When December begins, it’s time to dust off the old Christmas songs and let them be shuffled along with the rest of my iTunes library. It’s a shame that these songs are confined to only a month of the year, with most of them being able to bring some cheer no matter what sort of day you’re having, but in the same vein it’s hard to enjoy a song singing of snow and Christmas cheer in the heat of July!
Everybody has their favourite Christmas songs, and I’m no exception. Here are my top ten festive tunes:
John Lewis Staff – “From Me To You”
Although not technically a Christmas song, it was the first in a now long-standing run of John Lewis Christmas advert songs that I remember being outstanding. It’s a cover of the Beatles, so the lyrics are obviously simple and well-written, and the soft voice of the girl singing through most of the song makes it a joy to listen to. Although it’s got a commercial intention, the idea of giving at Christmas is important and this song highlights that very well.
Jona Lewie – “Stop The Cavalry”
A Christmas song with a bit of a message behind it, “Stop The Cavalry”’s classic horn section is one of the harbingers of Christmas every year via adverts. Everyone can identify with the desire to be at home at Christmas, and everyone can empathise with the soldier in the song wanting the war to be over so he can return home for the holidays. A simple and happy song, although with a slightly darker and more political undertone.
Wizzard – “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”
I think every kid agrees with the premise of this song at one point or another. Christmas is the best day of the year, so why not emulate it every day? Simple lyrics and a classic intro and exit “When the snowman brings the snow…” make it a staple song of Christmas playlists, and for good reason.
The Raveonettes – “The Christmas Song”
Featured on an advert for the garden shop chain Dobbies a few years ago, this slow and sultry Christmas song struck a note with me. It’s short and sweet, but packs an emotional punch about being with the ones you love at Christmas time. The guitar melody is also pretty special. One of my favourites when December rolls around.
Boney M. – “Mary’s Boy Child” (Oh My Lord)
I don’t really know whether you are meant to take Boney M. seriously or not. It’s one of the few Christmas pop songs that really references the traditional nativity story, and it does so with the typical disco vibe of Boney M. It’s a nice twist on the old-fashioned song, with a bit of a comic side, whether intentionally or not.
Elton John – “Step Into Christmas”
It’s a standard Elton John song, but Christmassy. It’s simple and light-hearted, which is exactly what a Christmas song should be. The guitar melody at the start of the song will always remind me of the album we would put on whilst putting up our Christmas tree at home when I was younger.
Gary Glitter – “Another Rock and Roll Christmas”
Despite his image being less than Christmassy nowadays, Gary Glitter’s “Rock ‘n Roll Christmas” is a fantastic Christmas song. It’s fun, quick-paced and I think almost everyone knows it. The lyrics aren’t anything beyond the standard 80s Christmas song mould, but the chorus is more sing-along than just about any of them.
The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”
The melody will be familiar to almost everyone, it’s used in montages, adverts and all sorts at this time of the year – but for some criminal reason the song is almost nowhere to be heard. It’s a great song about a girl chasing a guy all year, only to finally get together with him on Christmas Eve. The way the lead singer rattles through the complicated rhymes and rhythms is amazing, and adds to the humour of the song as well. A very much underrated song.
The Darkness – “Christmas Time” (Don’t Let the Bells End)
This is the ultimate fun Christmas song to me. The bombastic style of The Darkness makes what is actually quite a sweet Christmas song drip with humour and light-hearted joy. The guitar riff at the start is enough to get the song stuck in my head for days on end. This song was Christmas Number 2 in 2003, perhaps the best effort of a true Christmas song in a long time, and was only kept from glory by what I consider my least favourite song (partly because of it obstructing The Darkness) “Mad World by Gary Jules.
The Pogues & Kirsty McColl – “Fairytale of New York”
My favourite Christmas song, and I’d wager that of many, is the classic “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl. There’s a human magic to this song that makes it so special. The message of the song isn’t necessarily the most cheerful even. The beautiful story of a guy and a girl meeting on Christmas Eve is, but the breakdown of their relationship from then on isn’t. I think the song really means that even though the world is a tough place at times, we can all take some solace from Christmas time, which is definitely true. It’s got a humour about it that’s honest and that resonates with people. It’s not just a great Christmas song, but a brilliant one in general. It’s such a shame that Kirsty McColl’s untimely death stopped this song being performed live in full more often, if not it would, I’m sure, have the Christmas No. 1 it truly deserves. I love “Fairytale of New York”.
I hope you agree with some of my selections, and perhaps have found another song to add to the Christmas rotation. You can find this full playlist, along with some other of my Christmas favourites, in the Spotify playlist below. Feel free to leave a comment with one of your favourite songs that I haven’t listed or to agree with one of my picks.