Posted by: Nick Walters | December 24, 2008

Xmas songs I actually like

There aren’t many…

The Pogues, Fairytale of New York
Yeah, obvious, but there’s no ignoring it – probably the best Christmas song ever recorded. Always brings a tear to the eye and lump to the throat.

Half Man Half Biscuit, It’s Cliched To Be Cynical at Christmas
From 1998’s Trouble Over Bridgwater album, back then this was quite a novel observation. Ten years on and it’s been cliched to think that it’s cliched to be cynical at Christmas, then cliched to think that it’s cliched to think that it’s cliched to be cynical at Christmas, and now in 2008 it’s cliched to think that it’s cliched to think that it’s cliched to think that it’s cliched to be cynical at Christmas, so we’re back to the original meaning. An uncharacteristically straight HMHB song complete with jingle bells and a children’s choir.

Saint Etienne, I Was Born On Christmas Day
OK, it’s cheesy as old socks, but that’s okay – it’s Christmaaaas!

Murray Gold, Song for Ten (Doctor Who Series 1 and 2 sountrack CD)
From The Christmas Invasion. I unashamedly love this – it achieved the impossible feat of instant nostalgia. I prefer the original version to the Neil Hannon one, though – Hannon’s style is waaay to mannered and knowing.

The Fall, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
The Fall have, surprisingly, done enough Christmas songs to make up a mini-album, but most of them are shite (Xmas With Simon being amongst the worst ever Fall songs). This, however, is utter genius. The main part is a typical loping Fall riff over which Mark E. Smith grudgingly growls the words of this famous hymn. It then suddenly breaks off for the chorus, sung angelically by Lucy Rimmer, MES’s girlfriend at the time. The contrast is alarming, to say the least. It really has to be heard to be believed, and never fails to cheer me up. The best bit is when MES churlishly snarls out the line “Hail the Heavenly prince of peace.” “Knee deep in festivity” said John Peel at the time (it was part of their December 1994 session alongside a storming cover of Jingle Bell Rock) and as ever he was spot on.

Kate Bush, December Will Be Magic Again
Utterly divine, spooky and spectral, this is one of the few things that actually DOES contain Christmas magic (whatever that is).

Cocteau Twins, Winter Wonderland / Frosty The Snowman
Their albums, especially Treasure and Blue Bell Knoll always seem very wintry to me, so there was never any need for them to do actual Christmas songs. Let alone cover versions. These are pretty bad, but I’ve come to love them now; they induce a warm Yuletide glow.

The Pretenders, 2000 Miles
No sleigh bells or cheesiness, just a wonderful tune and Chrissie’s amazing voice. When she sings “it must be Christmas time”, I feel that, yes, it is.

Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody
Only joking. FUCK OFF! Bah humbug, Scrooge I up etc.


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