The race for the Christmas No 1 gets under way in earnest today, marking the climax of a record-breaking year for singles sales.
Figures released today show that the singles market is booming in the download age. More than 164 million singles have already been sold in the UK in 2011 – up from last year's previous record of 161.8 million. The figures take into account both official single releases and downloaded album tracks, and have soared since 2004 – when 32 million singles were sold. Gareth Malone and his Military Wives from the BBC television show The Choir are favourites to take the festive No 1 slot, which will be announced on Christmas Day. Their song, "Wherever You Are", seems likely to knock The X Factor winners Little Mix off the top of the charts. The girl band's debut single, a cover of Damien Rice's "Cannonball", almost inevitably went to No 1 yesterday.