Christmas number ones are a bit of a pop institution, adding sales at what is the peak record buying time of year. And although most people’s memory of big festive number one hits includes nostalgic numbers like Cliff Richard’s 1988 hit Mistletoe and Wine (which spent four weeks in the charts thanks to downloads) and Slade’s slice of festive rock, Merry Xmas Everybody (1973), there have been classier offerings. Anybody compiling a quiz on the subject might want to buy a Christmas number 1 question on which top band had no fewer than four Yuletide hits. The answer is The Beatles with I Want to Hold Your Hand in 1963, I Feel Fine in 1964, Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out in 1965 and Hello Goodbye in 1967.
Paul McCartney was also involved with the British 2012 Christmas no 1, a re-release of a version of the Hollies’ hit He ain’t Heavy (he’s my brother), produced to raise funds for the families of the 96 Liverpool football fans killed in 1989 in the Hillsborough stadium disaster.
American singing stars were well represented in the UK at Yuletide last year, with Rihanna’s Stay reaching no 4, just ahead of Bruno Mars’ Locked out of Heaven. A decent Christmas no 1 music trivia question would be who duetted with Will.iam to reach the number 3 spot? The song was Scream and Shout and the other singing star was Britney Spears, who funnily enough, had a go at an English accent on the disc.
There have, of course, been Christmas no 1 upsets in the past. A good Christmas no 1 trivia quiz question might be which music impresario had his X-factor plans overturned by a concerted campaign in 2009. Simon Cowell, of course, about to become a daddy who got cross when an orchestrated Facebook campaign urged music fans to buy Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name instead of his protege and X-Factor winner Joe McEldery’s The Climb. Clearly, the incline was too much as the eventual winners, Rage Against the Machine, sold a mega 500,000 in the week before Christmas, compared to 18-year-old McEldery’s 50,000 or so sales.
American Christmas no 1s would provide fodder for several music quizzes by themselves. An American singer provided the UK charts with a Christmas no 1 power ballad in 1992. Who was it and what was her song? It was Whitney Houston with I Will Always Love You, from The Bodyguard in which she starred with Kevin Costner.
A final and sadly topical Christmas no 1 question you could buy for your festive quiz would be whose global hit morphed into a charity number for Children in Need, ran as a commercial for the BBC and ended up with a second, specially produced Christmas video. The answer is Perfect Day by the late, great Lou Reed.
The Question Co has an extensive range of music trivia, including Christmas no 1’s – get in touch to buy music quiz questions.