The U.K.’s coveted Christmas No. 1 single was confirmed today (Christmas Day) as “A Bridge Over You” (Emubands) by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir. It won the most closely-fought race for the festive honors since 2009, narrowly beating Justin Bieber‘s “Love Yourself” (Def Jam/Universal) to the top spot. Adele‘s 25 (XL Recordings) started a fifth week atop the album chart.
The NHS Choir single, a mash-up of Simon & Garfunkel‘s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Coldplay‘s “Fix You,” was recorded in recognition of the work done by doctors, nurses and others in the National Health Service; funds are going to charities including Carers U.K. and Mind. The choir began the sales week ahead of Bieber, who then went into the lead by midweek only to see “A Bridge Over You” surge ahead to finish the week with combined chart sales of 127,000, versus 97,000 for “Love Yourself.”
Bieber had given the charity release his blessing during the week by tweeting “for one week it’s ok not to be #1. Let’s do the right thing & help them win.” The Canadian superstar nevertheless claimed three of the top five places on the new singles chart, with “Sorry” down 2-3 and “What Do You Mean” holding at No. 5. Adele’s “Hello” (XL Recordings) remained at No. 4.
The only other newcomer to the top ten was One Direction‘s “History” (Syco Music/Sony), which rose 11-8 in its fifth chart week. Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Columbia/Sony) edged up 12-11 and its fellow Yuletide perennial “Fairytale Of New York” (Warner Bros.) by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl climbed 15-13.
Meanwhile, the erstwhile supremacy of the “X Factor” brand in the Christmas singles race was seen to have slipped dramatically, as recently-crowned 2016 winner Louisa Johnson’s cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Forever Young” (Syco/Sony), which debuted last week at No. 9, fell to No. 12.
Adele’s album recorded another huge sales week with a fifth-week total of nearly 450,000 units. Elvis Presley‘s If I Can Dream (RCA/Sony Legacy) held at No. 2 with an impressive weekly sale of 173,000. Bieber’s Purpose rose 4-3, trading places with Coldplay’s A Head Full Of Dreams (Parlophone/Warner Music), as Jess Glynne‘s I Cry When I Laugh (Atlantic/Warner) held at No. 5 again. Now That’s What I Call Music 92 tops the compilation chart for a fifth week.