Part 3 of regular contributor Philip Lickley’s coundown of the top 50 Christmas songs. Find out what songs fill positions 30 – 21.
Top 50 Christmas Songs – Part 3: 30-21
Right, let’s get back onto the sleigh and speed across the roofs to bring you my next ten favourite Christmas songs as we hit the half-way point of my top fifty seasonal songs of all time!
30. Cliff Difford and the Decorations – Let’s Not Fight This Christmas (2008)
Recorded as part of the BBC’s ‘The One Show’ featuring Cliff “Squeeze” Difford on many vocal duties, this is a surprisingly catchy and festive-sounding hit which manages to include mentions of Bruce Forsyth, television, more traditional Christmas values and a lack of domestic harmony in the family home, all topics we can emphasise with. Throw in the usual bells and choir into the production and you get a familiar sounding, but catchy hit. Oh, and the irony that the presenters of The One Show would end up getting into a situation where they would fight!
29. Cliff Richard – Mistletoe And Wine (1988)
It might not be fashionable to like Cliff but you can’t deny his 1980’s Christmas song is a cracker, excuse the pun. With the various boxes ticked including the sleigh bells and lone young soprano, it’s a song enjoyable by people of all ages. It might be as cheesy as festive songs come, but try not singing along to the chorus.
28. The Killers – Don’t Shoot Me Santa (2007)
This year we’ve got its thematic sequel in ‘I Feel It In My Bones’ but this second in the line of The Killers charity Christmas songs is one of their best – but not their best – that starts off a little bit usually but builds into a singable, seasonal hit with darker undertones. It might not sound particularly Christmassy and the tempo changes and vocals from Ryan Pardey make it strange to follow at times but the chorus makes up for it and it avoids many of the clichés of a typical Xmas song and is eclectic in its own right.
27. The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick (1963)
Another classic Christmas song that balances the summer beach sound of the band with the festive feel that you need to create in a Christmas tune. A pleasant short number, it’s a favourite of many playlists and that balance of sounds works.
26. Houghton Weavers – What’s Christmas Without A Brass Band (2006)
To you this is possibly a headscratcher as you’ve probably never heard of it, but this Christmas folk song is very evocative of the season. With its lyrics and music referencing brass bands, there are few other songs that capture the feel of a festive band in the snow. Mixing in brass versions of ‘Silent Night’ and ending in a rousing chorus of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, this is an evocative, atmospheric number that stands on its own feet as a cracking, Northern tune.
25. Perry Como – Winter Wonderland (1946)
Another song sung by many, many artists, it’s the Perry Como version this is the most famous. Perhaps tainted now by its adaptation in the Woolworths advert many years ago, it’s still a Christmas classic and the lyrics capture the mood of the season perfectly and is as singable and quotable as any of the big seasonal hits. Plus, the jazz musical backing really lifts it, alongside the choral section, and it boasts a really warm sound.
24. Mud – Lonely This Christmas (1974)
With its tongue firmly in cheek, this Elvis Presley-pastiching Christmas hit manages to nail the Presley sound whilst also creating a perky tune out of pretty gloomy lyrics. Not outwardly funny – except perhaps in the spoken monologue, it both succeeds as a daft mickey-take but also can be taken quite straight as well, hence its popularity on Christmas compilations.
23. Frankie Goes to Hollywood -The Power of Love (1984)
Possibly the most questionable inclusion in a Christmas list as it’s not truly a Christmas song – only the video really is – but its theme suits the season and it’s only really ever played at this time of year. Beautifully sung with touching lyrics and a simple, but well-produced backing, this is a surprisingly mature song from a group that otherwise camped it up totally. Plus, how many songs mentioned Penelope Pitstop villain The Hooded Claw in them?
22. Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You (1994)
I personally prefer the Olivia Olson version from 2003 and am not a huge fan of this song, but it has a big following and, away from Carey’s often waily vocals, this is an easily singable, up-tempo party Christmas song that speeds along nicely and really gets the party started, to use a cliché. Yeah, listening back, it’s actually really fun.
21. The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York (1987)
You’re probably thinking this is quite low in my list, and you’re probably right, but this track – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – is another song not outwardly a Christmas tune, with lyrics that make Mud’s ‘Lonely This Christmas’ seem almost joyful. Portraying the break up of a couple at this time of the year, it’s only festive because of the ‘Bells ring out at Christmas line’. With the slurring vocals of the Pogues frontman and the New York accent of MacColl, it’s a distinctive track when played and a very popular anti-Christmas song. Throw in a great story, singable chorus full of vitriol and a great Irish backing, it also keeps the press in news stories over whether the word ‘faggot’ should be played on the radio or not.