Scott Mills aims for a Christmas hit

Scott Mills and sidekick Chris Stark Scott Mills (right) and sidekick Chris Stark listen out for those jingle bells

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Sapped by the onslaught of X Factor winners, the battle for Christmas number one still remains an annual tradition.

Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills probably won't ever secure the prime spot but that didn't stop him releasing The Perfect Christmas Single last week.

His contribution is part of a documentary on what makes an enduring Christmas song.

Obsessed with festive hits, Mills is the first Radio 1 presenter to play a Christmas single every year, usually around September, according to his afternoon show producer Emlyn Dodd.

'Every year we're playing the same songs and most are from the 70s and 80s,' Dodd adds.

'The idea was to analyse what makes those great singles and see if we can make one ourselves.'

They roped in comedy cabaret duo Frisky and Mannish, who found the ingredients shared by Christmas classics. A new song was then produced with lyrics chipped in by Mills' team.

So what are the components to a festive hit?

Dodd says it's about stating the obvious (think Slade, think 'It's Christmas!') and pathos.

There is also the incongruous mix of cheeky innuendo, a buried political message and jingle bells or any other Christmassy sounds.

Limited time meant Mills' team couldn't include a children's choir.

But professionals, like Katherine Jenkins, usually record their Christmas singles in August. 'If only we were that organised,' quips Dodds. 'It was written about three weeks ago.'

'Frankincensational'
Noddy Holder from Slade Noddy Holder gave some advice on making a Christmas hit

In the documentary, Noddy Holder helps out along with musicians Michael Bublé and Tim Minchin.

There is also a double meaning in the song, which tells of someone who has split from their partner just before Christmas, with friends consoling that he/she is the 'perfect Christmas single[ton]'.

Recorded at a BBC studio on November 28, it was mainly sung by Laura Corcoran from Frisky and Mannish and has been launched under the band name Scott Mills & His Pigs in Blankets.

'Scott does sing on it but not for too long because he doesn't have a particularly good voice. However with the wonders of auto-tune we can actually make him sound alright,' says Dodd.

Foot-tapping and squeezing in the word 'Frankincensational', the song has had a relatively positive reaction.

'Weirdly our listeners seem to like it,' muses Dodds. 'I think they were expecting a joke but it turned out quite well.'

The documentary, produced by Wise Buddah, also plays some truly awful festive songs collected by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, including cats miaowing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

The fact that The Perfect Christmas Single is available for free means it's not eligible for the chart but the team will still monitor the number of downloads.

Dodd says: 'I think we'll know we've made it if we're still playing it in four or five years' time.'

Or if Kim Wilde sings it on the Underground.

But could there be potential for more songs from Mills & co, given that they've also been involved in a musical at the Edinburgh Festival?

The presenter is a Eurovision fan but Dodd says there are no plans yet to enter the contest.

'We quite like the idea of entering for another country, just because we might do a bit better.'

  • Scott's Perfect Christmas Song, Radio 1, Monday 17th December, 9pm
  • You can download/listen to the song here

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