I have a plan to add a new tune to my playlist every day on the run up to Christmas. Some will be familiar, others less so but they’re here because they are among my favourites.
19. Christmas Bells – Bellowhead
I’ve saved my very favourite for Christmas Eve. Released in 2013, Christmas Bells is a glorious celebration of the ancient notion of an English Christmas. The video is even better.
18. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Ella Fitzgerald
Another classic from one of the greats – Ella Fitzgerald 1967 rendition of the poem written by Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Lancaster, Massachusetts.
17. Joy to the World – Nat King Cole
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Nat King Cole’s silky smooth singing so here he is with a short classic.
16.The Christmas Song – Frank Sinatra
I had to include something by Frank Sinatra since he was my mum’s favourite and I bought several of his albums for her as Christmas presents. And this one is a classic.
15. One Little Christmas Tree – Stevie Wonder
Personal nostalgia today. This song comes from A Motown Christmas, a double-album released in 1973 that I bought for my sister. One Little Christmas Tree is wonderfully schmaltzy and I had a heck of a job tracking it down.
14. Overplayed Song – The Black Mountains
A group of friends got together in 2007 to see if they could get a song in the Christmas Top Ten. And it’s still one of my favourites.
13. I Want a Television Christmas – Mindy Carson
A festive television schedule is a must but it wasn’t always thus. This record was produced by RCA Victor for the in-store promotion of their tv sets and sung by Mindy Carson with Charles Hale and his orchestra.
12. Don’t Shoot Me Santa – The Killers
Novelty Christmas songs don’t get any weirder that this one from The Killers released in 2007, especially if you watch the video. It was their second Christmas single and all proceeds went to AIDS charities.
11. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
I make no excuses for liking Coldplay and here is Chris Martin belting out their Christmas song from 2008.
10. Christmas Countdown – Frank Kelly
Another of the dear departed. Irish actor and singer Frank Kelly, who died in February, charted in 1982 with Christmas Countdown, a parody on The Twelve Days of Christmas. It is as funny now as it was then and you can read the words of the monologue here.
9. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – David Bowie and Bing Crosby
Continuing yesterday’s theme of recordings by the dear departed, there was no way I couldn’t include this one from David Bowie. Described by the Washington Post as ‘one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history’ it featured in the 1977 show Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.
8. Silent Night – Leonard Cohen
Back to a traditional carol but in the year that Leonard Cohen left us this is his duet with close friend and collaborator Jennifer Warnes recorded in Brighton in 1979.
7. A Great Big Sled – The Killers
Featuring Toni Halliday, this is the first of The Killers Christmas singles in 2006 with all proceeds going to the AIDS charities. You can watch the video here.
6. The Christmas Shoes – NewSong
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a dollop of schmaltz and The Christmas Shoes is about as syrupy as it gets. Recorded by the Christian vocal group NewSong in 2000, it was voted The Worst Christmas Song Ever by Jezebel.com in 2011. This 2007 film looks pretty disturbing if you ask me.
5. What Child Is This? – Mitch Fewell
A traditional carol written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix. Sung to the tune of Greensleeves, it is more popular in America than its native England. This particular rendition was recorded by Mitch Fewell in 2008.
4. Merry Christmas Everyone – Lucy Rose & Rae Morris
One of the songs I dislike hearing at this time of year is Shakin’ Stevens with Merry Christmas Everyone. However, to demonstrate that no song is truly beyond redemption here are Lucy Rose and Rae Morris singing it as a piano duet. It is from Radio 1’s piano sessions in 2015 and you may recognise it from the BBC Oneness ident.
3. Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano
A rather jolly if somewhat repetitive song from the 1970 Christmas album by the Puerto Rican singer/songwriter José Feliciano.
2. All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle – Dora Bryan
This is one from my childhood also recorded in 1963 by Lancashire-born actress Dora Bryan and cashing in on the Beatlemania of the time.
1. Marshmallow World – Darlene Love
My first offering will be instantly familiar. It was written in 1949 by Carl Sigman and Peter DeRose and although it is regarded as a Christmas song, it makes no reference to Christmas at all. It has been recorded many times by everyone from Bing Crosby to Brenda Lee to Garth Brooks, but Darlene Love’s 1963 version is the one for me for its energy and Phil Spector’s wall of sound.