A Christmas Countdown

Because nobody demanded it - a rundown of the best Christmas songs of all time! Your mileage may vary. But you know I’m right deep down in your cold frosted hearts.

  1. Last Christmas — Wham

    Look, it just missed out, okay?

  2. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

    If you asked me ten years go, even five years ago, what my favourite Christmas song was, I would have said this. Why has it dropped so much? Has it been over-played? Am I indulging in hipsterness now that it's a perennial favourite of many since the late 90s? Not really; it's still a lovely bittersweet song. So what's changed?

    That homophobic slur right in the middle of the song. Now, I know there's a bunch of defenses for that: they're playing characters, and it's language that those characters would likely throw around. But. It's still there. And the song would be no less if the alternate line - 'you're cheap and you're haggard' was used (as it is in the clip above).

    I can no longer love it like I used to, as in these times, letting these things slide doesn't feel like an option (and let's be fair, it wasn't in those times either, given that the song came out during the passing of Section 28).

  3. The Holly And The Ivy — Los Campesinos

    Strange things for a LC! record - firstly, Gareth isn't the lead (Rob takes the reins), and secondly, it's played entirely straight as a heavenly mix of sleigh bells, religious imagery, and the motorcycle through the snow bits of The Snowman.

    (if you're after an actual Gareth LC! Christmas tune, then go find Kindle A Flame In Her Heart which is also good, but not quite as lovely as this)

  4. Christmas Number One — The Black Arts

    In which a Christmas song becomes sentient and attacks Britain. Insanity from Black Box Recorder and Art Brut. Imagine a British version of Invader Zim's Christmas episode set to song and you're pretty much there.

    *"they'll have to bring back Top of The Pops this Christmas"*

  5. A Christmas Kiss — Charlie's Angels

    Come on, you were waiting for the really obscure entry, and this one doesn't even have a YouTube link. In fact, sometimes I think that Charlie's Angels only ever existed in the warped minds of myself and Kieron Gillen, but I have an actual CD that counts as physical evidence, dammit.

    _Anyhow_, this is a lovely slice of mid-90s festive brittleness that always makes my sister complain: "Ian, why are all your Christmas songs so bleak?"

    I scowl and then play [New Year](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwM0Z-f_zkk), obviously.

  6. Christmas TV — Slow Club

    *sigh*

  7. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday — Wizzard
    "You're in Wizzard, Harry!"

    LOOK AT THE VIDEO. JUST LOOK AT THE FESTIVENESS GOING ON THERE. SMALL CHILDREN SINGING, SLEIGH BELLS ALL OVER, ROY WOOD MAINLINING GLITTER LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW.

    And there isn't, because tomorrow is Christmas. Forever.

  8. I Was Born On Christmas Day — Saint Etienne & Tim Burgess I have a long standing bone to pick with this record. I was _convinced_ for years that Sarah Cracknell and Tim Burgess were married on the back of the lyrics. "Tim and Sarah tied the knot" is, I would say, not exactly coy. But all artists are liars, dear reader, and I'm here to tell you that they're not and never were.

    Despite this heinous tale of lies, you won't find a better Christmas record that encapsulates the mid-90s Europop scene. Okay, admittedly, that's a fairly specific niche, but by goodness, did Saint Etienne nail it.

  9. Just Like Christmas
  10. Christmas Wrapping — The Waitresses

    I was planning on being rather snobbish during these two write ups by pointing out that the reason Americans really hate Christmas music is because theirs is mostly rubbish. But that's not quite true, it's just that the American oeuvre is just aimed towards a style of Christmas music that bounces straight off me. It's not just the schmaltz of famous and obscure crooners that you hear as you enter a supermarket after the second week of November. It's even things like the Spector Christmas album or even _All I Want For Christmas Is You_. I can appreciate the craft, but it all sounds barren and cold to me.

    But not these two records. First up, you've got Low being as jaunty as they're ever going to be whilst delving into a discussion of imagined nostalgia versus real nostalgia. This was very popular on Radio 1 during the late 90s, and still gets played more than you'd think back home.

    And then there's _Christmas Wrapping_ which…I mean, it's "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" for post-punk hipsters! Even the coldest heart can be thawed by the happy ending in the final verse! _THE COLDEST HEART_.

  11. Merry Xmas Everyone — Slade

    Or as it's also known: "The Noddy Holder Retirement Fund".

    While I've always liked this song, it wasn't until I moved to America that I realized how much I loved it. This song is everything that's wonderful about Christmas in Britain - not just the dead-on description of a family Christmas, but the spectacle of the boys from Birmingham glammed up to the gills as the Three Day Week was about to come down, cheap tin-foil kitsch, and whatever the hell it is that Dave Hill is wearing.

    And of course, whenever it's shown on television, it's inevitably a performance from _Top of The Pops_, in a period that would be described as one of its Imperial Phases if it wasn't for the spectre that will forever haunt it.