Christmas songs: Jingle sells

As Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their Christmas classics, Gillian Orr wonders why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for nearly 20 years

In Nick Hornby's novel About a Boy, the protagonist, Will (played by Hugh Grant in the film version), enjoys a charmed life. He decorates his stylish pad with sleek Bang & Olufsen products, sports designer footwear, and takes a string of women out to fancy restaurants, all without ever having to do a day's work. How? He is the sole recipient of the royalties from a popular Christmas song that his late father had composed.

And it would appear that this type of existence is not as implausible as it sounds. This week, analysts using data from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) released a study in which they estimated how much cash your festive favourites have raked in so far this year. The results were astonishing.

In at No 1 was Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody", currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Singer Noddy Holder can expect a Christmas gift to the tune of £512,000 for the 2013 period. If Holder has been receiving similar sums each year since the song's release, then it's all round to his for Christmas.

But don't expect to find Holder relaxing in an armchair, eggnog in hand, counting his riches; an interview request from The Independent was politely knocked back by his manager. "As you can imagine, he is booked solid at the moment," he said.

Other Christmas winners include The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" (£386,270 should keep Shane MacGowan in decent whiskey for the year ahead) and Mariah Carey, whose "All I Want for Christmas Is You" will bring in £347,615. (Although anyone who caught Carey's episode of MTV's Cribs would know that she probably spends more a year on bed sheets.) Along with Carey's, the other most recent song to feature in the top 10 was East 17's 1994 hit "Stay Another Day"; both songs are now almost 20 years old.

The best and worst Christmas songs

That we have seen no major additions to the Christmas musical canon in the interim was the subject of a much-shared article on Slate this week by Chris Klimek. "It's not that there are no more good Christmas songs coming out," he wrote. "It's that we as a culture have stopped embracing the ones that do come out. It's been 19 years since 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'. And that's really the last time a pop song has entered the public consciousness across genres and age groups."

Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Justin Bieber's recent efforts have all flopped. But decent new festive tracks are there if you know where to look; indie artists such as Low, Bright Eyes, Yo La Tengo and Sufjan Stevens have all made well-received contributions to the Christmas playlist over the past 15 years. Yet none has managed to go mainstream.

"I think it's because they don't have the audience," suggests Eve Barlow, the deputy editor of NME. "If they don't have the audience in every other month of the year, then – unless it's something that really goes viral – it's not going to form part of the canon. There are so many under-the-radar artists who write great Christmas songs that never really see the light of day beyond their fan bases. It's the bigger artists that need to step up and take the risk of actually writing a Christmas song that they think can contend with the classics."

And while there are songs that make a welcome return each December (increasingly they are being heard in November, too), it seems that there are just as many festive tunes we'd happily banish. This week, Cliff Richard's 1988 hit "Mistletoe and Wine" came top of a Costa Coffee poll to find Britain's most-hated Christmas song, and it has subsequently been banned in all 1,600 branches. One doubts that Sir Cliff will care too much, though. A PRS cheque for £98,408 (and counting) for 2013 royalties should alleviate that sting. µ

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road