If your song is played on the radio you get a £35 pound every time it is. But that money goes to the songwriter and not so much the band, or, indeed, the lead singer who delivered it, some of the richest people in music biz being the songwriters. You would not believe what the highest earning song of all time is. Yes, it's 'Happy Birthday to You', earning Warner Brothers, who own the rights, a mind boggling $30 million dollar royalties since 1990. 'White Christmas' remains the second most lucrative song ever written, why Christmas songs were so important and plentiful back in the day. Bing Crosby didn't make the money though. Copyright is everything. Today's modern media that delivers music make it's all very different as far as royalties go and you can be paid as little as 0.5p per play on Spotify. It's not much better on ITunes. And if you bear in mind that 90% of music downloaded online is stolen you can see the very modern problem of how musicians can make money from their art today, endless touring the big earn now. Although more people listen to a particular song because of the unique worldwide delivery system the internet is they tend not to want to pay for it. Hardcopy music sales have fallen 60% in twenty years.
Baring that in mind is there any future for the traditional Christmas single? All we know is, as yet, the undeclared X-Factor winner and song will have that Christmas number one and AC/DC are second favorites, which is intriguing in itself. Is another protest song on the way to spit Simon Cowell we wonder? I presume its Highway to Hell.
My definition of a good Christmas song is not necessarily one written for Christmas but one that has the feeling of warmth and fun that will get you up at the works Christmas party. I'm not the dancing type and so it takes something special - or alcoholic - to do that.
The Top 10 Selling Christmas singles in the UK over the last year are very familiar, the list below compiled by Radio One, covering CD, download and radio play. Even today these songs are earning big money. Slade make nearly half-a-million pounds a year from that song whilst Joanie Lois made £13,987 for his anti war song for being the tenth most popular, not bad if you haven't worked since.
===The top 10===
Slade - Merry Christmas Everyone
The Pogues - Fairytale of New York
Maria Carey - All I want for Christmas
Wham - Last Christmas
Cliff Richard - Mistletoe & Wine
Band Aid - Do they know its Christmas Time
Shakin Stevens - Merry Christmas
Pretenders - 2000 miles
East 17 - Stay Another Day
Joanie Lois - Stop the Calvary
So do I have a favorite Christmas song? The answer is probably no. They are not deigned to be emotive and meaningful. They are designed to get you in a festive mood to shop (or pee to muzak in those shopping mall toilets) or boogie to or enjoy Christmas Day Top of the Pops after a little bit too much Turkey. I like them but not enough to have any on my Ipod. What I do like about them is it enables the somewhat pretentious rock bands and artists to let their hair down back in the day. Who will ever forget the ober cringe of Bowie and Bing Crosby at the piano? Obviously a quick turn around Christmas song was a big earner for artists like Wham and Maria Carey and the only reason they did them but Fairytale of New York is a really classy tune form the Pogues and anything but cheesy. Stay Another Day by East17 is, in fact, a song written by the band about the suicide of the lead singer's brother when he was just 15. Those are the bad memories Christmas are often about and hard to cleanse.
Another bad memory of Christmas songs is Cliff Richard, the man who insists he is not gay and has no idea what youthful surgical procedures are. If you want to see what it looks like when a man swallows Mistletoe & Wine at the same time then send him my way.
===Top 10 of all Time===
1 DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? --- BAND AID (1984)
2 MARY'S BOY CHILD --- BONEY M (1978)
3 LAST CHRISTMAS WHAM! --- (1984)
4 MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY --- SLADE (1973)
5 MARY'S BOY CHILD --- HARRY BELAFONTE (1957)
6 DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? -- BAND AID 20 (2004)
7 WHITE CHRISTMAS --- BING CROSBY (1942)
8 FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK --- THE POGUES & K (1987)
9 THE MILLENNIUM PRAYER --- CLIFF RICHARD (1999)
10 WHEN A CHILD IS BORN --- JOHNNY MATHIS (1976)
I want to believe the Band Aid artists did it for charity but it was simply a record you had to be on if you wanted to remain a top artist back then. The shameless twenty years on sequel does not deserve to be there and I bet no one can even hum it. Seeing Hyde Park packed full of white people at the BandAid20 concert for staring Africans, but only there for the free concert did make me cringe.
Boney M were one sexy band and can only guess why they needed to remind us that Mary's baby was indeed a boy we will never know. Harry Belafonte also features in the list with the same song.
There are SO many Christmas songs bouncing around in December (and November) ,but making a choice for favourite wasn't difficult for me . All the more modern ones ,and I'm including classics from the 50's and 60's in that 'modern' category , are funny or sweet or catchy enough to be included in my play list that I listen to endlessly in the run up to Christmas day, but it has to be said that Fairy Tale of New York is my ultimate favourite modern Christmas song and is the first on my playlist....then plays again mid-list....then finishes off the selection , and I never tire of hearing it.
My play list includes just a few Hymns as well though. And of those the one that gets me every time and clutches at my heart strings is "O HOLY NIGHT ".
I've heard this sung by many many artists .
Mariah Carey------- Very nice but a bit screamy in my opinion.Rather an excitable version.
Bing Crosby--------Very sweet and old fashioned. You can just imagine him stood on your doorstep on Christmas Eve with a few choristers behind him happed up against the gently falling snow .On my playlist because my mother liked this version and it evokes lovely childhood memories of her enraptured at his singing it on a TV show.
Celine Dion-------- Celine is fabulous and her version is on my playlist too. It is overly orchestral at times, but still very beautiful .
Other people who recorded it are Michelle Williams (of Destiny's Child). Michael Crawford, Andrea Bocelli, Enrico Caruso, Andy Williams.The list is endless really, and while we will all have our own favourite rendition, the one voted most popular in a poll in 2004 was the Celine Dion version.
The words were originally a poem composed by a wine merchant called Placide Cappeau in 1847 at the behest of his parish priest who wanted a poem celebrating Christmas in it's truest form. It was later set to music by Adolphe Charles Adams , and later again translated into the English version we use by John Sullivan Dwight (1812-1893).
To be honest John Sullivan Dwight did a sterling job , because looking at the literal translation from the original French the whole thing is rather dour and intense. Dwight has lightened it and given the translation a more sweet and uplifting glow with words chosen that exude the wonder of the celebration of that birth in Bethlehem long ago.
Which is the way I feel Celine Dion depicts it . With a wonderfully happy triumphalism that gets me singing along and feeling like I too have the voice of an angel. No wonder it was voted most popular version .
I had a paragraph typed regarding the un-hilarious habit a few people seem to have of referring to Christianity as "believing in a sky fairy", but it really isn't worth it .
For them, from the hymn--->>>
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Very Mandela-like words and rather apt at present.
"O HOLY NIGHT !" sums up my joy that a baby born long ago changed the world ,whether you believe in him or not, and I'm awarding "O HOLY NIGHT !" 5 stars.
PS. I have a crib in our window . Naturally the manger is empty because the little guy is wrapped in bubble wrap in a cup in the cupboard awaiting his grand entrance. I sing 'Happy Birthday To You' to baby Jesus as I put his figure in the manger after midnight Mass .Well, why not ? :o)
HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a peaceful and fulfilling New Year to ALL at dooyoo from myloh....xxx
I am religious. I'm so religious that I've been banned from my local church for inappropriate-preaching to the Christmas worshipper who goes once a year to midnight mass - you see I wore my 'RSPCA God T'shirt to inform the Christmas congregation - 'God isn't just for Christmas, God is for life' - this was deemed deleterious to occasional Christian worshippers. There's a mass deity adoption policy for the Christian God for that one night; disingenuously the congregation croak out carols in unison as if they say the words - 'Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;' on a daily basis. For them the true essence of Christmas is untouched, misunderstood - it is all about consumerism and the latest fad.
