Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
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It's been called the greatest Christmas song of all time but has never topped the seasonal chart. Now the arrival of digital streaming could help "Fairytale of New York" finally take on the mantle of Christmas No 1.

For the first time the songs that people are actually listening to, rather than dutifully buying for their gran, will count towards the all-important festive chart.

Band Aid 30, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" featuring Bruno Mars, and the rush-released single by the winner of The X Factor, announced on ITV tonight, are among the bookies favourites in the battle for the 2014 festive chart-topper.

However the breakthrough of streaming means that next Sunday's Christmas chart will be the first with a genuine claim to have identified the nation's favourite seasonal song.

The Official UK Top 40 now includes data from the songs people are playing through services including Spotify and Deezer, alongside download and CD sales.

The change means that each time a Christmas perennial such as The Pogues' and Kirsty MacColl's "Fairytale of New York" is streamed on someone's festive playlist at home, or played through Spotify as the soundtrack to an office Christmas party or family car journey, it now counts towards the chart.

Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was streamed 861,000 times last week

Currently 100 streams count as the equivalent to one download or physical single in the chart-compilation process. But the streaming of hit songs on phones and tablets more than a million times a week can make all the difference. Christmas songs and former Christmas No 1s have been streamed 39 million times in 2014 with 18.7 million streams last week alone.

An Official Charts Company (OCC) spokesman said: "'Fairytale of New York' has seen a significant boost this year thanks to streaming. The song, which was first released in 1987, is on track to enter the Top 10 today for the first time since 2007, and in addition to downloads was streamed 552,000 times last week."

Voted the greatest Christmas song of all time in a Blinkbox Music poll this month, "Fairytale…" peaked at No 2 on its original release in 1987. It has never claimed the top spot, despite reaching the Top 20 on 11 separate occasions since.

Music licensing body PPL, which tots up every public airing, from radio and TV plays to use as background music in shops, said "Fairytale…" was the most-played Christmas song of the 21st century. Boosted by streaming, it jumped to No 9 in the midweek chart Top 40, published on Wednesday.

Another Top 10 beneficiary is Mariah Carey's 1994 hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You", which was streamed 861,000 times last week, according to the OCC.

Other popular Christmas songs back in the chart include "Last Christmas" by Wham!, which was streamed 580,000 times last week, and Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday", which is heading for the Top 40 for its fourth consecutive year and was streamed 264,000 times last week. Yuletide songs by Frank Sinatra and Brenda Lee are also moving up the listings.