hmv.com presents... The 100 Greatest Christmas Songs: #70 - #61
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 #70 all the way through to #61.
70. Death Cab For Cutie – 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'
The alt-rock four-piece from Washington have been peddling their melodic brand of guitar pop since their 1998 debut Something About Airplanes and their contribution to the festive season comes courtesy of this little number, which first appeared on the 2004 Nettwork Records compilation Maybe This Christmas Tree. Originally performed by Darlene Love under the guidance of Phil Spector in 1963, Death Cab For Cutie's rendition is a more mellow affair than the original, gently strumming you into the festive spirit.
The big, pounding drum break from Billy Squier's 'Big Beat' formed the basis for Dizzee Rascal's 'Fix Up, Look Sharp', and it's probably his best-known song. Far less well known is this big ol' cheesy slice of festivity, found on the b-side to his 1981 hit 'My Kinda Lover'. Fans of Rock Band may also recognise this tune – it was an unlikely inclusion in the 2008 game – and in a weird moment of Christmas synchronicity it was also covered by Darlene Love.
Politically correct it is not, but for sheer silliness you can't beat this effort from punk outfit The Vandals. Taken from their 1996 album Oi To The World: Christmas With The Vandals, which also includes tracks with names like 'Christmas Time For My Penis' and 'Hang Myself From The Tree', this song is a riotous two-and-a-half minutes of noisy guitars and lyrics about a sex change operation. What could be more festive than that?
We have a sneaky feeling this isn't the last we'll see of Mariah on this list, but this stomping R&B number sneaks into the top 70 and marks her first entry. Taken from her second Christmas album released in 2010, it comes complete with video of the singer prancing around in a santa outfit and showcases her ability to summon dogs from miles away with the upper registers of her singing voice.
Kate Nash has wisely dispensed with the cheesiness and instead delivers a song of festive heartbreak with the lyrics “it's Christmas once again / but you're f*cking one of my friends”... and it only gets worse from there. Thankfully though it's a brilliant tune, so the heartbreak was worth it.
Some people believe that Paul McCartney's solo work was even better than the songs he managed to produce with the Beatles. They are of course wrong, and if proof were needed, a quick spin of this number from 1979 ought to convince any doubters. Seriously, don't make us break out the Frog Chorus...
Since it was originally published in 1934, this song by Felix Bernard and Richard D. Smith has been covered on dozens of occasions by artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Annie Lennox, The Cocteau Twins, Goldfrapp and Harry Connick Jr., so how do you choose which version to include? Simple, you go straight to the king.
Elvis' version was included on the 1971 album Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas, compiled from a couple of laid-back recording sessions in Nashville the same year, and he lends his trademark style to this festive standard.
30 years on from its original release, Bob Geldof has once again rounded up a list of pop's finest to belt out what is now the fourth incarnation of this festive fundraiser, but the first will always be the most memorable and culturally significant, aimed at raising funds for the famine that swept Ethiopia in the early 1980s. Co-written by Geldof and Ultravox's Midge Ure, they drafted in everyone from Bono to Boy George and shifted over 3 million copies of this in 1984, even managing to get Margaret Thatcher to back down from her attempts to keep the tax on the single. Provocative and controversial it may be, but it's also as Christmassy as they come.
Actor, comedian, film producer, singer... Dean Martin did it all, and in 1966 the man they called 'the king of cool' recorded his version of this festive classic for his Christmas album, released the same year, and his trademark smooth delivery has made this a favourite for the holiday season.
Fun fact: the song was originally written in 1945 in the middle of a California heatwave by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, who weren't in the festive mood at all, they were just really, really hot and wanted the weather to change.
Finally for today's instalment we have this cut from Wayne Coyne and co., taken from their 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic. Coyne sings about his mission to free all the animals from the zoo on Christmas Eve, only to find they don't want to leave: “The elephants, orangutans, all the birds and kangaroos all said / Thanks but no thanks man, but to be concerned is good.”
The animals may not have been grateful for the help, but nonetheless we're grateful for the song.