Each year we spend far too much time as a family arguing about our Top 5 Christmas songs. We never seem to come to an agreement, so to put the matter to bed once and for all, here is the answer to our Festive 5. According to me anyway.
5. Boots by The Killers
Featuring dialogue from one of the greatest Christmas films ever, It’s a Wonderful Life, this was the bands fifth consecutive Christmas single, released as a digital download in 2010. It barely knocked on the door of the top 50. The sleeve is a nod to another classic movie, Citizen Kane, with the snowglobe featured in the opening scene. A rare Christmas song that wasn’t released in the eighties that is actually very good.
4. Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry
‘All I want for Christmas is a Rock and Roll electric guitar’, sings Chuck in 1958, a theme immortalised 30 years or so later, only this time wanting a Dukla Prague away kit. Unlike Half Man Half Biscuit, Chuck Berry was serious mainstream at the time, and his welcome entry into the Christmas market with a two-minute burst of rock and roll is the stuff of Festive legend. Peaking at No.36 in 1963, the song has been covered numerous times, Slaughter and the Dogs, Sheryl Crow and The Grateful Dead, to name but a few.
3. Jogging Along With Me Reindeer by John Kirkpatrick
This is a firm family favourite. We were travelling back late one night in the car, listening to 6 Music and this song came on. We immediately started singing along with it, and after a quick Shazam, I downloaded it and we’ve never looked back. Any track from a Christmas album called ‘Carolling & Crumpets’ (2006) will always pique my interest, especially if it’s such a catchy folk tune from a guy previously in Steeleye Span. Originally released in 1980, Jogging Along remains Kirkpatrick’s only solo single.
2. Postcard from London by Ray Davies
I’m a sucker for a good old choir at Christmas, and this uplifting song features the semi-legendary ‘Crouch End Festival Chorus’. My wife is from Crouch End and so this song has added relevance, especially as local(ish) lad Ray Davies included it in his 2009 Kinks Choral Collection album. Its pedigree is further enhanced by the fact that he co-wrote it with a certain Chrissie Hynde, even though his first choice apparently was Dame Vera Lynn, no less. The video is worth watching alone for it’s nostalgic nod to Davies’s London.
1. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues (ft Kirsty MacColl)
There’s nothing original or controversial about the inclusion of this one. I read somewhere that its status as the UK’s Favourite Christmas Song has even been enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement, such is its standing as a national treasure. Lyrically, it stands out head and shoulders above all other Christmas songs and is packaged beautifully in a monochrome sleeve. Kept off top spot by the Pet Shop Boys in 1987, the ballad was voted the most-played Christmas song of the 21st century.
Other top tunes that almost made the cut? Well, certainly ‘White Christmas’. No, not that one, but the version by The Wurzels. The ‘Ooh, Aars’ take it to a new level.
As levels go, and right up there at the top for most people, is of course the ubiquitous ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham. I’m not even bothering with a hyperlink because I think you might know it. The intro still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end because my wife and I first met dancing drunkenly to it at a Christmas do at the Blue Angel in Liverpool in 1990.
The Wombles really did rule the world at one point and they always get a good airing in our house. The big day wouldn’t be complete without wishing each other a Wombling Merry Christmas.
Finally, if you still can’t decide which is your favourite, then you can’t go wrong with a bit of Brett Domino and his Ultimate Christmas Medley. It contains about 40 different Christmas classics in one 16 minute EP. I really can’t make up my mind if it’s musical genius or just shit. I’ll let you decide.