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X Factor winner Sam Bailey beating AC/DC to Christmas number one

The talent show star's first single 'Skyscraper' is ahead of 'Highway To Hell'

Ever since ITV talent show The X Factor first launched in 2004, the winners have dominated the race for the UK’s Christmas number one.

With the exception of 2009 winner Joe McElderry and last year's champion James Arthur, every champion of the long-running show has beaten off competition to take the festive top spot.

McElderry's cover of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" fell to the wayside in 2009 after a protest against Simon Cowell’s corporate juggernaut took alternative rock band Rage Against The Machine to the summit, while Arthur scored a number one with his first single "Impossible", but did so a week early.

Now this year’s star, 36-year-old prison warden Sam Bailey, has taken an early lead in the annual chart battle with her debut single “Skyscraper”. The Demi Lovato cover is currently outselling its closest rival, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, by more than 27,000 copies.

Sam Bailey celebrates her X Factor win on Sunday night with mentor Sharon Osbourne

But - hot on the tail of Rage and their successful “Killing In The Name” chart campaign - a Facebook group in support of AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” has taken the rock single to number four, the second highest new entry of the week.

A Christmas number one for the legendary Seventies band would come just days before they celebrate their 40th anniversary on 31 December and an impressive 34 years after “Highway To Hell” was first released. 

So far, the Facebook group has attracted 776,000 likes, with spokesman Steevi Diamond telling the UK Official Charts Company website: “For reasons beyond all logical reckoning, AC/DC have never had a top 10 single in the UK! This is an injustice that needs to be remedied. So what better way to say ‘Thank you for 40 years of amazing rock?”

Diamond continued to say that nothing could be better on Christmas Day than “to be gathered around a fire, with mistletoe and mulled wine, air-guitaring like maniacs to one of the best songs ever recorded.”

One of Australian frontman Bon Scott’s last songs before he died, “Highway to Hell” was written as a tribute to the hard-working life of a touring band.

AC/DC have entered the UK singles chart at number four with 'Highway To Hell'

Sam Bailey is the bookmakers’ favourites to win the Christmas race, but AC/DC are still on track to score their highest place to date in the UK singles chart as their previous best achievement was 12th in 1988 with “Heatseeker”.

Up until midnight on Monday, there had been 45,000 downloads of Bailey’s track.

She will support US singer Beyoncé on the second UK leg of her Mrs Carter Show World Tour in February, and the profits from her “Skyscraper” sales are being donated to childrens’ charities by Cowell’s music company, Syco.

Another X Factor star, Leona Lewis, is in third place with her Christmas single “One More Sleep” and has set a new Official Singles Chart record by becoming the first British female solo artist to achieve eight top five singles.

Final chart positions for Christmas Day will be calculated when sales are counted after midnight on Saturday.

Other contenders for the title include Lily Allen's cover of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know", 11-year-old Jack Topping's "Tomorrow", "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" by The Big Reunion and "When The Boat Comes In" by The Fishwives Choir.

Past memorable Christmas number ones have included novelty songs by Mr Blobby and Bob the Builder, with a campaign for John Cage’s completely silent “4.33” proving unsuccessful in 2010.