From a Guy who Hates Christmas Songs
By Kevin Casey
TFW Contributing Writer
It’s that time of year again: Time to dust off the jacket of your vinyl copy of “Frampton Comes Alive” and cozy up by the fireplace, because each Dec. 25 we celebrate the rebirth of Peter Frampton and how he came back to life for an amazing concert tour in 1975. Or maybe it’s because I’m willing to put on literally anything that doesn’t have to do with Christmas.
It’s not the songs themselves that I despise, but the duration and frequency with which I have to endure them.
Luckily for those of us who want to enjoy Christmas without having to endure another Christmas album by Jessica Simpson, there are still some gems out there that have slipped through the commercial cracks and can still conjure up the Christmas joy we all used to feel when we were kids — back in the days when Christmas was more about cool stuff magically appearing in the night and less about having to fight other holiday shoppers for the last Tickle-Me-Elmo.
So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite Christmas tunes:
10. “Christmas is All Around” — Reg Presley
The only thing that says Christmas more than Christmas music is a good Christmas movie. No doubt you remember this song from the holiday classic “Love Actually.” Who can forget Bill Nighy’s performance of this joyful Christmas tune? There are sexy ladies singing backup who are dressed in revealing fur-trimmed outfits that would make Santa blush beyond his usual rosy hue. Oh, and then there’s that guitar solo in the middle of a circle of fire. Add Nighy’s stunning air guitar, and you have all the classic elements of holiday cheer.
9. “Merry Christmas, Baby” — Bruce Springsteen
One of the real joys of Christmas is getting to spend quality time away from your boss and more quality time with The Boss. Considering that Christmas is primarily an American holiday, who would you rather have serenading you and your loved ones than all-American Bruce Springteen, with a little help from the E Street Band.
8. “Christmas Tree” — Lady GaGa
This is an instant classic sing-along for any family Christmas. Lady GaGa is not satisfied with sampling just one Christmas song, and who can blame her when there are so many to choose from? She also goes to show you can make a Christmas song out of anything, even not-very-subtle, dirty double-entendres and some fantastic Eurotrash beats.
7. “It Feels Like Christmas” — Muppet Christmas Carol
Whenever I picture the Nativity scene around Christmas time, I fondly conjure images of little baby Jesus in Mary and Joseph’s arms; some angels hanging around the wise men; a few cows and sheep; a very fat, very jolly man in goofy red robes; and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge barking at Kermit the Frog to get back to work. Christmas wouldn’t be quite the same without that cold-hearted, tight-fisted, greedy man annually making us feel better about giving gifts to each other. Check out the YouTube video of this song to reacquaint yourself with that fat, jolly Muppet in goofy robes who reminds old Scrooge what it’s like to feel the real joy of Christmas Day.
6. “Carol of the Bells” — Trans-Siberian Orchestra
This Christmas staple can be counted on when the sweet melodies of Christmas hymns and too much turkey have lulled you into considering winter hibernation. We’ve all dreamed of having Christmas with an ’80s hair band, and this song makes us feel that closer to making that dream a reality. While it has nothing to do with bells, it has everything to do with Christmas.
5. Christmas Time is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio
There are many moods to Christmas, and one of those moods is the jazzy piano version of “Christmas Time is Here” which we all know from A Charlie Brown Christmas. This piece truly is timeless, mostly I think because it’s so unobtrusive. The song mingles softly like a mellow jazz band in a swanky bar that has no one in it. And sometimes, that’s Christmas too.
4. Baby, Its cold outside – Frank Loesser
Though probably the most recognizable of the songs on this list, and though probably the most likely to be heard in JC Penny’s, there are still plenty of reasons to love this festive duet. It’s been sung by everyone. Whether it’s a drunken Dean Martin singing, or Zooey Deschanel naked in the shower and Will Ferrell in an elf outfit, or Jessica Simpson herself singing with that guy from 98 Degrees, there’s something we can all recognize in the lyrics to this timeless tune. It’s the age old story of a predatorily male plying a nice young lady with alcohol (and rohypnol? “Say, what’s in this drink?”) in the attempts at getting her to stay over on a cold and snowy evening. Listening to this song feels almost as naughty as gift-wrapping some sexy lingerie for your lover, except in a much more awkward way. It’s a song we can all relate to on a cold Christmas evening.
3. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – Bing Crosby and David Bowie
In what is widely considered the oddest pairing ever to sing a Christmas song, Crosby and Bowie sing a lovely duet that could warm the heart of the Grinch himself. This song could be used as evidence that Christmas is truly universal considering the Spiders from Mars play the backup to the song. Ok, not only is that not true, but it was also a bad joke. This classic however does prove that even the obscure Christmas tunes can be remade as Will Farrell and John C. Reilly recreate Bing and Bowie’s magic with a really heartfelt rendition which can be found on youtube.com.
2. Happy Birthday Jesus –Alabama
A truly touching message from the band Alabama directly to Jesus himself. The song reminds us that the song is just for Jesus, but lucky for the rest of us, Alabama included it on their album Christmas, Vol. 2. It was a hard choice narrowing down the many Alabama holiday melodies, but “Happy Birthday Jesus” won out. It’s definitely my favorite, but if it’s not yours, there are plenty of other songs on the albums Alabama Christmas, Alabama Christmas, Vol 2, Christmas with The Judds and Alabama, or Christmas Collection. There’s enough Alabama for the whole year all packed into one season. Merry Christmas indeed!
1. R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Jon Bon Jovi
Alabama may have written a song just for Jesus, but Jon Bon Jovi sings this song just for the lovable droid R2-D2. That’s right: the one and only Jon Bon Jovi singing to the one and only R2-D2 from Star Wars. And this is a perfect example of the true Christmas spirit. If a man who is “wanted dead or alive” can find a soft place in his heart once a year to come together with the rest of us and sing a holy and earnest Christmas carol to a fictitious android, then we’ve all witness a true Christmas miracle. That is something we can all rejoice in while we’re standing round the Christmas tree with our loved ones and singing another of our favorite yuletide classics “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)”.