This was part of an NME charity record a few years back – Oasis covering Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ – certainly one of the better cover versions around. Quite how the West Midlands rulled the world with the creation of the best Xmas tunes in the 70’s is a mystery – but having lot’s a facial hair seemed to also be related.
1) Michael Jones – The Christmas Rocket 2012
This one isn’t a competition entry, it’s an institution. It’s here because it’s from a self-confessed crate digging music obssesive – Michael Jones – who has been creating Christmas playlist compilations for a handful of people since roughly the begining of time and is the original inspiration for turning this art into a competition. His 2012 playlist arrived this morning (always the week before Christmas, not too soon, not too late) and it’s a marvellous thing – mixing old and new, styles, genre’s and themes . He always finds things no one else does. Cheers Mick !
1) Jim Herbert – Mayan Christmas Everybody
1. Danny Elfman & Patrick Stewart: Opening – (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
2. Pet Shop Boys – It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (New Version)
3. MC Hawking – MC Hawking Holiday
4. RUN-DMC – Christmas In Hollis
5. Nat King Cole Trio – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
6. Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas
7. Chris Rea – The Road To Hell Part 2
8. Beegie Adair – The Christmas Song – Jazz Piano Christmas album version – (greaaat)
9. Elvis Presley – White Christmas
10. Brenda Lee – Rockin´ Around The Christmas Tree
Starts very well – Christmas, horror, animation – Tim Burton and one of my favourite films all with the music of Danny Elfman and the voice of the second best Captain of the Enterprise. Following it with Neil Tennant and some sizeable ding dongs is a very very good idea. MC Hawking is funny in a very bad santa sort of way but interrupts the pop-tastic trajectory of the previous song. There’s a stylist continuation with Run DMC (which is rapidly becoming the most frequently included track across many lists, clearly y’all used to be B-Boys and Fly-Girls in the 80’s – word) – it is a good track to boot. Dipping into a classic with a bit if Nat King Cole always adds class. However, like Will-e Coyote chasing the road runner there’s a bit coming up where we’ll soon find oursleves out of road and standing in mid-air…..
Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas is nice, a perfectly pleasant gravely throated tinkly piano track with a tune beloved of travelling dads everywhere. However – in attempting a segue into ‘The Road To Hell pt 2’ – a good idea in principle. Jim has inadvertantly broken the rules. This song does not qualify as a Christmas track – it’s close but not close enough. A chart position of 60 on the 9th of December 1989 does not meet the criteria of being in the top 4o in December.
Beegie Adair is a very good include and leaves me wondering why I haven’t seen more Jazz this year. It’s good enough and the sort of perfect Christmas cookery programme music to make me imagine Jim as Nigella Lawson stuffing some bird or other.
Always a good plan to incldue some Elvis, he’s as festive as Christmas Pudding and about as calorific. Brenda Lee is the definitive version of Rockin Around The Christmas tree and I’m sure my dad used to fancy her, so that’s getting good marks too.
1) Mark Murphy – Have yourself a very Murphy Christmas
- The Chipmunks – The Chipmunk Christmas Song
- Spike Jones and his City Slickers – All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
- Gayle Peevey – I want a Hippo for Christmas
- Thurl Ravenscroft – You’re a mean one Mr Grinch (Video sung by Jim Carey)
- The Jackson 5 (original by Jimmy Boyd) – I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
- The Royal Guardsman – Snoopy Christmas v The Red Baron
- Eartha Kitt (With Marilyn Monroe pics) – Santa Baby
- Bob Dylan – Here comes Santa
- Queen – Thank God its Christmas
- The Cheeky Girls – Have a Cheeky Christmas
Bonus Track (adults only)
- Kevin Bloody Wilson – Hey Santa Clause (Not to be played out Loud!!)
