In which we're not sure if they do know it's Christmas, actually


Printed 09/12/10.

The Most Underrated Christmas Songs Ever

The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping

Everyone loves a song that tells a story. Two Little Boys. Copa Cobana. We feel a far closer affinity with a song when we properly listen to the lyrics for the first time and realise, oh my days, Tony gets shot! Patti Smith's Redondo Beach is about a girl drowning, but it has such a jaunty tune that you might just never realise.

So Christmas Wrapping, while also earning points for 80s new wave, winkle picker-wearing credibility, is wonderful because of its stirring narrative. The ups! The downs! It's been a hectic year… she missed lots of dates through various arbitrary mishaps…she's spending Christmas by herself… she's even got a tiny turkey. But then a last-minute trip to the grocery store leaves her face-to-face with the object of her desire, and you get to chorus in with the killer line, "You mean you forgot cranberries too?!" It's understated magic.

East 17, Stay Another Day

This is my earliest Top of the Pops memory ever. Brian and the boys swathed in white furry jackets, snow falling on their bristly little heads. Despite no mention of Santa, elves or drunk Grannies, Stay Another Day is a crucial Christmas track because it's perfect slow-dance fodder. It is ripe for school discos, office parties and particularly dismal pub lock-ins. It's the one time of the year where even gristly tough guys who will later run themselves over with their own cars, can open up and cry a little. And that is very, very special.

The Ramones, Merry Christmas (I don't wanna fight tonight)

If ever there was an antidote to a bejumpered Cliff Richard, it's a beleathered Ramone. Merry Christmas (I don't wanna fight tonight) is a yuletide anthem for people who would rather watch Eastenders than the Vicar of Dibley. And like all yuletide anthems, it includes a meaningful message, but this one doesn't stretch itself too far. It's not peace on earth, for everyone, for ever, but merely peace in our living room, for tonight. It sets us a goal that we can all strive for. And as Bob Geldof knows, start small and sometime you can create something big.

It also has a pretty kickin' beat.
 
The Pretenders, 2000 Miles

This song suffers in two ways – firstly by being very easily confused with The Proclaimers' 1000 Miles, which, let's face it, is not only a more rousing song but also only demands a journey of half the length (and these things matter to everyone forced to take a bracing post-dinner walk on Christmas day).

And secondly, by not really sounding much like a Christmas song at all, except for featuring the word Christmas sporadically in the lyrics. Which makes it the perfect track for Scrooges, slipping a little festive cheer into their ears without them realising. You might want to try the same with their drinks.

Slade, Merry Xmas Everybody

Only joking.