The Christmas Classics
We’ve had some great festive articles this week that have helped me get into the spirit of the holiday season, but since there is apparently nothing the British like more than sending terrible music to the top of the singles charts at Christmas, I’ve decided to use this festive edition of The Bloody Classics to remind everyone that there has actually been some great British Christmas songs made over the years (and despite having written about glam rock quite a bit lately, I don’t mean anything by Slade or Wizzard). So here is my festive countdown of the 10 best British alt Christmas Classics, I hope I help you to discover something a bit different:
10. Elastica - "Gloria"
Released as the B-side to their 1995 single “Waking Up”, Gloria has enough of Ding Dong Merrily On High in it to feel festive, while still allowing you to maintain your credentials as a cool Christmas Grinch. It’s a great little song which deserves better than to be just another forgotten britpop throwback.
9. The Futureheads - "Christmas was Better in The 80s"
A bit of an electro teaser and a delicate piano intro and then thrashing guitars and bells. This is a modern indie Christmas classic ode to Christmases past that should definitely be on your playlist.
8. Venom - "Black Xmas"
Because if your the kind of person who finds forced conviviality difficult (or maybe you just can’t stand your relatives) you definitely need a bit of festive metal.
7. The Darkness - "Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)"
In the classic tradition of slightly suggestive glam rock Christmas songs but cooler because it was 2003 and we all thought it was a bit ironic. Just the right side of cheesy to show people that you are in the festive spirit.
6. The Kinks - "Father Christmas"
What sounds initially like a typically upbeat festive song actually has just the kind of cynical message you’d expect from The Kinks. I’m a sucker for an unhappy Christmas song and this fits the bill perfectly.
5. Keith Richards - "Run Rudolph Run"
This Chuck Berry cover was the iconic guitarist’s first solo single, released in 1978 (and then again on special edition vinyl on black friday this year!) it featured both Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, so it’s almost a Rolling Stones Christmas song. Christmas is all about excess and of course, even at the grand old age of 75 that’s still what Keith is famous for, so he had to feature on this list.
4. The Damned - "There Ain’t No Sanity Clause"
No Christmas could ever be complete without a bit of punk could it? Here’s another depressing festive ditty from one of London’s original punk bands.
3. Stiff Little Fingers - White Christmas
I had to include at least one cover of a more traditional Christmas pop song and since I hate most Christmas pop songs, here’s Stiff Little Fingers shouting their way through Bing Crosby’s most famous number.
2. Peter and The Test Tube Babies - "I’m Getting Pissed for Christmas"
Another great punk band with a fun hardcore Christmas song. Not only is it a brilliant headbanger, but they also manage to make me a enjoy a song which includes part of the tune of Auld Lang Syne, a song I hate so much I’ve been known to run out of venues when it comes on. It’s a Christmas miracle.
1. The Pogues and Kirsty McColl - "Fairytale of New York"
“The Pogues are Irish!” I hear you scream. Well, actually they were almost all English born of Irish descent, they were formed in London and Kirsty MacColl was English too so, ner, ner, ner, ner, I’m making them number one on my list.
While this track is much more popular and well known than the others, it’s number one because it’s not only my favourite Christmas song but one of my favourite songs ever. I used to go and see The Pogues every Christmas (they played at Brixton Academy every December in the mid-2000s) and everytime I hear it, I’m back there being covered in white confetti while Shane Macgowan twirls whatever poor woman has been drafted in to sing Kirtsy’s part around the stage for the encore. I bake mince pies every year listening to various Pogues’ albums, they just are Christmas to me. Call me sentimental if you like, but even though this song never quite made it to the top of the charts, it’s bruised but hopeful message is everything a Christmas song should be and it’ll always be my Christmas number 1.
Happy holidays everyone!