Recently, dustinw5220 and I have been talking about our favourite Christmas songs and it inspired me to celebrate the festive season by making a list of my Top 10 Christmas Songs. That quickly became my Top 20 Christmas songs cos there were too many I loved and I couldn't cut the list down to just ten.
I've even had a go at putting them in order, although I'm sure I'll disagree with myself by this time next year...
20, The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.
As a child I was a bit offended that poor 93 year olds and up were apparently excluded from having a merry Christmas, but this is still undeniably a classic of the festive period.
19. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
Rockin' around the Christmas tree
Have a happy holiday
Everyone dancin' merrily
In the new old-fashioned way.
This song is indelibly linked with Home Alone in my mind and it always makes me want to rock around a Christmas tree.
18. Last Christmas - Wham!
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special.
Always playing absolutely everywhere throughout December, this is one song you simply can't escape from. So it's a good thing it's a cracking tune with a lovely snowy video to match.
17. All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you.
Speaking of songs that are inescapable at this time of year... Hearing Mariah's dulcet tones signifies the beginning of the Christmas period for so many. And I think it actually was the first Christmas song I heard this year. In Costa.
16. Thank God It's Christmas – Queen
Oh my love we've had our share of tears
Oh my friend we've had our hopes and fears
Oh my friends it's been a long hard year
But now it's Christmas
Yes it's Christmas
Thank God It's Christmas
This isn't a song that gets much airplay and doesn't often appear on lists of the greatest Christmas songs, but I like it. And it feels very appropriate these last couple of years.
15. Lonely This Christmas – Mud
Each time I remember the day you went away
And how I would listen to the things you had to say
I just break down as I look around
And the only things I see
Are emptiness and loneliness
And an unlit Christmas tree.
Not exactly a song full of festive joy and optimism, but it was a staple of the Christmas compilation CDs of my childhood and thus is a staple of my Christmas.
14. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Not a traditional Christmas song in any respects, but damn catchy.
13. Mary's Boy Child – Boney M
Hark now hear the angels sing
A king was born today
And man will live for evermore
Because of Christmas Day.
One of the few explicitly religious songs to make my list, you just can't help but bop along to this.
12. Mistletoe and Wine – Cliff Richard
Christmas time, mistletoe and wine
Children singing Christian rhyme
With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree
A time to rejoice in the good that we see.
I know, I know, it's Cliff. But I think he gets a pass for this one cos it's a good old festive track to get us in the Christmassy mood.
11. Do They Know It's Christmas – Band Aid
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clinging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank god it's them instead of you.
A bit of a controversial song nowadays, what with it's patronising attitude to the whole continent of Africa, but it had good intentions and raised a lot of money and is, at the heart of it, a pretty decent tune . Also, you can't beat the lyric “Clanging chimes of doom.”
10. Step into Christmas – Elton John
Welcome to my Christmas song
I'd like to thank you for the year
So I'm sending you this Christmas card
To say it's nice to have you here.
I'm not sure it's possible to remain still while listening to Elton inviting me to join him in his Christmas wonderland.
9. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono
A very merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear.
Originally an anti-Vietnam war song, this has become a true classic of the Christmas period. And maybe one day it'll actually come true.
8. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
The party's on
The spirit's up
We're here tonight
And that's enough
Simply having a wonderful Christmastime.
Yes, I am putting Paul above John in the battle of the Beatles. Mainly because Wonderful Christmastime is such a lovely, gently happy song that really puts you in the festive mood.
7. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard
When the snowman brings the snow
Well he just might like to know
He's put a great big smile on somebody's face.
If you jump into your bed
Quickly cover up your head
Don't lock the doors you know that sweet Santa Claus is on the way.
Getting the obvious point that no one would literally want it to be Christmas every day out of the way, this is one of those songs that just perfectly encapsulates Christmas for me. So many memories of listening to this song as a child, feeling more and more excited knowing that the big day was getting nearer and nearer. I love it.
6. Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun.
1973 was a good year for Christmas songs. This one was released that year, as was the one above it on this list, and to be honest, most of what I said about I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday also applies here. Choosing which one to put above the other was tricky, but Merry Xmas Everybody just pips it because what could possibly scream Christmas more than Noddy Holder literally screaming "It's CHRISTMAS!"
5. A Winter's Tale – David Essex
It was only a winter's tale
Just another winter's tale
And why should the world take notice
Of one more love that's failed.
What does this song have to do with Christmas? Absolutely nothing, except it's set in winter and that's good enough for me cos it's a lovely song. Also, I have a very fond memory of wandering the South Bank Christmas Market while this song was playing.
4. I Believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.
I've always thought of this to be an atheist's Christmas song, about how you can still celebrate and love Christmas while not believing in the religious aspects. But according to Greg Lake it's actually a protest against the commercialisation of Christmas. I prefer my version.
3. Stop the Cavalry – Jona Lewie
Bang! That's another bomb on another town
While the Tsar and Jim have tea
If I get home, live to tell the tale
I'll run for all presidencies
If I get elected I'll stop, I will stop the cavalry.
An anti-war protest song, this was never originally intended to be a Christmas hit, but the line “Wish I was at home for Christmas” and the brass band made it perfect for this time of year and it has remained a favourite of many, including me, ever since.
2. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin' Stevens
Snow is fallin' all around me
Children playin', having fun
It's the season of love and understanding
Merry Christmas everyone
Such a feel-good Christmas song that never fails to bring a smile to my face.
1. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
"You're a bum, you're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed"
"You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse, I pray god it's our last."
This song consistently tops polls of the nation's favourite Christmas song, and with good reason. I loved it when I was younger cos I identified with the angry, depressed lyrics. I love it now cos I see the hope and optimism beyond that. And it does it all without being sickly or schmaltzy. It's simply a brilliant piece of music.