John Lennon is bidding for a number one single 23 years after his death, in an attempt to deny this year's (03) Pop Idol finalists a chart-topping hit.

The last 12 competitors of the reality TV show are releasing their version of THE Beatles legend's 1972 Christmas anthem HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) on 15 December (03), so record label bosses at PARLOPHONE are stacking music store shelves with Lennon's original a week before (8DEC03).

Critics have slammed the wannabe pop stars for covering the tune - convinced it will be nothing more than a poor karaoke rendition of the hit - but that hasn't stopped British bookmakers making them favourite to land the Christmas number one.

And although Parlophone insist they're releasing Lennon's song to promote his new posthumous DVD, experts believe it's in response to the outrage sparked by the Pop Idol finalists' take on his work.

One says, "We think it's a good idea for people to choose which version they want.

"There is no question John's version is best, although kids will probably buy the Pop Idol one."

31/10/2003 02:29