How much money do Christmas Songs still make?

03/12/20

Paul Francis

Clip from Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas Is You (Make My Wish Come True Edition)

In my car I have a specific CD. This CD never leaves the vehicle (yes, I still have a CD player in my car. It's old) and the disc doesn't get played until - at least - the 1st of December. I'll also stop playing it after December 31st.


Why??


Because it's my Christmas CD.


It holds a variety of hits that cross different genres and years. Given that it IS the beginning of December, I slammed that bad boy into the CD tray. It got me thinking...how much revenue do these old songs, which have become timeless, make each year?


Sourcing information about music royalties can be quite difficult and fraught with inconsistencies. The artists (obviously) don't want the general public to know about their financials, and music companies don't want people knowing how much they pay particular bands.


The data I found the most reliable was compiled by Channel 5 in 2016. Using this information, I've defined the Top 10 earners of the Christmas period.


10:

Stay Another Day - East 17

Est. Yearly Revenue: £97,000

Released in 1994, it was that year's Christmas no.1. Written by the band's lead songwriter, Tony Mortimer, the song is about his brother Ollie, who took his own life. It wasn't initially written as a Christmas song, but the sound of Christmas bells was added towards the end of the song to appeal to the lucrative Christmas singles' market.


9:

Mistletoe and Wine - Cliff Richard

Est. Yearly Revenue: £100,000

The track wasn't originally written by Cliff. It was a song from a musical that was renamed 'The Little Match Girl' when it was adapted for television by HTV in 1987. Cliff really liked the tone of the song, but he changed the lyrics to give it a more religious theme (which the writers accepted). It spent four weeks at number 1 in December 1988. It also re-entered the charts in December 2007, due to the number of digital downloads it achieved, where it reached number 68.


8:

2000 Miles - The Pretenders

Est. Yearly Revenue: £102,000

Though considered to be a traditional Christmas song, it was actually written for James Honeyman-Scott, the band's original guitarist, who died a year before the song was released. It peaked at No.15 in the charts in December 1983.


7:

Stop the Cavalry - Jona Lewie

Est. Yearly Revenue: £120,000

The track was originally released as a protest (which is why, in New Zealand, it was released around April). The mention of bells and Christmas, however, turned it into a festive classic.


6:

Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney

Est. Yearly Revenue: £260,000

The song was recorded for McCartney's solo album, McCartney II, which was released in 1979. It went on to become a Christmas hit in its own right in December 1980, where it reached number 6.


5:

Last Christmas - Wham

Est. Yearly Revenue: £300,000

Originally released in December 1984, it was that year's Christmas number 2. Wham donated the entire royalties that culminated from its initial release to the Ethiopian famine's relief efforts. In the UK, it's currently the second most played Christmas song of the twenty-first century.


4:

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Est. Yearly Revenue: £328,000

'White Christmas' is an Irving Berlin song that reminisces about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. There have been a few versions of the track, the most popular being the one sung by Bing Crosby on Christmas Day 1941. Bing's version is one of the world's best selling singles, with over 50 million copies sold worldwide.


3:

All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey

Est. Yearly Revenue: £400,000

Co-written and sung beautifully by Mariah Carey, the New Yorker called it 'one of the few modern additions to the holiday canon' back in 1994. It's still one of the best-selling Christmas singles by a female artist of all time.


2:

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

Est. Yearly Revenue: £400,000

Written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan and released in 1987, the song, featuring the voice of Kirsty MacColl, reached number 1 in Ireland and spent 5 weeks there. In recent years, the track has come under fire for its controversial lyrics. Before her untimely death, Kirsty recorded a version with alternative lyrics, which is clearly the more palatable for radio stations to play in 2020.


1:

Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade

Est. Yearly Revenue: £1million

Released as a standalone single in 1973, the song was written by lead vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea. It reached the number 1 slot in December 1973, beating Wizzard's 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day' to the top. It remained in the charts for a total of nine weeks.


Reading this makes me think I ought to try and write a Christmas hit - seems like a sound retirement plan! Let us know which Christmas songs you like and which drive you mad @intheknowemag.

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