We love holidays almost as much as we love music. What better way, then, to celebrate both than to showcase a sparkling array of the most kitsch Christmas tunes ever. These records are, by definition, contrived and often even cheesy, but one man’s cheese is another man’s … erm … chalk. So sit back, grab a mince pie and thank Santa’s elves that Christmas records come out, but once a year.
Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth – Bing Crosby and David Bowie
This unlikely meeting of Ziggy Stardust and Bing Crosby happened in 1977, filmed as part of Crosby’s holiday special TV show and released as a single several years later. Whilst suitably impressed by the cojones required by both men in participating, the real kitsch-fest lies in the unusual dialogue between the two at the beginning.
Wonderful Christmas time – Paul McCartney
Lennon’s 1971 single Happy Xmas (War Is Over) had already garnered credibility and staying power before his erstwhile writing partner decided to have a shot at Christmas immortality. Fab Macca pulls out all the stops (sleigh bells, chimes etc.) and continues the descent into twee that would eventually lead to the Frog Chorus.
Mistletoe and Wine – Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard has had a great run on the UK singles charts where he has been part of four Christmas number ones in a career spanning five decades. Mistletoe and Wine, taken from the musical Scraps (where it was a pub song sung by a prostitute) and re-written to reflect Richard’s religious sensibilities, was the most successful and takes the cheesy biscuit. Pop fact- Richard’s failed 1999 Xmas bid “Millennium Prayer” actually has Jesus Christ credited as a lyricist as it features the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
Last Christmas – Wham
The most successful German Christmas single of all time, Wham’s 1984 single cover featured heartthrob Andrew Ridgeley in a reindeer outfit and George Michael dressed as Santa Claus. Need we say more?
All I Want for Christmas – Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber
First appearing on Carey’s 1994 Merry Christmas album, this is one of those incredibly catchy and relentlessly upbeat songs. Evidently this wasn’t enough. How could one make this song cheesier than it already was? Re-record it as a duet with current teen chart sensation Justin Bieber and film a video featuring Carey as a sexed up Elf.
Do they know it’s Christmas? – Band Aid II
Of the three recorded versions of this song people only tend to remember the original and then the recent update. Few can recall the 1989 Band Aid II travesty with production by Stock Aitkin and Waterman and featuring artists as diverse as Kylie Minogue AND Jason Donovan. The result jettisons the studied concern of the original and goes all out for re-creating I Should Be So Lucky.
Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea
Chris Rea’s 1988 hit apparently holds a place in the heart of businessmen and truck drivers heading home for to spend the holiday season with their loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s played so often on the radio in the countdown to Christmas Day it’s also akin to the Road to Hell for anyone stuck in a traffic jam on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Wrapping – Spice Girls
The title alone should be enough to guarantee it a place on the festive cheese board. Originally written and released in 1982 by Ohio based “The Waitresses”, it was re-recorded by the Spice Girls in 1998 (well two of them anyway, the record only features Baby and Sporty) complete with curd inducing new lyrics reflecting the current state of Spice World(“world tour, aeroplanes and babies.”).
These are our choices for the kitsch Christmas tunes list, but what else deserves a mention? Everyone’s got a favourite, so why not get into the festive spirit by gifting us yours. In the meantime, we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, musical or not.
Image credit: Ozcast