50. John Fahey
the first Klaus
Tired of the fact that no one wanted to buy albums of experimental American primitive guitar music, but they bought WhiteChristmasEvery year, John Fahey recorded a Christmas-themed album. It was by far his best-selling record. Atypical in his work, but nice.
49. Los Sonics
don't believe in christmas
The Sonics believed that some people liked the taste of pure strychnine, so of course they didn't believe in Christmas. What happened when they stayed up late trying to see Santa? "Well, sure enough, you don't know / The fat man didn't show up." Cheeky so-and-so.
48. Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler
Christmas Day (wish I was surfing)
Sounds a lot more like Ash thanemmy the big one– and the loudest and loudest on their 2011 Christmas album – this is a song that sounds happy, but it's actually about wanting to escape, to a place where it's not cold. As long as it's not alone.
47. Smaller Joey Farr
Rock and roll and rockabilly are a mine of new Christmas numbers (try Marlene Paula's I Want To Spend Xmas with Elvis), but we only have room for one. So since Christmas is all about kids, let's have a song by a real kid who's quickly disappeared from the world of pop.
46. Lou Rawls
Santa Claus is coming to town
One would imagine that this would be the soundtrack to Don Draper's Christmas: creamy as eggnog, with a smooth swing that unnerves but isn't understated, it's the very sound of an idealized '60s Christmas. Rawls has made many Christmas albums but the first one from 1967 is the best.
45. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzoand Simon Wright
God rest you happy masters
What would Christmas sound like, reimagined by Black Sabbath? Almost exactly how you imagine it to be honest. Matching the screeching and roaring is the strangest sentiment of all the great Christmas carols. And of course it helps that it contains a reference to the "power of Satan".
44. Heiliger Stephanus
I was born on Christmas day
From fire and brimstone to prosecco and chocolate, full of optimism for the winter: "I'm going to be great after Halloween / I'll be back on the scene in mid-November / I'm so glad I got my wages / I was born on Christmas Day !” A song as sweet as a pickbox.
43. The free design
Shut up (It's Christmas)
Probably the song that plays at Don Draper's apartment after Lou Rawls when the hip kids show up. "Meet the people in your house," they sing. you may like them. Draper sips a Scotch, raises an eyebrow and shakes his head.
42. Sally Shapiro
A beautiful gem from the Scandinavian music wave of the mid-2000s, which crossed electro-pop with livelier indie. Sally falls in love on the Tuesday before Christmas "at a concert with a band we both liked". But will she end up alone "or in the perfect kiss"?
41. Solomon Burke
The king of rock 'n' soul is halfway between revival preacher and Santa Claus: “We want to give everyone a present this Christmas! All over the world for every man, woman, boy and girl!” he exclaims in the introduction. One of the few artists whose spoken word sections routinely compete with the songs (find a copy ofAlmaLively! if you don't believe me).
40. Joy zipper
Unconcerned and unperturbed, the duo's shoegazers toast the turn of the last decade here just before Christmas. Kevin Shields and David Holmes produced, and you can bet Beach House was listening.
39. Neil Halstead
The man in the Christmas suit
To be honest, this version is only here because the original Fountains of Wayne, a tribute to the Kinks' Santa Claus, isn't on Spotify. But what a perfect sad song: "And he's a big red cherry / But it's hard to be happy / When all the kids are laughing / They say, 'Hi, it's Jerry Garcia.'"
38. The Everly brothers
Christmas Eve can kill you
The Man in the Santa Suit is a feast for the laughs compared to this 1972 Everly Brothers installment, which is about a solo hitchhiker the night before Christmas. The organ and pedal steel sound like the wind howling through the trees as our hero stomps, "The sound of a man walking through snow can break your heart."
37.Saint and Johnny
Do we need to get excited? I think we do. So thank goodness for the shrill guitars of Brooklyn duo Santo & Johnny, the garish, overly lit storefront contrasting with the utter solitude of the Everly Brothers.
Christmas in Hollis
Hip-hop wasn't a great source for Christmas carols, but Run-DMC was at the forefront of it's first golden age. What would you do if you found Santa's wallet on Hollis Avenue? It's an ongoing question. Run decides it's better to repost; He is rewarded for his honesty.
35. Shirleyand Dolly Collins
El Wassail de Gower
Two of the finest voices in British folk come together in a drinking song that, if we're being honest, is unlikely to be played in the pubs this Christmas. The asceticism of British folklore can be a useful astringent amid bells and tinsel.
34. Tracey Dorn
snow in the sun
Originally taken from Scritti Politti's terrific 2006 album White Bread, Black Beer and remastered by Thorn on his terrific album Tinsel and Lights, enough to qualify as a Christmas carol, here's a touch of winter to freshen your face.
