The race for Christmas No 1 between Joe McElderry and Rage Against the Machine has become ‘the most intense chart battle of the last 25 years’ and is ‘too close to call’, says a chart expert.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo told whatsontv.co.uk that although Joe was selling as many singles as past X Factor winners, he may not make it to number one.

Gennaro said: “The X Factor single is selling incredibly well, matching the totals we’ve seen from Leona and Alexandra Burke, probably reaching around half a million sales so doing exactly what you expect from an X Factor Christmas single.

“But the Rage Against the Machine internet campaign is unprecedented.”

He explained that fans of the rock song are ‘putting their money where their mouth is’.

Gennaro added: “As a result of that I think it’s going to be too close to call. Probably both of them are going to do the best part of half a million sales each.”

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