Now that we are well into Advent this year’s batch of Christmas themed records are coming out on a more or less daily basis.
Bit of an odd bunch this year; I kind of get the feeling you have to take turns (unless you are Cliff Richard) to bring out a Christmas song (or worse, an entire album).
So last year we had Rod Stewart and Ceelo Green, and Michael Bublé (or that might have been the year before, I have more important things in my life than to research that) and this year we have Leona Lewis.
We can add to that singles from the ubiquitous Bellowhead who seem to be competing with Lilly Allen in the wall to wall presence stakes.
On the subject of Mrs Cooper, we see before our eyes the elevation of a song with nothing at all to do with Christmas to the status of inclusion in every “Greatest Christmas Album in the World… Ever!’ from this point onwards with that (now annoying) John Lewis advert.
The best example before this is probably ‘The Power of Love; back in the 80s, a clever bit of marketing by Frankie Goes to Hollywood to secure their third and final number one.
At least that song means that fearsome tormentor of Penelope Pitstop – the Hooded Claw –gets an unlikely shout out each year to an increasing series of blank looks from people you are far too young to get the slightly obscure reference. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMtA8ahAwDI
But I have to confess I like Christmas records. With Eurovision no longer as big a deal as perhaps what it once was, it is about the only place we are going to get songs that are either overly cheerful or sarcastic or sad (never subtle) that then allow many artists to get that bit of silly nonsense out of their creativity zone and hopefully go back to proper music for the rest of the year.
I think everyone has their pet hates, and although they might not admit it, the few they quite like. Personally, I am a Slade fan; I look forward now to Radcliffe and Maconie’s radio show on 6Music just before Christmas as now it is tradition for Noddy Holder to come on to scream “It’s Christmas!” to officially open the festivities of the season.
I also have a soft spot for ‘Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy’ from back in 1977.
However, I am not sure that this is purely for listening to the most unlikely duo in pop history. In recent years I discovered the original film version from a Bing Crosby Christmas special, an atrocious and therefore hysterically funny presentation which has David Bowie turns up at some stately home to exchange stilted dialogue before launching into an impromptu duet. As you do. Apart from the staged nature of the whole thing it is quite obvious that the senior party has no idea (and no interest in) who David Bowie is. Treat yourself.
The only other Christmas video that makes me laugh so much is the Darkness’ Christmas Time (Don’t let the bells end) although that one should be viewed rarely due to the disturbing content.
New “classics” don’t seem to come along that often and most of them just seem to get (thankfully?) forgotten. Being a huge artist helps with longevity… George Michael’s ‘December Song’ and Coldplay’s ‘Christmas Lights’ seem to be hanging on there for example. Some I hope survive through just being of a higher quality, such as Thea Gilmore’s wonderful ‘That’ll be Christmas’ from (can I really believe it is that long ago?) 2009.
The one Christmas song I will recommend if you are in the buying mood this year is by 90s band Dodgy. The song is “Christmas down at the Food bank” raising money for the Trussell Trust who provides that service. At a time of so much gluttony for most in the UK, seems a small price to pay to help feed the poorest in our own society and, well, the song could be worse I suppose.
Look for it in the usual download-y places.