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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 12:54 GMT


Imagine Lennon as festive number one

Front-runner: John Lennon joins the dash for the Christmas top spot

John Lennon's classic song Imagine will join the race for the Christmas number one when it is re-released next month.

The single will go on sale from 13 December, just days after the 19th anniversary of John Lennon's death.

Parlophone Records says the re-issue is a response to huge public demand, after Imagine was voted the nation's favourite song lyric last month and second favourite song of all time in a poll last Saturday.

The Christmas release will also feature seasonal favourites Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and Give Peace A Chance.

[ image: Winning formula: Lennon and fellow Beatles collect their MBEs]
Winning formula: Lennon and fellow Beatles collect their MBEs
Imagine originally featured on the 1971 album of the same name but was not released as a single until 1975, when it reached number six in the charts.

After John Lennon was shot dead on 8 December 1980, the song was re-released and went to the top of the charts.

The record was released again in 1988, peaking just outside the Top 40.

Chart expert Gennaro Castaldo believes that Imagine has the winning Christmas formula.

"It's a pretty irresistible combination of aspirational songs which capture the mood going into the new millennium, but also reflect on the past century," he said.

But Imagine faces some tough competition for the number one spot.

[ image: Thrice Spice: Spice Girls have taken the last three festive no.1's]
Thrice Spice: Spice Girls have taken the last three festive no.1's
The Spice Girls have held the festive number one spot for the past three years, but they have not opted to release a festive single this year.

Instead the girls will be singing on the charity song It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, which is the runaway favourite for the top spot, according to the bookmakers.

The single, a cover of The Rolling Stones' 1974 hit, will feature stars such as Annie Lennox, Whitney Houston and Sir Elton John, and will benefit children's charities.

Also in the running are top pop acts Westlife with I Have A Dream and Steps with Say You'll Be Mine.

Other strongly fancied hits include possible re-releases for Pulp's Disco 2000 and Prince's 1999. But for many, Christmas just wouldn't be complete without a song from Cliff Richard.

His offering, The Millennium Prayer - a version of The Lord's Prayer set to Auld Lang Syne - is being released on Monday.

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