Every year Christmas brings joy to Slade front man Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea. 40 years after Slade's smash hit, "Merry Xmas Everybody", entered the charts at #1 ( selling 250,000 copies on December 7th, its first day of release), Holder and Lea will earn more than half a million pounds for the festive hit, making it the top Christmas earner for 2013. "Merry Xmas Everybody" re-charted every year from 1981-1994 and just entered the UK charts again last week at #57.
The song is based on an 1967 psychedelic tune Noddy had written called " Buy Me a Rocking Chair". After a night out drinking, Noddy wrote the new lyrics in one draft:
We'd decided to write a Christmas song and I wanted to make it reflect a British family Christmas. Economically, the country was up the creek. The miners had been on strike, along with the grave-diggers, the bakers and almost everybody else. I think people wanted something to cheer them up – and so did I. That's why I came up with the line 'Look to the future now, it's only just begun'. Once I got the line, 'Does your Granny always tell you that the old ones are the best', I knew I'd got a right cracker on my hands.
Slade's Christmas smash famously beat Wizzard's classic Glam rocker "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" to th etop of the charts. The Roy Wood penned theme peaked at #4 in the UK Charts and held that position for four straight weeks. Over the years it's become a bit of a standard overseas. In a way it encapsulates the UK's tongue in cheek approach to Christmas in its first second: the sound effect of a cash register.
Elton John had a head start on the competition when he dashed off "Step Into Christmas", written and recorded on the same Sunday at London's Trident Studios.
Elton invites fans to "hop aboard the turntable". Most didn't bother. Due its crappy sound, an apparent homage to Phil Spector, the single only peaked at #24 in the UK and failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100. A poor showing for the star who'd had three Top 10 hits in the UK and a #1 hit with "Daniel" in the US