The Pogues' Christmas classic Fairytale of New York looks like it won't achieve the Christmas number-one spot despite hopes it would be a fitting tribute to the late Shane MacGowan.

MacGowan died earlier this month after a long health battle.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp and U2 frontman Bono were among those who participated in the service for The Pogues singer, who died at the age of 65.

He was due to celebrate his 66th birthday on Christmas Day, which spurred on a campaign to get his most well-known song to number one.

However, that no longer appears likely, sadly.

The Christmas chart battle "feels much more exciting than it has done for a few years", according to Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company.

Talbot said there is "a much more open field" this year.

YouTubers LadBaby have been Christmas number one for the past five years but decided not to enter the 2023 race.

"LadBaby have dominated for the last five years and I think by the time it reached its fifth Christmas number one last year, people were keen to see something fresh and new.

"We've obviously got the classics that are coming back into the charts, we've got the usual run of charity records driven by ordinary people who just want to raise some money for good causes, and we've also got one or two really interesting releases as well, like Sam Ryder."

Favourites for number one

  1. Last Christmas by Wham! is the favourite - it originally reached number two in 1984 and has been number one twice in the past three years, but never in Christmas week itself
  2. You're Christmas To Me by Sam Ryder is an Amazon exclusive and is being heavily promoted by the company including on its Christmas music playlists and the soundtrack of its film Your Christmas Or Mine 2
  3. All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey was number two in 1994 but like Last Christmas has been denied the Christmas number one spot in recent years by LadBaby
  4. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl has never been number one but has gained support following the death of Pogues singer Shane MacGowan last month

Ryder told BBC Breakfast on Thursday that he could understand why some people think "all new Christmas songs are rubbish", but said he took inspiration from festive classics by Darlene Love, Stevie Wonder and The Darkness.

"there's always room for new music and new artists coming through"

"We've done 26 performances in the last six days, doing everything we possibly can to make this Christmas miracle come true - because it's not often you find yourself in a chart race against the almighty Wham!" the singer said, as per the BBC.

"But, with massive respect to those absolute legends, there's always room for new music and new artists coming through and attempts at putting new Christmas music out there."

Merry Christmas by Ed Sheeran & Sir Elton John was number one before and after Christmas when it was released in 2021, but was denied the actual Christmas number one that year by - the inevitable - LadBaby.

The Wham! and Pogues songs have been reissued on vinyl, while Ryder's single is available on CD - with physical sales counting for more than streams in the chart formula.

Streams of newer songs also carry greater weight - meaning Ryder and Sheeran/Sir Elton have a better chance of competing with classic festive tunes.

The chart is compiled from streams and sales in the week leading up to midnight on Thursday night.