33. Mahalia Jackson
Go and say it on the mountain
You really can't celebrate Christmas without acknowledging that someone important was born on December 25th, and not just Bob StanleySan Etienne. The Gospel Queen wants you to spread the word far and wide, and she delivers her message with all due seriousness.
32. Big Star
Big Star's Third is the album with the least amount of Christmas carol, but amidst the desperation and despair was this huge burst of fervor. Was Alex Chilton serious? It was a joke? Its impact is enhanced by the music that surrounds it on the rest of the album.
Holly grows green
Beautiful and austere, and without a doubt the best adaptation of a Henry VIII poem by an American band. The horns bloom like the flowers in the song, turning something undeniably English into a desert howl.
30. Jimmy McGriff
McGriff begins with an organ bang that makes you think Christmas isn't coming soon, then picks up Winter Wonderland at a pace so leisurely it takes a moment to realize it. (If you like this, also try Jimmy Smith's Christmas '64.)
29. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
There are no chimneys in the projects
When you live in poverty, certain logistical issues come to mind. I mean, if you're in a big council block, how does Santa put the presents under the tree? A fabulous addition to the long list of socially conscious funk and soul Christmas music.
28. Children of Heaven
When was Jesus born?
We all know the answer, but when it is so beautifully posed, in such flawless harmony, one can forgive the obviousness of the question. There are many versions of it, but it's hard to do anything other than be beautiful.
27. Thea Gilmore
Listen, the snow is falling
Yoko Ono is the original version and the Galaxie 500 rendition gets more acclaimed, but Thea Gilmore gets the perfect balance of coldness and wonder: she sounds like a Christmas tree, if such a thing were possible. The 2009 album Strange Communion comes highly recommended.
Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer
Oh, wrap yourself in the mantle of these glorious voices! Motown took Christmas seriously, with the result that you could probably make this list entirely out of Motown tracks. This one was chosen because an actually rather dark song is implemented with a perfect arrangement.
25. Clarence Carter
back door santa claus
Pure Christmas stuff. Back Door Santa can "make all the little girls happy / while the boys come out to play". But don't confuse him with Santa Claus: "I'm not like old Santa / He only comes once a year." Although I dare you not to dance.
Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight) is best known as the Ramones Christmas carol, but the sublime Danny Says gets the nod and qualifies on the grounds that the desperate and lonely band are out in the middle of winter and "it it's not Christmas if there's no snow".
things fall apart
No matter how bad your Christmas is, it's not as bad as Cristina's. Of course, being the underground art of early '80s New York, he was forbidden to like anything so bourgeois. Even a party can't cheer her up: "I took a taxi back to my apartment / And cried a bit and fed the cat."
22. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is also missing that beautiful piano ballad as she cries over her relationship at Christmas and flees Laurel Canyon to her home in Canada, where there might be a frozen river she could skate on, away from it all.
the Christmas carol
To wrap up the Joyless Christmas miniseries, here comes the saddest thing of all: when the only way to pay for Christmas is to steal, trade, and kill. The highlight "jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way" should not be a reason to celebrate.
It takes Hans-Peter Lindstrøm almost 43 minutes to put together a Christmas carol, from electronic doodles to martial drumming to an eight-minute melody. It then spends another 25 minutes distorting and mutating, absorbing and discarding musical phrases before exploding orgasmically in the final 10 minutes.
19. Guillermo bell
Every day will be a holiday
It doesn't actually mention Christmas, but it's not counted as a Christmas carol by me just because Jingle Bells little horn, since it's about being alone and waiting for your baby to come home (presumably for Christmas), and because it so is B-side was Please Come Home For Christmas. It's also a fabulous piece of Stax soul.
18. Bella and Sebastian
The how, the how Emmanuel
On the 2000 benefit album It's a Cool Cool Christmas, which was pretty strong,Bella and Sebastiantook the most beautiful of all Christmas hymns. Something so delicate suited them. Also recommended: El Vez, Merry Christmas and Public Image.
17. The basicsSinger
Who stole the joy of Christmas?
The Staple Singers are concerned: Too many wars, too much space exploration means people are "searching for the light and can't seem to find the right star". Jesus is not just another baby, they warn. So show some respect. Splendid.
16. Die Watersons
Sound, sound your instruments of joy
Just listen to the voices: this is Christmas as it must have sounded when it was a religious festival in the dead of winter and not an excuse to incur debt. Make your own fun! Maybe weave an Action Man out of three straws! And yet it is so beautiful.
15. Tierra Kitt
We're at the beginning of great songs, and Eartha Kitt's contribution is the polar opposite of the Watersons' Christmas vision. He wants a sabre, a convertible, a yacht, a platinum mine... He wants all the sensations. And what does Jesus have to do with it?
