So the Christmas chart is in. Music Week are on holiday for the next two weeks so there is no "official" chart analysis to be printed. But as a festive bonus, here are some of the details that would otherwise have appeared in the column, just to wrap up the story.
Christmas No.1 for 2020 is, no surprises here, Don't Stop Me Eatin' by Ladbaby. From the moment the single opened proceedings with a pre-sale in excess of 80,000 copies there was never truly any doubt that it would top the charts come the end of the week. Only a miraculous recovery by another track would topple it, a miracle that simply never materialised.
The single posted a sale of 157,733 sales, selling 3,595 physical copies and 145,154 digitally. It is far and away the highest single week sale of the year and the biggest sale clocked up by any No.1 single since the Artists For Grenfell charity track moved 170,360 singles in June 2017.
It also means that online performer Mark Hoyle has out of nowhere managed to land the Christmas No.1 single three years in a row, matching an achievement hitherto only managed by The Beatles (1963-1965) and The Spice Girls (1996-1998). It remains almost absurd the way he manages to do so, a man who is by no means a pop star or music performer, whose "work" is comedy rewrites of old rock songs and whose singles have a shelf life of precisely one week. Yet by offering to submit all proceeds to charity he manages to corral enough of his followers to buy sufficient singles to outsell everything else the week before Christmas. The true marvel is perhaps that nobody else attempts to pull off the same trick.
All we can do really is shake our heads and wonder just where the single will fall to next week. The two previous Ladbaby offerings have shot 1-21 and 1-57 respectively following their Christmas triumphs. One day after Christmas and you can guarantee literally nobody outside his Facebook page gives two hoots about Ladbaby. Until next year.
In a Ladbaby-free world the charts would have been topped by Mariah Carey and All I Want For Christmas Is You for a third week, the 1994 track increasing consumption by 33.3% on the week to 58,559 chart sales. Last Christmas trails behind in third place with 55,376 sales and whilst it didn't quite do an Ellie and shockingly charge to the top of the charts in a way we speculated it might, This Christmas by Jess Glynne proves to be far and away the most successful of this year's Amazon Originals and climbs to No.4 with 48,265 sales. It is the 10th Top 5 single of her career.
The week's highest non-Ladbaby new entry is a track which some desperately inadequate people were getting very excited about during the week. Tender minute-long ode Boris Johnson Is A Fucking Cunt, credited to The Kunts, is the work of satirist, poet and general mischief-maker Kunt And The Gang. The man from Essex spent many years as a cult performer thanks to his enjoyably profane tracks alternating between odes to bad sex and throwing shade at public figures, all the while keeping his real name out of the public eye. He'd made occasional attempts to land a chart single in the past, going for Xmas No.1 in 2010 with Use My Arsehole As A Cunt (a tribute to then Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg) which reached No.66 and Fucksticks which reached No.63 in April 2011. Despite retiring the character a couple of years ago he returned this week with an opportunity for some deeply unpleasant people to identify themselves just in time for Christmas.
This was however the track which had all the social media traction, people having convinced themselves that it stood some semblance of a chance of reaching the top of the charts. In actual fact despite occasional surges thanks to influencers retweeting the pleas to buy it, the single spent most of the week in reverse as far as the chart race was concerned, slipping ever further behind the leader in pure sales terms virtually every day. It was never in anyone's dreams going to be No.1 for Christmas. To the net benefit of those of us who spent the week taking money on Betfair from those who believed it would.
The Kunts are still No.5 for the week, with a chart sale of 45,119. But that's still 112,000 copies short of the top of the charts. Maybe he needed to elist Ronan Keating after all.
Needless to say, the rest of the Top 40 is clogged up with Christmas music. Justin Bieber's Amazon Original take on Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree outsells the original at last, accelerating to No.8 with 40,285 sales. Bieber's attempt to gatecrash the No.1 race with a new version of his previous hit Holy, this time with the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS choir in tow never really took off. The single returns to the chart at No.41 having clocked up 17,594 sales.
Ed Sheeran's surprise release of his new track Afterglow on Monday had the potential to throw a curveball into the market but that too never really took flight. At the very least a contender to be near or at the top of the charts in the next few weeks, the single lands at No.30 with 22,234 chart sales, the vast majority of these from audio streams.
The Christmas No.1 album goes to Paul McCartney whose McCartney III album notched up a sale of 33,079 sales. As I noted in the week it means he features on the Christmas No.1 album for the first time in 20 years, when The Beatles' compilation album 1 topped the charts for the festive season in 2000. His last Christmas No.1 album with original material was also with The Beatles, their Abbey Road album sat at the summit for the end of 1969. On a personal level it is Paul McCartney's first solo No.1 album since Flowers In The Dirt reached the top of the charts in June 1989. At the age of 78 he surprisingly isn't quite the oldest man to have a No.1 album, that record still for the moment held by Bob Dylan who was 79 when he topped the charts with Rough And Rowdy Ways back in June.
The deluxe version of Eminem's Music To Be Murdered By album was the final surprise release of the year, sending the year-old work rocketing back into the Top 10 at No.7. Its most popular track turns out to be Gnat which fights its way through the festive mush to chart at No.65 with 12,653 sales.
Each Music Week piece ends with market stats, so this should really be no different. The singles market reached a new record high this week, total sales topping 23 million for the very first time. Thanks amongst other things to the Ladbaby effect paid sales were also through the roof, totalling 671,487 for the week, the highest they have been since June. When certain other charity singles were grabbing people's attention.
For albums though the story is not pretty. For the second week running (unprecedented for late December) total sales are down, standing at 2,326,141. Physical purchases, normally surging to new levels as everyone grabs discs to hand over as gifts, also slump and are down 9.15% to 853,904. Yes, these are exceptional times and with many high street shops shuttered you would expect numbers to be slightly anomalous. This year of all years we are not comparing like with like after all. But the days of purchased music hitting record levels in the final weeks before Christmas now appear to be long behind us, unless consumer habits suddenly switch again.