Amid the usual sleigh bells, string sections and festive lyrics in this year’s Christmas No 1 race comes a man in a big coat, adamant that he is not overheating. Big Shaq’s Man’s Not Hot has become a snowballing breakthrough hit during the last few months: a parody of hardnut London rappers who use ridiculous slang, impersonate gunshots, and never, ever take off their coats. The knowingly witless aggression of its lyrics – “take man’s Twix by force” – makes them endlessly quotable, earning the track more than 100m views on YouTube and 74m streams on Spotify. It’s even been repeated in parliament by Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya.
Man’s Not Hot is currently in the UK Top 10, and is making threatening moves towards the Christmas No 1 position. So what does Big Shaq – aka sketch comedian Michael Dapaah – make of his festive competition?
Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé – Perfect Duet
After making the UK’s biggest-selling record this year, Sheeran is aiming his gimlet eye on the Chrimbo top spot, and has yoked Beyoncé to him for maximum leverage. “He’s definitely a top contender,” says Shaq, “but he needs to budge. I’ve let him know my feelings.” He and Sheeran hung out at Capital FM’s Jingle Bell ball last weekend. “I told him I was going to take off his glasses, but he wasn’t after any trouble. He’s humble, he’s good people.”
Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
The multi-octave perennial is making its now yearly bid for the top. Can Shaq hope to compete with Mariah’s vocal acrobatics? “I don’t think with the vocal ting we can go head-to-head. But if you’re talking aescalectically, then definitely. I’m a magazine cover, baby.” He turns to his manager. “Every year this song is popping up. We might have to make a Christmas track, big man! With snow bells.”
Wham! – Last Christmas
In the CD single era, a re-release of Last Christmas in the late George Michael’s memory would have been a shoo-in for top spot, but not so much now. Shaq is behind it, though. “It’s hard to compete with George. May his good soul rest in peace. I was sad when he passed because I really like his music – my favourite song is of him and Mary J Blige, big tune. He was a creative genius – he knew how to mix melodies, and send his voices to places other people can’t.” Worried Shaq is using this surprisingly trenchant analysis to go after my job, I ask if he’s considering singing lessons. “I can’t do that. Man don’t sing.”
Rak-Su – Dimelo
As a culture we’ve moved on from The X Factor winner getting the Christmas No 1 every year, and this year’s victors are playing second fiddle to Sheeran in the charts. “It sounds like Despacito,” says an unimpressed Shaq. “But if they’ve got man like Simon Cowell backing them, they’re going to be somewhere in the charts, innit? How long, we don’t know yet. It’s not just about Christmas – it’s about longevity. Cowell is a very smart man though. Hold tight his tight T-shirt.”
Gregory Porter – The Christmas Song
A slow, classy take on Nat King Cole may not set the charts alight, but it’s a strong curveball. Shaq becomes engrossed and utters a mood board of words. “Sentimental. Nuts roasting. Milk toasting. It’s interesting. It sounds like Michael Bubbly.” But is it any good? “He’s got his own little vibe. It’s something my dad would like – not me personally. But maybe on Christmas Day, in a Christmas jumper, my girl rubbing my elbows, we can listen to it. With a hot chocolate.”
Rita Ora – Anywhere
Like last year’s Clean Bandit single Rockabye, it’s entirely possible that something totally un-Christmassy will win. “This song is smooth, the melody is good – but Rita looks good all year round,” says Shaq. “I’m not really sure about Christmas. She’s more of a summertime babe.”
Camila Cabello – Havana
The equally non-festive Havana gets a look of disgust. “You hear it everywhere. Give it a break, love. Where the hell is Havana anyway? It sounds like an ice cream.” More consternation is aimed at Elbow’s take on Golden Slumbers, the John Lewis advert soundtrack. “They used their song on an advert – that’s a cheat code!”
Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Bring Me Sunshine
The current kings of light entertainment collide Eric and Ernie into charity fundraising to form a festive chimera. Would Shaq feel bad about beating a charity single? “No. If the people decide they want me to beat Michael Ball’s charity song, I will beat it. And I’m a man of the people.” So what would he do if he won? “We’d have a big meal in Oxford Circus, put tables on the roads, shut it off. Bread. Stuffing. Potatoes.” And, one presumes, Twixes.
• Man’s Not Hot by Big Shaq is out now on Island Records