Or, a few of the Christmas songs out there that don’t suck!
Since it’s that time of year, here’s a quick listing of the few Christmas and holiday songs that I actually enjoy. You know, the ones I actually don’t mind hearing on the radio and don’t fill me with the urge to smash something. (Blame that on years of working retail.)
There are more here than I had originally thought and I’m actually pretty darned surprised about that. Also, the following list is in no particular order. I really can’t put one of these songs above another one because I love them all.
–The Pretenders – “2000 Miles”
Definitely not your traditional holiday song but it’s a lovely song about missing someone close to you. There’s no real Christmas trappings in this one, save for the mention of the season itself and the snow; since it doesn’t bludgeon you with the typical imagery, it’s refreshing compared to most.
–John & Yoko, The Plastic Ono Band with The Harlem Community Choir – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
Yes, John Lennon wasn’t really a nice person, which is downright and damned tragic. But this is one of the few songs that will turn me into a sobbing heap. It’s basically a secular holiday song that is asking for peace. Considering the state of the world, it’s an extremely powerful song.
–Greg Lake – “I Believe In Father Christmas”
This one is pure nostalgia. Back when I was a high schooler in the stone age of the 1990s, my drama class put on a secular Christmas themed play. This was the song played at the end. Years later, I tracked it down and listened to it again; this wasn’t just a lovely song, but it had an undercurrent of cynicism, which is rare for holiday music. What else can you say about a Christmas song that closes with these lyrics?
“Hallelujah noel be it heaven or hell
The Christmas you get you deserve”
–Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”
Traditional meets modern in this one. Some might find it a bit overplayed but this one absolutely stunned me the first time I heard it. Even now, years later, I get goosebumps when I hear the opening chords. An orchestra and electric guitars? Oh yes, please. Give me more of this. The video also gets bonus points for having a couple of kittens, because kittens make everything way more awesome.
–“Weird Al” Yankovic – “Christmas At Ground Zero”
We go from the sublime to the ludicrous with this one. It’s Weird Al, singing a catchy little tune about getting nuked during Christmastime. But what did you expect? This is Weird Al, you know. Yes, this one is beyond screwed up but I’ve loved this song since I was a kid in the 1980s. To be perfectly honest, the entire reason I bought the album “Polka Party!” was simply to get my hands on this song so I could learn the lyrics and sing it every Christmas. It’s been a part of my holidays for a number of years now and yeah, I probably am screwed up in the head for liking it so much.
–Mannheim Steamroller – “Stille Nacht (Silent Night)”
This is one of the few “traditional” songs on the list, if you can call it that. This is a straight up instrumental version of “Silent Night” that got–and still gets–a lot of airplay on a good number of radio stations. There’s a damn good reason for that; this is one of the single most haunting versions of the song. Removing the lyrics actually improved this one, giving it an ethereal quality. It sounds beautiful and cold, and a bit like Christmas eve.
–Paul McCartney – “(Simply Having A) Wonderful Christmas Time”
This song gets a lot of hate, therefore I love it. Well, because it’s so infectious, it can be a bit of an earworm, which is probably why so many people can’t stand it. But it’s perky and the perfect song for a Christmas party. It’s not a heavy handed, overly sentimental mush pile like so many other holiday songs, which makes it awesome in my book.
–Jose Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad”
Again, this is one that often gets a bit of hate, but I love it. It’s happy, has a great beat and makes me want to dance. On top of that, it teaches you how to say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish. What’s not to like about it?
And that should do it. Like I said, I’m really surprised at just how long this list truly is; after 13 years cashiering at Wal-Mart, you’d think this would consist of three songs total.
Next week, I’ll be posting the Christmas music naughty list, with all the songs that I wish would be chucked into the fire with some chestnuts. See you then!