Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John have released their highly anticipated Christmas single, featuring sleigh bells, festive lyrics and a music video with a cast of famous friends.
UK profits from Merry Christmas during this year’s festive period will go to Sheeran’s Suffolk Music Foundation and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
Both have previous experience in crafting a festive hit.
Sheeran claimed 2017’s Christmas number one with Perfect, while Sir Elton’s 1973 hit Step Into Christmas has re-entered the top 10 for the past two years.
As the duo enter the race, here are the other contenders for this year’s Christmas number one.
A number of tracks from the London-raised pop superstar’s last album 30 continue to perform well weeks after release.
Number one lead single Easy On Me and the tracks Oh My God and I Drink Wine are in contention for the Christmas number one.
Video blogger Mark Hoyle and his wife Roxanne have claimed the top spot for the last three years with their sausage roll-themed musical parodies, and despite not having announced a 2021 bid they remain the bookies’ favourite.
– Gary Barlow and Sheridan Smith
The former Take That star and Olivier-winning actress and singer first teamed up for Barlow’s lockdown Crooner Sessions.
Now they have released a festive duet titled How Christmas Is Supposed To Be, accompanied by a video featuring them unwrapping presents and singing together around a white piano.
The song comes from Barlow’s first Christmas album, The Dream Of Christmas, and he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of former bandmate Robbie Williams, who topped the charts with his own festive record in 2019.
The Swedish superstars could crown their comeback with a Christmas number one.
Earlier this year, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad reformed to release their first album in nearly 40 years, Voyage.
It features the track Little Things, which explores the joys of Christmas morning.
Featuring a children’s choir and the support of Sir Ian McKellen, the song could be a contender for the top spot.
– Craig Revel Horwood and Rietta Austin
An unlikely entrant in the race comes from Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood.
The famously dour dancer and choreographer has teamed up with close friend and Strictly Live singer Rietta Austin on the song It’s Christmas, Merry Christmas!
The track was written with Nik Page, who starred as Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Miserables.
– Gypsy Pistoleros
The flamenco-influenced punk band’s cover of Livin’ La Vida Loca has been backed by Jon Morter, who led the successful campaign that blocked X Factor winner Joe McElderry from landing a Christmas number one.
Instead, Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name secured the top spot in 2009.
Gypsy Pistoleros will be hoping this new campaign will see them achieve the same feat, with all proceeds going to housing and homelessness charity Shelter.
– Olivia Dean
Rising star Olivia Dean enters the race with a cover of the festive standard The Christmas Song, made famous by Nat King Cole, recorded as part of an Amazon session.