December 01, 2016
The thing about Christmas songs is that everyone has their favourite and annoyingly, most of the Christmas albums released each year feature the same ones every time. Wizard, Slade, hell even Bo Selecta features on a few. But what are the five underrated Christmas songs that you’ve either heard but never known who sang (check out Darlene Love’s two contributions below) or that you should check out sometime after watching a solid Christmas movie? Because we care for your Christmas party guests, we’ve compiled five kinda nice songs that we wish had more recognition after featuring in films and on TV.
Note: They may not be entirely Christmassy on their own but because of what we associate them with, we’ve included them. So there.
Joyeux Noel – I’m Dreaming of Home
The film itself is a British/German/French co-production that stars a couple of Germany’s most famous actors, Daniel Bruhl and Diane Kruger; one of France’s most famous actors, Guillaume Canet and err… Trevor from EastEnders and Billy Elliot’s Dad. Even so, it’s a lovely film that focuses on the peace armistice that occurred over Christmas 1914. The song is included throughout the film and is sure to bring a tear to your eye, despite not really alluding to Christmas in any of the lyrics. That being said it is sang by carol singers so that helps to merit its inclusion.
Andy Burrows – Light the Night
Let’s be honest, back in December 2012, there was one must-see piece of television over the Christmas period and no, it wasn’t the Queen’s speech. Yes, the Snowman and the Snowdog was probably the most anticipated programmed of the festive season with most people wondering how they could top Walking in the Air during the (expected) flying sequence. The truth is that they couldn’t but they came damn close with this song from Razorlight’s Andy Burrows. Again, it doesn’t actually mention Christmas at all – and actually sounds like it’s going in some freaky Exorcist direction with those opening bells before mellowing out - but when the video features a snowman and snowdog, we’ll have to acknowledge it’s probably a Christmas song.
The Killers – Christmas in LA
The Killers release a new Christmas song each and every year and although most of them are fairly forgettable (hell, last year’s was titled ‘Joel the Lump of Coal, which tells you all you need to know) this rather melancholic Christmas song tells the story of a struggling actor in LA. Rather than use a genuine struggling actor for the video, they instead decided to use Hollywood A-lister Owen Wilson, muting the message of the song somewhat. Ah well, it’s not a bad effort and Harry Dean Stanton turns up at the beginning which makes everything better. And yes, we know it doesn’t actually feature in a film but Owen Wilson and Harry Dean Stanton certainly do so it counts.
Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Darlene Love seems to specialise in melancholy Christmas songs (and to be fair, looking at our entire list so do we), but considering these are the only two Darlene Love songs we can name, we figure this is probably her speciality. You’ll probably recognise the song from Gremlins but it was actually recorded for a Phil Spector Christmas album back in 1963. According to the film 20 Feet from Stardom, Darlene heard the song on a radio whilst she was cleaning a bathroom for some extra money in the 1980s and it prompted her decision to attempt to get back into music. All we can say is thanks to that DJ because it directly led to…
Darlene Love – All Alone on Christmas
Let’s be honest, we all love Home Alone and probably all enjoy a bit of Home Alone 2 when it’s on, not least because of this absolute belter of a Christmas tune. It follows a similar style to Darlene’s previous Christmas hit and even namedrops it into the lyrics, “Do you remember sleigh riding in the snow, and dancing all night to ‘Baby, Please Come Home’?” It features a number of members from the E Street Band including the late but great Clarence Clemons on sax and was written by The Sopranos’ Steve Van Zandt. Despite the lyrics talking of past memories, the upbeat tune more than makes it a must listen over the festive season.
Bonus Song: Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis
“Don’t you have any Christmas music?” “…Maaaaan! This IS Christmas music!” So goes the cheery exchange between John McClane and his taxi driver as he approaches Nakatomi Plaza for a night he won’t forget in a hurry. Yes, this is a Christmas song from hip hop legends Run DMC (many years before their chart topper with whoever-the-hell-he-may-be Jason Nevins), that features in one of the best movies of all time, Die Hard. And yes it is a Christmas movie. Yippee ki-yay.
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By Henry Fosdike