Simon Cowell has been forced to admit defeat in the battle for the Christmas No 1 – as his X Factor winner’s single was outsold by a choir of Armed Forces wives.
When it was released yesterday, more than 100 copies of the Military Wives Choir’s charity single were being sold for each one by Little Mix, the all-girl group who triumphed in the ITV talent show and whose effort had already been on sale for a week.
X Factor supremo Cowell, 52, spoke out as bookmakers Ladbrokes closed betting on the Christmas No 1 slot, such was the weight of money behind the choir’s song, Wherever You Are.
He said on Twitter: ‘Congrats to Little Mix & congrats to Military Wives. It’s a great cause & a worthy Christmas No 1.’
Little Mix are already at the top of the charts after selling 210,000 copies of their single, a cover version of Damien Rice’s hit Cannonball. But their sales have peaked too soon.
Indeed, they are currently at No 3 in the Amazon download chart, behind Nirvana’s 1991 single Smells Like Teen Spirit, which has been re-released for Christmas.
Cowell and his team usually release the X Factor winner’s single in the week running up to Christmas, guaranteeing it the top spot on a wave of publicity. But, in an apparent oversight by executives, this year it came out a week earlier.
The 100-strong Military Wives Choir features the spouses of servicemen in Afghanistan and has tugged at the heartstrings of the British public – winning the crucial support of Radio 2 breakfast DJ Chris Evan
It is led by Gareth Malone, presenter of BBC2 reality show The Choir which brought the group together.
Proceeds from its single will go to The Royal British Legion and SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) Forces Help.
Choir soloist Sam Stevenson, 28, admitted beating the X Factor would be the ‘icing on the cake’.
‘It would be something to disrupt the boat a little bit,’ she said. ‘Why should it always be them?’
The only other time an X Factor winner has failed to win the Christmas top spot since the show began was in 2009 after a successful online campaign propelled the band Rage Against the Machine to No 1 ahead of Joe McElderry.
Mrs Stevenson, whose husband John is a lance-corporal in the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, had said: ‘I was all behind Rage Against the Machine.
It is also said to improve symptoms of conditions including Alzheimer’s, depression and lung problems by improving breathing.
‘I am not saying we are the same, but we have the same sort of message.’
Online retailer Amazon said the Military Wives were ‘streets ahead’ of their rivals.
On top of all that, being in a choir brings friendship and a sense of belonging.
With pre-release orders counting towards first-day figures, sales have been more than 100 times higher than any other single.
One clear example is the hit BBC2 reality series The Choir, in which the men and women taught by choirmaster Gareth Malone became happier and more self-confident.
Roger Greensmith, music and MP3 manager at Amazon.co.uk said: ‘Military Wives have been smashing records throughout the pre-release order period and now that the single has released they are continuing to perform well, making this year’s Christmas No 1 a foregone conclusion.
Researchers in Germany found that antibodies in a choir singing Mozart’s Requiem rose 46 per cent.
The rise when they simply listened was marginal.
‘Wherever You Are has no real competition for the race to top the charts on Christmas Day and the single is now one of the top 20 best-selling music products of all-time at Amazon.co.uk, a tremendous achievement for a single.’
The Christmas No 1 will be announced in a special Top of the Pops on BBC1 at 2pm on Christmas Day.