Tis the season, the bells are ringing out. Yuletide is well and truly upon us and our radios are playing back-to-back Christmas songs to keep us in the festive spirit. Amidst the repeated plays of "All I Want For Christmas" and ‘"Christmas Wrapping", though, are a few beloved non-Christmassy songs that we nevertheless associate with Christmas. Here are seven of our favourites.
"God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
The unofficial theme of Christmas favourite Love Actually, this affirming Beach Boys song may not have anything to do with Christmas, but its positive message and syrupy sentiment are perfect for this time of year. Just picture loving families gathering around big plates of food, couples holding onto each other as they wobble around ice rinks and cheerful choirs singing their hearts out with Christmastime joy: God only knows its hard to imagine a more appropriate soundtrack.
"That’s My Goal" by Shayne Ward
When The X Factor launched in 2004 it took only a year for the winner’s single to become a near-constant in the UK Charts Christmas No. 1 spot. Indeed, Series Two winner Shayne Ward’s "That’s My Goal" would be the first of seven Christmas No. 1s for X Factor winners in the show’s 13-season history to date (we’ll see what Series 14’s Rak-Su can do).
It’s a rare effort that breaks the trend: think celebrity supergroups (The Justice Collective), TV show choirs led by Gareth Malone (The Military Wives) and good old-fashioned “I’ve had enough of this”. Indeed, the first song to knock The X Factor off the Christmas top spot was Rage Against The Machine’s extremely un-festive "Killing In The Name" (see No. 3) following a campaign against the dominance of Simon Cowell’s shiny floor singing comp.
"Killing In The Name" by Rage Against The Machine
"Killing In The Name" might be the most un-Christmassy thing you have ever heard, but a historic effort against the Goliath that is Simon Cowell’s karaoke singing competition, The X Factor, has given it a solid place in yuletide music history. It all started when 35-year-old rock fan Jon Morter (helped by comedian Peter Serafinowicz) launched an online petition to encourage music-lovers to boycott The X Factor Christmas No. 1 tradition and download as many copies of "Killing In The Name" as possible in an attempt to claim back the No.1 Charts rung.
It worked (largely because people like Paul McCartney and former X Factor winner Steve Brookstein jumped on the bandwagon and pledged their support) and we all spent that year rocking around the Christmas tree to the rap-metal strains of “now you do what they told ya!”.
"Somethin' Stupid" by Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman
The accompanying film clip may feature cosy fires and woolly jumpers, but Robbie and Nicole’s Christmas duet actually has nothing to do with Christmas. Nothing whatsoever. The saccharine love song, a UK Christmas No. 1 for Williams and Kidman in the pre-X Factor days of 2001, was written by C Carston Parks in 1966 and made famous by Nancy and Frank Sinatra before Robbie and Nicole put their spin on it. It’s a classic love ditty really, all deep “blue nights”, perfume filling one's head and things “feeling right”.
"Can We Fix It?" by Bob The Builder
Who doesn’t like indulging in a few cartoons with the kids at Christmas? Fittingly, Bob the Builder’s motivational theme song, "Can We Fix It? (Yes We Can!)" became a chart sensation when it made it to No. 1 at Christmas in 2000, totally showing the non-cartoon Westlife and Eminem how it’s done. Ouch. It was the best-selling single of the year in the UK and reached No. 1 in Australia in the next year (things always take a while to make it down under). A Christmas song? No. But can we play it at Christmas? Yes, we can!
"Mad World" by Michael Andrews & Gary Jules
Okay, we realise there’s a bit of a theme developing here: non-Christmassy songs that claim the UK Singles Chart No. 1 spot during the week of Christmas, but if that’s not an indication of the music everyone’s playing, we don’t know what is. Whilst it’s a time characterised by too much food, drink and laughter with loved ones, Christmas is also embraced as time for reflection, and there is a crop of rather sad songs that we associate with the season. One of the most poignant and beautiful is British band Tears For Fears’ "Mad World", the cover of which by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules made the Christmas No. 1 in 2003.
"Fairytale Of New York" by The Pogues
What’s more Christmassy than the rugged Irish tones of Kirsty McColl and Shane MacGowan slinging insults like “you’re a dumb filthy maggot” and “you're an old slut on junk” at each other through the medium of song? Probably lots of things actually, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without The Pogues’s rather non-Christmassy "Fairytale Of New York".
Now, we know what you’re thinking. The song is actually about Christmas so why are we talking about it here? We know they sing “It was Christmas Eve babe, In the drunk tank”; “Merry Christmas my arse”. But we just couldn’t resist including it in out fave non-Christmassy Christmas songs list because, let’s face it, it’s hardly festive in tone and spirit is it? Too much eggnog had by all, perhaps. With that, cheers! And Merry Christmas to one and all.
Got any other non-Christmassy songs that nevertheless remind you of Christmas? Leave them in the comments below.