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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 11:07 GMT
Contenders vie for Christmas hit
By Caroline Briggs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The contest for the Christmas number one single has become as traditional to the festive season as roast turkey and Brussels sprouts.

A variety of serious and not-so-serious acts join the race in a month where single sales reach their annual peak.

This Christmas is the first where it has been possible for a song available only for download to enter the charts, meaning Christmas classics from Mariah Carey, Wham!, Wizzard, Slade, Shakin' Stevens and Band Aid, have made it back into the top 40.

But which songs are proving serious contenders for the Christmas crown?

LEON JACKSON - WHEN YOU BELIEVE

Leon Jackson

Form: Leon Jackson was crowned the winner of X Factor 2007 on Saturday night, and his debut single, When You Believe, was released as a download shortly after his victory.

Based on previous X Factor winners, the single - which hit shop shelves on Wednesday - is almost guaranteed to be among the biggest-selling records of the year.

Frankly, it will be a miracle if When You Believe does not make it to Christmas number one, but there are plenty of other tunes hoping to stop it in its tracks.

Key lyric: "There can be miracles when you believe"

Trivia: When You Believe - a top five hit for Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston in 1998 - has been rewritten for the X Factor winner.

LEONA LEWIS - BLEEDING LOVE

Leona Lewis

Form: Former X Factor winner Leona Lewis released Bleeding Love back in October.

It spent seven long weeks languishing at the top of the UK singles chart, and has become the biggest-selling song of the year so far.

Can Lewis seal her position as the new queen of the UK music scene with the coveted seasonal crown?

Key lyric: "Keep bleeding; keep, keep bleeding love; I keep bleeding; I keep, keep bleeding love"

Trivia: Lewis got into the Christmas spirit by turning on the Oxford Street lights, in London. Incidentally, Spirit is the name of her debut album.

BLAKE - WHITE CHRISTMAS

Blake

Form: According to pop legend, classical-pop quartet Blake met through the internet social networking site Facebook.

But the foursome - Stephen Bowman, Jules Knight, Dominic Tighe, and Oliver Baines - had never performed together until an impromptu sing-a-long at a house party.

White Christmas is a well-known festive song, and mums love them, so Santa is bound to slip some copies into stockings on Christmas morning.

Key lyric: "Just like the ones I used to know."

Trivia: Bing Crosby's White Christmas was first released in 1942. It has been re-released twice, reaching number five in 1977, and number 29 in 1998.

MALCOLM MIDDLETON - WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE

Malcolm Middleton

Form: Just what you want for Christmas - a heavy helping of existentialist angst, delivered by dour Scotsman Malcolm Middleton.

Cheery it ain't... at least on the surface.

Middleton, formerly of indie act Arab Strap, insists there is a positive message: "Although at first seemingly negative," he explains, "the song is intended to make people think about being alive and making the most of our time here, which to me are your generic Christmas themes."

Key lyric: "You're gonna die, you're gonna die, you're gonna die alone. All alone."

Trivia: We're All Going To Die is being championed by Radio 1 DJ Colin Murray.

CONNIE TALBOT - SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

Connie Talbot

Form: Smiling Connie Talbot was only six years old when she captured the nation's heart on Britain's Got Talent earlier this year.

She sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and made it to the final, but was eventually beaten into second place by opera-singing mobile phone salesman Paul Potts.

It remains to be seen if her single and debut album - also called Over The Rainbow - will bring her a pot of gold.

Key lyric: "Way up high."

Trivia: Connie was initially signed to Britain's Got Talent judge Simon Cowell's record company, but he thought the pressures of being a celebrity would be too much for her.

SOULJA BOY - CRANK THAT

Soulja Boy

Form: Crank That is Soulja Boy's R&B effort that started a dance craze in the US where it reached number one.

Thanks to video posting website YouTube, the kids are getting down doing the dance in playgrounds up and down the land.

It has the gimmick factor popular at Christmas time, and imagine the dancefloor carnage at office parties.

Key lyric: "Superman dat, ooooooh."

Trivia: Demure Hollywood actress Natalie Portman even gave the Crank That dance whirl on MTV show TRL.

AMY WINEHOUSE - LOVE IS A LOSING GAME

Amy Winehouse

Form: It has been a year of mixed fortunes for Amy Winehouse, who releases Love Is A Losing game from her bestselling album Back To Black.

She landed six Grammy nominations for Back To Black, won the Ivor Novello award for the single Rehab, won a Brit award for best British female artist, and was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize.

But as well as the ups - including her ever burgeoning beehive hairstyle - 2007 has brought its downs. Her husband was remanded in custody, and she was released on bail after being questioned by police in connection with an investigation into perverting the course of justice.

Winehouse also cancelled her UK tour after a number of shambolic performances, and her battle with drugs and alcohol has been widely reported.

Key lyric: "Love is losing game; One I wish I'd never played."

Trivia: Love Is A Losing Game is the fifth song from Back To Black to be released as a single.

SHAUN THE SHEEP - LIFE'S A TREAT

Shaun the Sheep

Form: Think of classic annoying Christmas hits like Mr Blobby or Bob the Builder and the chances of Shaun the Sheep hitting the top spot become frighteningly possible.

Vic Reeves sings the theme tune to CBBC's popular TV show about Shaun and the rest of the flock.

Catchy, simple, and perfect for a drunken office knees-up. It also has the pester power factor which could push the song to the top of the festive chart.

Key lyric: "He even mucks about with those who cannot bleat."

Trivia: Shaun the Sheep never speaks, which is presumably why he did not sing on the record.

KATIE MELUA AND EVA CASSIDY - WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua

Form: Pulling on the collective Christmas heart strings this year is Katie Melua's duet with the late singer Eva Cassidy.

Their version of the Louis Armstrong classic What A Wonderful World knocked Leona Lewis off the top spot last Sunday.

Cassidy, a heroine of Melua's, died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 33, while Melua has become one of the UK's most successful female singers since she came on the scene in 2003.

Key lyric: "And I think to myself... what a wonderful world"

Trivia: What A Wonderful World received welcome backing from DJ Terry Wogan, who declared the track to be his choice for the festive top spot.

LUCKY SOUL - LIPS ARE UNHAPPY

Lucky Soul

Form: Lucky Soul are trying to shimmy their way to Christmas glory thanks to the backing of internet music site Last.fm.

Site users voted for the London-based band to challenge what was seen as the inevitable X Factor march to glory, and users can download the ditty for just 40p.

The band said they hoped it would help put "real music" back into the festive charts.

Key lyric: "Shake. Shake. Shimmy."

Trivia: Lucky Soul are donating all the proceeds from sales of Lips Are Unhappy to the charity War Child.

This year's Christmas number one will be announced on Sunday 23 December.

VOTE RESULTS
Whose single do you want to be Christmas number one?
Leon Jackson
 10.15% 
Leona Lewis
 9.19% 
Blake
 2.82% 
Malcolm Middleton
 12.62% 
Connie Talbot
 2.92% 
Soulja Boy
 2.41% 
Amy Winehouse
 7.18% 
Shaun the Sheep
 36.68% 
Katie Melua
 13.29% 
Lucky Soul
 2.72% 
21911 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Melua duet ends Lewis's chart run
16 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Leon Jackson takes X Factor crown
16 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
'Miserable' Christmas chart bid
03 Dec 07 |  Tayside and Central
X Factor's Leona has festive No 1
25 Dec 06 |  Entertainment

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