Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Favourite Modern Christmas Carols

Monday I posted a video of "Merry Christmas Will Do" by Material Issue. It happens to be one of my favourite modern Christmas carols (modern defined here as anything after 1960).  I then thought I should go ahead and share my top five favourite modern Christmas carols ("Merry Christmas Will Do" would be number six) in reverse order (from #5 to #1).

At number five is, of all things, a cover of a Mariah Carey song. If you're like me, then you did not particularly care for Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" nor any of its various covers over the years. Fortunately, it was several years ago I discovered it was actually a good song just waiting to be discovered, and it was one of my favourite bands who discovered it. Here then is My Chemical Romance's cover of "All I Want for Christmas is You."

At number four is "Don't Shoot Me, Santa" by The Killers. BTW, the video was directed by Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds

At number three is another cover song, although in this instance it is not a cover a Yuletide song. "Christmas is All Around" originated as a parody of The Troggs' "Love is All Around" in the movie Love Actually. In the context of the film "Christmas is All Around" is a holiday single released by washed up rock star Billy Mack, played by Bill Nighy. Although in the movie Billy consistently derides the song, I not only think it is very good, but possibly the best cover of "Love is All Around" ever performed.

At number two is "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon. The song was released in the United States in December 1971, not long before Christmas. As a result it failed to make an impact on the Billboard charts. Due to a publishing dispute its release in the United Kingdom was delayed, so that it was released in December 1972. There it did somewhat better, peaking at #4 on the UK singles chart. While it is one of my favourite holiday songs, I must confess I sometimes find myself crying when I hear it. John Lennon having been murdered in December, the song was receiving airplay at the time.

My favourite modern, holiday song of all time is "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love. It was the only original song included on the 1963 Christmas compilation album A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records. Originally Ronnie Spector was meant to sing it, but her vocals seemed a bit lacking, so Darlene Love sung the song instead. Although it is now considered a classic (in December 2010 Rolling Stone named it number one in its list of the Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs), "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" flopped on its initial release. It has since been covered several times by other artists and Darlene Love performs it each year on The Late Show with David Letterman