Ed Sheeran and Elton John’s ‘Merry Christmas’ is a new festive No 1 contender

Filled with seasonal jingles and a touch of bittersweet reflection, the new single is in the running for the coveted musical spot this December

British artists Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in 2013. WireImage

Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John have released their long-awaited Christmas hit.

Titled Merry Christmas, the upbeat track was released on Friday in the run up to Christmas, with proceeds from its UK sales going to charity.

The bittersweet track is full of festive jingles and Christmas cliches, but also pays heed to the challenges that 2021 brought the world.

"I know there's been pain this year, but it's time to let it go. Next year, you never know, but for now, Merry Christmas" sings Sheeran.

"Just having so much fun. While we're here, then we all spare a thought for the ones who have gone. Merry Christmas, everyone"

The cheese-tastic video accompanying the track is filled with every Christmas platitude you can imagine.

From the opening scene with Sheeran sat in front of a roaring fireplace to mistletoe, snowball fights, sleigh rides and a scarf-wearing Elton John playing on a shiny red piano as stockings hang on the wall behind him.

Sheeran also takes on the persona of James from Raymond Briggs' The Snowman, flying through the air in his dressing gown and mimics a scene from East 17's festive chart-topper Stay Another Day, donning a white parka and gloves as snow falls around him. He's joined by British personalities Jonathan Ross, Big Narstie and Michael McIntyre who cameo in the scene.

The musical maestros are hoping that their new track will get them another festive hit, neither are strangers when it comes to creating Christmas chart-toppers.

John's Step into Christmas released in 1973 has become a festive classic that resurfaces every year, and Sheeran scored a Christmas No 1 in 2017 in his Perfect Duet with Beyonce.

All UK earnings from the song this Christmas will go to the stars' self-named charities, the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The full Christmas Top 40 will be announced on BBC Radio 1's Official Chart from 8pm on Christmas eve and Merry Christmas faces contention from several other artists vying for the coveted top spot.

Among these are Adele, who has recently made her comeback with the fastest-selling album of 2021; Swedish pop group Abba who are together again after a 40-year hiatus, LadBaby and Gary Barlow, not to mention Mariah Carey and her perennial Christmas classic All I Want for Christmas.

Updated: December 3rd 2021, 1:30 PM