Entertainment & Arts

James Arthur leads tribute song in Christmas chart race

James Arthur with fans
Image caption James Arthur's debut single Impossible sold 490,000 copies last week

X Factor winner James Arthur is ahead of an all-star Hillsborough tribute single in the race for the UK Christmas number one, early sales figures show.

Arthur's Impossible has sold 76,000 copies so far this week, according to the Official Charts Company.

That leads He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Justice Collective, featuring Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Mel C, by 3,000 copies.

That song is still the bookmakers' favourite to be the festive number one.

Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot said: "While James Arthur has an early lead over The Justice Collective after just two days of sales, 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."

James Arthur's debut single sold 490,000 copies when it was released last week, making it the fastest-selling single of the year. It is raising money for children's charity Together For Short Lives.

Image caption Sir Paul McCartney sings and plays guitar on the Hillsborough single

The Hillsborough song, a cover of The Hollies' hit, also includes Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers, former X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson, Paloma Faith, Beverley Knight, ex-Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and comedian John Bishop.

The single will raise funds for the continuing legal campaign after the 1989 football stadium crush in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

The Christmas number one will be announced on Sunday.

The Official Charts Company said the race could be even closer than 2009, when a fan campaign saw Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name defeat X Factor winner Joe McElderry's The Climb.

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