"Do They Know It's Christmas," from 'Band Aid'; originally resonated towards the starving Africans - the biggest charity song produced - The harmonic, alas kitsch; "Feed the World" lyric on repeat has drilled into my skull since 1984, when as a teenager I made an observation that drums and tambourines depicted the sound of Christmas - 'Band Aid' epitomized it. Since then my heart sinks down to my bowels whenever 'Band Aid' artist updates are made; unleashed yet again on us consumers. I'm within years away of the song inducing me to encephalitis lethargica, (locked-in sleeping sickness) prevalent in the 1920s; indeed, the Seasonal audio trauma plays havoc with my psyche - too much of a good thing see - The joyous tone of Andy Williams 1963 Christmas hit "It's The Most Wonderful Time of Year" is joviality times one hundred, but simulates eating butterscotch ice-cream, there is only so much a being can take; before a sense of nauseous creeps up to you and a bucket is required. Then you hear the mild-manner of Bing singing - "Do You Hear What I Hear?" a 1962 hit. Questionable 'Binging-singing' - harmless lyrics however, the droll gets you humming the tune, the song gets in my head and like a singular five pence coin in a piggy bank, it rattles about and creates mayhem, until another Christmas song takes hold of the mayhem baton and runs with it; until it is replaced by 'Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" 1953 hit; has a frivolity and tongue in cheek lyrical euphemisms which are amusing initially but tend to disperse quickly. Songs are just a money-spinning by-product of Christmas consumerism.
This was well illustrated by a conversation I had with a Bank Clerk on December 3rd. The date is relevant - Bless, she was a jolly soul, humming "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," originally sung by Sinatra in 1957; while she randomly clicked her mouse daydreaming into a tinsel framed monitor. She looked up and said to me - "Twenty two days to go!" I replied: "To when?" She stared at me stunned; "to Christmas Day, we've got the big countdown in our house." Countdown? - I automatically had a vision of a Christmas Carol Vorderman. My response was: "I will live as if a hermit with the company of spirits until the new year, when normality resumes." She then gave me a venomous glare and hummed enthusiastically: "White Christmas." I wished I had a 'Strictly Come Prancing' table tennis bat with the number ten on it; as I turned to the door, she gritted her teeth and piped up; "Merry Christmas, Sir." I politely smiled back and hummed the verse; "You're a bum, you're a punk, you're an old slut on junk;" from, "Fairytale of New York." I'm not one of those who voted for it to be the best Christmas song; however, I admire its lyrical content, perfect for such occasions - it conveys total humanity, excluding forced niceties.
There was a period when manufactured Christmas tunes had to have been sung by chipmunks, may I introduce you to Perry Como and chums on helium. Every year another helium induced jiggle pops into the festive mix and the name Como is the culprit, his chipmunk fingers are all over the 'manu-factory-jingle process.' The result of a fifty year career of factory manufactured jiggles - if I said "Frosty;" originally sung in 1950 by Gene Autry, known as the 'Singing Cowboy,' seven years later Perry Como manufactured it - now every living being on the planet would know the jiggle reference. What Como illustrates is never underestimate the power of familiarity; the crackly quality may wane - albeit all the tunes tick the festive box. Identifiably unique and high on the scale of 'festive spirit' - totally kitsch, alas a guilty pleasure - not mine; although you'll have to be inhuman to not defrost slightly. Also, "Frosty the Snowman" is incredibly marketable - the real-tune download sales were remarkable in 2007, pre-economical down-turn.
Religion is tightly entwined into our cultural traditions, if you engage with the festive period, you're religious. Hitchens and Dawkins adore Choirs and Carols; they took heed in the fact humanity needs uplift, a reason to be cheerful per se. The problem arises when governance / capitalism deploys social instruction on our religion: "You've got to be seen as a Christian by going to Midnight Mass; you've got to play Christmas jingles if you're a retailer to up sales." Everyone says; "Merry Christmas" regardless of faith - they don't mean it, the same as my local congregation who systematically do an annual 'Midnight Mass' visit to 'St Mary's Church'. Christianity isn't the reason, familiarity and tradition is - this is their true religion. The further you slip back into the past the truer the form of lyrical song content there is, no deranging lyrics such as; "So hop aboard the turntable," in Elton's 1973 hit; 'Step Into Christmas.' The meaning of Christmas resides in the lyrics of the Finnish song "In Dulci Jubilo;" composed in 1582, part of a collection called the 'Piae Cantiones.' - 'In sweet rejoicing.'
My favourite carol is... Carol Vorderman - she was born on Christmas Eve; just like all carols it is a case of figuratively speaking - 'figure' being the operative word; in regards to this Carol.
Here are some of my favourite Christmas Songs - though I do like many more, including Christmas Carols.
Christmas is a time for nostalgia and I think the music that we remember from Christmas past immediately transports us back to happy times.
===1 - White Christmas===
First performed by Bing Crosby in 1941 and according to the Guiness Book of Records is the most selling single of all time.
I remember this song from my childhood and it always evokes the snowy Christmas we all imagine as being typical.
Dreaming of a White Christmas is a lovely thought when we are writing our Christmas cards, It has innocent lyrics that speak of an old-style Christmas we would all like to have.
===2 - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas===
First performed by Judy Garland in 1944 but most famously sung by Frank Sinatra in the 1950s.
This too is one song I remember from my childhood. Apparently the words were altered to make it less morose but I love its sentimental feel. 'Through the years we all will be together if the Fates allow' - quite a sad little line - because as we get older we will nearly all have lost loved ones that can no longer be with us - so while this song can bring a tear to the eye - it is in a good sentimental way - which is how we often feel at Christmastime anyway when we remember loved ones.
===3 - Last Christmas===
This song was written by George Michael and was released by the group 'Wham' in 1984.
Not one really for a lot of pop songs but I really love this one and was surprised to see it was in fact 28 years old. I am not a big fan of Wham in general but I just love the tune of this record. So while the lyrics talk of a lost love the tune is nice and upbeat.
The video that goes with the song is snowy and alpine - recreating the Christmas mood. They do have lots of big 1980s hair - but that does not detract from the video. the music has a sort of jingly background and a sort of sleigh bell effect in places which makes it perfect for Christmas time.
===4 - Merry Xmas Everybody===
This Christmas song was released by the group 'Slade' in 1973. It became the Christmas Number 1 and stayed in the UK charts until the following February.
This takes me straight back to teenage Christmasses - when we found life so exciting and full of hope . This is now a fine Christmas classic - and will be heard everywhere and known by all. It has a limited set of lyrics but no-one minds that as the music is so catchy and lively you just feel all Christmassy and festive. It ends with Noddy Holder doing his famous 'Its Christmas!!'
Back in the 1970s this song did not have a fancy video as they do these days but it still was very popular and has remained so to this day.
===5 - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday===
Another Christmas song that was released for Christmas 1973 by the group 'Wizzard'
Written and produced by Roy Wood, the song remained in the UK charts for five weeks but was beaten to the Number 1 slot of Slade (see above).
This always brings back Christmas memories as it came out when I was a teenager. it is one of the regular Christmas classics now and is heard everywhere during the festive season. It is a joyful song and as soon as it starts it makes me feel like jumping up and dancing around the room! It is light-hearted and cheerful. After 'Let the bells ring out for Christmas' is a great instrumental section. Although now 39 year's old, and unlike the hundreds of other Christmas songs that have been released, this one has stood the test of time and together with the Slade song is one that will always get played in shops in the run up to Christmas and is known by youngsters as well as by those of us that wee round when it was released.
===6 - Wonderful Christmastime===
A Christmas song released in 1979 by Paul McCartney.
This is another jolly and lively Christmas melody with the video being set as a happy get-together is a family pub - just the sort of affair we would most like to go to with family and friends over Christmas. The song is festive and makes you feel lively and in need of a dance -and the addition of bells adds to the atmosphere. The synthesiser is also a nice lively touch.
===7 - Mistletoe and Wine===
"Mistletoe and Wine" was made famous by Cliff Richard. The song was originally for the musical 'Scraps' in 1976. Some of the words were changed for Cliff Richard making it slightly more religious. It was the best selling single of 1988.
This is a very seasonal song by Cliff Richard - and although it does mention 'Christian Rhymes' is not overly religious. It has a lovely snowy video with carol singers, an icicle covered log cabin and red jacketed soldiers, there is even a cheery snowman. This song has a nice upbeat tune and was sung almost annually by my sons in various school Christmas plays and concerts, so is always a little special for me.
===8 - Walking in the Air===
A song written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated film of Raymond Briggs' 1978 children's book The Snowman. In the film the song was performed by choirboy Peter Auty. For the subsequent single release in 1985 the vocals were sung by Welsh chorister Aled Jones.
This is another song that everyone will know.
The short film 'The Snowman' is now a standard on TV around Christmas - and is just as enjoyable and festive now as when it first came out.
I have always loved the song but everyone always thinks it was Aled Jones who sang in the film, but he actually only released the single and it was Peter Auty who sang in the movie, not that I could tell the difference really.
