My favourite Christmas songs

Inspired by Salt and Caramel’s post, I’m trying to think about my favourite Christmas songs. The trouble is, I can’t narrow it down to five. I probably can’t narrow it down to twenty. I love Christmas songs, classic, modern (by which of course I mean 80s), cheesy – I love them all. Except anything by Kylie – as nice a person as she seems to be, she sings like a cat being strangled in a dustbin and her singing voice is like nails on a blackboard to me. So not her. And not MariahpickanoteandsticktoitpleaseCarey either.

In no particular order,

Wham!’s Last Christmas – I was a Wham! fan and now I am a George fan. I love his voice. It’s beautiful. And Last Christmas is sad and hopeful and Christmassy, George’s voice soars, and the video is perfect 80s Christmas cheese – the hair! the brooch! the hair! the way George’s coat makes him look like a teddy bear! the hair! All of my CDs have been copied onto my mp3 player and I usually just set my mp3 player to random. Although I have very strong feelings about how it’s not right to have Christmassy things when it’s not Christmas, if my mp3 player happens to throw this one out in mid-July, it always raises a smile and a singalong.

Queen’s Thank God It’s Christmas – yeah I’ve been a Queen fan since Crazy Little Thing Called Love – when I was nine. It’s not a typical Christmas song but still manages to sound very Christmassy, and Freddie’s voice is fab.

2000 Miles by The Pretenders – not one you hear very often, but so Christmassy.

Pretty much everything on the Phil Spector-produced album, A Christmas Gift For You. Phil Spector seems to be quite an unpleasant man, but I love his wall of sound and it works really well on this album. Marshmallow World, Sleigh Ride, Frosty the Snowman, Winter Wonderland – Christmassy perfection.

A Spaceman Came Travelling by Chris de Burgh – I know, but shut up, it’s my list.

I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake – anyone who doesn’t like this is dead inside.

Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade – there isn’t a single Christmassy thing on this song apart from the lyrics. No bells, no choir, nothing. If you changed the words to something non-Christmassy it would just be another stonking Slade song. As it is, it’s a stonking Slade Christmas song. I do really like a bit of Slade now and again – if I could sing and I was auditioning for X Factor, I’d do Cum On Feel The Noize or Mama Weer All Crazy Now because they’re great. Noddy’s pension, and long may he claim it.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard. I like a bit of Wizzard too. They’re a bit Phil Spector wall of sound with their OTT bombastic production, and this has the appropriate Christmas clichés – choir of children, sleighbells etc over that typical rumpapumpapum that underlies most of Wizzard’s songs (also a lot of The Move’s too).

Band Aid and Do They Know It’s Christmas? Look, I know it’s trite and patronising, but nearly 30 years on it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when the first few notes sound.

Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl. It’s just awesome.

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. Mwahahahahaha.

Mud’s Lonely This Christmas – because I love all songs with a cheesy spoken bit.

When a Child is Born – Johnny Mathis – it’s a lovely song and he sings it beautifully. It’s peaceful and calming and soft.

Gaudete by Steeleye Span. A bit different, a beautiful melody, nice and classic.

December Song by George Michael. When I am a billionaire I will pay George Michael to come round my house and sing this to me every night every December.

Jethro Tull’s Ring Out Solstice Bells. One of my neighbours has mental health problems and when he goes through periods of insomnia he deals with it by playing his music deafeningly loudly all through the night. He plays a lot of Jethro Tull, mainly Living in the Past. I don’t hold it against them; Ring Out Solstice Bells is great. (It’s a bit better since I went apeshit and he got headphones).

I Want an Alien for Christmas by Fountains of Wayne. It amuses me.

Like I said, I really like Christmas songs.

Don’t you think it’s time Take That did a Christmas song? There just don’t seem to be proper Christmas songs any more. Something new and classically Christmassy would be such an improvement on the interminable Mistletoe & Wine, and I think Take That could do it really well. Someone tell Gary Barlow to get on to that please.

What is it that makes a good Christmas song? It seems to be a blend of melancholy and hope, echoing the melancholy of the darkest days of the year and the hope that comes with the shortest day and the knowledge the light will return, the gloom of the cold and the promise of warmth to come. Some of my favourite Christmas songs seem to have a hollow, almost echoey quality to the sound – certainly I Believe in Father Christmas, Thank God It’s Christmas and 2000 Miles have a feeling of vastness about them, and I think Gaudete and the first few bars of Do They Know It’s Christmas? have it too. Slade, Wizzard and the Phil Spector album are, of course, the complete opposite but that just proves the rule.

Listen to his voice soar.


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