What makes a Christmas hit?

It's Christmas: Slade's Noddy Holder and Dave Hill
It's Christmas: Slade's Noddy Holder and Dave Hill
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LAST year it was the Military Wives’ Choir, the year before that it was Matt Cardle and the year before that Rage Against the Machine.

Yes, it’s Christmas number one time.

But what will top the charts this year?

Well, so far, it’s looking like it might be the Justice Collective, which features Robbie Williams, Melanie C, Gerry Marsden and Beverly Knight.

Their track, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – a cover of the Hollies’ 1968 Number 1 hit, is to help towards the legal costs of the families who lost their loved ones in the Hillsborough Disaster, who are now seeking justice.

The single – the Christmas number one favourite so far – follows a report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which showed that a ‘failure in police control’ was implicated in the disaster.

But what makes a Christmas number one stand the test of time?

In 10 years’ time we won’t remember the Leona Lewises or the Shane Wards, but you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll be hearing Slade’s Merry Christmas or John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over), which – like the Justice Collective’s festive track – was also inspired by humanitarian issues. Lennon wrote the track in protest at the Vietnam War.

Perhaps, it seems, there’s more to a Christmas single than a few jangly sleigh bells.