Friday, 24 December 2010

The best Christmas songs...?

...the problem is that they often get overlooked as many people have been turned off by the ubiquity of a relatively small sample of the music that is out there. But it’s good that some of us can all still embrace our inner cheese, whether it’s for Last Christmas, Wonderful Christmas Time, or A Spaceman Came Travelling. It’s just that it's hard to have a rational opinion about songs that you hear non-stop for one-twelfth of your life.

I mean, I don’t really know what I think of Slade performing “Merry Xmas Everybody” anymore – I remember enjoying it when I was small and, as I love many Slade songs now, I can only presume that if I heard this song for the first time noe I’d love it too.

On the other hand, I know that I’ve never liked Wizzard’s “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday”, which always felt like an overly cynical attempt to be Christmassy. Even as a child I recall being unconvinced by the opening line “When the snowman brings the snow” – it never made sense to me and, if anything, it would be the snow that brings the snowman. If you’ve lost me after the first line then you have no chance.

I DO know that I like “Do They Know It’s Christmas” though – with it’s melody not a million miles away from Hymn by Ultravox (and the theme tune to Z Cars). Particularly good is the Extended Remix featuring Christmas messages from some of the contributors (best quote has to go to Bruce Watson of Big Country for “Feed the people – stay alive!”)

Anyway, for those who want something new to love, here’s five of the greatest Christmas songs that your local Asda seem to overlook every year.

Sufjan Stevens – Sister Winter : there’s loads of great songs scattered across the 6+ Christmas EPs that Sufjan has done – this one is arguably the most uplifiting and moving of them all. With the full melody not arriving until 3 minutes into the song and an ending that should win over even the most hardened scrooge. If you aren’t close to tears by the end of this song then the chances are that a piece of you died a long long time ago.

Cristina – Things Fall Apart : of course, it’s not all plain sailing at Christmas. A yet to be recognised 30 year old disco-not-disco classic. My favourite line being “they’d killed a tree of 97 years and smothered it in lights and silver tears”, or maybe the rude one!

The Departure Lounge – Christmas Downer : Probably summarises 21st Century Christmas better than anyone else with the lines “is anybody gonna really get the things they want? Everybody’s hoping next year is gonna be the one”

Low – Just Like Christmas : A song about how Christmas isn’t what’s on the outside (snow and stuff), but what is on the inside (in particular feeling like a child again). It dawned on me recently that there is nothing in this song that says it is Christmas time, just that it felt like Christmas – for all we know it could be actually be a summer song.

El-Vez – Feliz Navi-nada : the PIL-sampling, punk cover of a Puerto Rican Christmas song by a Mexican Elvis Impersonator. What’s not to love?

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