I love Christmas songs. They’re repetitive, overplayed, and schmalzy which makes me wonder why. I suppose it could be something to do with nostalgia, which is surely what Christmas is all about (as well as something about some baby being born, apparently). Christmas songs are warm and homely, plus they’re great to sing when you’re pissed which is the perfect Christmas combo as far as I’m concerned. They can also be a little bit weird which again is something I’m not averse to. Here’s a little description of a few Christmas songs and accompanying videos for anyone who hasn’t turned any sort of listening device on in the last 2000 years.
Dylan has long been documented for his eccentricities but even by his standards, Dylan making a full album of Christmas songs is weird. This one is even weirder (greater) because of the video he made to go with it: Dylan in a Santa hat, wearing a long blonde straight wig, lip-synching in the middle of some sort of mad Christmas party. Proper top festive lunacy.
The video starts with some sort of weird rotation of creepy santas laid out like Queen in the Bohemian Rhapsody video. Their rotation makes me think it’s an attempt at mass hypnosis and clearly it worked. Whatever you think of maniacal diva Mariah Carey this is clearly an absolute tune. If you don’t agree then just watch the first few seconds of the video and I’m sure you’ll come around.
This one came off the back of Lennon’s peace protests which included staying in bed with Yoko Ono for ages. Made about ten years before McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ it clearly shows the difference in their songwriting. Lennon writes a Christmas song about war, McCartney writes one about…Christmas. Big children’s choir, some bells, that mad head Phil Spector: instant Christmas classic.
Clearly the best Christmas song ever written it’s also the most offensive. There’s been a few kick offs over the years about the choice of language but that’s a debate for somewhere else. A couple of notes though: NYPD didn’t have a choir so they couldn’t have sang anything. Shane Macgowan can’t play piano so that’s not his hands in the video. Also what’s Matt Dillon doing on the video? To be honest none of that really matters though because it’s clearly the best Christmas song ever written.
Lyrically this is far more offensive than Fairytale of New York. It’s condescending, naive, and ultimately one big stereotype (Africa is a fairly big place to be assuming ‘the only gift they’ll get this year is life’). Also most of the lyrics are just fucking awful: “the only water flowing, is the bitter sting of tears” is more vomit inducing than my annual Christmas food and booze intake. The thing is though it’s good to sing along to, it raised some money, and it’s nice to try and figure out which smug bastard is singing what. Oh and Dizzee Rascal did a rap on the updated version.
Christmas Gandalf Roy Wood makes this fairly standard tune rise above. The whole band look like the human equivalent of the Muppets’ Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. The actual idea of it being Christmas every day is horrific if you think about it properly; I already have trouble buying presents before Christmas Eve. Plus nowhere is even open. Nice tune though plus extra video points for Roy Wood pretending to kick a kid at the end.
This one has played on my mind a lot recently. Has Santa ever been this heavily sexualised to the point where he’s breathily called ‘Santa cutie’? Whether it’s sung by Kitt or Minogue the overall vibe I get is of trying to seduce Santa in order to get material items from him which seems a bit like a sugar daddy role to me. Again I’m into the song but the more I hear it the more it’s starting to unnerve me. Maybe it’s not one to over-analyse.
Here’s Wikipedia’s opening gambit on Boney M.: “Boney M. was a German-Caribbean vocal group that specialized in disco and funk” which is enough for me even if they hadn’t gone on to perform this biblical banger. The video sees them in fur coats dancing in unison whilst lip-synching to a track which only two of them contributed to. Absolute legends of German-Carribean-Disco-Funk.