I could barely get past the first track, thankfully the enticemenet of Marilyn Monroe later in the list gave me the required encouragement to carry on. Further perserverence was required to get past track 2. Solid improvement on track three though – I’ve noted previously that ‘I want a hippo for christmas’ has a real charm to it, it’s added to by the vintage Christmas video. The rasping muted trumpets suit Jim Carey and including a track from the Grinch is a nice change. Jackson 5 and ‘I saw Mommy….’ IS properly terrific, probably best version of that song – HOWEVER, the video fratures the use of a terrible font so it loses all those marks. I’m very fond of snoppy (any serialised comic strip really) so Snoopy vs The Red Baron’s a good choice. Eartha Kitt IS the definitive article with Santa Baby, still better than Kylie or anyone else doing it, I’ve got better Marilyn pics than this selection though – come see me later.
Bob Dylan is always a brave include and very glad it’s here – it’s a lesser played item and something of an aquired taste, raspy and grizzled, throaty and coarse, just like a good single malt on Christmas eve really.
Christmas suits Freddie Mercury and to borrow a line from John Peel (just after seeing George Michael and Aretha Franklin) ‘You know, Freddie Mercury could make any old rubbish sound good, and I think he just has.’
Having the Cheeky Girls bringing up the rear is a better use for a novelty than opening with squeaking chipmunks, although the vocal’s aren’t so far apart. I can’t stop feeling a bit repulsed at the thought of a slightly randy Lembit Opik dressed as an Elf now either, that’s really not how I want to feel at Christmas.
As an example of light and shade – I had Tim Minchin and ‘White Wine In The Sun’ to cover the ‘Aussie’ Christmas angle. Mark’s gone for Kevin Bloody Wilson something of a Ying to Minchin’s Yang on the Aussie culture side, still, it is funny though.
2) Paul Smith – Guilty Pleasures Christmas
This one exists to detonate all sense of credibility you may have assumed from any previous lists I’ve created. Apart from including Mike Oldfield – which is still great AND ITS THE ONLY CHRISTMAS SONG THAT GOT PLAYED AT THE OLYMPICS, BETTER STILL IT WAS IN THE NHS & CHILDRENS LITTERATURE SECTION …. so nah, nah, na, nah, nah !
A few years back I came across a version of Last Christmas performed by ‘Mr Hopkinsons Computer’. It’s just what Wham! would have sounded like if Stephen Hawking had been the ‘other one’ rather than Andrew Ridgley.
In this version of arguably the best Christmas song, in a similar vein – Mr Hopkinsons Computer is joined by Audrey3000 for an eerie version of ‘Fairytale of New York’ >>
8bit Graphics Nerds: Note the moving mouths of the computers…
Well… he tells us at 3:54 on this lesser known gem from ‘Beyond The Wizards Sleeve’ (Nom de plume for Erol Alkan and Richard Norris). Search out their remix work, the Masterchef fan’s will be delighted by what they did for The Killers.
As for what Percy put’s on his Christmas table for decoration >>
- Red Berries from Holly
- The yellow flowers of the winter flowering Jasmine
- The pink flowers of the vibernum
- Yellow flowers of the winter flowring burberis
The things you learn from Christmas Songs eh ?
Latest playlists to arrive:
1) Emma Preston – Boom!
Billy Gibbons, Lemmy and Dave Grohl – Run Run Rudolph
The Vandals – Dance of the sugarplum fairies
Smashing Pumpkins – Christmastime
Bing and Bowie – Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth
The Vandals – Oi to the world
The Hives and Cyndi Lauper – A Christmas Duel
Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis
John Lennon – War is Over
Nat King Cole – the Christmas song
Bing Crosby – White Christmas
Another good one – it’s got ‘light and shade’ / ‘loud and quiet’ / ‘old and new’ / ‘classic & novel’ / ‘covers & original’. It’s hits the ‘Geographically appropriate’ requirement (Lennon) and it finishes with Bing, that’s a good finish – it evokes classic christmas. That could only be topped by one thing and that would be George Bailey. The Hives and Cyndi Lauper is fun as is the opening supergroup. A serious contender.
2) Pippa & John Haywood – The Haywoods Second Xmas Offering and Quirky Christmas
Right, there’s no getting away from it ….these two are special….
