time Is Here Again
John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
George Harrison - Ding Dong Ding Dong (Dark Horse)


Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas


Pogues & Kirsty McColl - Fairytale Of New York
Bo Selecta - Proper Crimbo


Feeling - Feels Like Christmas


Coldplay - Christmas Lights
Choir Of King's College - Shepherds In the Fields Abiding


Royksopp - Le Cantique De Noel


Chris Moyles - It's Never Gonna Snow
Boney M - Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord


Maddy Prior & the Carnival Band - Ding Dong Merrily On High


Crookes - It's Just Not Christmas Without You


Julie Andrews - It Came Upon a Midnight Clear


This week, we didn't play the full top 5, but we played an excerpt from each, with number one in full : 


5). Ellie Goulding - Your Song (-2)
4). Black Eyed Peas - The Time (Dirty Bit) (-3)
3). Trashmen - Surfin' Bird (new)
2). Rihanna ft. Drake - What's My Name (+2)
1). Matt Cardle - When We Collide (new)


TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW


It's finally here - the biggest chart of the year! For those of you unversed in British chart history (Americans), the Christmas chart is the most anticipated rundown of the year, with the Christmas Number One becoming perhaps the most important song of the year. 


More history : In recent years, the Christmas number one has belonged almost exclusively to the winner of the X Factor television show, and that's a purposeful placing by the producers of the show; the series ends just in time for the winner to release his or her first single just before Christmas. Five of the seven winners have reached the top at Christmas; first year winner Steve Brookstein released his single a week late (they hadn't quite figured it out then), and last year's winner was . . . well. 


That takes another bit of explanation; By 2009, a backlash against the show had started, with many feeling it unfair and unexciting that the Christmas Number One was pre-ordained by X Factor. Last year, an online campaign was started to push a non-X Factor song to the top, and the campaign succeeded. Therefore, last year's Christmas Number One was the unusual choice of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name". 


It just goes to show, you never know with the British charts. Witness this week's lineup : 


Ellie Goulding has now stayed in the top 5 for five weeks with "Your Song", which drops back to number 5 this week. A fairly straightforward cover of the Elton John song, it has had a natural success, unbiased by television appearances, use in an advertisement, or anything else. The song has simply stuck around on its own merits. This will probably be its last appearance in the top 5, so we'll give it due props on the England Swings scale of 1-10 and give it a 7.5.


The Invaders from Party Planet manage to hold onto the number 4 position with "The Time (Dirty Bit), an absolutely ridiculous "song" from the Black Eyed Peas. Part of the chart drop (it was at number one last week) comes from all of the Christmas competition, but part of it may forebode a lack of stick-to-it-ness of the song; I notice it's dropped from 3 to 8 in America this week as well. Could it be that people are tiring of the endless blagging about "having a good time" and "popping bottles" that the Peas are pandering? I have to hope so. I give the song a 5, and that's just because the synth riff IS killer. 


So, let's say you don't want X Factor to go to number one at Christmas. You search far and wide for a song to promote online, and try to send it to the top of the charts. After a whole year to decide, you settle on . . . The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird"?! What?!


And while it didn't come anywhere near succeeding, the song has now entered the annals of chart history by being number three on the British charts for the week beginning December 19 2010. As I said above, you just never know what's going to happen . . . 


The only chart that "Surfin' Bird" has made before was in the USA in . . . 1963. The song has been gone, but not forgotten, as any Pee Wee Herman or Family Guy fan can tell you. 


Of course, that doesn't excuse the fact that it's one of the most annoying songs in the history of popular music. I mean, c'mon! That middle section where the song breaks down before going into the "Pa-pa-pa-oom-mow-mow" part is actually scary. 


But judging it appropriately as it takes its place among the hits of 2010, I have to give it a 6. Not bad. 


Rihanna's Christmas fortunes continue to rise as "What's My Name" jumps up two places to number 2. Well deserved, this one; it's the cleverest song she's done in ages. Whereas Drake is a bit superflous to the proceedings, Rihanna's in fine form (literally) and voice on this song, with it's patented hook-that-won't-quit. I give it an 8.


And, of course, Christmas number one belongs to Matt Cardle, winner of X Factor 2010. 


But they were clever about it this year, weren't they? They didn't pick a mopey inspirational ballad like "The Climb" or "Hallelujah". No, they picked Biffy Clyro.


Just say that again. Biffy Clyro.


See, Simon Cowell and company knew that if they did that, it wouldn't sell as well. They might be beaten by "Surfin' Bird", for heaven's sake. So they picked a song that's irresistable, but was not a huge hit. It's contemporary, it suits Matt's voice just fine, and it gives that little burst of indie cred to the show and singer. 


So how is it? 


Not as good as the original, which was one of my favorite songs in recent memory. 


But not awful, either! There's a tendency to take the production stratospheric, but it also sounds as if someone was bright enough to stand there yelling "Tone it back! Tone it back!" while they were mixing the record.  So they did, and the song benefits. Meanwhile, Biffy Clyro look on in amusement. 


So go and get the original, now that you're aware of it. But there's one caveat : it's not called "When We Collide" as Matt Cardle does it. No, the original has the we-don't expect-a-hit title of "Many Of Horror", and I'm pleased to see that it actually climbed the chart to number eight this week. Good on you, Biff!


So, another Christmas chart come and gone. We hope you enjoyed our weekly analysis; write and let us know what you think, huh? No album reviews this week (no new albums!), but we'll be back next week with all sorts of stuff for you. 


And listen in to the England Swings show this coming Sunday at 6:00 p.m. on http://www.fcac.org/webr, where we'll be playing the Best British Music of 2010!


THANK YOU for reading, have a Happy Xmas!
 


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