14. Otis Redding
Who would have thought that the most famous Christmas hit could be so emotional? Where Bing Crosby sounded like he was lovingly contemplating his Christmas, Otis sounds like he was breaking a sweat as he tried to make it happen through the sheer power of desire.
13. The suitors
Sometimes it's just best: Robbie McIntosh's guitar playing on the 1984 hit The Pretenders is a paragon of folk-rock restraint, borrowing from the Byrds and balancing Chrissie Hynde's voice and lyrics with a sense that somehow things are going to be okay becomes.
12. Bob Seger and the Last Ears
Sock for me Santa
"Santa Claus has a new bag!" yells Bob Seger, who was a Detroit R&B jammer before becoming a bearded rocker in America's heartland. Sock It to Me Santa is a fabulous banger: garage rock and soul combined into something made for the best bar in town on Christmas Eve.
A huge Christmas hit that differed from previous UK seasonal singles - it wasn't cloaked in bells, there was nothing consciously new about it. PerhapsGeorge MichaelI've paid a lot of attention to some of the great US Christmas soul singles because this was a heartbreaking song set in December.
10give him love
Christmas (baby please come home)
A Christmas Gift to You by Phil Spector encodes the sound of Christmas: climax, full of seasonal signifiers (there's no place sleigh bells can't drown). Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was the pinnacle of an album that didn't falter in quality from start to finish.
I wish it could be Christmas every day
Roy Wood's enduring contribution to the season owes a debt of gratitude to Phil Spector (there's almost certainly a sink section at work somewhere in the mix), but he outshines the imitation with sheer enthusiasm. It was recorded in the summer with the studio's air conditioning turned off to make everyone feel wintry. Attention to detail, right there.
Merry Christmas to everyone
Christmas 1973 brought not only the Wizzard but also the most enduring of all British Christmas bachelors. Forty-six years later, people are still shouting "It's CHRISTMAS!" on Noddy Holder's face, which seems to be getting a little tired. It was all Jim Lea's mom's idea: why didn't Slade have a song they could release every year? She got her wish.
7. Donny Hathaway
It wasn't a hit at the time, but it did start when it was included in a 1991 reissue of Atco's 1968 compilation Soul Christmas. To that, one can only ask: why did it take so long for the world to catch on? It's a Christmas carol that stands out regardless of the season. And according to publishers Ascap, it's now the 30th most-played Christmas song of all time in the United States.
6. Tom is waiting
Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis
Probably not one to play with when opening presents. A character study that begins bleakly, then gives hope, as the narrator says things are looking up, before unceremoniously pulling out the rug. Do you want to know the truth? She asks, "Charley, hey, I'm eligible for parole on Valentine's Day."
5. Marvin Gaye
A song so beautiful it almost seems otherworldly: Marvin Gaye's flawless falsetto, the unexpected chord changes, the sense of mystery. And yet he's wrapped in the most comforting Christmas imagery: roasted chestnuts, white blankets, without even explaining why the snowflakes are purple.
4. The waitresses
Like Cristina's Things Fall Apart, Christmas Wrapping was originally written for the Zé label's 1981 compilation, the most impactful Christmas compilation of all time. It's a fabulous stream of consciousness as Patty Donahue talks to herself about wanting to miss Christmas to the point of knowing she can't miss Christmas and bursts with joy over the trumpet chorus.
Released as a "gift" to fans, Low's 1999 Christmas EP was one of the most unexpected of seasonal delights: an austere indie band that greeted the season without irony. Her title track was a delight, the awkwardness of touring reminded her of her youth, and it felt like Christmas. Just two verses and a repeated chorus: perfect.
2. Los Pogues
New York Fairytale
There is almost nothing to sayNew York Fairytale, a song that has been irresistible for over 30 years. The strength of the composition and the grace of the performance are so strong that despite the overexposure, it feels fresh every time. That a rowdy folk-punk band has produced something that will last as long as Christmas itself is a true Christmas miracle.
1. Mariah Carey
All I want for Christmas is you
The best Christmas carols are only supposed to work at Christmas. They should give you a festive feel, just like The Snowman's Reprise 174. They should work anywhere: in shopping malls, in bars, pumping out of PAs in concert halls after the band has gone silent, on the radio in a coffee shop, in your house, or in your headphones. All I want for Christmas is you, all those things. It's an unabashed Phil Spector pastiche that's so sassy, cheery, and simple (it took Carey and Walter Afanasieff just 15 minutes to write) that it overcomes its lack of originality. It's the rare modern Christmas carol that has become a standard, and with good reason.