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‘Last Christmas’ Becomes Backstreet Boys’ First Adult Contemporary No. 1 Since ‘I Want It That Way’

The group jingles to its first leader on the chart since 1999.

Backstreet Boys’ remake of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” dashes to No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary radio airplay chart (dated Dec. 3, reflecting plays in the Nov. 21-27 tracking week, according to Luminate).

The ever-youthful boy band notches its third AC No. 1 and first since its pop classic “I Want It That Way” reigned for 10 weeks beginning in July 1999. The act first led with “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” for seven weeks starting in October 1998.

Backstreet Boys’ triumphant return to the AC summit grants them the record for the longest break between No. 1s among groups: a week shy of exactly 23 years since the last frame on top for “I Want It That Way.” Among all acts, only Elton John has waited longer between time at No. 1 (23 years, 11 months and a week between “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” in 1998 and “Merry Christmas,” with Ed Sheeran, last holiday season). Among groups, Backstreet Boys pass the Eagles (a week short of 20 years between “Best of My Love” in 1975 and “Love Will Keep Us Alive” in 1995).


Backstreet Boys’ update of “Last Christmas” is from their first holiday LP, A Very Backstreet Christmas, which launched at No. 1 on the Top Holiday Albums chart in October. Another song from the set, “Christmas in New York,” rises to a new No. 19 AC high.

Released in 1984, Wham!’s “Last Christmas” — written and produced by George Michael — re-enters the all-genre, multi-metric Billboard Hot 100 at No. 23. The song hit the top 10 for the first time in the 2020 holiday season and reached a No. 7 best last season. On the Holiday 100, the carol ranks at No. 6 as the survey returns.

With the original receiving strong airplay, and streams, each holiday season – Wham!’s version ranks at No. 5 on the Dec. 3-dated Holiday Airplay list with 19.8 million audience impressions – charted covers of “Last Christmas” have been rare, although all by high-profile acts.

Here’s a recap of remakes of “Last Christmas” on individual-format Billboard airplay charts:

  • Backstreet Boys, Adult Contemporary, No. 1 (one week to-date), 2022
  • Ariana Grande, Adult Contemporary, No. 26, 2013
  • Glee Cast, Adult Contemporary, No. 27, 2009
  • Taylor Swift, Country Airplay, No. 28, 2007

(Grande’s version also hit No. 1 in 2013 on Holiday Digital Song Sales, where covers have additionally charted, joining the Glee Cast’s and Swift’s, by Carly Rae Jepsen, Gwen Stefani and Meghan Trainor.)

Meanwhile, “Last Christmas” is the 28th holiday No. 1 on the AC chart since 2000, around the time that most stations in the format began playing seasonal songs heavily, or 24/7, between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.

Here’s an updated recap of all the holiday songs that have hung atop the AC chart’s highest bough:

Title, Artist, Chart Date Reached No. 1, Weeks at No. 1

  • “Last Christmas,” Backstreet Boys, one (to-date), Dec. 3, 2022
  • “Merry Christmas,” Ed Sheeran & Elton John, one, Jan. 1, 2022
  • “Let It Snow! (10th Anniversary),” Michael Bublé, Dec. 11, 2021, three
  • “White Christmas,” Meghan Trainor feat. Seth MacFarlane, Dec. 12, 2020, four
  • “Like It’s Christmas,” Jonas Brothers, Dec. 14, 2019, three
  • “Cozy Little Christmas,” Katy Perry, Dec. 29, 2018, one
  • “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” John Legend feat. Esperanza Spalding, Dec. 8, 2018, three
  • “Santa’s Coming for Us,” Sia, Dec. 23, 2017, three
  • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Brett Eldredge feat. Meghan Trainor, Jan. 7, 2017, one
  • “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Josh Groban, Dec. 24, 2016, one
  • “This Christmas,” Train, Dec. 17, 2016, two
  • “This Christmas,” Seal, Jan. 2, 2016, one
  • “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” Idina Menzel duet with Michael Bublé, Dec. 20, 2014, three
  • “Underneath the Tree,” Kelly Clarkson, Dec. 2, 2013, four
  • “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” Rod Stewart, Dec. 8, 2012, five
  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Michael Bublé, Dec. 10, 2011, five
  • “Oh Santa!,” Mariah Carey, Dec. 18, 2010, four
  • “A Baby Changes Everything,” Faith Hill, Dec. 20, 2008, three
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Josh Groban, Dec. 22, 2007, three
  • “Frosty the Snowman,” Kimberley Locke, Dec. 15, 2007, one
  • “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” Daryl Hall John Oates, Dec. 30, 2006, two
  • “Jingle Bells,” Kimberley Locke, Dec. 23, 2006, one
  • “Up on the Housetop,” Kimberley Locke, Dec. 17, 2005, four
  • “Believe,” Josh Groban, Dec. 11, 2004, five
  • “Sending You a Little Christmas,” Jim Brickman with Kristy Starling, Jan. 3, 2004, one
  • “O Holy Night,” Josh Groban, Dec. 28, 2002, two
  • “Simple Things,” Jim Brickman feat. Rebecca Lynn Howard, Jan. 5, 2002, one
  • “The Christmas Shoes,” NewSong, Jan. 6, 2001, one