Monday, 28 November 2011

I've never heard of that... Christmas music edition Part 1

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can all feel free to talk about Christmas.
Yay Christmas!  I asked Ross last year what signifies the official start of the Christmas season in the UK, as they don't have the Thanksgiving marker.  He didn't really have an answer for me, but it tends to be about four weeks before Christmas- which is pretty much Thanksgiving.

I noticed this weekend that some of those good old holiday ads that make it feel like Christmas have started airing, just like back in the US- namely the "He does exist!  They do exist!" M&Ms commercial and the Coca-cola "The holidays are coming" commercial.  It's funny how much they put me in the mood for the holidays!

But that's not what I wanted to talk about today.  What I want to talk about are Christmas songs that never made it across the pond.

This first example will act as a segue (What?  It's good writing to announce that kind of thing), as an instrumental version has been featured in a number of seasonal commercials over the years.  I'd never heard the song prior to moving to the UK and I have to admit that Shane McGowan (and therefore this song) sort of scare me.  He's like a drunk hobo in a bar singing karaoke.  Ross says this song is more about Kirsty MacColl and that I'm not allowed to say anything bad about her.  I've actually featured Kirsty on my blog in the past, so I guess I like her too!  Anyway "Fairytale of New York" was released in 1987 and is a popular holiday-time song here.  It's apparently (according to wikipedia) "frequently voted the Number One Best Christmas Song" in the UK and Ireland.  Who knew!?

When I asked Ross about other songs that should be included, he immediately said that "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade is the biggest of all time.  It was released in 1973, but has remarkable staying power as it was voted the Number One Christmas Song of all time in 2007!  This video contains 2 points of British pop culture bonus.  The band is introduced by the beloved, eccentric, recently-deceased Jimmy Savile.  He is wearing, for some reason a Wombles costume (without the head).  

The next song on the list that Ross said MUST be included is "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday".  Apparently the 70's were the heyday for future British classic Christmas tunes.  This song never made it to number one because it was "famously" (I'm not sure why...) beat out by the above entry from Slade.

Our final entry for today is from the institution Cliff Richard.  You my remember that he was the subject of his own "I've never heard of that..."  Though he's been in the business since 1958, his first Christmas song (Little Town) wasn't released until 1982.  Sir Cliff has made up time by becoming quite prolific in the Christmas music department over the years.  This may have something to do with his status as Britain's best known Christian.  Seriously, he beat both Jesus and the Pope in a recent poll where British people were asked what came to mind when they thought of Christianity.  Ross deemed "Mistletoe and Wine" to be the best of Cliff's effforts, so I share it with y'all now.

The Brits take their Christmas music pretty seriously, so I'm learning there are way too many classics for just one post!  So I'll stop there for now, but I'll be back with more musical merriment in a second installment.

What's your favourite Christmas song?


  1. This was interesting! My Christmas music taste is pretty common. I love O Come, All Ye Faithful and Hark, The Herald Angels Sing and O Holy Night. Plus everything on the original Mariah Carey Christmas CD. :) Oh, but my favorite Christmas recording ever is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" with Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. :)

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's funny all the little differences! I'm pretty traditional in my Christmas music taste too. I love all the classic hymns, but I think Joy to the World is my favorite. I have such fond memories of belting it out with the congregation on Christmas eve!