It’s official, the headlines say, there’s a nail-biting, three-way race for this year’s Christmas number one.
Ariana Grande’s current chart-topper is facing fierce competition from US newcomer Ava Max and a sausage roll-loving YouTube star called LadBaby.
The UK blogger is 508 sales and streams ahead of Grande’s Thank U, Next and just 978 sales behind US singer Ava Max, who tops the midweek chart update.
So could his charity single really steal the festive crown?
LadBaby is the alter-ego of Nottingham’s Mark Hoyle, who found fame posting videos about his parenting journey on social media.
His song, We Built This City On Sausage Rolls, is a parody of the 1985 Starship song that “started as a joke,” he told the BBC.
“I had never sung before in my life. I’ve never done karaoke.
“Now I don’t want to let it slip. Now I feel like we can go all the way, and why not? We want a Christmas miracle and get the number one spot.”
With profits from the song going to food banks around the UK, it’s a laudable aim – but sadly the stats are against him.
Sales of We Built This City are robust: It was downloaded more times on Saturday than Grande’s song managed in the whole of last week. But its performance on streaming platforms is almost negligible,
“People will cheerfully buy a charity single,” says chart expert James Masterton. “It’s a nice, tangible, feel-good gesture. But they won’t necessarily listen to it.”
Proving his point, LadBaby’s single doesn’t appear anywhere in Spotify’s Top 50 most played chart, which is dominated by Christmas songs. On YouTube, it’s amassed 527,000 views, making the site’s Trending Videos chart, but Thank U, Next is way ahead, averaging 10m plays per day.
In a chart where streams outweigh sales (last week, streams accounted for 92% of Grande’s chart position), that irreparably damages LadBaby’s chances.
Bearing in mind that the mid-week chart does not include streaming data from Amazon, Apple and Spotify for Sunday, and lacks YouTube data for the entire weekend (this is quite normal, by the way), and it seems the real chart battle is between Grande’s Thank U, Next and Max’s Sweet But Psycho.
The latter has just had its price cut to 59p on iTunes, which could give it a small competitive edge.
Judging by the latest sales figures, LadBaby can still make the Top 10 when the Christmas chart is revealed on Friday.
As Masterton says, “that’s still a far better performance than many other random Christmas charity efforts of recent years, so fair play.”
And, if it translates into a hefty cheque for people in need, what could be more in the spirit of the season?
In fact, maybe Grande and Max could follow the example of Justin Bieber – who told fans to rally behind the NHS Choir’s charity song that was challenging him for Christmas number one in 2016 – and lend their support to LadBaby’s appeal.
Sausage roll, anyone?
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