===9 - Merry Christmas Everyone===
Sung by Shaking Stevens this song was originally to be released in 1984, but was postponed a year so it wouldn't clash with Band Aid's 'Do They Know It's Christmas'.
It was finally released in December of 1985 and became the Christmas number one.
This is another lively festive song that is great for parties and would have you up and dancing along - which is what we want at Christmas - something cheerful and lively. It is all about parties and having fun and would get anyone in the festive spirit.
===10 - When Love Is Gone===
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 American musical fantasy-comedy film, and an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It featured Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Called either 'When Love is Gone' or 'The Love is Gone' this song is not exactly a Christmas song but is from the Muppet's Christmas Carol Movie so is in someways a seasonal offering.
I always loved this song in the video we had and while it is sad it always sent shivers down my spine.
In following years my son bought me the DVD so I could watch it again as we no longer had the video or a player - but I was horrified to find they had cut my favourite song out - so now the only place I can see it is on YouTube. Judging by the comments left I am not the only one who really liked this song.
It is sung by Ebenezer Scrooge's girlfriend Belle when the young Scrooge refuses to marry her yet again. They are dressed in Dickenian clothes and on a snowy bridge with a church in the background. It is very sad and moving - and also so true in places - that 'there comes a moment in your life, like a window,and you see your future there before you.......be careful or you may regret the choice you made someday'.'
It s such a shame for such an appropriate song to be chopped from the middle of the film - as the film ends with a song called 'When Love is Found' which was the mate of the now omitted song.
So if you do not know it have a look on YoutTube - it is very moving - well for me anyway. Here are the words:
'The Love is Gone
There was a time when I was sure
That you and I were truly one
That our future was forever
And would never come undone
And we came so close to being close
I know you cared for me
There's distance in your eyes tonight
So we're not meant to be
The love is gone, the love is gone
The sweetest dream that you have ever known
The love is gone, the love is gone
I wish you well, but I must leave you now, alone
There comes a moment in your life
Like a window, and you see
Your future there before you
And how perfect life can be
But adventure calls with unheard voices
Pulling you away
Be careful or you may regret
The choice you make someday
When love is gone, when love is gone
The sweetest dream that we have ever known
When love is gone, when love is gone
I wish you well, but I must leave you now, alone
It was almost love
It was almost always
It was like a fairy tale we'd live out, you and I
And yes, some dreams come true
And yes, some dreams fall through
And yes, the time has come for us to say goodbye
Yes, some dreams come true
And yes, some dreams fall through
And yes, the time has come for us to say goodbye.'
Apart from a few most of these songs are from the 70s, 80s and 90s - which says a lot about the enduring qualities of the older records and how we like them for being nostalgic. Personally I cannot recall any of the more recent Christmas number 1s.
At Christmas we all love a dose of nostalgia and what better way than listening to songs we have loved from years gone past.
At this time of year, every other song on the radio seems to be a classic Christmas hit from any time in the last 60 or so years. From the early years of the post-War era, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby (with or without David Bowie) and Nat King Cole are regular favourites. In more recent times there have been some surprising Christmas hits and probably none more so than this year's No.1, Rage Against the Machine, surely the ultimate protest song.
At Christmas we put on our own composite CDs, from which these are my all-time favourites.
10. Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) - The Darkness
What ever happened to The Darkness? Justin Hawkins' insane performances masked the fact that he really could play guitar and whilst his voice wasn't to everyone's taste, it had to be admitted that he had a great ear for a tune. I just love this song and it has been played a bit more frequently on radio and the video channels than I remember in previous years.
9. Step into Christmas - Elton John
A classic that you hear every Christmas, because it's so infectious. You can't keep your feet still when this is playing.
8. Baby It's Cold Outside - Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews
From Tom Jones' Reload album, it perfectly blends two of the most sensational voices of all time, and I don't think that's just because they're both Welsh! The way these two communicate the underlying message of the song, you could almost forget the nearly 30 years difference in their ages!
7. I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake
If you, like me, were a fan of the classic 70s supergroup, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, it's difficult to believe that this twee Christmas record was recorded by the guitarist of that group and the other classic 70s group - King Crimson. Great production and a great tune make this an eternal favourite.
6. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Vaughn Munroe
Vaughn who, you may ask. There have been many versions of this Christmas Classic over the years but, if you're as big a fan of the original Die Hard as I am you will know that this is the version that ended the film on such an appropriate note. And, it's a great song as well.
5. Driving Home for Christmas - Chris Rea
I've been a long, long time fan of Middlesborough's finest. If Jones and Matthews are the two of the finest Welsh voices then Rea has to be up there with Paul Rogers and the late, great Robert Palmer in the list of English ones. It always reminds me of the journeys our own family, especially my son, who lives in Manchester, make each year to be with us at Christmas. This year will be especially challenging - Safe Journey!
4. Only You - The Flying Pickets
Originally written by Vince Clarke and recorded with Alison Moyet as Yazoo, this 1983 A Cappella version by the Flying Pickets was one of their biggest hits and was the Christmas No.1 in that year. We just don't hear it anything like enough.
3. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
Despite the title not really suggesting Christmas, this 1983 (again - must have been a great year for Christmas songs!) is one of the best ever recorded for the season of the year.
2. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
A one-off novelty record, it was a hugely popular record in, no, not 1983, 1981 this time, although chart-wise it didn't get very high. It's one of these songs that has everyone asking, "Who was that?" and when they find out, "Whatever happened to them?" Despite the bouncy tune and chirpy lyrics, it is in fact a classic Christmas song of love, longing and final fulfilment. Isn't that what we all want?
1. Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade
No apologies for making the Noddy Holder Pension Fund my No.1. Christmas just isn't Christmas without Slade's ubiquitous, eternal hit. Not so much a Christmas song as a Christmas Anthem. Just try and stop me joining in with the chorus around the Christmas dinner table. I sound even better after a few glasses of wine.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland - Macy Gray
I Wish It Could Be a Wombling Merry Christmas Everyday - The Wombles and Roy Wood
Stop the Cavalry - Jona Lewie
Thank God it's Christmas - Queen
Last Christmas - Wham!
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
Keeping the Dream Alive - Freiheit
I have enjoyed reading about a few people's favourite Christmas songs in the run up to Christmas, and it has inspired me to write about a few of my favourites too.
Christmas is the only time when cheesy festive songs seem ok, but in amongst all the festive cheesy songs there are a few classics. So in no particular order I'd like to share a few of my favourites.
1. December Will Be Magic Again - Kate Bush
This is a song which isn't played much on the radio or music channels, but often crops up on compilation CD's.
I used to be quite a fan of Kate Bush and always remember buying this single when it was released back in 1980. It was a 'between album' single which Kate recorded in 1979, but it was not released until 1980.
I loved the festive artwork on the cover of the single, and the song itself with it's Christmas bells and memory-evoking lyrics, always brings back one or two happy memories for me.
"December will be magic again.
Take a husky to the ice
While Bing Crosby sings White Christmas. He makes you feel nice.
December will be magic again.
Old Saint Nicholas up the chimney,
Just a-popping up in my memory."
2. Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?
I can vividly recall this song being put together by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, and everyone I knew went out and bought it to raise money for famine relief in 1984.
I love the song and it features some of my favourite artists of that time. There have been a couple of updated versions released since this one, they simply just don't compare in my opinion. Who can forget Bono's poignant line :- "Well tonight thank God it's them, instead of you!"
3. Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody
Who doesn't like this one? It features in all of my Christmases as far back as I can remember and features at every Christmas Party. Noddy Holder sat and wrote the lyrics after a night out drinking and said as soon as he came up with the line - 'Does your Granny always tell you that the old ones are the best', he knew he'd got a 'right cracker' on his hands.
4. Sting - Gabriel's Message
This is actually a carol, but I love this version by Sting. I first came across it 3 or 4 years ago and it has became a firm favourite of mine. You can often hear this carol performed at carol services or Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve. I like to listen to this on Christmas Eve when all the planning and shopping is done, and it reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas.
5. Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You
I did used to be quite a fan of Mariah Carey and there is no doubting her voice, although I am not sure she can sing as well as she used to. I am not a fan of her material in recent years but this song was released in 1994 and is just a hugely catchy and popular Christmas song.
6. Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas
It was never Greg Lake's intention for this to become a Christmas song, as he wrote the song in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas.
However, a classic it has became since it's release in 1974. It is another song which reminds me of Christmases when I was younger.
7. Wham - Last Christmas
I am a huge fan of George Michael, and although a bit cheesy, I do love this song. I still have my copy on vinyl in it's Christmas gatefold sleeve. It was released as a double A side back in 1984 along with 'Everything She Wants'. The video was also a bit cheesy, featuring George and Andrew on holiday with friends and girlfriends at a chalet in the snow, but despite all that I still love to hear this every Christmas.
8. The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale Of New York
Frequently topping the 'best Christmas song ever' polls, this is probably my all time favourite Christmas song too. Kirsty's fantastic and melodic vocals compliment Shane McGowan's harsh vocals perfectly as they sing the bittersweet lyrics to one another. I think it is a shame that music channels and radio stations 'bleep' out some of the words as there are far worse played on TV and radio in my opinion, and removing them makes it lose some of its effect.
9. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon, Yoko Ono & the Plastic Ono Band.
Yet another song written as a protest song, but this time about the Vietnam War. It was originally released in 1971 but reached its highest UK chart position in 1980, reaching No. 3 when re-released in 1980 after John Lennon's death.
"A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear"
10. George Michael - December Song
This track was available for free on George Michael's official website on December 25th and December 26th of 2008, and was released as a single this year on 13th Dec, currently featuring in the Uk charts. George performed this on the X Factor final just over a week ago prompting a surge in sales the next day which ended up with supply not being able to meet the demand. Many people could not get their hands on a copy and if more had been available last week, then it would have featured higher up the chart this week.
I downloaded it last Christmas Day and fell in love with it. The lyrics remind me of Christmas when I was young, and old fashioned, traditional family days. As usual, George sings this beautifully.
So there you go, my top 10 Christmas songs. There are a few others I enjoy which didn't quite make my list, but these are what I would consider to be my favourite ten.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Christmas is a time when you hear the same songs for a brief period of a few weeks and then these songs get put to bed for another year. As a result it's hard to tire too much of Christmas songs (although I suspect if you work in a shop which plays this kind of music non stop from September to the end of December you may feel differently) and you find yourself listening out for your favourite during the festive season.
So without further ado, here are my favourite Christmas songs!
1 Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade
Ever since I first heard this song as a child in 1973 I have loved it. Recorded in New York during the summertime, this is the song that Slade will forever be remembered for, despite actually producing some quite amazing songs during their "hot" period in the early seventies.
There is something captivating about Jimmy Lea's melody on the verses and the bridge and the lyrics are apt and sum up Christmas in Britain in a way no other song has managed before or since, with this couplet in particular being my favourite:-
"Does your granny always tell you that the old songs are the best
Then she's up and rock and rolling with the rest"
The song is full optimism with it's mantra of "look to the future" and of course there is Noddy Holder's immortal "It's Christmas" roar at the end, making this, for me anyway, the ultimate Christmas song.
2 All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
I am not a huge Mariah fan - yes she has great pipes but I haven't really loved any of her songs since around the mid 90s, when I think she was really at the top of her game.
"All I Want For Christmas is You" was the lead single off Mariah's 1994 Christmas album and quickly established itself as a perennial Christmas favourite.
The sound on the song is retro, offering more than a nod to the fabled Phil Spector Christmas album. Mariah co-wrote the song with Walter Afanasieff and her lyrics and voice are touching - with the sentiment of the song being one most of us will have been able to relate to at some point in our lives.
I remember being in Amsterdam with my husband the Christmas after this was released and hearing the song being played everywhere and realising this was going to become a Christmas standard, and it is indeed a hardy perennial in the charts come mid December now.
3 Christmas Day - Squeeze
Not a track I will expect many people to remember - it was released for Christmas 1979 and barely scraped into the charts, much to my dismay.
The song was Squeeze's attempt at writing a classic Christmas track and sadly this was never going to happen - probably because Chris Difford made the song focus on the true meaning of Christmas - which let's face it, tends not to mix too well with pop.
Dropping in references to Laurel & Hardy and Morecambe & Wise dated the song too, but I still love it, 30 years because the lyrics are actually rather beautiful, the melody is strong and Glenn Tilbook sings it beautifully. Seek it out if you can!
4 Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Crystals
Phil Spector's 1963 album "A Christmas Gift For You" became one of his very first flops - overshadowed no doubt by the assassination of President Kennedy, leaving a nation not really wishing to celebrate Christmas.
It wasn't until the late seventies that this album was reassessed and the public took it to their hearts, and I became aware of it when I was 17 and in the school choir as we sang this song, and "Sleigh Ride" based on the Phil Spector versions.
There is something utterly charming and uplifting about "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" - the arrangement of course is typically Spector and his famed wall of sound. The vocals are enthusiastic and appealing too, and it's a song that I still love to hear in the run up to Chrismas and will never fail to have me singing along.
5 When a Child is Born - Johnny Mathis
This came out when I was 12 and not supposed to like someone as decidedly uncool as Johnny Mathis, but there is something about this song that touched me, despite it being very sentimental.
Mathis' voice is heartfelt as he sings this song which doesn't actually directly reference Christmas, Jesus or anything really seasonal at all - but for anyone who knows the story of Christmas it immediately strikes a chord with its strong melody and vocals.
This is a song I always enjoy hearing at Christmas time because it captures the spirit of the season in a manner that can touch anyone whether they are religiously minded or not. I have to add that I am utterly faithless but this moves me deeply.
6 I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake
I remember watching a TV programme back in the 90s which interviewed Greg Lake about this song and I was quite shocked at how bitter Lake was about the rise of punk rock and how it killed the "prog rockers" off. I remember thinking at the time that instead of feeling bitter he should try to be a little more self-deprecating about his work in the way Rick Wakeman was.
Of course Greg Lake didn't put on King Arthur on ice at the Empire Pool Wembley, and as time has passed I have come to see that he never produced anything as worthy of ridicule as Wakeman did so I guess I can kind of see why he was so angry.
His 1975 solo single "I Believe in Father Christmas" has become a classic and it's a song I didn't really like as a child but as I have grown older I have grown to love it. Perhaps that's an indication of my increasing cynicism as I age, as this song has a fair amount of cynicism in it - certainly as much as any Sex Pistols song - just delivered in a different, and dare I say it far more appealing, way.
Lake penned the song as his way of protesting the over-commercialisation of Christmas, something that makes the song as relevant today as it was in 1975 - if not more so, and his cynicism turns the title on its head, without actually denying the existence of said Father Christmas - turning the song into a modern classic.
7 Fairy Tale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Another Christmas tune loaded with cynicism, but one which tops the "Top 10 Christmas Songs" regular as clockwork.
I do love this song and the fact it features aspects of Christmas which are oft overlooked - drunkenness, violence and the way we have to tolerate people we would rather not bother with sometimes at Christmas.
On this song the Pogues capture another side of Christmas and it goes without saying that Kirsty MacColl is just amazing as she spars vocally with Shane McGowan, telling the tale of two drunken Irish immigrants to the Big Apple at Christmastime.
8 The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - Nat King Cole
My father was a huge Nat King Cole fan - I remember he had a box set of albums and at Christmas he would make a point of playing this song to us.
I didn't like it in childhood - in fact I thought Nat King Cole was boring as a child but as I have got older I have realised just what an incredibly gifted vocalist and pianist Cole was - he was able to capture the feelings of joy one feels about a Christmas spent with the one you love in a very simple and straightforward way in this song.
The melody is simple, and smooth and while I have heard some good versions of this classic song, only Luther Vandross has even come close to capturing the essence of the song that Nat King Cole recorded for posterity on his version.
9 It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year - Andy Williams
Ah there is something almost, but not quite, cheesy about this song - but the vocal skill of Andy Williams saves it from becoming pure cheddar.
I only have to hear the first couple of lines of this song and I feel uplifted and ready for the season of goodwill, which is a testament to a good song sung well.
Williams manages to capture all the things which make Christmas special and put you in mind of an idealised Christmas you may never experience with sleighs led by reindeer, ice skating on a frozen pond and that open fire roaring away, leading to a classic Christmas song.
10 December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) - George Michael
"December Song" was originally relased by George Michael last year in a limited run - the radio got it and fans could download it as a Christmas present from George's website on Christmas day.
