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Nay-sayers and Scrooges will say that Christmas music is the scourge of the high street and advertising from November onwards, but few can truly resist the cockle-warming powers of Wham! Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You may have dominated festive sonic fare and the charts since its release in , but her Christmas love song is one of a long line of festive musical offerings. Whether you prefer classic to country, pop to soul or simply want a song to get you feeling festive, The Telegraph have compiled the best songs throughout the decades.
That is a brilliant song. Ash frontman Wheeler and his folk-singer girlfriend Emmy the Great teamed up in for one of the finest albums of Christmas originals in recent memory. Mad production genius Phil Spector really set the standard for seasonal records with his Christmas Gift For You album. The reverb-heavy, wall-of-sound production sounds as packed with delights as an overstuffed stocking.
Sleigh bells jingle all the way through this racy little pop breathlessly anticipating the arrival of Santa, while the drums go ba-boom and the New York girl group trill away like overexcited Carol singers. The kicker is that the song is full of the kind of parental warnings "he knows when you've been naughty! : Best Christmas movies. A potent, politicised Christmas carol, poised between hope and despair. At first, it is just a piano and two beautiful harmonies united in hymnal reverence, until you notice the sound of a speaking voice chattering in the background, growing slightly louder throughout the track.
Little Stevie Wonder grooves through a Motown Christmas. Bells jingle jangle incessantly but otherwise its pure Tamla, slippery Funk Brothers bass propping up a prominent snare drum, and the year-old letting fly on an upbeat melody before blowing us out with harmonica playing that is ripe with earthly rather than angelic delights.
Written by Carol Hall for musical The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, Hard Candy Christmas finds the fluttery voice of the country dame channelling the fatalistic optimism of hookers putting a brave face on the loneliest season. Sleigh bells are jingling and Springsteen is giggling as he romps through the Crystals classic with the E Street Band. The mood of joyous glee perfectly demonstrates how Christmas brings out the child in everyone, even the Boss.
A lustrous ballad from the Walthamstow boy band that has become a durable festive favourite despite having no real Christmas connection in the song itself. With a few token bells chiming in towards the end, and a crudely prepared video where the quartet prance around in duffel coats and ski-boots while fake snow falls behind them, Stay Another Day managed to spend five weeks at the top of the charts over the festive season in Certain to make many a merry reveller moist-eyed at closing time.
For one gloriously surreal moment in the mid Seventies, prog rock met Prokofiev. : Christmas TV guide Long before YouTube was filled with a capella soloists singing all the parts to Glee songs, there was overachieving multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield. If Spinal Tap had managed to stay together long enough for a Christmas single, it would be this: pipes, flute, drums, keys, and all played by one man with a large fringe.
The part where the guitar solo breaks through is particularly choice. Think nothing could be more festive than bells ringing out for Christmas? Tell that to Johnny Cash. This is a melancholy, Dickensian story about a little girl tolling those bells for her dying brother, with an eerily repetitive nursery rhyme melody. Not a mince pie in sight. Yet Las Vegas indie outfit The Killers are such rock music enthusiasts they go beyond pastiche with this hilarious, darkly comic Christmas song, in which a serial-killing child fears the arrival of a vengeful Santa. Singer Brandon Flowers voice reverberates with passion, the arrangement goes through all kinds of dramatic musical and time switches, and the narrative manages to be gripping and disturbingly hilarious.
A real Christmas cracker with a nasty surprise. We all pray for white Christmases and then the country grinds to an abrupt halt at the first of a snowflake. Yet young British folk singer Laura Marling captures the blissful dream with this track, which is both a gorgeous ode to England's countryside blanketed in white, and a heartbreaking torch song. Small children will love to in with the "ding-dong" refrain of this nursery-rhyme story about the bells that rang out on the very first Christmas.
An adorable, but still classy, song to play as a distraction tactic on December 25th, when terminal velocity has been reached on the present-opening and pudding-scoffing. It's a slow, powerful rendition and the musicianship throughout — from a band that featured Brian Ahern, Albert Lee, Rodney Crowell, with harmony vocals from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Neil Young — make this one of the best country Christmas songs of all. Possibly the greatest Christmas record ever made, and certainly one of the most emotionally complex, containing all the hope, idealism and good cheer of the season, but with a undercurrent of bittersweet melancholy that vibrates in the heart.
