10 Christmas songs that won’t make you think maybe King Herod had the right idea after all


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Tis the season to be jolly fed up of hearing “simply having a wonderful Christmas time” or “Christmas time, mistletoe and wine” YET AGAIN as you make that last-minute trip to the supermarket to stock up on piggy blankets. As for Mud’s Lonely This Christmas – no wonder they’re lonely. It’s rubbish.

Let’s face it: most Yuletide hits are about as cheery as a Christmas card from the STD clinic asking you to give them an urgent call on Boxing Day morning.

Even half-decent seasonal offerings like Fairytale of New York and Last Christmas begin to pall when you have listened to them, or half-heard them in the background everywhere you go, for the thousandth time.

But fear not: the And And! And alternative top 10 of actually quite good Christmas songs will bring some cheer to your deep midwinter, and I hope there are one or two songs here you won’t have heard, or over-and-overheard, this festive season.

Let’s start the Christmas countdown at No 10 with the most recorded Christmas song of them all, White Christmas. Bing Crosby’s recording, with sales of 50 million, is the biggest-selling single of all time. There are more than 500 other recorded versions, some of which are not bad, including Bob Marley‘s 1965 Christmas single.

Not strictly a Christmas song, but containing the wonderful lines “the old accordion man plays mellow and bright, and you go home in the Christmas of the night” – at No 9 we find Van Morrison offering his take on the old chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire theme in the sublime 10-minute-plus Autumn Song.

When I go round Tesco at this time of year to pick up the world’s smallest turkey I keep hoping to hear something Christmassy but cool and uplifting, like my No 8, Soul Holidays by Sounds of Blackness. And what do I get? Fucking Wizzard. Do I wish it could be Christmas every day? No I bloody don’t.

You know you are going to get the blues at Christmas, probably at around 1am on Boxing Day, too full to move, already hungover, yet oddly drawn to that enormous stilton in the kitchen, wondering whether you can manage a spot of supper and a nightcap. It could be worse: Sonny Boy Williamson’s woman left him on Christmas Day. Sonny Boy’s Christmas Blues is at No 7.

At No 6, Another Lonely Christmas. RIP Prince. Such a sad year.

Another star we lost this year, Sharon Jones, offers this timely warning to Santa just in time for Christmas Eve: Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects, at No 5.

Time to get even even funkier now, with Funky, Funky Christmas, by Electric Jungle, at No 4. Somehow this great record never made the Top of the Pops Christmas Special …

Kurtis Blow, however, accompanied by the biggest lapels in rap, did make it onto TOTP in 1980 with the terrific Christmas Rapping, at No 3 in our chart.

OK, I lied. Some classic Christmas songs are great, however cheesy and however many times you have heard them. I refer to Chris Rea, of all people, at No 2 with his lovely Driving Home for Christmas. It’s basically two chords and a title, but can 36 million YouTube viewers be wrong? Not this time. This is the 2009 video in aid of Shelter, the charity for homeless people in the UK (of whom there are twice as many since the Conservatives re-entered government in 2010).

I’ve written elsewhere about my all-time favourite Christmas song, Cristina’s Things Fall Apart, so if you don’t know it, follow the link.

Which leaves me with no other choice for No 1 but … The Three Courgettes, featuring the fab jazz and cabaret singer Barb Jungr, asking that age-old question: Christmas is Coming … Are You Coming Too?

To finish with a quotation from the great Noddy Holder: IT’S CHRISTMAS!

Merry Xmas Everybody.

Last modified: December 23, 2018

One Response to " 10 Christmas songs that won’t make you think maybe King Herod had the right idea after all "

  1. Matt Lowe says:

    What!? Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time is one of the greats! Mud’s homage to Elvis is also a fantastic Christmas song, although I don’t know how much of that is because of my love for Bernard And The Genie and its amusing use in that film to great effect.

    Mistletoe and Wine makes me violent, so we’re certainly in agreement there, but no mention of A Spaceman Came Travelling? Credit where credit due, de Burgh wrote a great track there. And Jona Lewie’s amazing anti-war track Stop The Cavalry (which wasn’t originally intended as a Christmas song) is a mainstay of Christmas in my house. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) gets a similar status in my mind.

    But all those cheesy songs are a big part of the “xmas atmos” (to quote Blackadder). Christmas would be incomplete without Sleigh Ride by The Ronettes, John Williams’ Carol Of The Bells, Step Into Christmas, Merry Xmas Everybody, Santa Baby, Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone, Walking In The Air, Mary’s Boy Child and even 1984’s horrendously over-played Do They Know It’s Christmas? (I’m sure that they do, since that song’s never off the ruddy air to remind them and everyone else)

    To me the two Christmas hits that are always unfairly overlooked are FGTH’s Power of Love and RATM’s Killing in the Name. Those two are always on my xmas playlists and they, along with Stop The Cavalry, have the best xmas messages.

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