Christmas Number One Rankings: ’00s

The ’00s was the era of the singing competition Christmas number one, and half of the list is made up of these (four X Factor winners and one Popstars: The Rivals). The other half is a total mixed bag.

#10. When You Believe- Leon Jackson (’07)

The X Factor format was locked in at this point, the winner would release a ballad and capture the coveted number one spot at Christmas. Of course, at this point it hadn’t been discovered that around half the winners would soon vanish. Which is what happened to Leon Jackson, who I have absolutely no memory of. Seriously, in thirteen years this song has disappeared from my memory completely. A quick listen reveals it’s a rather bland ballad.

#9. That’s My Goal- Shayne Ward (’05)

The first X Factor Christmas number one went to Shayne Ward, who I mainly remember for having a name similar to an Aussie cricketer. He moved into the West End once the pop career fizzled out, and this was another tepid ballad.

#8. A Moment Like This- Leona Lewis (’06)

Another X Factor winner, another ballad. Lewis had a decent voice and would go on to score a big, memorable hit with “Bleeding Love” but this is a little too cheesy a song to be a great debut.

#7. Hallelujah- Alexandra Burke (’08)

It’s always bold to cover a much loved classic, even more so when there’s already a famous cover version that has kinda surpassed the original. And so it was that Alexandra Burke wouldn’t even crack the top three versions of the Leonard Cohen track. The X Factor formula of smoothing all the rough edges off an artist or a song, despite those often being what makes things great. As it is the song is given a glossy makeover that totally strips away any emotion from the song just to showcase Burke’s voice.

#6. Do They Know It’s Christmas?- Band Aid 20 (’04)

The third version of the Band Aid song is the second best, although seldom played because, well, the original still exists. There were some big names called up, even if time hasn’t been kind to all of them, and it’s not awful, and at least tries to spice things up with a Dizzee Rascal rap. But it lacked the impact or longevity of the original. Why didn’t they just write a new charity single?

#5. Can We Fix It?- Bob the Builder (’00)

Kids’ TV character Bob the Builder was an unlikely popstar with this number one. It’s infectious and cheery, and succeeded in breaking Westlife’s streak of seven back-to-back number ones, which I thought was rather funny.

#4. Somethin’ Stupid- Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman (’01)

Robbie Williams decided for a period that he wanted to be a rat pack style big band singer, and in the middle of that era he released this, a decent duet with film star Nicole Kidman. It’s a well crafted song and their performance is solid, if a tad bland. But at least it doesn’t have the ick factor of a father and daughter singing it like when Frank and Nancy Sinatra did.

#3. Mad World- Michael Andrews and Gary Jules (’03)

Used in the movie Donnie Darko, this cover of a Tears for Fears track is haunting and memorable, and made for a slightly bleak Christmas number one. I loved it at the time, but this might be where the trend of slowing down and “saddifying” an old track really got going, leaving me to ask was it worth a dozen whiny John Lewis ad covers?

#2. Sound of the Underground- Girls Aloud (’02)

Popstars: The Rivals followed the “go bigger” principle of TV, with the idea being it had to top the first series, which gave the world Hear’Say. Here we got two groups, a boy band and a girl group. The girls won the battle, and the war, in that Girls Aloud became the biggest UK girl band of the decade while One True Voice were dead in the water within months. It helped that they kickstarted with a catchy and distinctive pop song, while One True Voice went with a double A side of mediocrity. Girls Aloud would do better, but this debut still holds up as a quality pop track.

#1. Killing in the Name- Rage Against The Machine (’09)

I’m a RATM fan anyway, so I already liked this song already, but I especially enjoyed how it means their incendiary song about racism and police brutality would become included on Christmas TV shows. It’s a belter of a song, with great guitar work from Tom Morello, powerful lyrics and, of course, that angry, memorable refrain at the end. It reached the top spot as a protest against the X Factor’s run of Christmas number ones, and may well be the least Christmassy Christmas number one of all time. I dig it a lot.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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