Close-up: Malcolm Middleton

Could the Scottish indie singer be the new Cliff Richard?
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The Independent Online

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, children singing "We're All Going to Die". This is the festive season as imagined by Malcolm Middleton, the former lead singer with Glasgow indie band Arab Strap, and now a frontrunner to win the most coveted number-one slot of the year when it is announced later today.

How did a man who has always sailed clear of the mainstream come to be donning a red Santa hat and singing with a children's choir? "It started as a joke. I told someone at the record company that I wanted to release it and they said, 'Why don't you wait and put it out as a Christmas contender?'"

No sooner had the decision been made than William Hill had made the track 1000:1 to be number one, the longest odds ever for a Christmas single, and media interest was spiralling out of control. "Colin Murray has been championing it on Radio 1," says Middleton. "He seems to like the song and we could all do with a change from an X Factor winner. It's nice to have the exposure but I'd hate anyone to recognise me in the street." He can't even seek solace in having put money on the record when it was 1000:1. "Our bass player told us the book was closed. It wasn't, but we believed him."

So does Middleton have a seasonal message to the world? "No," he says. "For myself, I can't wait for January." Oh come on, Malcolm. You're up against the Spice Girls and their like here. How about something upbeat to give us hope against the harsh reality of life (and death). "Well," he says. "I suppose me getting into this situation does at least prove that anything's possible."

'We're All Going to Die' (Full Time Hobby) is out now