In the good old days, you always got a couple of those cheesy singles that could only have been written with one thing in mind – to secure that lucrative Christmas Number One spot. And there have been some right turkeys to which, it appears, not even the mosts revered are immune! Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, even Bob Dylan has traded his principles to launch a Festive flop that is right up there in the cringe-worthiness stakes. Some have been that bad that the music stations just can’t resist the temptation to play them every year and as I write, three weeks before Santa’s arrival, the utterly crass Boney M are being invited to reprise ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ yet again on the radio.
Nowadays, of course, Simon Cowell is under the impression that his X Factor winner is guaranteed to have the Christmas Number One. Now I’ve made no secret that I loathe this show and all it stands for so this year I’m hugely relieved to say there is a bona-fide challenger that, although equally manufactured, is at least more in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas. We had Bob Geldof and Midge Ure pricking a nation’s conscience in 1984 and, in 2011, it’s the Military Wives.
Conductor and all-round decent chap Gareth Malone has taken upon himself to prove that anyone, given coaching and encouragement, can make a decent fist of a rousing tune and his latest project has been to encourage, comfort and cajole the wives and girlfriends of British servicemen serving in Afghanistan to produce a song befitting their heroes’ sacrifices. It’s lyrics have been cobbled together from letters sent to and from the front, which is a tear-jerker in itself, but even more impressive is the fact that Malone managed to persuade these natural reticent ladies into appearing before The Queen at the Albert Hall and on national TV. ‘Wherever You Are’ won’t have you on the dance floor as quickly as Slade‘s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ but it’s as thought-provoking as Chris Rea‘s excellent ‘ Driving Home For Christmas’ and just as poignant as Geldof and Ure‘s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’.
So I urge all decent folk, go and out and buy this single and deprive Mr Cowell of a new Rolls-Royce. Send your pounds instead to the British Legion and other like-minded charities who do such a wonderful job of looking after families who really need support at this time of year and have considerably less money to play with than Messrs Cowell, Walsh and Barlow. And, at the same time, have a bet on the Military Wives Choir being Christmas Number One at 5/4 with Ladbrokes and sportingbet and earn yourselves a bit extra for the Festive season.