This year’s race to the Christmas number one looks to be one of the fiercest chart contests in recent years.
As the big day draws near however, the Hillsborough Justice Collective’s cover of The Hollies’ classic 1969 hit, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, appears to be pulling clear.
Recorded and released to raise funds and awareness for the ongoing legal battle for the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy and their families, the single features an all-star singing cast, and has reportedly increased its lead over X-Factor winner James Arthur’s Impossible after just four days on sale. It started the week trailing the competition winner by 3,000 copies but is now thought to be out in front by about 14,000 copies, with sales of 146,000 against Arthur’s 132,000.
The Official Charts Company’s MD, Martin Talbot said: “This is the closest Number 1 battle we can remember. It is even closer than 2009 battle between Rage Against The Machine and Joe McElderry.”
There are still three days left to purchase your pick for Christmas Number One, with the result set to be revealed on the BBC Radio 1 Official Chart Show on Sunday December 23. The top 100 will also be hosted on the Official UK Singles Chart website.
You can watch the official video below:
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother was originally written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell, becoming a worldwide smash hit for Manchester band, The Hollies, in 1969. The Hillsborough Justice Collective version features performances from the world of music, football, comedy and politics, including two of Liverpool FC’s greatest icons, Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen, who have both taken part in the in the long campaign for answers following that fateful day at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield on April 15 1989.
The single includes contributions from:
- Andy Brown (Lawson)
- Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers)
- Paul Heaton (The Beautiful South)
- Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze)
- John Power (The La’s, Cast)
- Robbie Williams
- Melanie Chisholm (Mel C aka. Sporty Spice)
- Rebecca Ferguson
- Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
- Beverley Knight
- Paloma Faith
- Eliza Doolittle
- Dave McCabe (The Zutons)
- Peter Hooton (The Farm)
- Ren Harvieu
- Jon McClure (Reverend and The Makers)
- Sir Paul McCartney
- Shane MacGowan (The Pogues)
- Bobby Elliott (The Hollies)
- Tony Hicks (The Hollies)
- Hollie Cook (The Slits)
- Ian Prowse (Amsterdam)
- Alan Hansen
- Kenny Dalglish
- Comedian John Bishop
- MP Steve Rotheram
- Peter Reid
- Neil Fitzmaurice
- The LIPA Gospel Choir
- Chris Sharrock (Beady Eye) on drums
- David Catlin-Birch (World Party) on bass
- Mick Jones of The Clash on guitar
- Andrew “Davo” Davitt on the acoustic guitar
- Acclaimed songwriter and producer Guy Chambers on piano
- Will Pound on harmonica
- The strings of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
After just 11 days on sale, James Arthur’s Impossible is now the seventh biggest selling debut single by an X Factor contest of all time. He has already overtaken the lifetime sales of Little Mix’s Cannonball, Leon Jackson’s When You Believe and JLS’s Beat Again. With sales of over 622,000 now under his belt, his next target is One Direction’s debut smash What Makes You Beautiful which sold 781,000 copies. Should James Arthur miss out on the Christmas top spot this year, he will at least be able to look at his impressive sales performance with some pride.