The band recently became a trio (left-right): Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards

Little Mix have risen to top the top of UK singles chart after Christmas songs released their grip on the top 40.

Sweet Melody has become the band’s fifth number one, three months after it was released – and will be their last with Jesy Nelson, who quit last year.

The 29-year-old said in December that nine years in the girl group had taken “a toll on her mental health”.

Little Mix’s victory is part of a huge chart upheaval, after 56 Christmas songs dropped out of the top 100.

Among them was last week’s number one, Wham’s Last Christmas, which set a new record for the biggest-ever fall from the top. The festive ballad has now left the chart altogether.

The previous record-holder – Three Lions, by The Lightning Seeds with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel – fell from number one to 96 after England crashed out of the World Cup in 2018.

Sweet Melody has risen from number nine to number one this week, giving Little Mix their first chart-topper since Shout Out To My Ex in 2016.

Jade Thirlwall told BBC Radio 1 the milestone was particularly important because it was “the last single we did as a four with Jesy”.

“And it’s even more special that now, going into 2021 as a three, we’ve got the first number one,” she added.

Acknowledging a fan campaign to boost the song’s chart position, bandmate Perrie Edwards said: “I just want to squish every single fan who managed to get it to number one.

“The power they have, I’m sorry. The song’s been out for months!”

With fans abandoning their festive playlists, the stage was also set for singles that had previously been forced out of the top 40 to stage a dramatic return.

Dua Lipa’s Levitating jumped 63 places to number five, reclaiming a position it last held on 3 December; and Tate McRae’s You Broke Me First rocketed from number 74 to nine. In total, there were 39 new entries or re-entries in the top 75.

In the album chart, Taylor Swift’s Evermore returned to number one, four weeks after its surprise pre-Christmas release, while companion album Folklore climbed to number 12.

Meanwhile, Harry Styles’ Fine Line reached a new chart peak at number two following the release of a video for his latest single Treat People With Kindness, which sees him dance with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Lewis Capaldi’s Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent – the UK’s biggest-selling album of both 2019 and 2020 – also climbed to number six, notching up its 86th week in the top 10.