hmv.com presents... The 100 Greatest Christmas Songs: #10 - #1
Over the next 10 days, hmv.com is going to be counting down the 100 greatest songs ever released. Today, we're into the business end and we're counting down our Top 10...
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1971 single manages to both a great Christmas song and an anti-war protest, written about the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war, and represented the culmination of two years' worth of peace activism that included the couple's famous 'bed-ins', with the pair lying in bed for two weeks at a time as their own form of peaceful protest. The song has charted numerous times, notably after Lennon's death in 1980, and has become not just a Christmas favourite but an emblem of anti-war sentiment.
Ash frontman Time Wheeler and Emmy The Great channeled The Beach Boys for this 2011 offering from their festive album This Is Christmas, released the same year. Written and recorded when the two were an item, the song is one of the highlights from an album that is impossible not to like. They could so easily have made something that sounded cynical or contrived, but instead the while album is a joyous experience that genuinely sounds like it was as much fun to make as it is to listen to. You'd have to be a real Grinch not to enjoy this one...
One of the most successful bands in the Glam Rock scene that dominated the UK charts for much of the 1970s, Mud scored a Christmas No.1 with this number in 1974. What most people seem to remember about it though is the bizarre performance on Top Of The Pops, during which lead singer Les Gray serenaded a ventriloquist's dummy, but that weird little footnote doesn't stop it from being wheeled onto the airwaves each and every year.
7. Kanye West – 'Christmas In Harlem'
Yeezy's contribution to the canon of festive songs arrived in 2010 as part of the 'GOOD Fridays' series of free music giveaways from his record label, released in the run-up to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Featuring a Hit-Boy beat that samples Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis, the rapper enlists the help of Cam'ron, Jim Jones, Pusha T and Big Sean among others, resulting in one of the best festive offerings from the hip-hop world since Run DMC's 'Christmas in Hollis'.
The opening track from The Beach Boys' Christmas Album, released in 1964, 'Little Saint Nick' is one of five original songs on the album, the others being cover versions of Christmas standards, and it's probably the best of the bunch. At a little over two minutes in length, it's short and sweet, awash with the band's trademark, golden-voiced harmonies and chugging surf rhythms. As festive songs from the 1960s go, it really doesn't get much better than this.
One of our all-time favourite Christmas tunes and by far the best-known song by Ohio new-wavers The Waitresses, even though the single never even reached the Top 40, either in the UK or in their native America. Regardless, it's one of the few festive songs that doesn't make your toes curl with embarrassment and its lyric about an attempt to avoid the festivities and an accidental romance are neither cynical nor saccharine. It's a fine balance, but The Waitresses got it spot on here.
Written by George Michael while he and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley were enjoying the height of their success as a duo, this festive fave was kept off the top spot in the charts by the original Band Aid single (which the pair also featured on), but that hasn't stopped it becoming one of the most popular Christmas songs ever. Fun fact: Wham! donated all the royalties from the single to charity, raising more than the Band Aid single itself thanks to its popularity in other countries. Have that, Geldof!
Taken from the Jackson 5's only Christmas album, released in 1970 following their imaginatively titled third album, Third Album, their infectious rendition of this classic from the 1930s features one of the best basslines you'll hear on any festive single and is a charming slice of bubblegum pop-soul that's certain to put you in the mood for the holidays.
It may have missed the top spot on our list but this solid gold classic is one of the undisputed greatest Christmas songs of all time and, in our opinion, features the best lyrics. The somewhat unlikely pairing of Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan turns out to be the perfect match, with the former delivering the immortal “happy Christmas your arse” lyric and thereby embedding herself in the Christmas song hall of fame for all eternity.
(Words By Tom Goodwyn)
So here it is, the greatest Christmas song of all time, Mariah Carey's 1994 hit 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. It's earned her over $50 million in its 20 years and remains the most joyful, upbeat and heartswelling track every composed about the festive season. Inspired by Carey's then husband Tommy Mottola, the song is a bouncy and insanely catchy pop song, complete with all the festive touches. It's been a fixture at every Christmas party, on every playlist and on every Christmas compilation ever since its release, and always will be. Every time you hear those opening bars, you end up cracking a smile, that's what Christmas is supposed to do...