It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and much like a Dickensian ghost, I’m speaking to you from the past. This entry has been turned in for a while now, because my plan for the rest of the year is to do as little as possible, and my plan for today is to do absolutely nothing (except go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and eat some roast beef what what). Hopefully you’ve read Parts 1
, and now here we are — I’ve saved the best and Christmassy-ist for last, so put on your comfy pants, grab a glass of nog, and enjoy.
(And here is a complete countdown YouTube playlist I created as a present just for you.)
Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1975)
You may recall that the final entry last week was also “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all because Freddie Mercury had to up and die in 1991. Well, this one ranks higher because he was still alive. Luv U 4ever Fred.
Johnny Mathis, "When a Child Is Born (Soleado)" (1976)
Would not change the station if this came on Mix 92.9.
Cliff Richard, "Mistletoe and Wine" (1988)
Cliff Richard, "Saviour's Day" (1990)
I think that understanding the appeal of Cliff Richard is difficult for anyone who’s not British. I didn’t grow up with my grandma loving him, or whatever. I don’t have a lifetime of hearing these songs enough to hate them. They’re pretty inoffensive, from my point of view. Neither sincerity nor snark is available to me. What oh what is a millennial to do?
The videos are hilarious
Mud, "Lonely This Christmas" (1974)
It started in the '70s. Hardcore nostalgia, I mean. Just as nowadays we have Buzzfeed to remind us of Game Boys and SNICK, people in the ‘70s had pop music to remind them of '50s doo-wop.
Pet Shop Boys, "Always On My Mind" (1987)
I like songs that can be categorized as “queer” in a non-pejorative manner.
The Scaffold, "Lily the Pink" (1968)
As you may recall, “idiosyncratic” and “cheesy” were two very important categories I was judging while compiling this list. As you can tell, this entry has barrelsful of both. But get this: Lydia Pinkham WAS A REAL PERSON
. She was like, “Here, drink this tonic, it’ll cure what ails ya.” I can’t get over this. I love everything about her, and I love everything about this song.
Dave Edmunds, "I Hear You Knocking" (1970)
Few things in the world give me greater pleasure than 1970s teenagers swaying awkwardly to televised lip-syncing.
Spice Girls, "2 Become 1" (1996)
Far and away the best of the Spice Girls Christmas No. 1s. Also, the video is Christmas in New York, which I will always advocate. “Let’s put the sexy women in winter coats for their music video!” is another decision I endorse.
Harry Belafonte, “Mary’s Boy Child” (1957)
A staid but otherwise perfectly lovely little song. I wish I knew more about Harry Belafonte beyond what I learned in Beetlejuice.
Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (1984)
Of all of the pop songs that are constantly played every Christmas: “Last Christmas,” “Christmas All Over Again," “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and a thousand other good ones, this is the one that hit No. 1. It’s the original (aka “tolerable”) version, but still. You know what, mentally switch this one with the Spice Girls. Who cares.
Boney M., "Mary's Boy Child — Oh My Lord" (1978)
Sorry, Harry, but this version is way more triumphant.
Shakin' Stevens, "Merry Christmas Everyone" (1985)
I have an even more tenuous cultural understanding of Shakin’ Stevens than I do Cliff Richard, but gosh darn it if I don’t love this. Tell your brother or sister that you love them. Read to your niece or nephew. Go help your mother in the kitchen. Pour another glass of wine and stare at the tree. It’s crap, obviously, but it’s great
crap. No. 3
Winifred Atwell, “Let’s Have Another Party” (1954)
Ohhhhh man I love this! It’s a ragtime number from the ‘50s! Winifred Atwell was Trinidadian, and the first black person (not woman — person) to have a No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom, thanks to this song. That is cool. This is a follow-up to her rag “Let’s Have a Party” from 1953 and it’s like, lady, go with what you know.
Dickie Valentine, “Christmas Alphabet” (1955)
This is some straight-up cocoa-drinking, tree-trimming, family togetherness right here. Everything a holiday song should be: happy, well-sung and done in just over two minutes. I had never heard of this song before this little exercise and I am INTO IT. Add it to your holiday rotation now and every year hereafter. No. 1
Slade, "Merry Xmas Everybody" (1973)