This week there was a little dispute between me and some friends as to what constitutes a Christmas song. Some thought that all Christmas songs must contain a ‘Christmas’ theme; Mistletoe, Santa Claus, chestnuts roasting by the fire. Others thought that it could be any song that you associate with Christmas i.e. songs that have been Christmas number one, but may have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. So with those valid points made, I decided to make this week’s top 5 a combination of the two.
Fairytale of New York
Released in 1987 by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale of New York is almost the opposite of what Christmas songs were thought to be. While Bing Crosby was singing about a White Christmas and Cliff Richard about Mistletoe and Wine, Shane MacGowan sang (a little incoherently) about being drunk on Christmas Eve, and how his hopes and dreams are now lost due to his life being destroyed by alcohol and drugs. The song may have been a little too close to home for MacGowan, and therefore a little bit of a downer. However it is a lovely and charming alternative to other Christmas songs that tend to lose their novelty over time.
This song is perhaps the most ‘un-Christmassy’ song on the list, but in 2003 it was Christmas number one and since then it is a great alternative to the other saccharine and overly joyful Christmas songs that make some people dread the season. Originally released by Tears for Fears in 1982, Gary Jules and Michael Andrews brought the song back to popularity again with their haunting and melancholic rendition. So for those who are feeling a little sombre this time of year and have no interest in reindeers or mistletoe, then this is the song for you.
All I Want for Christmas Is You
Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit is the ultimate Christmas song in terms of being merry and getting the festivities started. The video alone makes you long for a white Christmas, but the song itself is good because it is annoyingly catchy and it focuses on not wanting anything else for Christmas but your loved ones around you. How lovely!
Stay Another Day
Like Mad World this song has nothing to do with Christmas, but the video had faux snow, the song had bells chiming throughout, so I guess it qualifies as a Christmas song. What makes it a great Christmas song? Well for me it is one of my earliest memories of hearing a Christmas song, and because East 17 (my favourite group at the time) were at the height of their careers. It also helped that Brian Harvey had a great voice, comparable to other lead singers in boy bands like Ronan Keating and Gary Barlow.
Do They Know It’s Christmas?
The original recording in 1984 is not only the ultimate charity single, but also a great Christmas song. Everyone who was anyone at the time was on the single, Bono, Sting, Duran Duran and Kool and the Gang to name a few. This song proved that Christmas songs are not just gratuitous, over the top festive songs where people rejoice in their happiness and all they have, but also a time to remember people who are less fortunate and that we could help make a difference for them.