The Oxford Blue has always been a place for discussion and open opinion, one of its many great features. However, I feel that I am writing possibly the most controversial article yet.
In recent years, the Christmas number one may have lost its importance, but that doesn’t stop us all playing the classics every year. To quote Slade: “the old songs are the best”. I am not ashamed to admit I am one of those who starts playing Christmas music on November 1st, and the very fact this list is only 10 songs long was a challenge.
Because of this, I would like to make a few honourable mentions. The whole of the Michael Bublé album ‘Christmas’ deserves a top 10 all to itself, as it’s not Christmas without Bublé, so I have refrained from choosing just one for my list. ‘Auld Lang Syne’, written by poet Robert Burns and covered by many artists over the years and ‘Happy New Year’ by ABBA are festive classics, but their association with New Year’s Eve rather than Christmas Day means neither makes the list. ‘Stay Another Day’ by East 17 would be number 11, but I am more a fan of the upbeat tunes and thus it missed the cut.
Possibly my most controversial omission from the list is ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’. Don’t get me wrong, every year I will more than happily hit every high note in the Mariah Carey classic; however, I find it overplayed and by December 26th I am more than happy not to play it for another year. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 Christmas songs of all time.
10: Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono
A great song with an even better message. For me, this encapsulates everything Christmas is about. A time to come together worldwide and celebrate our differences and similarities, Lennon reminds us as he does so well to unite at Christmas time and not just celebrate the festive season with family, but with the world.
9: Baby It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
It couldn’t be a Christmas list without one mention of the Rat Pack and, whilst there are many great versions of this song, it’s Dean Martin who takes the place. The songs meaning has come under scrutiny over the years and whilst certain lyrics are definitely outdated, the jazzy piano and soft violins compliment the vocals. A perfect Christmas duet for all couples spending the holidays together.
8: White Christmas – Bing Crosby
The original Christmas song obviously makes the list at number 8. Possibly one of the most influential songs ever released, ‘White Christmas’ changed music forever upon its release in 1942, opening the untapped market for Christmas music. The best-selling single of all time, being the only song to hit 50 million sales has rang out for almost 80 years in households across the world and deserves its place on any Christmas playlist automatically.
7: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard
One for the kids out there. This rocking Christmas classic has been entertaining us for generations, saying what we all think growing up, wishing it could be Christmas every day. Whilst the snowman might not bring any snow this year (we can always hope), it won’t stop me singing along with Wizzard until the bells are ringing out for Christmas once again.
6: Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea
One of the most underrated Christmas songs of all time, Chris Rea makes it in at number 6. This smooth, piano-driven bop is one for all of us travelling home this year. Writing this article has reminded me just how much I enjoy this song with the beautiful vocals of Rea and the great Christmas cheer of arriving back to family and friends. Especially poignant after the year we’ve all spent apart from many of those we love the most, play this one even more when December comes.
5: Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade
Being from the same town as Slade frontman Noddy Holder has definitely influenced how high this is on the list, but I just can’t sit still whenever it plays. A Christmas rock ‘n’ roll great, the song really gets everyone dancing and singing, just what a Christmas Day evening should be. Also, who can forget the iconic scream of “It’s Christmas!’ by Holder, possibly the most iconic line from any Christmas song. I must admit, raised its place on my countdown.
4: Step into Christmas – Elton John
That’s right, I’m asking you to step into Christmas just as Elton John did back in 1973. Would this be as high on my list without its inclusion in the 2019 Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special? Probably not. However, no one can doubt its place on the all-time greats. A devoted and unashamed Elton fan, this is a personal highlight of my festive season. With an upbeat message of togetherness and festive spirit, Elton really hit this one out of the park.
3: Last Christmas – Wham!
Only number 3, really? I hear you – don’t worry. I’ve left many great Christmas songs off the list for the sole point they have a more sombre tone, and whilst there was no way I could ever leave this out of the top 10 completely, the song was always going to be limited as to how high it would be. An anthem for all those going through a heartbreak at this time of year, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley really delivered a classic. With the best music video on the list to add to the relatable lyrics and the Christmassy instrumentation, it really is an all-round great tune.
2: Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
Forget every remake and give me the original every day of the week. A universal favourite, Geldolf and co. really created a classic with a star-studded line up including Boy George, George Michael, Midge Ure on drums and of course the classic Bono line that can only be sung at the top of your voice. The fact the single was released for charity only adds to its appeal, a solid number 2.
1: Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Controversial, I know, especially in 2020, but this couldn’t not be my number 1. As soon as the piano intro hits, it can only mean one thing: Christmas. A beautiful love song, sprinkled with the reality of heartbreak and still managing to maintain the Christmas spirit, it’s impossible not to sing along. From the melodic piano to the raspy Irish vocals of Shane MacGowan, and the iconic key change introducing Kirsty MacColl, the song really has it all. This may make my top 10 songs of all-time, not just Christmas.
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