The Christmas Music Top Ten Earners
Updated: Mar 1
Who wants a white Christmas when you can "make it rain"! A run down of the top Christmas music money men
It used to be the pop act dream ticket. Write a Christmas tune and you will have your pension plan sorted out. It was such a well known trope that Nick Hornby wrote a character in "About a Boy" who lived of the proceeds of his father's Christmas one hit wonder. In an attempt to answer the question whether it was possible to live a life of voluntary redundancy through the earnings of a Christmas song, financial services company Holborn Assets provide a handy top ten run down of the biggest Christmas song earners.
10: East 17 - Stay Another Day - £97,000 pa
There is a debate about whether this is even a Christmas song but it became a number one over Christmas 1994 and writer Tony Mortimer collects £ 97,000 annually from the royalties. It was understood to be a break up song but Mortimer revealed it was actually about his brother's suicide
Original music video
Tony Mortimer released this version with the Waltham Forest Youth Choir in December 2019 to raise money for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) a leading charity on the issue of suicide and run an anonymous helpline and webchat.
9. Cliff Richard - Mistletoe and Wine - £100,000 pa
A 1988 number one and part of an era that felt like Christmas belonged to Cliff. It has recently been voted the most hated Christmas song of all time which does not prevent it from collecting hefty rewards for the writer and performer of the track. The story behind the track is fascinating. Originally written for a musical called "Scraps" in 1976 intended as a socialist criticism of the middle class and a lack of empathy for the poor. Cliff took the socialism out and putting religion in and transformed it into a Christmas winner
8. The Pretenders - 2000 miles - £102,000 pa
Another mournful ballad, originally written about the death of the band's original guitarist James Honeyman-Scott. It only reached a modest number 15 in December 1983 but the tune features on most Christmas compilations and has gone on to be an evergreen popular Christmas tune even though it was never a hit.
7. Jona Lewie - Stop the Cavalry - £120,000 pa
This song was originally released in 1980 and reached number 3 being beaten by two re-released Lennon songs following his murder. Jona Lewie never intended it to be Christmas song but a reference to Christmas in one line and some warm brass arrangements it became considered a Christmas tune. He says the song sold between 3 and 4 million copies and Jona says he never needed a proper job because of it. The one song accounts for 50% of his lifetime earnings.
6. Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time - £260,000 pa
Another Christmas offering that recently got banned from a international coffee shop playlist. McCartney performed all parts and played all instruments in the song and therefore all performance royalties as well as the writing royalties go directly to him. It has taken on a successful second revenue stream as it has been covered by many well established artists. It is believed to have earned McCartney £12 million!
5. Wham! - Last Christmas - £300,000pa
Written and produced by the late George Michael this Christmas stonker never made it to number one in 1984! The hit topped out at number two in the UK but topped other charts across Europe. All royalties were donated to the Ethiopian famine charity that year. The tune has been a constant favourite ever since and been regularly covered as well
4. Bing Crosby - White Christmas - £328,000 pa
Written by Irving Berlin in 1942 for the film of the same name it is the best selling Christmas song of all time and the world's best selling single with sales in excess of 50 million. A regular classic that gets constantly reinterpreted and covered by numerous artists.
3. Mariah Carey - All I want for Christmas is You - £376,000 pa
East 17's Stay Another Day pipped Mariah to the top spot in the UK in 1994 but she did triumph in several European countries. It has sold 16 milion copies since and is considered a modern Christmas classic. Carey co wrote it with Walter Afansieff in an astounding 15mins and originally was not convinced it was worthy of recording. The payback for 15 minutes work is breathtaking!!
2. The Pogues feat. Kirsty McColl - Fairy Tale of New York - £400,000 pa
Declared Britain's favourite Christmas song in 1992 and has been in the UK top twenty fifteen times since release in 1987. Considered an anti Christmas song by many it tells the story of a couple deep in vitriolic arguments and the lyrics are a series of exchanged insults. Jem Finer and Shane McGowan have earned an impressive annual wage for their efforts.
1. Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody - £500,000 pa
Wolverhampton 70's glam outfit Slade take the top spot. Written by Nodder Holder and his bass player Jim Lea it is the UK's highest earning Christmas tune since taking number one spot in 1973. The song describes a family Christmas day and tried to bring a note of hope and joy in a time of social unrest and uncertainty.
Nodder Holder has obviously been asked about the financial success of the song and he is quoted as saying "it was never designed to be ....[a pension plan]...but it has taken on a life of its own"