- Entertainment and Media»
The UK Christmas Number One Songs of the 1970s
Reliving the 1970s UK Christmas Number One Hits
The UK Christmas Number One song was always something that was awaited with anticipation when growing up during the 1970s. The tradition continued through the 1980s, and even today bets are taken on what will be that all important Christmas Number One.
However, the latest trend is for whoever has won the TV talent contest, The X Factor, to reach the top of the charts.
Back in the 1970s, the popular groups and singers of the day would release records specifically for the Christmas market in the hope of making Number One. More often than not, there was a battle between them, but sometimes a song would appear out of left field and take everyone by surprise.
One of the things to notice about the following list of the UK Christmas Number Ones between 1970 and 1979 is that several of them had nothing to do with the festive season at all. This is because the trend did not truly start until the early Seventies, or because towards the end of the decade many of the acts prone to releasing such tracks were no longer as popular as they once were.
1970: I Hear You Knockin' - Dave Edmunds
The first Christmas Number One of the 1970s had nothing to do with the festive season at all.
Quite possibly one of the best of the Christmas chart toppers, Dave Edmunds' I Hear You Knockin' was a complete reworking of a blues track by famed R&B musician, Smiley Lewis.
I Hear You Knockin' became Edmunds' most successful track in the US and lasted six weeks at the top in the UK.
1971: Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) - Benny Hill
Benny Hill was one of the UK's most successful comedians and his comical novelty song all about Ernie had record collectors buying it in their droves.
Again, it had nothing to do with Christmas, but because of its innuendo heavy lyrics and Benny Hill's popularity at the time, Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) became the surprise Christmas Number One of 1971. It stayed on top for four weeks.
1972: Long Haired Lover From Liverpool - Little Jimmy Osmond
Apologies to any Osmonds fans, but this song is probably one of the worst to top the UK Singles Chart. Osmondmania in Britain had started earlier in 1972 with Donny and soon the rest of the family were appearing on the listing like a rash.
We had to suffer Long Haired Lover From Liverpool for what seemed an eternity (actually five weeks) at Number One, securing its place as the Christmas chart topper of 1972.
A much more deserving track would have been John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War is Over), but this stalled at Number Four.
1973: Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade
Merry Xmas Everybody has become the defining UK Christmas song.
First released in 1973, it was recognised as the fastest selling single of the era, eventually shifting more than one million units. At this point, Slade were the UK's most successful band, heading the Glam Rock explosion of the early 1970s.
1973 also saw one of their Glam competitors vying for the Christmas Number One spot, but Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day could only reach Number Four.
Slade would stay at the top for five weeks, but the song has made regular excursions back into the UK chart ever since.
1974: Lonely This Christmas - Mud
Another of Slade's Glam Rock competitors was the English band, Mud.
The group was already enjoying the best selling song of 1974 in the UK, but this later Elvis-style release gave Mud their second chart topper of the year, as well as the Christmas Number One. Lonely This Christmas stayed at the top for four weeks.
1975: Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Queen's first UK Number One was Bohemian Rhapsody, now recognised as one of the most influential rock songs ever. It stayed at Number One for nine weeks, making it among the longest running UK Number One songs of the decade.
Again, nothing to do with Christmas, although there were a few others making appearances in the 1975 chart, including the superb track I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake.
1976: When A Child is Born - Johnny Mathis
Veteran American crooner Johnny Mathis held the top spot over Christmas 1976 with the much covered song When A Child is Born (Soleado).
Although it does not mention the Christ child by name, some of the lyrics point to the birth of Jesus, making it almost unique in its tone as a Christmas Number One song.
1977: Mull of Kintyre - Wings
One of the biggest selling songs of all time in the UK was the Christmas Number One of 1977 by Paul McCartney's group, Wings. Written about the Kintyre peninsula in Western Scotland, the track included an instantly memorable chorus, along with the bagpipes - always a traditional Christmas instrument around the festive season.
The track remained at Number One for nine weeks, selling in excess of two million copies and became the UK's best selling single ever, barring charity songs.
1978: Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord - Boney M
By 1978, the disco era was upon us, and one of Europe's most success exponents of the genre was Boney M. In the UK, the quartet was particularly successful, turning up in the music charts often and shifting millions of records.
Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord was a cover of the Harry Belafonte song from 1956 spliced together with the newly written Oh My Lord.
Boney M would enjoy four weeks as the Christmas Number One song of 1978, ensuring continued radio play for years to come.
1979: Another Brick in the Wall - Pink Floyd
The only festive competition for the Christmas Number One song of 1979 was Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmas Time, but this stalled in the face of Pink Floyd's only UK Number One, Another Brick in the Wall.
Nothing to do with Christmas, Pink Floyd's album The Wall and this offshoot track resonated with rock fans worldwide. It was the group's first single release in Great Britain since 1968 and wound up becoming the final Number One song of the 1970s in the UK.
Which of these 10 songs is your favourite?
About Your Author
With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share The 20 Scariest Film Scores Ever? and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.
For a complete list of Richard's articles, please visit Richard's profile.
Thank you for joining me in this musical journey back to the 1970s in the UK.
© 2010 Richard