We’ve got your Christmas playlist covered, pop fans. Here are our top 25 festive songs from your favourite classic pop artists that’ll have you wishing it was Christmas every day…
Listen to the playlist on Spotify or using the videos below.
25. Coventry Carol – Alison Moyet
We kick off this Christmas countdown of classic pop songs with something slightly more traditional: Alison Moyet’s version of the 16th century Coventry Carol. King Herod’s story may not be the most popular festive tale to tell, but Moyet makes her musical talent known in this electronic take on the British carol.
24. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
In 1987, Bono and the gang released their version of festive heart-wrencher Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Their rendition of the song was recorded during a soundcheck on the Scottish leg of their Joshua Tree tour, and features backing vocals from original singer Darlene Love.
23. A Winter’s Tale – David Essex
David Essex expresses how personal sadness seems insignificant “on a worldwide scale” in this wintry ballad penned by Mike Batt and Tim Rice. Historically divisive as a Christmas song, the Classic Pop team voted in favour of giving it a place in our countdown.
22. Every Day’s Like Christmas – Kylie Minogue
We’re skipping forward a few decades with this next entry: Kylie’s 2016 feel-good Christmas hit Every Day’s Like Christmas, which was a popular choice among Classic Pop readers. We’ve featured the official video here, but highly recommend checking out the Stock Aitken Waterman remix if you want to be transported back to the ’80s!
21. Christmas in Hollis – Run–D.M.C.
Okay, we admit, we’re straying a little far from the pop world by including this hip-hop classic, but we couldn’t resist! The Walk This Way singers give us an insight into Christmas in their hometown of Queens with this smash-hit video, which came out on top as Rolling Stone‘s Best Video Of The Year 1987.
20. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
We’ve spent more than 20 years attempting to hit that final top note, and we’re still going! Despite being released just 24 years ago, later than most of our selections, this song has definitely earned its place at the festive table as a bonafide Christmas classic, recently going triple-platinum in the UK.
19. Winter Wonderland – Eurythmics
Over 200 different artists have performed their own versions of this 1934 Felix Bernard song, but there’s nothing quite like Eurythmics’ take on it. The eery opening makes for even more satisfaction when the up-beat chorus chimes in, and Annie Lennox glides effortlessly along the vocal line.
18. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard
Featuring a little further down the list than you might expect, because we wouldn’t want to be too predictable, is the Christmas glam-rock anthem I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. Wizzard shout their way through this one with obligatory children’s choir backing vocalists; it’s not exactly groundbreaking pop, but it’s still a festive classic.
17. Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
As with the previous entry, we feel that Slade’s 1973 No.1 hit is a tad overrated as a Christmas pop song. That being said, the festive season doesn’t quite feel complete until we’ve heard Noddy Holder shout “It’s Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaas!”, so it makes the cut!
16. December Will Be Magic Again – Kate Bush
December Will Be Magic Again was another popular choice amongst Classic Pop readers, and peaked at No.29 in November 1980. Kate’s usual ethereal vocals are particularly stunning in this alternative version, performed on her 1979 Christmas television special. (*This is the only track not available on Spotify)
15. Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord – Boney M.
This mash-up of Harry Belafonte’s 1956 hit with original song Oh My Lord proved to be a Christmas smash for Boney M., who bagged themselves a Christmas No.1 with this Eurodisco-meets-reggae track. When Jester Hairston, who originally wrote Mary’s Boy Child for his choir, found out how well Boney M.’s cover had done, he said: “God bless my soul. That’s tremendous for an old fogey like me”.
14. It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas – Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys don’t disappoint with this synth-pop Christmas hit, as Neil Tennant reminds us that we don’t need all the traditional trimmings to enjoy the festive season. The featured video is a live performance that has been over-dubbed with the original album version of the song, so you can enjoy a bit of authenticity alongside your dancing trees.
13. Thank God It’s Christmas – Queen
Queen look back on what 1984 had to offer in this festive pop-rock single written by Brian May and Roger Taylor. It’s a sentiment we can all agree with this year, as we anticipate a short break from the constant onslaught of depressing news. No official music video was ever released for this track, so enjoy a lyric video and sing along!
12. December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas) – George Michael
George Michael is, unsurprisingly, always in the hearts and minds of Classic Pop readers at Christmastime, and this heart-warming festive ballad was a highly-requested playlist entry. The importance of family is George’s key message here, and if the quirky animated video doesn’t bring a tear to your eye then we don’t know what will!
11. She Won’t Be Home – Erasure
A much under-appreciated Christmas song, in our humble opinion. Part of 1988’s Crackers International EP, which peaked at N0.2, Erasure were enjoying their imperial phase at this time. In fact, there were several Christmas contenders from the synth-pop duo, but this melancholic track somehow helps us forget our sorrows, so it comes out on top.
10. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
Despite appearing in the music video, Wings didn’t feature on the original recording of Wonderful Christmastime. More curiously still, the choir of children practised all year long simply to sing “Ding Dong Ding Dong” in unison. These mysteries aside, it wouldn’t quite be Christmas without Macca, and this 1979 hit is a festive classic.
9. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Mel & Kim
A brilliant cover version of Brenda Lee’s original Christmas song, all in the name of Comic Relief. It has a great video to match, though we’d like to start an official petition to have the thumbs-up in front of Rolf Harris’ portrait replaced with a big thumbs-down, if possible.
8. Step Into Christmas – Elton John
Elton has been the star of the show so far this Christmas, with his appearance in the eagerly-anticipated John Lewis advert, and he reminds us why with this song. While “Welcome to my Christmas song…” may not be his most genius lyric, it fits perfectly with the eccentricity of this holiday single.
7. Last Christmas – Wham!
It’s arguably one of the most iconic Christmas pop songs of all time, and we’re transported straight to the festive season whenever we hear that jingle-bell synth sound. Wham! donated all the royalties from the Last Christmas release to the Ethiopian famine.
6. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – The Pointer Sisters
These American singing sisters put their own R&B stamp on this much-covered song and we can’t get enough of it at this time of year! This is another live performance video that has been dubbed with the original recording, so never fear: you’ll still get to hear them cry “I want a bicycle!”.
5. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens
When we hear that key change, we know it’s Christmastime, and we’re not alone: since its original release in 1985, Merry Christmas Everyone has amassed over 60 weeks in the charts. Spare a thought for the cast of this excruciating music video, who look every bit as awkward as we feel watching it!
4. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
With excellent lyrics and a high-energy musical performance, this is a truly brilliant Christmas song. The story of a busy single woman facing the usual festive stress was an unexpected hit from The Waitresses, though unfortunately it became the straw that broke the camel’s back when its success apparently caused the rift that ended the band.
3. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid 1984
This was the choice of most Classic Pop readers, and it still serves as an important yearly reminder to consider the lives of those less fortunate at a time of mass consumption. A heart-warming display of togetherness, along with strong vocal performances from legendary 80s artists, Do They Know It’s Christmas is a truly brilliant Christmas song.
2. Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea
Apparently Chris Rea never intended to write this Christmas song, but was testing pianos and discovered the light, jazzy introduction that now conjures festive thoughts worldwide. We’re very glad indeed that Driving Home For Christmas was conceived, and it’s one of our top picks.
1. Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty McColl
The UK’s most-played Christmas song of the 21st century, it’s no surprise that Fairytale Of New York takes the top spot in our countdown. We’re yet to see another festive tune that has you performing a drunken ballad one minute and then dancing a céilidh the next.
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Illustration: Johnny Bertram