Lennon employs all the standard elements, with simple rock 'n' roll chords, jingling bells, and ren's choir albeit led by his tuneless wife. A warm season's greeting with the choral counterpoint of "War is over if you want it" pushes the conflicted Beatle into an idealistic anthem to rival Imagine. It is hugely uplifting, yet Lennon's fretful "So this is Christmas, what have we done? Folk revival troupe Steeleye Span resurrected 15th century Latin hymn Gaudete pronounced Gow-day-tay and turned it into a top chart hit in Their version is a bracing, a cappella medieval jaunt, deed for kicking back with a pint of mead while your broword drips dry by the hearth.
The video, with children playing Buble and Menzel, is genuinely lovely. There's such vitality from the off that it sounds like it starts in the middle of a chorus. In , pretty much at the height of his fame, singer-songwriter John Denver released the slightly schmaltzy festive album Rocky Mountain Christmas. Do Californians get cold Christmases? A jolly festive ditty this is not. But Mitchell's River manages to sum up the feeling of escapism which can descend along with the annual Christmas paraphernalia — especially when there is nobody waiting under the mistletoe. Remember The Darkness?
The Queen-apeing glam-rockers in catsuits were pretty big in Well, this was their festive single from that year: a rambunctious, oddly catchy parody ahem, "Bells End" , anchored by frontman Justin Hawkins's ature falsettos. The collaboration between Editors' frontman Tom Smith and We Are Scientists' guitarist Andy Burrows resulted in one of the most beautiful albums of When Bob Dylan was the great counter culture icon in the Sixties, no one could have imagined him producing such a jolly, exuberant version of a Christmas pop song ly covered by Mitch Miller and Tommy Steele.
Tremendous fun. It is a little difficult to believe that a heartbroken man would return to the same corner he first met his former lover Every Year, Every Christmas, but it is certainly romantic. One for love lost and gained under the mistletoe,. Loretta Lynn, one of the great icons of country music, did her festive album, Country Christmas, in , with covers of old favourites such as Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and Frosty the Snowman.
Lynn was from a talented musical family her youngest sister is Crystal Gayle and on her Christmas album she recorded a song by her brother Jay Lee Webb called Christmas Without Daddy, which includes the plaintive lyrics: "Christmas without daddy will be such a lonesome day. One to stick on in your bedroom after festive TOTP when you folks start to get the better of you. It's only when I hear the tinkling bells that introduce one of the most successful Christmas songs of all time that I really begin to feel festive. Mariah Carey's single, released in alongside the album Merry Christmas — a bestseller in the US — is everything you'd want from a warming festive pop tune: light, fun, upbeat, romantic, instantly recognisable and impossibly catchy.
It's a song that shows off Carey's effortless vocal range without being an over-the-top ballad. In fact, the melodies are so easy you might even think you can sing it yourself best not to try though — you can't top Carey. Christmas gets sexy. Her voice purrs with temptation, luring Santa down her chimney, promising all kind of unspoken treasures in exchange for filling her stocking with glittering goodies.
As a jobbing songwriter, Nelson wrote this strange little lament in , when it was turned into an overly dramatic weepie hit for Roy Orbison. Is it a memory of heartbreak overheard like a snatch of street sound caught in the wind, or just the cry of a poor street salesman being passed over by busy Christmas shoppers. The golden age of the Christmas pop song was the Seventies and Eighties but this from the Danish girl boy duo is an overlooked gem.
A retro rock 'n' roll waltz, swaggering with Fifties cool but overlaced with indie innocence and tender longing. Lovely enough to bring a warm glow to the coldest heart. There are countless versions of this defiantly upbeat Christmas classic, which was written in by Johnny Marks. But no list of Christmas songs would be complete with Bing Crosby. This recording reached 14 on the US Billboard charts in Bob Geldof and Midge Ure's celeb-spangled charity mega-hit was certainly for a worthy cause, but musically it hasn't aged that well.
But it's eternally karaoke-friendly and the fade-out refrain of "feed the world" is truly a Hey Jude moment for the holiday season. A reliable floor-filler for the office Christmas party. It was released just months after Croce died, aged 30, in a plane crash, meaning an eerie sadness hangs from every gorgeous fingerpicked note. Attempting to be groovy at Christmastime is a risky business and usually best left to the embarrassing uncle clad in a festive jumper. Plus, it has a chorus guaranteed to loosen up any stuffy Christmas party.
The sound of the late-Eighties, Chris Rea's mellow piece of husky schmooze-rock was deed for steering-wheel finger-tapping while you're stuck in traffic. But the 'red lights all around' become as twinkly and festive as strings of fairy lights on a tree in Rea's cosy reflection on a familiar December experience.
