December 04, 2012
There’s a seasonal phenomenon known in retail and the media as ‘The Christmas Creep’ and no it isn’t [*INSERT CELEBRITY HA HA*] but rather the idea that with each passing year, the date we’ll hear our first Christmas Song gets earlier and earlier. We’ve all had that “Slade? October?” moment when walking through a shopping centre and regardless of how we might feel about the festive period (I, for one, kind of like it) hearing the same songs over and over can be a tad draining in the long run.
There are few new additions to the Christmas canon because as this article eloquently puts it, it’s tough for modern songwriters to pull off the tone of classic Christmas songs – that of “sentimentality without irony”. Modern-ish tunes like I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, Mistletoe & Wine, Wonderful Christmastime and old cart-horses like The Christmas Song, Little Drummer Boy and Silver Bells are wheeled out every year and while you can’t fault the song writing craft that goes into most; it’s easy to tire of the more familiar numbers. By the time you’re deciding on Christmas music for corporate events, some festive favourites may have already worn out their welcome.
So whether you’re thinking of suggestions for your Christmas Party DJ or merely making an office Christmas Playlist, you might want to take a look at our Top 5 Christmas Songs that people (hopefully) won’t be sick of...
Christmastime is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Across the pond, A Charlie Brown Christmas is sort of like that Morecombe and Wise repeat that you always end up watching in a hot room as a box of Quality Street gradually melts on a radiator. But despite being part of one of the biggest selling Christmas albums of all time, it’s hard to get burnt out on the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s ever so slightly melancholic Christmas tune. In the US, the Library of Congress deemed A Charlie Brown Christmas "culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically important" enough to be added to the National Recording Registry list of American sound recordings – an honour yet to be bestowed on East 17’s Stay Another Day.
It’s Christmastime – Qualities/Yo La Tengo
One of jazz composer, band leader and ‘cosmic philosopher’ Sun Ra’s earliest musical endeavours was Doo Wop group The Qualities who recorded this criminally underplayed would-be-classic. Despite Sun Ra’s obsessions with Ancient Egypt and Science Fiction the song sticks to the core message of informing listeners that it is, in fact, Christmas Time. It’s also worth checking out Yo La Tengo’s rather wonderful cover of the song which gives it an Alt-rock make-over whilst staying true to the tune's doo wop roots (mostly with lots of ‘ooh’s and ahs and ‘bom bom bom’s)
It’s Christmastime – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Another artist who took it upon himself to inform the world of what time it is/was/will be every December was Motown legend Smokey Robinson who, backed by his Miracles retells the nativity story in a way that puts all primary school nativity plays to shame. (Except the one I was in in 1993 – I knocked that Shepherd #2 part out of the park. And my ‘Little Donkey’? They still talk about it at Chapel End) The track first appeared on Merry Christmas From Motown alongside all of those Jackson 5 Christmas songs that are objectively not as good as It’s Christmastime.
Hey, Santa Claus – The Moonglows
Another Doo Wop/R&B take on Christmas in which Moonglows lead singer Harvey Fuqua (I think it’s an elongated ‘ooh’ sound) asks St Nick to bring his ‘baby’ back, which suggests that Mr Claus has absconded with baby or at the very least, knows where baby is. Played alongside the band’s other Christmas tune Lonely Christmas it really makes you’re glad you’re not a Moonglow come Decembertime. The Moonglows achieved great success in the 1950s but by the time the group disbanded in 1960, Fuqua had replaced every other member of the band with a young group previously called The Marquees, a vocal harmony group that featured a 19 year-old Marvin Gaye. And there was me trying not to go on about how great Purple Snowflakes is...
Christmas In Heaven – Monty Python
According to Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, heaven is a Las Vegas style hotel where it’s always Christmas and Graham Chapman sings a song that confirms as much, promising “Lots of Great TV/The Sound of Music twice an hour and Jaws 1,2 &3”. While it’s easy for people to praise songs like Fairytale of New York for being ‘dark’, Christmas In Heaven is a nice reminder that, you know, when it comes to it – Christmas is pretty good isn’t it? You get toiletries and “the latest video games” and “everyone wears a tie”...
By Garreth Owen