Race to Christmas number one begins as Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton release festive single

The race is officially on. Credit: Instagram

The race to reach this year's Christmas number one spot is heating up, as Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John release their highly-anticipated festive charity single.

A host of famous faces are seen in the duo's Merry Christmas music video, released on Friday, including Jonathan Ross, Big Narstie, and Michael McIntyre.

They recreate scenes from the music videos of Christmas classics such as East 17's Stay Another Day, Wham's Last Christmas, The Snowman's Walking In The Air and others.

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All UK profits will go to the Elton John Aids Foundation and Sheeran’s Suffolk Music Foundation.

It may be the first time the multi-award winning Grammy artists have teamed up - but it is not the first time either of the pair have crafted a festive hit.

Sheeran claimed 2017’s Christmas number one spot 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 to grab the coveted number one spot, here are the other contenders for this year. Adele A number of tracks from the London-raised pop superstar’s last album 30 continue to perform well weeks after release.

Adele's 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.

LadBaby 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. Abba Swedish superstars Abba 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.