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James Arthur leads Christmas number one race

After plummeting ratings, judges’ squabbles and a critical backlash, it seems there might be some good news for the X Factor. This year’s winner James Arthur is on course to score a Christmas number one single.

The era when an X Factor winner was guaranteed the festive chart-topper appeared to be over, but Arthur’s 'Impossible' led the sales statistics heading towards the final weekend before Christmas. His single was 3000 copies ahead of 'He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother', the Hillsborough charity single by The Justice Collective, which was the bookmakers’ favourite for number one. Proceeds from Arthur’s single are also going to charity.

Martin Talbot of the Official Charts Company which compiles the singles chart, predicted a very close race for the top spot. "While James Arthur has an early lead over The Justice Collective after just two days of sales," he said, "it is exceptionally tight – especially with Christmas gift purchases likely to impact on both releases as the week progresses. It looks like being an extremely exciting race for this year's Official Christmas number one."

The strongest obstacle to Arthur’s single might be the timing. It became the fastest-selling single of the year when it sold 490,000 copies in the first week of release. The danger might be that everyone who wants the song already has a copy.

Sudden celebrity has made Arthur a little self-conscious about his looks. He is already planning to invest some of his X Factor prize money in a new set of teeth. "I am going to get my teeth sorted out and whitened," he said. "Not for vain reasons." Of course not. "I'm a singer. I don't want to open my mouth and have these crooked teeth going on. It's just a thing, everyone has their hang-ups." Blame Frankie Boyle. The comedian with a sharp line in cruelty has made an Arthur a target of his Twitter "wit" recently.

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