The Military Wives Choir looks set to oust X Factor 2011 winners Little Mix from the top of the charts after their charity single, Wherever You Are, outsold the girl band by 100 to 1 on its release yesterday.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes closed betting on the Christmas number one slot, while Simon Cowell appeared to admit defeat, saying on Twitter, “Congrats to Little Mix & congrats to Military Wives. It’s a great cause & a worthy Christmas No 1.”
The Military Wives Choir, made up of spouses of soldiers serving in Afghanistan, was brought together by Gareth Malone in his BBC2 series The Choir.
And while Little Mix currently top the charts with their cover of Damien Rice’s Cannonball, the surge of sales for the Military Wives Choir suggests X Factor execs have made a blunder in releasing the song too early.
The X Factor single usually comes out a week before Christmas, a strategy that has seen it grab the seasonal top spot every year since it began except 2009, when an online anti-X Factor campaign took Rage against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of to number one.
Despite shifting over 200,000 copies so far to become the year’s fastest-selling single, Cannonball could end up being one of the worst-performing X Factor winner’s songs since Steve Brookstein’s Against All Odds in 2004.
In 2005, Shayne Ward’s That’s My Goal sold over 740,000 copies, and in 2008 Alexandra Burke’s cover of Hallelujah managed 576,000 - just 5,000 more than Leona Lewis with A Moment like This in 2006. Last year’s winner, Matt Cardle, sold 439,000 copies of When We Collide.
Military Wives Choir soloist Sam Stevenson, whose husband John is a lance-corporal in the 24th Commando Engineer Regiment, said beating The X Factor would be the "icing on the cake."
"It would be something to disrupt the boat a little bit," she added. "Why should it always be them?"
Proceeds from sales of the single will go to The Royal British Legion and Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces Help.
The Christmas number one will be announced in a special edition of Top of the Pops on BBC1 at 2pm on Christmas Day.