For the record, there are roughly five Christmas pop songs worth listening to…

by James Hendicott
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Christmas songs, and I say this as a former Grinch, are objectively awful, mostly. Why? They’re largely saccharine, thematically unimaginative, and played for over a month every year, which, frankly, is long enough to make anything sound pretty awful. But there are – yes, in my opinion, but hey, it is what it is – about five that are genuinely worth listening to. They are, in reverse order:

5. Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas. Yes, it’s obvious and sentimental, but not too sentimental, and it actually manages to imagine a setting other than a fireplace, snow, or the realms of santa. Plus, Rea hits right in the feels: there genuinely is something special about going home to the clutches of your family for Christmas. Points for that.

4. Wizard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. As you may have gathered by the tone of this piece, the author doesn’t share this sentiment. That said, ridiculous overblown 70s pop-rock set to a ridiculous overblown sentiment is a nice change of pace, and I can respect that.

3. East 17 – Stay Another Day. East 17 were always the better band than era rivals Take That (yeah, I said it). ‘Stay Another Day’ is arguably their high point. It’s barely a Christmas song at all unless you listen carefully to for those bells (in fact, it’s about the vocalist’s brother’s suicide). Top marks.

2. Joni Mitchell – River. Sure, Joni’s Christmas hit has echoes of Jingle Bells and drops the C-word (Christmas, for avoidance of doubt), but it’s also, like many Joni Mitchell songs, brilliantly deep and metaphorical, and just paints a picture that goes far beyond cliche. Beautiful.

1. The Pogues – Fairytale of New York. Some people insist this is a bad song. I beg to differ: it paints a picture with its words, it flows through the lifetime of a relationship from verse to verse, and it genuinely vibes with Irish culture. Plus, McGowan and Kirsty MacColl, both sadly departed, just connect with those Christmas highs and lows, and are vocally outstanding.

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