Race for Christmas number one hots up

THE race for this year's Christmas number one spot is the closest in history – but Suffolk rockers The Darkness are still on course to be top of the pops over the festive period.

THE race for this year's Christmas number one spot is the closest in history – but Suffolk rockers The Darkness are still on course to be top of the pops over the festive period.

Latest figures show that the Lowestoft-based band's single Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) has sold 132,690 copies.

But the Michael Andrews and Gary Jules reworking of Tears for Fears classic Mad World is hot on their heels, having shifted 129,685 copies.

With the cut-off point for Sunday's chart coming at the close of shopping today , the battle is set to go right down to the wire.

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And the East Anglian Daily Times, which teamed up with BBC Radio Suffolk to campaign for The Darkness to reach the top spot, is calling for people to get behind the group and help make that final push.

If they make it, The Darkness will be the first-ever group from Suffolk to sit-atop the singles chart on Christmas Day.

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Terry Hunt, EADT editor and self-confessed pop and rock anorak, today issued a rallying cry to the people of Suffolk as the race entered its final stages.

He said: “With the race for the number one spot neck and neck, today will really be make-or-break for our Suffolk boys.

“We really need everyone to go out and buy a copy of the single to make sure we end up with a Suffolk number one for Christmas.”

The band themselves – fronted by catsuit-wearing Justin Hawkins and his brother Dan – embarked on a last-minute whirlwind promotional tour yesterday to promote their single.

Following a solo appearance on Sara Cox's Radio 1 breakfast show, Justin joined the other three members of the retro rockers to parade through London in a horse-drawn carriage.

They then arrived at the HMV Store in Oxford Street for an hour-long signing session with their adoring fans.

Justin said: “Today I realise for the first time that we really need to be number one. The main thing is that our song should be the soundtrack for Christmas.”

Of their nearest rival Mad World, the shaggy-haired singer added: “It's a great song, but how Christmassy is it?

“Not very is the answer, not very Christmassy at all. Dreams about dying – who wants to hear about dying at Christmas?

“Obviously, all those people who have bought it. But they should buy it next week and buy ours this week.”

Dan Hawkins added: “We are feeling pretty good. It's such a close thing and we are quite nervous, but it's number one in the mid-week charts.

“We've actually worked out the secret of life, but if we don't get to number one the riddle will not be solved.”

In the Ipswich branch of Virgin Megastores, Mad World is actually slightly out-selling the Darkness, according to manager Ian Pollard.

“I've never seen anything like this in my nine years here,” Mr Pollard added. “We are looking at so few sales between the two singles.

“Obviously, we've still got Saturday to go and in my opinion The Darkness will just blow everything away.

“We've had four serious contenders for the top spot this year and, for a change, none of them have been novelties, which is a brilliant thing for music generally.

“I would like to see The Darkness do it – I think it's a more upbeat Christmas track than Mad World. Of course, they're based in Lowestoft and we like to see local bands do well.

“It advertises Suffolk and the whole region.”

A Christmas number one would crown an amazing year for The Darkness, which has seen them enjoy a meteoric rise to fame and adulation, selling a million copies of their debut album Permission to Land, and scoring a number two hit with the single I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

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