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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 10:21 GMT
Christmas number one contenders
Who should be the Christmas number one?
Alex Parks
Avid Merrion
Atomic Kitten
Bill Nighy (Billy Mack)
Sir Cliff Richard
Fast Food Rockers
Gary Jules
Katie Melua
Pop Idol 12
The Darkness
Young Punx
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

The battle for the Christmas number one UK single has been won by little known US singer Gary Jules but the list of competing artists was more varied than ever in 2003.

When the race began, BBC News Online detailed the main contenders and gave you the chance to listen to most of the songs and vote for your favourite.

Pop Idol 12 - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
One of the contenders is this year's 12 Pop Idol finalists, who have got together to sing a version of John Lennon's classic. It would be a real shock if it did not hit the top spot, but Lennon fans have launched a campaign to boycott it - and buy the original version, which is being re-released, instead.

Odds: 9-1 (William Hill); 10-1 (Ladbrokes)

Bill Nighy - Christmas Is All Around
Bill Nighy
Bill Nighy plays a cynical, ageing rock star in Love Actually
Actor Nighy, 54, steals the show in Love Actually as a cynical, ageing rocker who records a Christmas single - and the song is being released in real life. He has said the prospect of being Christmas number one is "complete lunacy" - but urged people to buy it because the money goes to Comic Relief.

Odds: 50-1 (Ladbrokes)

The Darkness - Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)
The Darkness
The Darkness used to claim they were not a novelty band
The new kings of glam rock have been the success story of 2003 in the guitar world. They proved their wide appeal when I Believe In A Thing Called Love reached number two in October, and they would be the most flamboyant rockers to rule the festive chart since Slade were number one exactly 30 years ago.

Odds: 1-3 (Ladbrokes) ; 8-13 (William Hill)

Noddy - Make Way For Noddy

Noddy has returned to TV screens
The ruddy-faced creation of Enid Blyton has been around for 50 years now, but this is his first crack at chart success. Noddy and sidekick Big Ears have been cartoon regulars on Five's breakfast slot for a year now, meaning this cute song could well be a favourite with the pre-school brigade.

Odds: 50-1 (Ladbrokes)

Avid Merrion - Proper Chrimbo!

Avid Merrion
Channel 4's Avid Merrion
The spoof interviewer star of Channel 4's Bo Selecta! show, hapless pop journalist Avid Merrion has, according to his press release, recorded a Christmas single because pop singer Craig David would not. "I wrote one and recorded it and I think it is very good. It has the feel and spirit of a 'Proper CrimBo'," he said.

Odds: 50-1 (Ladbrokes); 50-1 (William Hill)

Sir Cliff Richard - Santa's List

Sir Cliff Richard
Will Sir Cliff make it to Christmas number one in 2003?
Sir Cliff Richard is a bona fide Christmas tradition. He topped the festive singles chart in 1988 with Mistletoe and Wine and again in 1999 when The Millennium Prayer became the penultimate number one of the 20th Century. Santa's List is taken from his new album Cliff at Christmas and features "an extravaganza" of choirs and bells.

Odds: 50-1 (Ladbrokes)

Gary Jules - Mad World

Photo by Henry Diltz
Jules is not well known in Europe
Stateside rock singer Jules' version of the Tears For Fears hit ended the film Donnie Darko, and has been accruing a good deal of radioplay in recent months, including BBC Radio 2, the nation's most popular station. It's certainly not full of Christmas cheer, while fellow contender Alex Parks has also recorded the track.

Odds: 6-5 (William Hill); 13-8 (Ladbrokes)

Katie Melua - The Closest Thing to Crazy
Katie Melua
Katie Melua is a 19-year-old singer from Georgia, eastern Europe
This soulful singer-songwriter has had a lot of support from BBC Radio 2 and could "do a Haskell" - following unknown singer Gordon Haskell, who came from nowhere to give Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman a run for their money in 2001.

Odds: 66-1(Ladbrokes)

Alex Parks - Maybe That's What It Takes

  • Alex Parks
    Alex Park won this year's Fame Academy show
    The elfin-faced teenager from Cornwall was voted the winner of this year's BBC Fame Academy show, and has released this heartfelt ballad as her debut single. Her individual style won viewers' hearts in the talent show - but it may peak too early to snatch the seasonal top spot.

    Odds: 100-1 (William Hill)


    Blue have worked with Elton John
    The boy band foursome have already shown they're capable of hooking up with musical legends, duetting with Sir Elton John and claiming a chart-topper with Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word last December. They're at it again, this time with Stevie Wonder and a new version of his 1970 hit.

    Odds: 66-1 (Ladbrokes)

    Atomic Kitten
    Atomic Kitten
    The Kittens want cream with their Christmas pudding

    Liverpudlian ladies the Kittens try their hand at a cool disco classic, which was first a hit for Kool And The Gang in 1979. They've managed a couple of number ones with classic cover versions, but they had to make do with number three with their last offering.

    Odds: 150-1 (William Hill)

    More long shots

    Fast Food Rockers - I Love Xmas

    This brightly-costumed threesome struck fear into the music world back in June when their ditty extolling the virtues of junk food came close to making number one. Their tackiness knows no bounds, but their wide-eyed joy for the season of goodwill may prove that novelty records are alive and well.

    Odds: 50-1 (Ladbrokes)

    Young Punx - Got Your Number

    A couple of producers have latched on to a popular advertising campaign of recent months and come up with this novelty club track. They've sampled the catchy 118118 tag and will no doubt have a pair of runners with dodgy 70s moustaches performing for them. We could well be hearing this at Christmas office parties.

    Odds: 150-1 (William Hill)

    Sugababes - Too Lost In You

    Slick female trio the Sugababes already have three number ones to their credit, with their latest, Hole In The Head, managing the feat in October. This track is one of the many taken from the soundtrack of Love Actually, poised to be this Christmas's film smash.

    Odds: 66-1 (Ladbrokes)

    The BBC's Stephen James-Yeoman
    "It's the most significant chart of the year"

    Christmas chart race nears climax
    21 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
    Alex's single makes top three
    24 Nov 03  |  Cornwall
    New Music: Katie Melua
    10 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
    Pop Idols release Lennon war song
    24 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
    Actor's Xmas bid with spoof song
    19 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
    Darkness tipped for Christmas hit
    01 Oct 03  |  Entertainment


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