I duly downloaded it and wished George had released it commercially as the song took me straight back to my own childhood Christmases in a way no other song has ever done before.
There is something deeply touching about the arrangment and melody of the song, and his lyrics reflect what it was like for me as a child to "dream of Christmas". George and I were both children in the 70s and the reference to "watching TV all day" will be lost on children today because of course there is something on TV all day for them now. Back then there wasn't - and with that one line George takes me back to the days TV was in black and white, there were no videos and only 3 channels, yet the excitement over what would be on TV at Christmas was palpable.
The simplicity of this song is what makes it work so well for me and I truly hope that this becomes a Christmas classic over time - yes it's not as immediate as "Last Christmas", George's bonafide classic Christmas song, but for me it is more sincere and more touching. George's voice is as fantastic as ever on the song too.
So there you go - that's my Christmas top 10 - hope you enjoyed them and I hope more people choose to post their own lists too - and that everyone on dooyoo has a very merry Christmas.
I love Christmas. I'm a total sucker for the whole shebang, commercialism and all. Whether you're shopping, channel hopping or listening to the radio, from mid-November onwards you can't avoid the carols and festive pop - so you might as well enjoy it. I do recall one year when I would happily have throttled George Michael - but it was mostly for the irritating way he says "gev" when he means "gave" ("Last Christmas, I gev you my heart...") Not since Verucca Salt's "It's my bar of chock-lit" have I found someone's pronunciation so annoying.
Having a freeview box for the TV means a constant supply of music videos at any time of the day or night, so I can get my fill of "top 100 Christmas songs" and the like, although frequent channel hopping is required to avoid the all too common "funny" / "novelty" acts.
I don't know if it's because I'm a child of the 80s, but the music from this era seems to be effortlessly happy-inducing. The videos, too, are refreshingly home-made looking and ropey compared with the super-slick professionalism of the ones released today.
Christmas songs seem to split into two categories; exuberant, childlike joy (Wizzard, Slade, anyone singing "Let it snow") or schmaltzy tear jerkers (Judy Garland, Bing Crosby). Some might even straddle both types, depending on how much of a sentimental fool you are. (I can't hear a single bar of "Mary's boy child" without becoming a little teary eyed.) When I had my year as a "Christmas orphan" in Australia with a lot of other gap year types, several people dissolved into tears on the dance floor of our big Christmas eve night out. The song that got to me was the Pretenders "I can hear people singing... it must be Christmas time..."
Similarly I never fail to be moved by the oddly spiritual "Power of love" from Frankie goes to Hollywood; complete with the only Nativity scene I ever recall seeing in a music video. Kirsty MacColl's untimely death seemed all the more poignant for being at Christmas, when "Fairytale of New York," was all over the airwaves.
If you're looking for a more cheerful soundtrack to your festivities, you can't go wrong with the classics. Only Elvis could make lyrics like "Santa Claus is comin' down your chimney tonight" sound as dirty as they do in his version of "Santa Claus is back in town." (I highly recommend his Christmas album, every track is a cracker. 'Scuse the pun.) Likewise the rat pack are quality all the way- I especially like the rarely played Sinatra version of Jingle bells. The shameless materialism of Santa baby may have been memorably covered by the pouting, simpering Kylie, but Eartha Kitt's will always be the definitive version. And "Zat you, Santa Claus?" by Louis Armstong is currently featured on a TV commercial, but it needs to be heard all the way through. This might sound crazy, but for me it has a comical vibe which makes me think of Tom and Jerry cartoons...
Some time-honoured songs feature in seasonal movies - who could forget Brenda lee's "Rockin' around the Christmas tree," in Home Alone? And "Walking in the air" might be forever associated with The Snowman, but we all forget that the film soundtrack actually featured little known choir boy called Peter Auty, who must be ruing the day Aled Jones recorded the single.
Paul McCartney has provided us with several favourites - "We all stand together," starring Rupert bear, bagpipes in "Mull of Kintyre" (I can't be the only one who likes it) and the cheery little "Sinply having a wonderful Christmas time" You'd have to be scrooge not to smile. John Lennon went with the slightly guilt inducing lyrics of "Happy Christmas (War is over)"- "And so this is Christmas... and what have you done? Another year older..." OK, I don't need pop songs giving me achievement anxiety! Christmas has now become a popular time for celebrities everywhere to jump onto a charitable bandwagon / pedestal. Still, It's for a good cause, isn't it?
Which brings me to: The battle for the Christmas number 1. Despite the fact that nobody I know even keeps track of "What's in the charts" these days - probably with the demise of Top of the pops and the Chart show - it is still the most coveted spot of the year. Well, this year it's a triumph for the appropriately named Rage against the machine. ("The machine" this year, apparently being Simon Cowell's monopoly on the British music business. ) Last year I was all for the "Jeff Buckley for number 1!" campaign - until I actually heard Alexandra Burke singing Hallelujah. Then I said "Fuhgettaboutit! She can have this one." You see, I think it's important to throw your music snobbery out of the window sometimes and just enjoy music without politics. Besides, Simon Cowell is having a laugh - being a shareholder in Sony, he is making pots of money anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if he had engineered the whole thing... It's not the first time we've had a controversial choice - in 2003 Gary Jule's cover of "Mad world" was a downbeat but oddly moving winner.
If you're in the mood for carols by candlelight, well, "O Holy night" is notoriously difficult to sing, so every diva has to attempt it. Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson's are the best in my humble opinion. (My most shameful secret is that I not only own Mariah Carey's Christmas album... but I love it and can't wait to play it every year.) Likewise if you want a fix of proper gospel, check out "Jesus, what a wonderful child" sung by anyone who MEANS it. You'll be heading to a Pentecostal church before you can say "Can I get an 'amen'?"
Other music may not be particularly Christmassy, but somehow become inextricably linked with your own personal festivities. I spent my "frantic present wrapping" sessions last year listening to Tom Waits on repeat. "A Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis" may not be on everyone's list of favourite songs, but it will always be a happy memory for me. Likewise Mazzy Star's ethereal soft songs don't have a jingle bell in sight, but after receiving the album"Among my swan" last year it became the soundtrack to my Christmas.
Christmas is the season where "Cool" is out and sentimentality rules. Which is why Bing Crosby and David Bowie sitting side by side at the piano somehow works. The songs that tug at our heartstrings promise us the Christmas we've always dreamt of, that elusive, "perfect" day, with our loved ones around. I suppose there is something reassuring about hearing the same old songs year after year, like old friends we know we will be hearing from in December. Friends you can turn down when they get annoying :-)
By the time I was 25 I had lots of problems with Christmas. I wasn't religious and I wasn't a materialist either - and it seemed that the anthems to this ritual of superstition meets greed were either some thoroughly nauseating carols I hated from school and terrible song by Wizard. I recall doing my Christmas shopping in Oxford hemmed in more than every by bustling angry people competing to get to the stores and everywhere I went I was haunted by the childish words of "I wish it could be Christmas every day..." I couldn't think anything worse! Years later the apparent satire of this dreadful track would be explained to me, but I still loathed it along with Slade and all the other naff Christmas tracks that were vomited out of the '70s and '80s.
Eight years later and my wife did a very good job in bringing me round to looking forward to and enjoying Christmas. Many of the songs have got worse - if that was possible - plus there is now an annoyingly ironic embracing of Christmas tinsel-decorated tackiness as if it were all so wonderfully kitch and the greed has increased although thankfully now we have the internet to cut out the Christmas shopping nonsense. What my wife did was take me to the parts of Christmas or winter solstice or Newton's Birthday that I do enjoy. Among these enjoyments I actually can find 10 songs that I find an enjoyable connection with at Christmas.
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - Written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells, famously sung by Nat King Cole
I have come to the conclusion that most Christmas song recorded before the 1960s were the best. My taste in music rarely dips into jazz and swing, but age does funny things to you. This was the stuff my grandfather and now my uncle enjoys. Whenever I hear of it the whole song just seems to say class. Call me a snob, but I just like the idyllic refinement and the escapism of a 1940s that never was when it comes to unwinding on a Christmas Eve. Nat King Cole has a remarkable voice that seems to relish giving comfort with everyone of these lyrics. The story goes that Tormé began writing the words on a hot summer's day as a series of thoughts about winter in order to cool off.
