Every Song on 'Now That's What I Call Christmas': Ranked! -- Part 2
Welcome to Part Two of my Christmas league table! I hope part one left you feeling suitably festive/alienated and alone. Now we move on to the titans of the middle-of-the-road Christmas compilation: from the comfortably mid-table to the title challengers; from the basically listenable to the actually-would-listen-to-by-choice.
Jackson Five - Frosty the Snowman:
Jingly jangly Jackson Christmas. Just about edging its way into the top ten, by being jolly, Christmassy, short and vaguely comical. Superior Christmas cover fluff to Mumba and the Supremes.
Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time:
I'm not sure whether this song is too high in the rankings because of my soft spot for Paul, or too low because I am conscious of this and have over-compensated. Macca knows what he's doing, getting his sleigh bells in early and making it light, nice and, well, very Paul. Also the video is cracking. What's not to like about Pub Christmas Party with Paul McCartney?
(Note: videos don't actually come into the rankings, only the versions as heard repeatedly by the author in a supermarket car park. If they did, Paul would come top.)
Stevie Wonder - What Christmas Means To Me:
Stevie also gets his sleigh bells in early, in a song which is very much on the same thematic lines as Wonderful Christmas Time. He likes Christmas just as much as Paul, as it turns out (I wonder if he parties at the same pub?), and brought his cheer to my labour on the Siberian wastes. A catchier chorus and a whimsical instrumental outro gives it the edge over Paul.
Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas:
'They sold me a dream of Christmas…' I appreciated the irony of a song about the commercialisation of Christmas being used in a shop to attract the festive customers, some of whom spent a bloody fortune. In one of my brief stints inside, a bloke bought a granite work surface, which was a bit of a struggle getting through the till. He looked at me contemptuously and said 'I bet you'd handle that better if it was a great big cock'. I paused for a moment then asked him for forty pounds. Forty quid on a glorified chopping board. Just get a wooden one for goodness sake! Greg would've bought a wooden one. Greg would've carved his own from English oak.
Slade - Merry X-Mas Everybody:
This has a similar Christmas juggernaut vibe to Elton John, but this is far more fun. After a while Noddy screaming 'It's Christmas!' like a demented goblin became a bit tiring in the circumstances. No it isn't Noddy, it's still three weeks away and I'm stuck in a car park trying to avoid selling any Christmas trees. Hence a late slip down the rankings after being an early season contender for the top. Credit to the song writing though, which cleverly conceals darker issues such as adultery, alcoholism among Christmas workers and fatal sledding accidents beneath a cheery veneer.
Mike Oldfield - In Dulce Jublio:
Flutey Christmas instrumental! Wins a lot of points for standing out from the crowd. Also for being eminently jiggable. Jigging is an excellent way to keep warm.
Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday:
Despite the fact that Christmas every day would quickly become maddening, this wins the battle of the Christmas juggernauts, knocking Elton's tinsel-tank for six and edging out Slade, possibly thanks to the saxophone. It bulldozes its way through four minutes of festivity, the kitchen sink is thrown: choirs of children, jingling bells, brass sections. It is also, I am informed by Steph, appropriate to sing at any time of the year.
John Lennon - Happy Christmas (War Is Over):
Paul wins the battle of sleigh bells, getting his in after twelve seconds, with John is lagging well behind, making you wait a whole twenty one seconds by my calculations. John gets a children's choir in though, rather than just talking about them, so up yours Paul*. I like this song lots, even Yoko's slightly odd backing vocals.
*I don't mean that Paul, love you really.
The Pogues - Fairytale of New York:
I am as surprised as anyone that this doesn't top the list. We played this once on Christmas Eve at the Newhampton Inn, along with Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On', earning us the entirely undeserved title 'The Band That Ruined Christmas'.
Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry:
A slightly unexpected title winner. Perhaps benefited from being wedged between 'Not Tonight Santa' and 'Santa Baby' in the track listing, making it something of an oasis in the desert, and I would feel a huge wave of relief when it came on. Though I can't reasonably compare my own desire to go home at the end of my shift with the yearning of the eternal soldier, I did feel a certain affinity. Also I love the brass.
So that is it for the league table, relegation spaces and title winner decided! It's all up for grabs next season, particularly as one of the promoted songs is being very strongly tipped for the title!