It's a strange irony I suppose that the most important and arguably the most hyped chart of the year actually take the shortest time to describe. This is it, the Christmas chart with sales of records in the week before Christmas up by as much as 20% of the average for the rest of the year. Hardly any new records are released this week which results in some extremely bizarre behaviour in some quarters. Just the 1 new entry, but 3 re-entries along with 4 climbers and 7 non-movers.
No. 40: RE-ENTRY. Erasure - I Love Saturday
Only the very foolhardy act releases a new single to try to penetrate the Christmas rush and so as a result the gap created by old hits dropping out of the Top 40 is filled with other hits perking up slightly and returning from just outside the chart. Hence the reappearance this week of Erasure, with what will still end up as their smallest hit ever, having peaked at No. 21 earlier this month.
No. 38: RE-ENTRY. R Kelly - She's Got That Vibe
Its a similar story for R Kelly, on the rebound slightly with his biggest hit of the year, first peaking at No.3 back in November.
No. 37: RE-ENTRY. Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around
This one isn't quite so easy to explain. A great deal of fuss was made back at the tail end of the summer when Wet Wet Wet claimed to be tired of having spent 15 weeks at No.1 and asked for the single to be deleted. The suspicion grows that this was little more than a publicity stunt as the single had an extraordinarily slow burnout, and in fact only dropped out of the Top 75 a fortnight ago, having been on the chart since May. Now for Christmas enough copies appear to have found their way back into the shops to make the Top 40 for the first time since November. I suspect the release of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' on video may also be a factor for this sudden rush of interest in the single, already the best selling single for a decade and without a shadow of a doubt the hit of the year.
No. 35: CLIMBER. Stone Roses - Love Spreads
The Christmas market being kind to the Stone Roses, despite the fact that the single made a dramatic plunge out of the Top 10 a fortnight ago following the release of its parent album.
No. 25: FALLER. Bon Jovi - Always
Bon Jovi still with two chart hits for Christmas, Always now having spent 15 weeks on the chart.
No. 22: FALLER. Whigfield - Saturday Night
Hard to believe too that this single was released at the tail end of the summer. Still selling over a million copies later and now 16 weeks on the chart. A further sense of the enormity of this is gained from the fact that this was the record that knocked Love Is All Around off No.1. Thus the Top 40 for the last dated chart of 1994 contains every No.1 single since the end of May.
No. 18: FALLER. Madonna - Take A Bow
Now the panic sets in. The apparant demise of this single looks as if it will bring to an end Madonna's record breaking stretch of 32 consecutive Top 10 hits. The new year chart could still contain a few surprises but by the looks of things Madonna has finally set the mark against which many future stars will be judged.
No. 15: CLIMBER. Bill Whelan - Riverdance
Probably one of the few really significant moves on the chart this week is the 17 place climb achieved by Bill Whelan. Clearly snapped up by the many casual record buyers that have flooded into the shops over the past week, the Irish dance fantasia has to rate as one of the most unusual Top 20 hits of the year. What happens to the track next is not something that can easily be predicted. It is possible that the record will carry on selling into the new year, but what is more likely is that once the seasonal rush has gone and the pop kids move to reclaim the chart, Bill Whelan will vanish as quickly as he came. A breath of fresh air all the same...
No. 11: FALLER. Bon Jovi - Please Come Home For Christmas
One of the two Christmas records in the chart for Christmas but oddly enough this one takes a tumble. The last time there were two Christmas records in the Christmas Top 10 was in 1988 when Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine and Bros' Silent Night ruled the roost.
No. 9: FALLER. Mighty Morph'n Power Rangers - Go Go Power Rangers
The pre-season favourite for Christmas No.1 ultimately underperforms in the way most childish novelties do, spending Christmas a long way from the coveted slot at the top.
No. 3: NEW ENTRY. Oasis - Whatever
Eyebrows were raised when Oasis arrogantly announced that as an instant No.1 for their new single was a foregone conclusion they would not release it until the last week before Christmas. As it turns out those predictions were a little optimistic but it did mean that the race for the Christmas No.1 went all the way to the line. The biggest hit ever for the biggest new band of the year is probably their masterpiece. Liam Gallagher admitted that when he wrote the song [Noel actually, but I wasn't the only one who didn't know which brother was which at the time] it started to sound like a Beatles record so he deliberately leaned in that direction. As a result the string-laden anthem is so much of a Beatles pastiche that it sounds exactly like an old Rutles track [so much that Neil Innes sued for royalties in fact]. Nonetheless, further proof that Oasis may actually have the musical ability to last beyond the 'bad boy' image that their publicity machine has striven to maintain all year. With Christmas out of the way eyes will now turn to the question of which record will emerge at No.1 during the traditional post-Christmas shakeout, and Oasis could well be in the running. [And just to note that this was the first time anyone had attempted something so audacious as to release a possible Christmas Number One in Christmas week itself. It would only be another two years before such a thing was commonplace].
No. 2: NON-MOVER. Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You
Three weeks at No.2 for Mariah Carey... unable to overcome the colossal sales lead that has been built up in recent weeks by the lads from Walthamstow.
No. 1: FOURTH WEEK. East 17 - Stay Another Day
At the end of November you could have backed them at 8-1 for the top honours and one month later they have done it in style. A fourth week at the Top makes East 17 the Christmas No.1 of 1994. It is arguably the first Christmas No.1 for many years to make the top on its own merits as a single: 1991's winner was Bohemian Rhapsody in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Mercury, 1992 saw I Will Always Love You buoyed up by the accompanying film whilst last year saw us in the throes of the Mr Blobby phenomenon. Stay Another Day is not a tribute, not a film soundtrack, and not a novelty. Just a classic pop record and enough to earn them their place in chart history. Well done lads.