Winter Wonderland - Richard B Smith (lyrics) and Felix Bernard (composer)
For me, this is the quintessential secular Christmas song. Written in 1934 it contains lyrics that clearly mark it out as belonging to another time. Like White Christmas and The Christmas Song it is wonderfully nostalgic and provides a type of temporary escapism.
White Christmas - Irving Berlin, performed by Bing Crosby
This song really says it all. Being part of a popular musical at the time certainly helped matters and its strong reminiscing apparently appealed to the soldiers of the Second World War who missed home (it was released in 1942). It is this melancholic feel to the track that I think acts as a great contrast to Winter Wonderland and The Christmas Song. Christmas is known as one of the biggest anti-climaxes of the year and this can be true for children who imagine waking up on Christmas Day in a type of white utopia. The question being asked could very well be, did this type of Christmas really ever exist?
O Come All Ye Faithful (traditional, attributed to John Francis Wade)
Apparently this might well have been a 13th century Jacobite ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie before its transformation into a Christmas Carol. I can't say I actually really like this hymn for any other reason other than it reminds me of the joy most primary school kids have at their Carol service in trying to shout as loud as they can "O Come Let Us Adore Him!"
One More Sleep 'til Christmas - Kermit the Frog
They may have had terrible poverty, huge class divide lines and over the top conservatism, but one thing the Victorians knew how do well is celebrate Christmas. Out of that tradition I have always enjoyed a good Sherlock Holmes (I have read every short story and the four novels in Conon Doyle's Cannon) and a good Charles Dickens. Whichever Dickens story or adaptation you enjoy, they all seem to say Christmas to me. However, the only story that really focuses on Christmas is, of course, "A Christmas Carol". I think only adaptations of "Oliver" can compete with the number there have been done of this particular story. The oldest version on film appears to have been done in 1901! Walt Disney Pictures appear to have produced at least three versions, of which The Muppet Christmas Carol is the second (and the first time they distributed a Muppet movie).
The whole soundtrack is a joy to listen to, but this particular song seems to be at the heart of the film and it is a nice coming home tune. According to "Family Guy" when Jim Henson died we were left with "wrong sounding Muppets". Kermit's voice is provided by Steve Whitmire who I think is pretty much dead on. He sings perfectly keeping consistent with that very peculiar tone we associate with the Kermit character. It's a real fun innocent little piece that is expanded upon again in the film's finale with the whole cast.
Hey Santa Claus - Kevin Bloody Wilson
From the child-like if anarchic joy of the Muppets to the crude and politically incorrect words of Australia's most controversial comedian. I have always thought of Kevin Bloody Wilson as the other side of the world's equivalent to our Bernard Manning or even Roy Chubby Brown, neither of whom I have ever had much time for. His humour is often racist and sexist, but not too far right to discount drug references. He pretty much upsets everyone. However, I cannot but like this song. It appeals to the punk in me. It is overtly and shamelessly crude, but yet accurately portrays the spoilt indignation of a child that didn't receive his bike.
As programmes like "South Park" demonstrate, children are far from the clean-mouthed and innocent thinking little cherubs we like to think of them as. Christmas can really bring the worst out in everyone and children are no different. Whipped up into a delirium of excitement over a series of days that help create expectations no one but the real Santa Claus can truly fulfil. So, when that disappointment does arrive it is high time that the big fat jolly old Mr Perfect gets the brunt of it.
The Night Santa Went Crazy - "Weird Al" Yankovic
There is a lot of stress and strain around Christmas time and a tremendous amount focus on the big guy. Weird Al lends his great sense of wit and satire to a description of the fall of Christmas's most favourite saint. A completely wasted Santa completely loses it at the toy factory resulting in a massacre. The song melody parodies "I Believe in Santa Claus" and the lyrics are brilliant.
This is Halloween - Marilyn Manson cover from "Nightmare Revisited"
Okay, it looks like I am running low on Christmas songs. However, for those of you who are familiar with "The Nightmare Before Christmas", the Tim Burton penned and Henry Sellick directed wonderful feature length dark children's fairy tale musical, you will recognize the song. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was released for Halloween, as the story starts then, but it is probably more enjoyed now at Christmas. The film is a wonderful link between these two celebrations, although the darkness of Halloween always has the upper hand. "Nightmare Revisited" was a complete cover album with songs from the film being sung by a variety of alternative rock and metal artists. It was a great idea and Marilyn Manson, no stranger to giving a dark edge to children themes, is perfectly selected for this particular song. Like The Muppets Christmas Carol, I could easily put up this entire soundtrack or its cover album as my choice of favourite Christmas songs, but that's not playing fair I guess.
Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine
Okay, not a Christmas track at all, but if you are reading this in December 2009 and live in the UK you might have an idea of where I am coming from. Christmas charts have never really been great. Hell, on balance, the charts have never been great if we are looking for music that really made a long term difference or are generally considered to be genuine classics. It is then little surprising that Christmas, the most commercially motivated time of the year, will contain some of the worst and soulless tracks going. As time as gone on it has become less necessary to even mention Christmas! For four straight years the UK saw the top spot being claimed by a winner of a TV talent show called "The X Factor". It had become a type of inevitability. Then in 2009 the internet social site Facebook saw a couple who decided they would try to be proactive in voicing their disgust with this predictable and regular occurrence. Tracy and Jon Morter started a group on Facebook with the announcement "Fed up of Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No 1? Me too... So who's up for a mass-purchase of the track Killing In The Name as a protest to the X Factor monotony?"
As a track alone it is one of my all time favourites. It came out when I was 16 years old and so hit me at just the right time. Even to this day I consider it one of the best tunes to work out to. I am aware now, as I was then, of the contradictions and paradoxes associated with Rage Against the Machine and their politics. I am also aware now of the undeniable irony in the final defiant lines of the track "F*** you I won't do what you tell me!" when the Morters and the peer pressure of Facebook are apparently doing just that when they tell you buy a copy of the track in protest to the X Factor winner Joe McElderry's single. However, all of this completely misses the main point of the protest. Quite simply the general public are sick of the inevitability of having to put up with another carefully organized number one. This brilliant single, 17 years old at the time of the protest, has always been controversial and it reminds the general public of the sense of rebellion that should drive young music and has done since rock 'n roll combated the manufactured singers of the 1950s. So, this song may not say anything directly about Christmas, but its reappearance speaks volumes about British public opinion on the Christmas charts.
The Fairytale of New York - The Pogues with Kirsty McCall
I am certainly not alone in considering this to be perhaps the greatest popular Christmas song ever written. It still stands out as one of the most unusual and yet appropriate tracks for the Christmas season. Telling a story of promises and dashed dreams between a couple, it brings some gravity back to the holiday season. All over the country there will be drunken people stuffing up holding cells on Christmas Eve after a night of over-indulgence. Each will have their own story. This one tells the tale of one drunkard recounting a failed relationship between him and another Irish immigrant in New York. The whole song has attracted dissections and discussions for its interesting lyrics, references to culture and history, even prompting a whole Christmas documentary on its conception and subsequent success. From Shane MacGowen's barely intelligible drunken lines to the late great Kirsty MacColl's beautifully fiery vocals the piece is the perfect antidote to all the insincerity, hypocrisy and superficiality that dominate most middle class Christmases in the west.
I must be getting sentimental in my old age, as this year I feel like typing some Christmassy stuff. Apart from food items, I didn't bother last year, so am making up for it now.
Though overall I'm not a participator in the whole scheme of Christmas as it truly gets on my nerves big-time, there is one sneaky little thing I do look forward to each year at this time, and that's the outpouring of Christmas music on the radio. There for me is (and I'm not sure why) something very wistful, although pleasant too, about most Christmas songs - no matter how up in mood and jolly jolly jingle bells happy they are.
I usually get a small sense of bereavment wash over me when Boxing Day hits us, knowing that it'll be another year before Radio 2 and other stations dust off those old Christmas songs to play them all over again. Maybe that's what keeps them fresh; the fact that they only come out of the closet once a year.
So.....here's my Top Ten Christmas songs in no order of preference. I've not included any Christmas Carols, as I feel a separate list would be better for those, one day, nor have I included songs such as Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer as they are largely aimed at children, and I intend this to be an adult Christmas preference selection.