The very nature of its annual existence — being sung, a few sherries down, on the brink of a new year — means few can recite the entirety of Auld Lang Syne. Thankfully American folk type Andrew Bird can, and how. Accompanied by jaunty ukulele strumming and a mischievous violin instrumental, Bird makes the traditional Hogmanay ballad sound distinctly warmer.
John Prine wrote this beautifully contemplative song, for his album A John Prine Christmas, about a prisoner reflecting on his life during the festive season. Asked about the lyrics, Prine told the Telegraph: "It's about a person being in a situation they didn't want to be in but I used all the imagery as if it were a prison. And being a sentimental guy, I put it at Christmas. Mother Monster's collaboration with the American singer may have bemused even her most hardened fans, but you would have to have a heart of stone not to melt at this Perry Como cover. Gaga, who was a member of her high school jazz band, brings bravado to her just-kooky-enough vocals and Bennett manages to smoothly match up.
Did I Make You Cry : Best Christmas movies on Netflix. Releases by Wizard and Slade had the glam-rock trend covered, but the pick of the bunch was this breezy piano-pop stomper about embracing the Christmas spirit by an uncharacteristically sanguine Elton John watch him lark about with his band in the low budget video.
Long before the Mumfords were peddling their plaintive banjo ball, Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot knew just how to conjure up earnest and catchy folk ditties. To a gorgeous lounge-soul backing, the American singer lays down a creamy gospel-tinged vocal, extolling the virtues of a Christmas spent carousing with that special someone.
Phenomenally, her gravelly vocals were recorded at the tender age of There's plenty of musical mileage in how lonely Christmas can feel if you can't be with someone special. Time to crank up the volume on this bittersweet duet, then, with lyrics about being alone in the run-up to Christmas Eve.
Eventually the cosy fireside guitar gives way to a rousing harmonised refrain, somehow heartbreaking and festive at the same time. A swooning lounge ballad of the type that the Carpenters were unbeatable at, you can almost hear the crackle of a logfire amid the twinkling xylophones and stirring strings. Gospel interjections from what sounds like a roomful of gnarly old bluesmen drunk on mulled wine adds a sense of seasonal spirit. Showbusiness baby Grande frequently elicits comparisons to Mariah Carey thanks to her enormous vocal range.
Snow In California is no match for All I Want for Christmas, although swap Carey's love interest for a meteorological impossibility and the sentiment is the same. Instead, this twinkly ballad is rich on breathy, effortless vocals for a chilled out festive celebration. Merle Haggard's Christmas song If We Make it Through December made it to one on the Billboard country singles chart despite being one of the most depressing festive songs of the Seventies.
It was a tender tale of unemployment and loneliness at Christmas — the little girl who "don't understand why Daddy can't afford no Christmas here" — and cemented his status as the champion of the downtrodden. A few months after the album was out, he appeared on the cover of TIME. Chris Martin comes closer than most with a big piano and strings anthem seeking cheer from heartbreak in the lights of Oxford Street.
Gondwanaland is the old name for the southernmost of two supercontinents that split apart around million years ago, back when the Earth was new. Spot the relationship metaphor! This song about snow, love and swirling fog feels like it was written for new beginnings. The voice of Brian Briggs soars over strings, fluttering guitar and piano and shaken tambourine bells, as sweeping and beautiful as an antique winter cloak. There's little festive imagery in this simple but moving country Christmas ballad, because for Nashville's Kitty Wells, the only thing that makes December 25 is her man.
We don't know when he walked out of the door, but it's fairly clear she's been lonely ever since and the days of a happy Christmastime are long gone. Sir Paul McCartney is basically the opposite of the grinch, and this top hit finds him in quintessentially jovial spirits. Played absolutely straight, sweet and reverent, this is a beautiful folk-rock take on the nativity told from the point of view of a humble shepherd and delivered with gentle, easy spirit from the greatest Americana band of them all.
This swing-tinged track comes from the honey-voiced Canadian's second Christmas album, simply titled Christmas. For those who have never heard Christmas Soul, Count Sidney and his Dukes point out that December 25th would not be the same without it. Noodling guitars and Count Rockin' Sidney's catchy refrain make it a persuasive argument. And what is a jingle horse? A decorated reindeer, of course.Most famous christmas songs of all time
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Here are the top 25 Christmas songs of all time, according to Spotify