This week's Official UK Singles Chart

This week's Official UK Albums Chart

Welcome to what now passes as the oddest week of the year on the Official UK Singles chart, the sales survey which attracts greater mainstream press attention than practically any other yet which due to the unique circumstances in which it is compiled is the most erratically random of the year. Invented by a firm of bookmakers in 1984, the "race" to become the official Christmas Number One is now all-consuming and in recent years has become something in and of itself rather than just (as it always was to begin with) the pop record that just happens to be top of the charts on Christmas Day itself.

Yet this year there was more intrigue than usual. The absence of the normally game-ruining mega sale of the X Factor winner's single meant that the race was open to just about anyone and indeed for the first time in 20 years there was a distinct chance that Britain's Christmas Number One would be the pop record that just happened to be top of the charts at the time.

For the whole of December and beyond that record has naturally been Justin Bieber's Love Yourself and indeed at the start of the week it appeared an easy call to make - the betting market certainly bearing this out. The only potential challenge came from a typical seasonal outlier, a medley of Bridge Over Troubled Water and Coldplay's Fix You as performed by a choir formed of the staff of the Greenwich & Lewisham NHS Trust - nurses, porters and other hospital workers all neatly drilled in a similar fashion to 2011 Christmas Number One champions The Military Wives. The record itself wasn't much to write home about, but it had charity on its side and was always going to attract a sentimental vote.

For much of the week the two singles were neck and neck in sales terms, Bieber's edge in the betting market thanks to those in the know noting that his streaming tallies remained stratospheric. As a record bought as a piece of virtue signalling rather than to be listened to, the NHS Choir track naturally enough had few if any streams to its name.

But the backers of the NHS Choir record (which was first released over two years ago) were playing a long and clever PR game. A series of media appearances midweek saw the single rise for the first time to the top of the download tables. The true game-changer came on Wednesday when in another PR masterstroke Bieber himself was persuaded to allow a tweet to be sent in his name urging support for his chart rival - after all, what did it matter if he was Number 2 for one week in favour of a charity record?

From that moment on it was all over bar the shouting. Whilst Love Yourself ended the week with 97,000 combined sales, which included a still phenomenal 5.2 million streams, the NHS Choir's Bridge Over You claimed 127,000 sales to make it an easy winner. The Christmas Number One once again lives up to its billing as something that exists outside the mainstream of pop music, a naff charity record that will be forgotten and destined never to be played again once January dawns but for now it is the winner in the one week of the year when the singles charts are guaranteed to matter to absolutely everyone.

Rumours that their follow-up single will be a song about waiting seven days for a doctor's appointment could not be confirmed at the time of writing.

On the Official UK Albums chart there was naturally enough no race at all. In the final shopping week before Christmas, with sales right up to Christmas Eve logged, Adele sold a further 450,000 copies of 25 to be fully confirmed as the biggest selling album of the season.

Despite no longer being Number One on the singles chart, Justin Bieber still commands three of the Top 5 singles this week, occupying the 2,3 and 5 places. He's prevented from being the first artist in modern day chart history to land three consecutive Top 10 places by the continuing presence of Hello by Adele at Number 4. This does however mean that this week's Top 5 are entirely made up of records that are or have been Number One singles.

The only new arrival in the Top 10 this week is One Direction's 'farewell' single History which climbs 11-8 to become their 14th Top 10 hit single.

The final week before Christmas naturally enough marks the high point for another year of the chart runs of the festive classics, the additional fillip of increased streaming points (almost certainly down to being part of festive playlists) meaning that many land their best chart positions for many years.

Leading the charge as it almost always does is All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey - matching its 2011 peak of Number 11 to land a decade so far best. Fairytale Of New York is at Number 13 (down from 11 last year), "Last Christmas" by Wham! at Number 18 (far and away its best run since 2007), Shakin' Stevens' 1985 chart champion Merry Christmas Everyone (Number 26 despite a challenge from a new recording which he has been promoting and its best showing since 2008), I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday from Wizzard at Number 27 (highest peak since 2007), Driving Home For Christmas by Chris Rea - a flop first time around in 1988 but Number 29 this week to become a Top 30 hit for the first time ever, and finally Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid at Number 38 to become a Top 40 hit single for the first time since 2012.

As I write it is early evening on Christmas Day here in Britain so it seems only appropriate to raise a glass to all about.com readers and wish you the compliments of the season. Date-wise this may be the last chart of 2015, but there is still the frantic post-Christmas sales week to come. The Christmas chart notwithstanding, this is the one time of year when genuinely anything can happen.