Charity Christmas single race gets under way

Peter Kay, Bob Dylan, X Factor finalists and a reunited St Winifred's School Choir raise funds

Peter Kay
Peter Kay

Bob Dylan started knockin' on Santa's door with a fundraising album last month, and now the charity race is well and truly on for the coveted Christmas number one spot.

Comedian Peter Kay is aiming to recreate the success of his Comic Relief hit Is This The Way to Amarillo, which topped the charts for seven weeks in 2005, with an as yet unnamed single, featuring 100 celebrities, to be released on 20 November for Children in Need.

Other contenders for chart supremacy include this year's X Factor finalists' single in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity and There's No One Quite Like Grandma by a reunited St Winifred's School Choir, who knocked John Lennon off the top spot with the song in 1980.

The choir is now raising awareness of Innocent Drinks' Big Knit campaign in support of Age Concern and Help the Aged.

Ben Knowles, music director of children's charity War Child, said tunes without the backing of music mogul Simon Cowell needed to be better than ordinary singles because of the "fatigue factor" generated by charity songs.

War Child's single I Got Soul, which used urban acts including N-Dubz and Tinchy Strider to engage teenagers with the plight of young soldiers, reached the top 10 last month. It also earned the BeMOBO award for social responsibility, doubled the charity's followers on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter and is expected to raise about £100,000.

"Charity singles get a pretty bad - if you'll pardon the pun - rap," said Knowles. "We wanted the opposite: we wanted a rap record that had musical merit behind it."

Joe Saxton, director of voluntary sector consultancy nfpSynergy, said for every song that raised £100,000, "another nine or 99" would not. He compared charity singles to "unwanted Christmas gifts, like hankies". Most were "recorded by people you haven't heard of", he added.

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