Will McCartney's Hillsborough song be Christmas No. 1?

Closest race ever for the coveted Christmas No.1 has a clutch of contenders vying for the prize

LAST UPDATED AT 11:48 ON Fri 21 Dec 2012

A CHARITY single raising money to pay legal costs incurred by families of the Hillsborough tragedy is leading the pack in what music industry experts say is "the closest battle we can remember" for the coveted Christmas No. 1 spot on the UK singles chart.

Justice Collective's charitable cover of the old Hollies song He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, recorded by stars including Sir Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams, was released just four days ago, but has already sold about 14,000 units more than Impossible, the single by X Factor winner James Arthur.

However, the race for the No.1 spot doesn't end until midnight on Saturday, so there's still time for another song to make a late break, says the Daily Mail. Here's what the experts make of six of the top contenders:
 
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Justice Collective: The song is "odds-on favourite" to be the Christmas No. 1 says The Times which praises the group of "top table Scousers" including McCartney, Kenny Dalgleish and Holly Johnson (from Frankie Goes to Hollywood) who recorded it. "Let's hope it makes it [to No.1], the [Hillsborough] families deserve closure," says the paper.
 
Impossible by James Arthur: It's traditional to hate X Factor winners, says The Guardian's Sam Wolfson, but Arthur is different. He's into hip-hop and other underground music and money raised by Impossible is also going to a charity. That's all well and good says The Times but, "you'd be pressed to find any real emotion in Impossible.
 
I Wish for you the World by The Games Maker Choir: Yet another charity single, this one tapping into the feelgood factor of the London Olympics. It's a "euphoric slice of earnest feelgood balladry" with some high-profile backers including Boris Johnson and Queen's Brian May, says The Times. But it sounds too much like a "vehicle" for singer-songwriter Alastair Griffin than a chance for the "army" of Olympics volunteers to shine.
 
The Power of Love by Gabrielle Aplin: The "tear-jerking" cover of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song scored department store John Lewis its first No.1 earlier this month, but it now looks like an "unlikely contender" for the Christmas top spot, says The Times.
 
One Pound Fish by Muhammad Shahid Nazir: Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a dodgy novelty record vying for the No. 1 spot. Yahoo says the "unlikely ode to reasonably priced fish" by London fishmonger Nazir is still a contender for Christmas glory after it became "an overnight internet sensation".
 
Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: An online campaign established by people who hate The X Factor saw Rage Against The Machine's Killing in the Name capture the Christmas No.1 spot in 2009. This year, the "credible" song being pushed up the charts by a Facebook campaign is a ditty The Times calls "the only real masterpiece of a Christmas song since Silent Night." It's been in the charts ten times without ever making No. 1.    · 

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