The hit parade is a league of the most popular songs (and instrumentals) determined by sales and airplay. The first hit parade was published in the US by Billboard magazine in January, 1936. The ranked list consisted of the best selling compositions. By the early 50s, record sales began to out sell sheet music and the hit parade demonstrated the best selling recorded music. In the UK record charts began in 1952, when music journalist, Percy C Dickins (1921- 2002) of the New Musical Express (NME), pooled the top ten sales of 20 record shops, aggregated the scores and compiled a Top 12 chart which was then published. The regular feature was a great success and expanded to include the Top 20 best selling records in 1956. Fierce rivalry between music papers meant by the mid fifties there were several separate hit parades in the UK.
Pick of the Pops (BBC) started on the Light Programme in October 1955. Initially the show did not feature the charts, but in September 1957 Alan Dell introduced the format of running through the charts of the week, playing the top tens from various music papers plus entries to top 20s. This was around 11 pm on Sundays. Producers used the four most popular published hit parades from the NME, Melody Maker, Disc and Record Mirror to calculate a chart average. Later Top of the Pops (BBC) used the same method. One problem with this method was it often left tied positions and in 1969, the Record Retailer and the BBC jointly commissioned the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) to compile the charts on their behalf. More accurate charts started from 15 February 1969 and now the UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company (OCC) on behalf of the British record industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers. Unlike charts in the United States, no airplay statistics are used for the official UK Singles Chart. The chart week runs from Sunday to Saturday, with most UK singles being released on Mondays. Record companies were always keen to use Christmas time to promote their artists and by the early sixties supremacy on the singles chart over the Christmas period reinforced the overall popularity of the artists. In 1960 Cliff Richard and the Shadows’ had the Christmas Number One with “ I love you”, written by Bruce Welsh.
A year later, Danny Williams took the Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini song “Moon River”, to the top of the Christmas Hit Parade.
The following Festive Season saw Elvis Presley as chart topper with “Return to Sender”.
The Beatles scored a hat trick with three consecutive Number Ones. “I want to hold your hand”(1963); “I feel fine” (1964); and “Day tripper/we can work it out” (1965) respectively.
In 1966 Tom Jones outsold all rivals with “The green green grass of home”, then it was back to the Beatles with “Hello Goodbye” in 1967.
The first novelty Christmas hit of the decade came in 1968 with ”Lily the Pink “ performed by the Scaffold.
Rolf Harris took his “Two little boy's" to the top a year later.
A change of decade saw the more rockier “I hear you knocking”, by Dave Edmonds; then Benny Hill became the Number One in 1971 with his self penned “Ernie (The fasted milkman in the west)”.
The youngest Osmond, Little Jimmy Osmond beat all to the honor in 1972 with “Long hair lover from Liverpool”.
Slade had my personal favorite Christmas hit with “ Merry Xmas Everybody “ in 1974.
Mud took Christmas honors with “Lonely this Christmas” the following year.
The Christmas cracker for Queen was “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which has sold a fantastic 2,176,000 copies.
“When a child is born”, was the 1976 Christmas hit for Johnny Mathis and Wings topped the charts a year later with “Mull of Kintyre/Girls’ School “ which sold over 2 million copies.
Boney M took “Mary's Boy Child ” to the top of the UK charts in 1978 (1,800,000 copies sold); and Pink Floyd outsold their opposition in 1979 with “Another brick in the wall”.
The 1980 hit at Christmas was St Winfred’s School Choir and “There’s no one quite like Grandma”.
The biggest Xmas seller up until that time came four years later with Band Aid and “Do they know it’s Christmas” which sold more than 3.5 million copies.