hmv.com presents... The 100 Greatest Christmas Songs: #30 - #21
Over the next 10 days, hmv.com is going to counting down the 100 greatest Christmas songs ever released. Today, we move on to numbers #30 all the way through to #21.
You can't really have a countdown of festive songs without including this from 70s rockers Slade. Noddy Holder and the boys from the Black Country actually recorded the track in New York in the middle of an August heatwave, but you wouldn't know to listen to it. It's become so ubiquitous that it's pretty much impossible to get through the festive season without hearing it, so much so that it doesn't really feel like Christmas until Noddy screams it at you, and whether they like it or not it's still their biggest hit.
Chuck Berry applied his inimitable touch to the Christmas song lexicon with this rock & roll number in 1958. It's basically 'Johnny B. Goode' reimagined as a song about Santa's red-nosed reindeer, but that's no bad thing and it would have made a refreshing change at the time from all the crooners wheeling out their renditions of festive standards.
Tom Waits' 1978 album Blue Valentine featured this song and it has some of the least cheery lyrics you're likely to find in a Christmas song. His opening gambit goes like this: “Hey Charlie I'm pregnant and living on the 9th street / Right above a dirty bookstore...”
And a happy new year...
Chris DeBurgh will forever be remembered for 'Lady in Red', of course, but in 1975 he released this odd little number that reimagines Santa (or Jesus, we're not sure) as an extra-terrestrial visitor to Earth. DeBurgh's traveller brings with him the gift of song, disappointing hordes of 70s kids who wanted a chopper or a new pair of flares...
This really is one of the oddest moments in festive history – crooner Bing Crosby teams up with the Thin White Duke himself for a gentle rendition of Little Drummer Boy on the former's 1977 TV Christmas special. As weird pairings go, it's up there with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, but do you know what? It works.
25. Best Coast & Wavves – 'Got Something For You'
So many Christmas songs are of the naff variety that when a really good one comes along it's worth taking notice. That's exactly what Best Coast and Wavves produced in 2010, and although they got some flack over recording the song for retailer Target as part of their Christmas compilation that year, once the dust had settled it still stood up as a great festive song. Some will cry “sell-out”, but a tune is a tune.
Often wrongly attributed to Marilyn Monroe, this 1953 Christmas song was actually performed by Eartha Kitt. It's not difficult to see why people would think it's Monroe though – their voices are quite similar and Kitt does an impressive sex kitten delivery that sounds for all the world like Marilyn, but although it's been re-recorded numerous times by a variety of artists, she was never one of them.
First appearing on the 1984 Carpenters album An Old-Fashioned Christmas, released after Karen Carpenter's untimely death the previous year, the song was actually recorded in 1978 during the sessions for their first festive offering, Christmas Portrait. The sing was actually written by Frank Loesser, the man behind musical Guys & Dolls, but here it's given the treatment of Karen's unique, velvety voice.
A stomping anthem, full of hope and joy, delivered with the Ramones’ typical sneer and punk power. A total diamond.
John Denver was hugely popular in America during the 70s, topping the charts with hits like 'Rocky Mountain High', but he also released a Christmas album in 1975, which included his version of Johnny Marks' hit from the 1930s. Denver drafts in a chorus of schoolchildren for added cuteness, which is in sharp contrast to another of the album's tracks, 'Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)'.