From legends of music like Sinatra and Lennon, to the likes of Mariah Carey and almost all X Factor winners, everyone has attempted a Christmas song at some point in their career. However the jury is still out on whether they are the cheesiest of cheese or just good old festive fun. I am a huge fan of Christmas songs. That doesn’t mean I love all of them (of course not, even Mariah is a bit much for me) but for the best part, they should be taken with a pinch of salt and thoroughly enjoyed. Most people will be getting out their Christmas CDs in the next few weeks.
At this time of year, just before everyone goes home to celebrate the festive period, companies up and down the country will be throwing their office Christmas parties. There is nothing that brings a room of drunken colleagues together like a sing-along to some of the world’s greatest Christmas songs. You can be down, defeated and missing family, but as soon as the best Christmas songs come on you just know that everything will be alright.
So what are the greatest Christmas songs of all time? Well, I have no scientific formula for working this out, but I am going to give it a go anyway. Here are my top ten, in no particular order. Enjoy!
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
As soon as that glam rock sounding guitar begins you know you are in for a treat. This may not be one of the best known Christmas tunes of all time, but it is most certainly one of the catchiest. On a hot August day this struggling post-punk band dragged themselves into a Manhattan studio and recorded one of the best Christmas songs of all time, which has unfortunately outlived the popularity of the band tenfold.
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
Since its release in 1957, this classic Christmas hit has been covered over 60 times by artists including Arcade Fire, The Chipmunks, Girls Aloud and Neil Diamond. This song is as Christmassy as it gets. Stick this on whilst preparing the veg for your Christmas lunch and you will have the whole family swaying along.
Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea
This may seem an odd choice, but for many of you this song will ring true. Thousands of people around the country will be heading back to their hometowns for the festive period, and this song encapsulates that feeling tremendously. Chris Rea’s husky voice and the mellow 80s backing track make for a blurry yet wonderful song that many will sing along to. Despite being a great song, it only ever reached #53 in the UK Singles Chart when it was initially released.
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day – Wizzard
When Roy Wood left the Electric Light Orchestra no one could have expected what was to come next. He only went on to write one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. Although the music video is scarier than the Blair Witch Project there are very few songs as jolly as this. However, having Christmas every day would be very impractical. Not only would the novelty eventually wear off but nothing would get done and everyone would get immensely fat.
Happy Christmas (War is Over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono
This protest song about the Vietnam War has gone on to become one of the most well known and highly regarded Christmas songs of all time. John Lennon and a children’s choir, what is there not to love about that? It will help you reflect over the past year as you submerge yourself in its uplifting yet melancholic perfection. Let’s face it, it is written by a Beatle, so it is bound to be pretty good!
Last Christmas – Wham!
From serious protests with deep meaning to ultimate cheese, it is now time for Wham! This single, may just have had the greatest sleeve cover of all time and in amongst the 80s synth, you can’t help but sing along with George Michael and, urm, the other one. Wham had been a predominant force in the UK Singles Chart and in 1984 they went for the coveted Christmas No1 spot. They were just beaten to the top of the charts by Band Aid, however, George sang on their single called ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?’ so he still got a share of the glory.
Let it Snow – Dean Martin
Although Frank Sinatra’s big-band version of the same song came first and was quite frankly brilliant, it is Dean Martin’s version that everyone seems to love today. His version is more modest and quainter, with lovely strings and flutes throughout and although it has a festive feel the lyrics actually never mention Christmas. It is more of a love song with a wintry backdrop.
White Christmas – Bing Crosby
Not only is this the best selling Christmas song of all time, but it is also the best selling single of all time. How incredible is that? This song has sold more copies than ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Y.M.C.A’ and Abba’s ‘Fernando’ combined and since its release in 1942 it has become a Christmas favourite worldwide. According to old folktales, Irving Berlin, who wrote the song, was up late in his room one night and said to his secretary: “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!” How did he know?
Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
No list of Christmas songs would be complete without this Slade classic. Air guitars across the country will be strummed along with Noddy and his gang. This song came out at the height of glam and was Slade’s 6th UK Number One single, beating Wizzard to the Christmas top spot in 1974. In 2009, PRS for Music announced that up-to forty-two percent of the world’s population could have listened to the song.
Farytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
This is widely renowned as the greatest Christmas song of all time and can move even the hardest of individuals. It is an anthem for anyone who is down and out and staring into the bottom of a bottle and is guaranteed to have people drunkenly singing along in bars across the world at this festive time of year.
So there you have it, my top 10 Christmas songs of all time. I know not everyone will agree and I also know that I have missed out many other classics, like ‘Litte Drummer Boy’, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?’ and every X Factor Christmas single ever released, but I had to whittle them down to a top 10.
Picture: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig