As you may know dear readers, I have a pretty low regard for Christmas records. Generally speaking they are cheesy tunes that would never make an impression in their own right at any other time of year. This year, however, I made it my mission to hunt down some newer songs to try and break through this barrier of indifference and put some new energy into my Christmas music. It wasn’t easy, as it involved listening to a whole lot of dreadful tripe, however the truth is out – there’s HUNDREDS of Christmas songs! More Christmas songs than Santa has elves. It’s just that we get played the same boring ones over and over on the radio and telly. Allow me to intoduce to you a selection of more modern festive tunes – hopefully there’s something new here for you too.
1) Coldplay – Christmas Lights.
Chris Martin goes into his lovely lower register at the start of this song, as comforting as a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on. It’s a sad tale of a guy with poison in his blood taking a walk down Oxford Street after a break up. Wouldn’t you know it, those Christmas lights seem to cheer him up a tad, and the tempo change mid song lifts the mood in a fulsome festive fashion.
2) Smith and Burrows – When The Thames Froze.
Staying with the London theme, Tom Smith of The Editors and Andy Burrows of We Are Scientists collaborate here. They berate the government for losing money and generally making a rare old hash of running the country, whilst contemplating how the aging process means they feel the cold in their hands. As they push a piano through town, they collect fellow Londoners for a sing song on the banks of the river (which looks decidedly unfrozen) and hope for better in the next fiscal period.
3) The Courteeners – Winter Wonderland (no, not that one)
Moving now to the city backdrop of New York, where this song was written on Norah Jones’ piano. The point here is that the snow might look beautiful but it’s “bloody annoying after a day”. Bah humbug to the white stuff! It’s great to hear the northern accent in the pronunciation of “Winter One-derland” and the observation that, “You didn’t have the manners to admit that you f*cked up.” The proceeds go to Shelter, the homeless charity, so there’s a soft heart to the bah-humbuggery.
4) The Maccabees – Walking In The Air (yes, that one!)
I wanted to pick original work, but this is a gorgeous rendition of The Snowman’s song – haunting harmonies and electric guitars to replace the orchestration of the original. Completely different, it’s like a new tune.
5) Deep Sea Diver – It’s Christmas Time (And I’m Still Alive).
This one puts it all in perspective – a child with a terminal illness,”maybe I have six weeks, maybe five at best” is truly grateful to be alive with family around them at Christmas. The child is pondering the love of God and Jesus, and makes for a truly sobering and humbling tune.
6) John Legend – Under The Stars
Here’s a thing – this is an actual duet with the proper twinkling stars! Scientists captured the stellar vibrations from above and Mr Legend incorporated the sound into this song about us all living in this world together in peace – you guessed it – under the stars.
7) Green Day – Xmas Time of Year.
It’s been blooming marvellous having the punk rockers back in top of the charts, and the first hint that they were working together again came when they dropped this song unannounced on Christmas Eve last year (in the style of Santa Clause) with a “Happy holidays” tweet. It’s just the sort of surprise gift you love.
8) Sergio Pizzorno and Noel Fielding (Loose Tapestries) – Can’t Wait For Xmas.
If Blackadder did a Christmas song, it would probably sound like this nutty number by Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno and comedian Noel Fielding, complete with rap section from actor Idris Elba. The lyrics are bonkers, referring to snowball fights with the local hardman and the fact that the wife is a walnut, and I love the Ra pu pu pu pum a la Little Drummer Boy. A lovely bit of festive fun to finish with.