It is the season to be jolly after all, but hearing Mariah Carey yelp out ‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas’ repeatedly everywhere I go actually makes me shiver with anger.
I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge, I actually love Christmas and the whole festive spirit.
In fact, I make my playlist on the 30th November ready to provide me with 25 days of listening pleasure each year.
So without any further ado, here is my countdown to the best Christmas songs out there (In my opinion, of course!)
15. Saviour’s Day – Cliff Richard
I know, I know…What happened to ‘Mistletoe and Wine’? Well, what happened is that I listened to that song and ended up putting my fist through a nearby yule log.
‘Saviour’s Day’ on the other hand…
Wow, what an opening, it hits you in the face like a punch from an angry elf. I think you have to have a bit of Cliff in any Christmas Song list anyways, it’s a tradition, like charades, or carolling or in my family where everyone gets tipsy and argues about religion.
Key Lyric – ”Open your eyes for the Saviours day. Don’t look back or turn away.”
14. Coldplay – Christmas Lights
The opening piano part literally floats across the cold mist in the air and leaves you feeling oh so warm inside.
A much welcomed Chris Martin’s voice enters in and all is good in the world. Images of crackers being pulled and families sat round the fire all kick in. Everyone likes Coldplay and this is a fantastic attempt at creating an original christmas song.
Key Lyric – “May all your troubles soon be gone. Oh, Christmas lights keep shining on”
13. The Killers – Boots
The Killers release a Christmas song every year. Good for them I say, although not all of them are up to the usual high standards of Killers tracks. Boots is my favourite though and I like the lyrics and of course you can’t deny that Brandon Flowers voice would be one of the gifts that a modern-day 3 wise man would box up and give to the baby Jesus.
Key Lyrics – “I can see my Mother in the Kitchen, my Father on the floor, watching television, ‘It’s a wonderful life’.”
12. Band Aid – Do they know it’s Christmas?
For me nothing makes Christmas like hearing Simon Le Bon belt out ‘it’s hard, but when you’re having fun.’ It makes me all warm inside in a good way, not in an internal bleeding way. Bono is a bit selfish though isn’t he?
Key Lyric – “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you.”
11. Mumford & Sons – Winter Winds
Whilst it isn’t a song about christmas, it literally makes you feel that little bit warmer in this abnormally cold snap we’re in. Imagine a song which acts as a draft stopper and scarf at the same time, and these warming lyrics and country feel will sort you out proper…like a nice mulled wine.
Key Lyrics – “As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts, Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms.”
10. Sufjan Stevens – Only at Christmas Time
I am a big big fan of anything that Sufjan Stevens makes and his boxset, ‘Songs For Christmas; Volumes 1-5’, is no exception. The set itself is fantastic and I implore you to buy it even if you are or aren’t a Sufjan Stevens fan. Plenty of well known and original Christmas songs with a load of extra things thrown in. I’ve picked 2 out of 43 tracks in this list the first being ‘Only at Christmas Time’.
The guitar is soft and sad, and the vocals soothing and relaxing. Perfect song for a drive in the snow at night, or to read a book to in front of a roaring log fire.
Key Lyric – “Everything lost will find, only at Christmas time.”
9. Theme from The Snowman – Walking in the Air
Before you point out that you know the name of the singer, I am fully aware of who Aled Jones is. The song was known as the theme to ‘The Snowman’, the animated film from 1982 as the version in the film isn’t actually sung by Aled Jones, it’s by choir boy Peter Auty.
Take that slice of information, butter it with the fact that the vocals are hauntingly good and full of melancholy, smother it with the sweet lyrics, bite into it and enjoy!
Key Lyric – “We’re walking in the air, we’re floating in the moonlit sky.”
8. Maps – Stay Another Day
I’ll admit it, I do like the East 17 version, but Maps make awesome music and any chance I get to include them in this list I’m going to take!
Key Lyric – “Baby if you’ve got to go away, Don’t think I can take the pain.”
7. Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo
If you can listen to this song and not want to start shaking your arms, legs and head and imagine you are a leprechaun on Christmas then I don’t know how you do it.
This song is incredibly unique, it isn’t festive sounding yet it is like opening a box full of Christmas spirit.
This song is dangerous to drive to as I recently found out. Damn I miss my wing mirrors.
Key Lyric – There aren’t any, but the guitar solo is special enough.
6. Jona Lewie – Stop the Calvary
Never originally intended as a Christmas song, ‘Stop the Calvary’ refers to the wishes of countless soldiers throughout centuries of wars. It starts off quite slowly and not especially jolly, but once the brass band kicks in I instantly run into the kitchen and grab a mince pie from the cupboard. I then sit contently as I bite into my mince pie and enjoy the song, bobbing my head along to the synths.
Key Lyric – “Wish I was at home, for Christmas.”
5. Leona Naess – Christmas
I only heard this song a couple of years ago and didn’t really pay much attention to it. Then one day last Christmas it came on my headphones and I was blown away with the general awesomeness of this track.
It’s a beautiful track, the guitar glides alongside the calming vocals before building into a crescendo of sorts before then dropping back into that comfort zone of bliss.
This really is an alternative Christmas song, however this shouldn’t take anything away from this brilliant track.
Key Lyric – “Words are falling from your lips, like Christmas to my hips.”
4. Sufjan Stevens – Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!)
The second offering from Sufjan Stevens, this time from Volume IV: Peace.
‘Did I Make You Cry on Christmas?’ is a wonderful song as it stands, ignoring the Christmas theme of the song. However the lyrics and slight jingling of bells make it most definitely a safe bet for my top 10, fantastic track.
I’m noticing a lot of my Christmas songs aren’t the most upbeat of tracks, but this knocks ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ right off the radar – sorry Mr. McCartney
Key Lyrics – “Did I make you cry on Christmas day? Did I make you cry like every other day?”
3. Death Cab For Cutie – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
A cover of the 1960s Darlene Love classic, I am absolutely in love with this version. Being a big fan of the band already helps this love to flourish, but Ben Gibbard’s eerie vocal just sends shivers down my spine like an intrusive snowflake sneaking it’s way around my scarf.
Key Lyric – “They’re singing ‘Deck the Halls’, but it’s not like Christmas at all.”
2. Chris De Burgh – A Spaceman Came Travelling
The song is all about an alternative vision of the birth of Jesus, where rather than the three wise men following a star, instead it is a spaceship. If you haven’t heard this before then do not fear, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds. It’s actually a pretty incredible song, and somehow even though it’s about a spaceship, the lyrics really are special and do relate to the story of Christmas.
I’m not a Chris De Burgh fan but he sings this fantastically, it’s haunting, it’s chilling, it makes you feel good, it is Christmas.
Key Lyric – “And it hung in the sky like a star, just like a star.”
1. Greg Lake – I Believe in Father Christmas
So here we are at number one. For me this choice was simple, there isn’t another Christmas song out there that I like more. The ironic thing is that this isn’t a straight up Christmas song about Father Christmas at all. The song is written about the commercialisation of Christmas, ‘They sold me a dream of Christmas, they sold me a silent night.’
The song uses an exceptional instrumental piece entitled ‘Troika’, taken from a soviet film from the 1930s, which just somehow perfectly fits in. This coupled with the excellent guitar intro, horn, strings and great lyrics puts this firmly at the top of my list of Christmas songs.
Key Lyric – “They said they’d be snow at Christmas, they said there’ll be peace on earth.”