If we can be said to have many traditions this early on, one is that about this time every year we take a look at the advance betting on the Christmas number one. Of course, as commercialisation of the number one spot takes over, it's all been ruined - you won't be able to find a bookie taking bets on whoever wins the X Factor being the festive leader.
What can be done? Well, last.fm have had an idea - they've corralled three young bands into a competition, Christmas Chart Attack, where subscribers can vote for one and the winner will, it says here, "take their track and go head-to-head with the X Factor winner, to decide who tops the charts this December", apparently by offering it as a 40p download. The reason we mention it is that one of the bands involved is Lucky Soul, and in this situation, who cares about the other two candidates. Not that in a just world they should need a viral gimmick to become stars, given the quality of their album, but as it is what you need to do before Monday is go to its auto-play page and click on the heart symbol in the embedded player to register a vote. Together we can send Lips Are Unhappy into the Christmas top 130.
Back in the non-virtual world they've not got a clue, Ladbrokes having dropped their usual online book, not even offering Excluding X-Factor. Luckily there are no depths to which Paddy Power will sink, especially given their What Will Happen Next To Amy Winehouse? book (Win a Grammy 13-8 favourite, file for divorce 20-1, be snapped fighting with Lily Allen 25-1, start dating Pete Doherty 40-1, receive an ASBO 50-1, become the face of Ragu 100-1 - don't quite understand that last one), so here's what they reckon we'll be pointedly shunning the Cowelltopia for:
7-4 Spice Girls - Headlines
It's likely not to make number one this week, when it's the official Children In Need record! A five week slow burn is really pushing it
3-1 Sugbabes - Change
3-1 Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
8-1 Mutya Buena feat. Amy Winehouse - B-Boy Baby
Now, Winehouse, if you could just put the pipe aside for a moment and answer this - if you love the Shangri-Las as much as you say you do, why are you doing backing vocals on a R&B 'update' of Be My Baby?
10-1 Shaun The Sheep - Life's A Treat
And to think we credited Aardman with some imagination. It's the opening theme to Shaun's CBBC series, as sung by Vic Reeves. And if that doesn't demonstrate something about Vic Reeves' current career trajectory, nothing will.
18-1 Kylie Minogue - 2 Hearts
20-1 Connie Talbot - Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Not the Sound Of Music stage Maria, that's Connie Fisher. This is a six year old from Britain's Got Talent and possibly the latest in a long line of precocious pre-teens pushed into million pound record deals and a Christmastime single who are never heard of again (cf All Angels, Declan Galbraith)
It gets really dull from then on, with all sorts of guesswork - yeah, Snow Patrol could suddenly rear back up the charts, but don't expect much change on your 50-1 - and a dark horse back at 100-1 if it gets publicity, Annie Lennox's charity single Sing featuring guest vocals from a whole host of female singers, wherein Madonna, Dido, Celine Dion, Pink, Shakira, Joss Stone, the Sugababes and KT Tunstall rub mastertape shoulders with Beth Gibbons, kd lang, Beth Orton, Martha Wainwright and, most intriguingly, Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes. Which is all very well, but... this Christmas race list. It's not very wide-ranging, is it? We all get peeved by chancers and noveltists, but nobody seems to be bothering trying to score populist approval any more. Not even a new Nizlopi.