Starting with ‘Stoned Soul Christmas’ is a great choice, it starts with a party sound that seems to comes straight off the opening of the best album ever (Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’). Frankly I now want a Christmas cognac and a mince pie to go with this, actually it’s so good I’m going to put it on again. Does lose it a bit at the end though when you get an unshakeable recollection of the Donkey from Shrek, and sheeeeeet if Eddie Murphy’s at this party we can’t do Christmas without mentoning ‘Trading Places’ and a drunk bummed out Santa Dan Ackroyd.
One of those doesn’t arrive thankfully – ‘I hate December’ by Ivy does. This is previously unknown to me and it’s great – somehow sounds like the Sundays ‘Summertime’ but for the opposite season – which means I LOVE IT. Then Badly Drawn Boy rocks up, all ramshackle and too bloody talented for his own good, it’s also very lovely, good kettle drums a lesser used Xmas instrument. Reminds me that although it’s not an Xmas song – Badly Drawn Boy do the best cover of ‘Come On Eileen’ too. The Ramones arrive just at the right time to turn up the tempo and give the opportunity to pop on a leather jacket, but a leather jacket with sleigh bells on. It’s a proper length of song too – it doesn’t over stay it’s welcome (unlike some festive guests). The Vandals ‘My first Christmas as a woman’ follows the Ramones well – love is a many genderd thing you know, did I mention it’s a pink leather jacket, fetching eh – goes with my eyes, and the heels. Gary the green nosed reindeer is okay but it’s got a little too much of a novelty feel and vocal processing that’s supposed to be Eminem-esque which doesn’t seem to suit the chirpy guitar work, the raspy bass is a bit annoying too. Santa’s lost his Mojo see’s this get back on track though – it’s VERY Mumford and Sons. The Moshi Moshi ‘A gift for you’ album throws up ‘Just Like Christmas’ from Ingo Star Cruiser and it’s superb, a bit flaming lips when they remember to include a tune. Some Sufjan Steven’s then arrives, there’s a surfeit of treasures on this album for the Xmas-ophile and this is one of the best. Ending with Brenda Lee ‘I’m gonna lasso Santa Claus’ is a PERFECT ENDING – this is a masterclass in doing understated novelty ‘I’m gonna tug his beard’ – didn’t you just want to do that as a kid ?
Quirky Christmas makes you sit up – not least because it must stand alone in the Xmas song cannon for mentioning Shotgun shells with the first 10 seconds – Mojo Nixon takes the Kingsmen’s version of Louie Louie and adds sleigh bells, tequila and some growling, it’s the song you want if your going out to an Xmas party. It mention’s It’s A Wonderful life and that’s always a good thing… why hasn’t anyone included anything from that yet, the soundtracks available. Kay Starr sashy’s in, it’s all big band and glittery ball dresses – it’s GORGEOUS in every possible way (a small confession it’s buying the Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails albums about 10 years ago that started this whole Xmas song obsession, so this wins in spades). And then some Spector …. Darlene Love … sigh, great combination from Kay Starr into this. Dig That Crazy Santa Claus jumps the joint with a 50’s Rock and Roll / boogie-woogie style and it does it very well. Alan Jackson does what all good Country acts should do – makes you sad and then question how you can be sad and tap your toes at the same time, it’s a little bit more chirpy than John Denver’s take on the same song and the peddle steal is all slidey and twangy, the fiddles a bit annoying though. Country is saved by the arrival of JOHNNY CASH (frankly I’m still happy he was used on the Channel 4 season trail for Homeland), it’s a spoken word piece with humming and harmonies. It get’s to the soul of Christmas way more than anything else has in this competition to date and it’s more emotionally manipulative than the John Lewis ad – a film unfolds in your head listening to it, properly arresting. The Fratellis is fuzzy, warm and vocals seem to have a Wizzardy haze to them, which is a very good thing. A terrific cover of the Waitresses ‘Christmas Wrapping’ shimmers and seems to speed up in an iridescent and fuzzy soup of cosy wordiness. Mojo Nixon then demonstrate’s that he got a Wah Wah pedal last Xmas. Ending with a Tijuana inspired ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ somehow sounds like the theme tune to a 70’s sitcom and instantly reminds you of 70’s Christmas Telly, genius, pure damn genius.
Frankly this duo of playlists set’s a new standard – John and Pippa are the one’s to beat.