1. FAIRY TALE OF NEW YORK - The Pogues with Kirsty McColl
Shane does it again! For me he's one of the all-time best songwriters ever to have lived, and he doesn't let himself down here. I prefer to listen to the studio recording as live, Shane always sounds too drunk to do justice to his own penned work of art. Somewhere down in the bowels of YouTube (though I'm unable to find it at the moment) is a sweet little video clip of a 50-year-old Shane McGowan, looking a lot more human than he used to, singing Fairy Tale Of New York with his mum, and them doing a little waltz together during the middle-eight and at the end. What grabs me about this song aside from the Christmassy-ness and poignancy of the words and tune, is that it puts me in mind of my mother and stepfather when they were alive - the song's words speak eloquently and closely of the type of relationship they had with one another. They are both no longer with us, and some years ago I dedicated Fairy Tale Of New York to their memory.....affectionately, of course!
2. I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS - Greg Lake
Very reminiscent of a traditional type Christmas with choirs, carol singers, firelight, silent nights, religion and snow, this for me is a very powerful Christmas song. It's about the fairy tale compared to the reality, and speaks of the disillusionment felt when the child's dream of Christmas is shattered when he or she becomes aware of Father Christmas, yuletide snow and peace on earth being a faraway dream/fantasy! Beginning with a tinkling guitar and gradually building up to a fully orchestrated backing that's part of Prokofiev's Troika (I hope I've spelled those right!), this is a clever and somewhat cynical - yet beautifully written, produced and performed Christmas song.
3. ROCKING AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE - Brenda Lee
This for most may seem a fairly lightweight little Christmas ditty, but for me it holds a sadness, in that when it reached no.6 in the UK singles charts in November of 1962, my Christmases at home had to a degree lost their sparkle as my Dad hadn't been around for a couple of years. My mum tried her very best to give me a good Christmas, but with all due respect to her, it just didn't feel the same for me minus one parent. Gifts are lovely, but they don't replace the loss of an important person. As happy as Little Miss Dynamite made this song sound, and though I love it, it's tinged with sadness for me.
4. MISTLETOE & WINE - Cliff Richard
Although I agree with those who feel that this song is rather naff, I still like it in a bizarre sort of way. To me, the tune and words convey the atmosphere of, if I celebrated Christmas, how I'd really like it to be in an ideal world. There is one part of the song though that I find extremely irritating, and it's that silly voice in the middle making a silly sound - probably intended to be a choirboy or something, but it just sounds plain daft and ruins the rest of the song. If I shut my ears to the silly voice, each time I hear it, the rest of the song is as sweet as an overdose of saccharin, and I can almost visualise a lovely real Christmas tree sparkling with baubles and lametta in front of my eyes - with a food table laden with goodies such as a huge roast turkey, crackers, red serviettes, and a rather handsome silver punchbowl full of mulled & spiced red wine.
5. HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) - John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band with The Harlem Community Choir
Strangely enough, bearing in mind I was a bit of a borderline hippie when this track reached no.4 in the charts in December 1972 and I was into all the anti Vietnam War and peace thing, this track at the time did little or nothing for me. Over the years though, it has become a firm favourite. The poignancy of the song infuses into my consciousness each time I hear it, and the message of peace contained within is simple, yet loud and clear - War Is Over If You Want It - mixed with Lennon wishing everybody a good Christmas, gets to me every time. In one way I feel the song for me invokes the loss of an era which can never be regained, but in another way it's sad as I spent a large part of Christmas 1972 with my father, and it was the last time that we got on well together prior to his death four years later.
6. STOP THE CAVALRY - Jona Lewie
I still have a clear vision in my memory and mind of the rather shy Jona Lewie on Top Of The Pops, dressed in his soldier's uniform complete with rifle, doing his little marching dance to this song around Christmas of 1980; another anti-war song, but from the soldier's point of view rather than the peace campaigner's stance. I heard Stop The Cavalry on the radio this morning just as it was announced that the identity of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan had been released, and I had a huge wave of regret sweep over me for the young men fighting out there who probably won't get to be home with their families this Christmas - and will spend the Yuletide period no doubt fearing for their lives.
7. I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY - Wizzard
I find it very difficult to say why this song is up in my Christmas songs Top Ten, as I do fully appreciate how tacky it is. Also, I'm not very fond of child performers as a rule, and we do get a group of children belting out their bit here and there in the song. Maybe it's remembrance of Christmases past? I'm not sure, because I didn't really enjoy those Yuletides of the early 1970s. Perhaps it's a backwards realisation thing in that although my personal life was moving into a dead phase at the time the song was around (1973), overall and as far as society is concerned, they were in my opinion much better times to be alive.
8. WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME - Paul McCartney
Though this reached no.6 in the UK singles charts in December of 1979, for some strange reason I seem to associate it with Christmas 1982 - and I have no idea why. I really don't want to say here what I was doing at Christmas 1982, but each time I hear Macca deliver his Christmas offering, I am plummeted back to then and sharply reminded of what was going on in my life. There for me is a huge wistfulness about Wonderful Christmastime, although I'm not sure if Paul intended that to be the mood of the song. I'd be very disappointed if these days a Christmas were to pass by without this song being played on the radio at least once, just for old times' sake.
9. 2,000 MILES - Pretenders
Some people find this song grating and ugly, but I personally find it hugely wistful, massively poignant, and there is a deep darkness under the rather happy, Christmassy tune and arrangement. The song is about remembering a lost love at Christmas, although that isn't why I personally find the song dark (well, I don't think so anyway!). For me, each time I hear it, 2,000 Miles sort of presses a finger on something inside of my brain that takes me close to a black pool of isolation which I can't quite describe, let alone know what it's all about. In some ways (but not others) this could be my all-time favourite Christmas song - and, a few years ago, Coldplay released a passable cover version of it.
10. SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN - Bruce Springsteen
Though I am a devout Bruce fan, it isn't because it's him that this is in my Top Ten, yet at the same time it's not a song that I like performed by anybody else. The arrangement of the song seems to hold that sharp wistfulness and poignancy which for me all good Christmas songs should have in abundance. It's not so much the verse and the way Bruce sings the song which creates the wistful/poignant feeling - I think overall it's the jingle bells arrangement. I'm tempted to say that for me to find it wistful/poignant, it must touch heavily upon something from my past, but as yet I've not been able to identify what on earth it could be.
Well that's my all-time personal Top Ten of Christmas songs. Two close runners-up which didn't quite make the list, are Shakin' Stevens'' "Merry Christmas Everyone" and David Essex's "A Winter's Tale". As for all the other shebang of Christmas musical offerings, I wouldn't care if I never heard them again. I have two worst Christmas songs - the first of them is Queen's "Thank God It's Christmas" and the second is Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" - yes I know everybody loves Queen, but sorry......I have never been able to stand them, and I realise the Slade offering is probably the best loved and most played of all the Christmas musical fayre, but it just bores the pants off me. Sorry folks - it's not to say they don't hit my spot because they do hit a spot....just that it's the wrong spot!
Thanks for reading everyone, and best wishes for a Cool Yule to all DooYoo members!!!!!
It must be old age or the rule of being a parent but every year when the Christmas decorations come out i some how have to add a Christmas CD to the hi-fi and that is all i listen to then for 2 or 3 weeks , it depends how early i put the decorations up, anyway on with the songs/carols.
1) Band Aid , do they know it's Christmas , I love this song i think it makes me appreciate my family and what we have a lot more , I guess it just makes me realise how lucky i really am.
2) Chris de Burgh , A spaceman came traveling , I just think this song is really christmassy and i am heard humming it at least once a day
3) Bonney M , Marys boy child, I think this is a great song and it beats that ... Itssssssss christmassss shouting one by i think they are called slade!
4) David Essex , only a winters tale, i do not know if this is a Christmas song but it is one i recall my eldest sister playing at Christmas time and i think listening to it now as an adult it just takes me back and helps me recapture that exciting feeling of Christmas as a child.
5) The Pogues, Fairytale of New York, Christmas is not Christmas without hearing this at least 50 times , be it on the radio or in the local pub on the karaoke, it is a song i never get bored of during the Christmas holidays.
6) Dean Martin , let it snow, its a song that i remember my uncle playing on his guitar one year when i was about 7 and it had started to snow. looking back it could well of been a scene from some sort of Christmas film the way we were all sat near the tree listening to him play.
7) Jona Lewie , Stop the calvary my all time favourite Christmas number one song , i just think this song is fantastic.
8) Christmas Carol , 12 days of Christmas, I do like this carol but get confused of the lyrics once they get to number 9 but from 5 i am a whiz at singing it!
