It’s that time of year, when the stores are buzzing, families and friends gather from near and far, and a general feeling of goodwill fills the air.
Yes, it’s Christmas time once again, and the sounds of the holidays are all around us. And part of that is the Christmas music that is almost inescapable.
Some people love it. Some people can’t stand it. And for others, a little goes a long way.
Me? I love Christmas music. The holidays are my favourite time of year, and I have a ton of Christmas tunes that I dig. Throughout December, I can’t get enough – it just helps me to get into the holiday spirit.
One of my favourites falls into both camps – Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” I know it annoys a lot of people. It sounds like it was made on one of those cheap toy organs, instead of the expensive musical equipment that a former Beatle has at his disposal. But I love it.
In fact, I’ll bet that when Macca played Old Mosaic Stadium in Regina, in August of 2013, I was the only one that would’ve loved to hear it in the middle of summer!
Before I get into some of the tunes that folks love or hate, I thought I’d shar a few more of my faves.
For example, another of my favourite British icons, Elton John. His holiday tune with Ed Sheeran, “Merry Christmas,” is great. But give me Elton’s 1974 classic, “Step Into Christmas” anytime!
Plug that one into my veins!
One artist that has become one of my favourites over the last few years, is R&B singer Anthony Hamilton. He put out a Christmas album back in 2014, entitled “Home for the Holidays,” and I love the title track. This acoustic performance is fantastic!
And there are some songs that tackle the other side of the holidays, for people that for one reason or another, have a tough time during the Christmas season, whether due to money woes, or the loss of loved ones.
One such tune is by Tom Walker, who wrote a song for those who are missing someone special at Christmas Time. See if you can spot his special guest during this performance!
I was curious to see what some of the most popular and most hated Christmas songs are, and I did a little search. Here’s what I came up with.
Now, when it comes to the most popular Christmas songs, the one that jumped to the top of the list is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” It’s become a staple in holiday playlists all around the world, with its catchy melody and Mariah’s soulful vocals making it a huge hit since its release back in’94, and it continues to dominate the airwaves every December.
But, I won’t lie. I don’t know if it’s because I feel the need to be contratrian, but it’s one of those holiday tunes that I find super-annoying. Maybe because it is EVERYWHERE – there’s no escaping it!
Now “Last Christmas” by Wham… I love that one. The bittersweet but catchy melody and heartfelt lyrics have resonated with millions, making it a seasonal favorite year in and year out, with its relatable theme of lost love and sweet memories touching the hearts of many.
It’s a sad irony that we lost George Michael on Christmas Day of 2016.
And, of course, we can’t forget the timeless classics that have been cherished for generations. Songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “Deck the Halls” evoke a sense of nostalgia and tradition, taking us back to childhood memories of cozy nights by the fireplace, surrounded by loved ones, watching holiday specials like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on TV, and crushing snacks.
If I had to pick one of those favourites, if might be “The First Noel,” especially the version by Winnipeg’s own Crash Test Dummies.
Brad Roberts’ distinctive lower-than-low voice kicks things off, but when Ellen Reid comes in, the song really takes off into something special.
Now, let’s shift our attention to the other side of Christmas songs – those ones that people love to argue over, especially as sensibilities shift over time.
For example, “Santa Baby.” Some love its playful, flirtatious nature, while others feel it’s a bit too wrapped up in the materialistic side of things, and misses the true spirit of Christmas.
Of course “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is another one that has fallen under scrutiny in recent years, for reasons I won’t even attempt to wade into here.
That’s not to mention “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” a humourous take on a rather unfortunate event, that makes it a cult favourite for some, but tasteless to others.
And then there’s the infamous “Christmas Shoes,” a heart-wrenching ballad about a young boy trying to buy shoes for his dying mother, that touches the hearts of some, while others find its sentimentality a bit too overwhelming and sappy.
Ultimately, the love and hate for Christmas songs is all about your personal preference. What one person may consider an absolute favourite, another might hate with a passion.
But, the best part of these songs, is how they evoke emotions, create memories, and bring people together during the holidays.
With that said, let’s leave on a fun note, with an icon of popular music, the late, great Louis Armstrong, and his iconic reading of “The Night Before Christmas!” Enjoy!