Saturday, 5 December 2015

Johnny Zhivago's 20 Favourite Xmas Songs!!

I've done this sorta list a few times, but it's always good to reintroduce some killer Christmas music what with all the parties that are sure to be had this time of year. I've heard people say that they hate Christmas music and lump in all the contemporary tracks out there with the run of the mill Carols that get played in shopping malls. Not about that life. Take a listen to these 20 and try to enjoy the holiday season!

20. The Flirtations - "Christmas Time Is Here Again"

Formerly known as The Gypsies, The Flirtations were an R&B Group from South Carolina who had their biggest hits in the 60's and 70's. "Christmas Time Is Here Again" is timeless classic that fits in seamlessly with any Xmas playlist. It has that little tinge of personal reflection that comes with the holiday season as we look back on the past year.

19. Queen - "Thank God It's Christmas"

Most of the big musical acts took their swing at writing and releasing a future holiday classic. Queen did a great job and how could you not with a frontman like Freddy Mercury belting out "Thank God It's Christmas" in a way that only Freddy Mercury can.

18. Revenge Of The Egg People - "Season's Greetings Felony"

Not all Christmas tunes have to be all joyful and triumphant, Revenge Of The Egg People a Canadian punk band, released a whole album of twisted and edgy Christmas music called Songs & Hymns. "Seasons Greetings Felony" is found on said album

17. The Ronettes - "Sleigh Ride"

With all the wonkiness we now know Phil Spector was involved in it's hard to imagine him being a part of something as wholesome as a Christmas Compilation album, but here we are. The Ronettes were one of the bands Spector produced and they are credited with the best version of "Sleigh Ride" to date.

16. Cocteau Twins - "Winter Wonderland"

The Cocteau Twins were a Scottish rock band formed in the 80's known for their style of so called dream pop music. In the early 90's they released a 2 song EP called Snow it featured their ethereal take on two Christmas favourites "Frosty The Snowman" and "Winter Wonderland"

15. Hawksley Workman - "The Coldest Night Of The Year"

Full Moon Eleven is Workman's re-imagining and re-working of his own Christmas album released 10 years earlier Almost a Full Moon. It features a cover of Bruce Cockburn's "The Coldest Night Of The Year". Remember earlier when I talked about self-reflection and isolation during the holidays? This song does a great job of capturing those feelings.

14. No Doubt - "Oi To The World"

No Doubt's cover of the Vandal's Xmas original "Oi To The World" just brings more urgency and delight to an already delightful track.

13. Greg Lake - "Father Christmas"

After leaving Emerson, Lake and Palmer Greg Lake's only hit as a solo artist was this UK Christmas favourite "Father Christmas"

12.  Tran Siberian Orchestra - "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo"

I can't wait for it to be acceptable to listen to Christmas Music so I can blast this one at my speaker's top capacity!! Truth be told, this one sneaks into my year round playlist from time to time. It's not Christmas until "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo" melts my face off.

11.  U2/Darlene Love - "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)"

For a long time for me this was the definitive version of this song. I knew it was a cover and the original was done by Darlene Love. I knew this because she used to sing this song every year on The Late Show with David Letterman, and i'm a big Dave fan. Her final performance of this song on the show back in December of 2014 could be threatening to take the top spot. Knocked it out of the park.
So i'll give you both versions.

10. Wham! - "Last Christmas"

This song has almost become as synonymous with Christmas as ageless carols likes "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night". Covered by countless artists like Jimmy Eat World, Human Nature & Taylor Swift, nothing will top the original version.

9. The Kinks - "Father Christmas"

Never ones to be outdone, The Kinks came along and released a Christmas Song from another side of the coin. A tale about being robbed while performing the role of Father Christmas at a shopping mall. Good song either way.

8. Bryan Adams - "Christmas Time"

Probably Bryan Adams' most popular Christmas song and possibly the most popular Christmas song done by a Canadian. It's still a holiday staple and the lyrics call for peace and love for all humans. If only...

7. The Payolas - "Christmas Is Coming"

From one Canadian act to another. "Christmas Is Coming" rarely gets mentioned in discussions about great Christmas songs, but it should. It never gets old and hopefully never will

6. Run DMC - "Christmas In Hollis"

There has been a resurgence of this song in recent years. Which is a good thing, because this song is bad ass!!

5. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - "Merry Christmas Baby"

Recorded to near perfection during a live performance at the Nassau Colliseum in 1980 , The Boss delivers a holiday favourite tightly wrapped and placed with care under the Christmas tree. "Merry Christmas Baby" is a cover of an old R&B classic. This one still get's 'em going!!

4.  Dido - "Christmas Day"

Not many of these songs create a story revolved around Christmas time, most just sing about the magic and beauty of the time of year. Dido weaves a love story around the holiday season and does a great job I might say.

3. Cyndi Lauper - "Early Christmas Morning"

I'm curious as to why this song didn't get covered a few more times, it would be interesting to see what other groups could do with it. For now though the Cyndi Lauper version is the only one i'm aware of and that;s OK. Because the song is great.

2. The Royal Guardsmen - "Snoopy's Christmas"

Possibly inspired by the British/German Christmas Eve cease fire during WWI where soldiers from both sides agreed to put their guns down and meet in no man's land on Christmas Eve. They shared drinks, smokes and showed pictures of each others loved ones. A soccer game even broke out. It's that kind of humanity that Christmas is about. Are those kind of times behind us, those ideals, could they exist today?

1. The Pogues - "Fairytale Of New York"

The best Xmas song ever written. Simple as that.

Sometimes with all the craziness of the world, it's hard to enjoy the holiday season while so many are suffering. Do what you can to make yourself a better person, but still enjoy Christmas time. Take some time to think about others. Reach out to old friends. Make amends with family. Smile and laugh. Let bygones be bygones. And for god's sakes, eat drink and be merry!

Happy Holidays everyone from Johnny Z

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