Christmas songs. They truly can be a brutal crucifixion. Their saccharine lyrics and reliance of cliché`s can be unnerving at best and soul sucking at worst. Some songwriters jump on the bandwagon to produce Christmas songs that are so blatantly commercial that it is incredibly obvious that their sole purpose was to make money from its listeners (Mariah Carey`s "All I Want For Christmas" is a glaring example), while other songs are so uninspiring, you wonder why the artist bothered (The Ronettes version of "Rudolph The red Nose Reindeer" is an obvious example). And the less said about the preachy crap that is "Do They Know It`s Christmas?", the better (Geldof and Ure, your motives were noble and courageous but the song was complete rubbish!)
But when an artist gets it right, the listener is compelled. It may be a bit predictable to claim that the effect can be magical, but that word is unavoidable. There is very little time before the faithful day approaches, so it is absolutely mandatory that you choose wisely. Here are the five best seasonal choices:
5. The Darkness- Christmas Time (Don`t Let the Bells End):
An oddity one might say. The Surrey rockers were seen as an unadulterated tribute band by many during their peak in 2003, while others saw them as the biggest joke witnessed in hard rock. Surely they could not write a Christmas classic? Amazingly, they did with a rocker that showed them at their most bombastic. Complete with high falsetto vocals, killer Zeppelin riffs and Christmas bells, it is hard not to like?
4. Greg Lake- I Believe in Father Christmas:
A song written in protest to the commerciality of Christmas, sung by prog`s greatest vocalist. The song`s jangly acoustic riff is reminiscent of Jingle Bells, which initially inspired Lake to release the track as a festive one. Good thing he did too. The song incorporates eastern influences that pay homage to the birthplace of the messiah, while simultaneously sounding popular enough not to alienate mainstream western audiences. Plus it`s a Christmas song, thereby making it an amalgamation of musical and festive synchronisation.
3. Merry Xmas Everybody-Slade:
Noddy Holder has frequently stated that he frequently hears a passer shouting "It`s Christmaaaassssss!" in his direction, in tribute to the brilliant adlib on this recording. Even if that is the moment that everybody remembers him for, it is an adlib that Holder should be rightfully proud of in a delicious song featuring one of the greatest sing along choruses in history. Further credit must go to bassist/co-writer Jim Lea for his fantastic keyboard riff heard at the beginning.
2. White Christmas- Bing Crosby:
OK, it does contradict what was said earlier about cheesy clichés, but it is hard to avoid the delightful charm of the best selling Christmas song of all time. Featuring nostalgic lyrics (which can be applied to some of the charm that people feel at this time of year) and a sparse piano backing, the song is a great choice to enable you to enjoy the festive celebrations. But avoid hot chocolates and fires- that simply is too saccharine!
1: Fairytale of New York- The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl:
You thought you could escape this one, didn`t you. Twenty five years ago Shane McGowan and Kirsty MacColl`s duet about two drunkards berating each other at Christmas time was released. Incredously, it only reached no.2 in the charts. Despite this, its stature has grown with age. Now considered a celebrated classic, everything about it is brilliant, from the piano chord at the beginning to the orchestrated outro, from McGowan`s hapless singing to MacColl snarling the various expletives. Not only is it the greatest xmas song of all time, but it is also one of the greatest songs of all time!