Last year I posted my huge yet brilliant Christmas compilation as a special holiday treat, and since I am very lovely and generous I am re-posting it.
To read more about the songs go here. This year I am going to write about how each song represents Christmas and the attitudes the lyrics show to it.
1. Shirley Clamp – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
This version of the Band Aid hit sounds more like Christmas to me than any other. It sounds like presents and Christmas pudding and party games, and I only recently noticed, when listening to it back-to-back with the dreary 2005 version, that it’s quite ironic to be so very jolly about poverty and drought. Then I thought about it more and decided there’s nothing wrong here – the song does have a positive side and Shirley brings that out, emphasising how we can “feed the world” and make a difference, not just dwelling on the problems but taking steps to solve them.
2. Britney Spears – My Only Wish (This Year)
This is a slightly different version of All I Want For Christmas, as Britney wants “someone to love me, someone to hold”, but unlike Mariah she doesn’t seem to have anyone specific, just to find her true love. Britney is not a materialist, cos this is her “only wish this year”. She takes it very seriously though, even wanting to “take a peek” under the tree to see if her “baybay” is there.
3. Darren Hayes – Last Christmas
We all know this one – a sad tale of misplaced trust, but not without positivity, as he has learned from his mistake and this year he’ll give his heart “to someone special”. This really could be a song for any time of the year if it didn’t have Christmas in the title line, although the metaphor of giving your heart like a gift is fitting. Oddly I also have a version of this which is a duet between the BSBs and Aussie boyband Human Nature!
4. Hanson – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Now here’s a really Christmassy song, and the tune is again very jolly considering he’s singing about how he can’t enjoy Christmas because his baby isn’t at home. I guess the jolliness is for “all the fun we had last year”, and you’re not gonna win your baby back by being a boring gloomy person, are you? Very wise, boys of Hanson!
5. Siobhan Donaghy – Iodine
A modern tale of those who definitely don’t look forward to Christmas i.e. the turkeys! As with all Siobhan’s songs it has interesting and perceptive lyrics and this does sound just like the kind of “hang on, isn’t this the most commercialist stupidity ever?” freak-out I tend to get around midday on the 25th, then I remember that my Grandma has made her brilliant Christmas pudding and suddenly it’s all worthwhile.
6. Girls Aloud – Not Tonight Santa
GA don’t care for presents, they just want to use Christmas as an excuse to get what they want from their desired males. Cheeky stocking metaphors abound, this is totally fun and silly and therefore exactly what Christmas should be about!
7. Mew – She Came Home For Christmas
I only noticed yesterday that this song only has the word “Christmas” in it once, right at the end. It’s a pretty depressing-sounding song (but in a lovely touching emotional way), but with hope as well, and unlike in the super-jolly Hanson song, she did come home! I guess Mr Mew is just a bit unsure if her return is a good thing, as he seems to resent her for leaving without notice.
8. Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas
Like Britney and Girls Aloud, Mariah has something other than Christmas on her mind: getting the boy she wants! She sings to the boy himself instead of Santa, perhaps more of a realist take on the theme. Personally I’m more on the Britney side of things (lack of boy at all let alone a specific one), but Mariah’s version of the ‘forget Xmas, I want a boyfriend!’ song is definitely the definitive one, for both greatness and notoriety.
9. Raveonettes – The Christmas Song
A lovely, subtle appreciation of the jolly joys of Christmas, and at last a happy relationship. This is such a sweet song, and my favourite by the Raveonettes. In this song Santa, unless I’m mishearing the lyrics, has sequins in his hair… something you’re not telling us Mr Claus?
10. Girls Aloud – Christmas Round At Ours
Here’s the moody teenager view of Christmas. Family gatherings turning into families at war, disappointing presents, the unappealing choice between the kids and the oldies. However, there is a positive side, the kisses under the mistletoe! Although since the only males present on my Christmas day will be my dad and grandad I don’t think that one applies to me. I so can’t wait to be old enough to have Xmas with my ace pals.
11. Sugababes – New Year
Another tale of a lost love who may be returning, but like Mr Mew, the ‘Babes have reservations. They are hopeful that things will be better this time, but, being “older than their years, they are wisely concerned that the excitement of being back together won’t last, so they aim to “push the thought of you away, do it today”.
12. Michael Learns To Rock – Frostbite
Yet another song with sad lyrics but a jolly tune. I guess this pattern may be cos I’m generally drawn to jolly tunes. Nananananananananananana. That’s what Michael thinks of Christmas!
13. Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind
Not about Christmas at all, but a Christmas number one and my birthday song, it has to be here. The West End Girls covered it this year, but as ace as they are it didn’t quite live up to this legendary hit, which was also voted this years as the Poptimists’ favourite song to ever be featured on a Now compilation!
14. S Club 7 – Perfect Xmas
Hooray! A happy positive song! A perfect ending to a wonderful year. That’s what I’m hoping for. But here we go again, boyfriend under the Christmas tree. Blah!
15. Girls Aloud – I Wanna Kiss You So (Christmas In A Nutshell)
Unlike Christmas Round At Ours this one claims they are just big kids after all. They demonstrate this excellently with the words (noises?) “bish! bash! bong! woo!” – a perfect summary of Christmas, at least as far as the token drunk auntie or over-excited child is concerned. I hope I will enjoy Christmas as much as GA seem to in this song!
16. Steps – Merry Xmas Everybody
Another cover of a classic, so you’ll know the story. Very positive and cheery, with all the typical Christmas day stereotypes. It is quite weird though, don’t you think, that on one day of the year so many people all over the year do pretty much the same things at the same time? It’s kind of nice to think that traditions can stick, but kind of sad that it’s only the ones that involve getting presents and stuffing yourself with food that last!
17. *N Sync – I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Xmas Without You
A slight variation on the theme – *N Sync love Christmas but it’s not complete without the ubiquitous “you”.
18. Hanson – Merry Christmas Baby
Hooray, someone already in a relationship at Christmas, and very happy about it. Share the joy, Hanson boys!
19. Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance!
Sufjan may be the dullest man on Earth for 364 days a year, but on Christmas day he has a bit to drink and suddenly he’s the life and soul of the party. It’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it! OK it’s not exactly BWO-type musical ecstacy, but it’s pretty jolly for Sufjan.
20. Girls Aloud – Count The Days
What more fitting than a song about boyfriends coming home for Christmas to end this fantabulous CD? They don’t seem entirely certain he’ll be coming, in fact there is a bit of World War 2 about it (he’s too busy playing football with the Germans – typical blokes!) but I guess that’s the nature of Christmas. You never know if it will all go to plan and something usually goes wrong but it always seems to turn out alright in the end.