9) Christmas Carol, In the Bleak mid-winter, it is a carol i love but never seem to hear it anymore , i think it is one of those songs that you only ever sang at school , shame really.
10) Tom Jone and Ceryis from catona, Baby its cold outside, i like this one loads too it is the sort of song you want to snuggle up to a loved one too on a sheep skin rug in front of a proper fire,
Well those are the songs i love but i do need to stress that i absolutely hate , no detest , Cliff Richards Mistletoe and wine, Mainly because my mother in law played it on loop continuously one year and I'm not talking about 5 or 6 times I'm talking solidly for 3 hours, and to be fair you can not have lots of songs to love without adding one in to the mix that you hate....ha ha ha .
I know the songs I've listed will be repted lots of times of the Christmas period in shops pubs, radio or TV, but to listen to anyone of the ones i have listed for 3 hours would also drive me doo lally, I do like some of Cliff Richards songs , but not this one I'm afraid it nearly drove me to criminal damage in the form of smashing up her stereo!
Anyway one and all Merry Christmas and a happy new year and enjoy listening to your songs over the festive period it helps banish the stress of everything x.
For me, my all time favourite Christmas song is "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and it has to be the version sung by Judy Garland from 1944. Close second comes "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. These two songs for me evoke the true feelings and images of Christmas - open fires, a snowy thatched cottage through the windows of which you can see the log fire burning, snuggling up with your partner under a blanket to keep warm.
The best Christmas songs are the oldies - these "modern" Christmas songs by bands like the Spice Girls, Westlife, Robbie Williams are rubbish - they are the sort of cheese that will be playing in the shops as reluctant Christmas shoppers perform their yearly duty of present buying. You cannot buy a decent Christmas CD anymore - more than half of it is filled out with this modern trash. Why oh why do they insist on putting Angels by Robbie Williams and The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood on these CD's? Since when have these become Christmas songs???
Other true classic Christmas songs are "Happy Christmas, War is Over" (you've got to love the opening line "So this is Christmas"!), "I wish it could be Christmas everyday", "Merry Christmas Everybody", "Rocking around the Christmas tree" and of course the original Band Aid. (The new Band Aid they did recently was a disgrace to the original one, what was with the rap in the middle??)
The songs I mention above as being classic songs, this is of course in the understanding that we are talking about the versions by the original artists, not covers by modern day artists. The one I forgot to mention, which of course deserves one of the top spots, is Last Christmas by Wham!. This is my all time favourite upbeat Christmas song - its so catchy! And whether you like to admit it or not, everybody knows the words, and the men attempt the high notes. Plus this song has sleigh bells in it, which is a sound that everyone associates with Christmas.
I think the ballads are the songs that really bring out the Christmas spirit, I know I've said I don't like covers but I have to make one exception here - I love Otis Redding's version of White Christmas. He really puts soul into this timeless Christmas song.
I always listen to Christmas music around the festive period - but my CD has to be a home made one with hand picked tracks that really release the true spirit of the period.
Christmas is the time of year when some of the greatest festive tunes come out of hiding and start to appear on our radios. Singers who don't get listened to all year -the Pogues, anyone- suddenly come out of hibernation, and are playing full blast in every shop you walk into. Children are standing dressed up in the chilly winter breeze to sing our favourite christmas carols to us.
Obviously, theres the fact that we also get a 'celebrity' song of the year too is not as great-anybody want to listen to the cheeky girls album?
But everyone has there personal favourites, and i'm no different. In fact, i'm greedier than most, as i have two.
First up is Wham, with Last Christmas. Absolutely fantastic song, everybody knows the words to it and it's not christmas until you hear it.
Secondly, it's Mariah Carey. Probably one of the most popular christmas songs of all time, it's pretty much impossible to listen to it without joining in. Catchy and upbeat, this song leaves ou singing along all day.
Without these two songs, christmas just would't be the same.
We all know the script, sitting round the Christmas tree, stuffed full of turkey and chipolatas, presents opened, port flowing freely when someone suggests putting on that old christmas album. We sit and smile at the perfect christmas portrayed by our favourite songs and sigh contentedly. We're dreaming of a white chrstmas with Bing, seeing mummy kissing santa claus, throwing empty beer cans at the stereo when Cliff gives it misletoe and wine. We're wishing it could be christmas every day, letting it snow with Dean, and joining slade in wishing everybody a merry christmas. Later on as we start to get a bit sentimentally pissed on the port we may shed a little tear or two over Mud's Lonely This Christmas, have a weep at Wham's Last Christmas, or ponder the story told by the pogues and kirsty mccoll in the fabulous Fairytale of New York. But what of the Christmas songs that never made it into common knowledge? The ones that failed to get passed by the censors? They do exist, but I'm sure you have never heard them. The following are six of my all-time favourites. It's hard to convey melodies in writing so for the main part I'll just give the title and a brief description of what the song is about: # First up is the sad tale of the night santa was clocked doing twice the speed of light in a 30mph zone and lost his sleigh licence. It is titled "Pull over Beardy" and the first verse goes something like this: "Pull over Beardy, you're gonna get done I've clocked you for speeding with my radar gun Step out of the vehicle and get into mine You were speeding you know, did you not see the sign?" He was eventually given a two year ban, a £750 fine and ordered to re-sit his test. # "Daddy ruined our christmas" is a sad tale of how three young kids were seriously disillusioned when their father, late on Christmas Eve, had an accident whilst getting the presents down f
rom the loft. He fell through the ceiling and dropped a Playstation II on the head of his youngest son who consequently ended up in A&E with suspected concussion. The Playstation was broken and Argos refused to replace it. The kids are spending this Christmas in Tenerife with their mum and their new 'uncle'. # While pulling Santa's sleigh over France a fox bit poor old Blitzen on the hoof. "The Rabid Reindeer" tells the story of how he started foaming at the mouth over Spain, bit off Donner's (Mmmmm, donner........) tail over North Africa and eventually had to be put down by an all night vet in New Zealand. The antlers were apparently sold for £3600 on ebay. # "Elfie the lazy shoplifter" is, as you may have guessed, a disturbing song about how an elf had failed to meet his production targets by Christmas Eve and so went on a shoplifting spree in Big W. He was caught on cctv and chased by three Store Detectives but never caught. The song suggests he is in hiding in Brazil but no one knows for sure. # Global polution laws outlaw reindeer farts over the polar icecaps so Santa is forced to relocate to a council flat in Birmingham. "Spaced out santa" is the story of how he gets caught up with a group of 'undesirables' on the estate and eventually becomes hooked on heroin. # Last up we have the Scottish entry which tells the tale of how a senile Santa gets confused about his sexuallity. It is titled "Santa - I wantit ye doon ma lum, but ye stuck it up ma bum". The lyrics for this one are, unfortunately, unsuitable for inclusion on dooyoo so I better not say any more. So there they are, my fave Christmas songs that never made it. What do you mean you think I am just making them up? Not me. Never! Perhaps there are some that you know that I have never heard? Do let me know about them in my comment box :o) [Chubs 2003]
I love that song. it always reminds me of how Christmas should be. I was feeling a bit down, just before Christmas. It was cold and wet outside, the decorations kept falling daown and scaring the cat, so I had a rummage around in the loft (as you do) and I found a little brown shoe box. I opened it, and found an old audio tape (remember those?) A photo of me aged about 2, running towards my christmas pressies, with my mum following me armed with a potty,and in the corner of the photo, is a large crepe christmas decoration, very hip and 70's, which was also in the box. I put the photo and the tape back into the box, went downstairs and put the tape on. It was a bit crackly and a little distorted, but I was amazed to hear 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas' sang rather beautifully, by my mum. I went to rewind it to listen again, when I heard a tiny little voice singing the same song...I suddenly realised it was me. I took the now rather faded decoration and hung it on the wall. Another photo fell out of the folds, of my sister and I, sitting by the tree (me on the potty!) and a picture of a green blob with shiney paper glued on it. Entitled tree, by Joy, aged 2. The tape was still playing, and now my sister was singing silent night. Thats her favourite Christmas song. It ended with My Dad saying he hoped the tape would last forever, as he wanted to be able to let his grandchildren hear it. When my kids came home from school, I played it to them. They were amazed! So now we have started our own Christmas memory box, and its got a tape of us all singing Have yourself a merry little Christmas. I found Christmas again.