Whether you are the Christmas Party DJ or just looking to impress the pretty lady; Christmas time is a season for partying, enjoying the cold season and generally letting ones hair down. Christmas is much more defined in terms of its music than many other festivals or events and with a bit of knowledge you will be able to tell your Wizzard from your Weezer – hint: only one of them made a Christmas hit single.
With a top 10 of Christmas Hits
1. Mel & Kim – Rocking Around the Christmas Tree (1987)
A cover of an original track by Brenda Lee, Kim Wilde and Mel Smith recorded this for the 1987 Comic Relief and reached number 3 in the UK charts. It has been covered more recently by Miley Cyrus, Hanson and LeAnn Rimes, but the 1987 cover is the one usually played unless you're having a Christmas sleep-over-with-screaming-teenage-girls Party.
2. Bobby Helms – Jingle Bell Rock (1957)
Okay, so we are going quite far back towards the start of the charts for this one and a small bit of information to impress; the some is not really a rock track. Jingle Bell Rock is one of those tracks at a time when rock was first being coined and Bobby Helms had a repertoire of hillbilly tracks. This was one of the original rockabilly songs to prove a long-term hit for the writers.
We digress though; the song was re-recorded by Helms several times well into the mid 1960's and for a number of record labels. If your audience is much younger though then they may appreciate a more modern artist: Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud and many others have covered the track as well as the already mentioned Brenda Lee back in the mid-1960's
3. Various – Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town
Since before World War 2, this track has come and gone many times at Christmas parties and under various guises of the artists and covers of covers, including Bing Crosby, Cindy Lauper with Frank Sinatra, Michael Bolton, The Jackson 5.
The song actually made its first number 1 hit in 1934 when the sheet music was in the Variety Chart when published by the Harry Reser band.
4. Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day (1973)
In the 1970’s we had the creation of the 12” record, the foundations of British Glam Rock, and probably the most enthusiastic fight for a pair or real Christmas tracks heading towards the Christmas number 1 spot. Cue 1973 and Slade versus Wizzard.
The backing vocals and noises on the original release were courtesy of The Stockland Green Bilateral School (first year) as well as a group called the Suedettes and the former were arranged to be in the Top Of The Pops recordings, but this was vetoed by the BBC in the production process.
The song was re-released in 1981 and 1984, but never threatened the top 10.
5. The Darkness
The fun falsetto of Justin Hawkins and the nominal nods to Santa, presents and snow was entered into the race for Christmas number 1 in 2003, despite it never appearing on any of The Darkess' studio albums.
The video was the only one of groups hits to feature their manager (and Justin Hawkins' then-girlfriend) Sue Whitehouse although the eagle-eyed would recognise a spaceship in the closing scene as being used in a number of their hit vids.
It was pipped to the number 1 spot by the relatively unknown Gary Jules and the even less likely hit Mad World, which outsold Christmas Time by about 500,000 sales
6. Wham – Last Christmas (1984)
From the 1984 pen of George Michael is this surefire Christmas Party hit; being tipped for the coveted Christmas number 1 position but never getting there. It was one of the tracks that was beaten to the top by the Band Aid charity single which George Michael was also involved in; but still managed in excess of 1,000,000 sales in its time.
Thanks to the digital age the song has made appearances on the chart more recently, although not enough to be a threat to the more modern and popular offerings.
7. Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas (1988)
Released as a non-album single, this mid-career track for your Christmas party is played every year and appears on countless Christmas albums; yet it has never get any higher in the charts than number 33 in 2007.
8. The Pogues ft Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York (1987)
It still brings a tear to my eye when I think of Kirsty MacColl and what a career she could have gone on to have. Even so this is probably one of the strangest Christmas hits that the music industry will enjoy for years to come, even if it’s because of the complete lack of Christmas.
Coming off of the back of her 1985 hit New England MacColl was invited to be a replacement for The Pogues bassist Cate O’Riordan, who had married Elvis Costello and left the music scene.
The song revolves around the not so traditional fun of the Christmas festivities including the playful insults and even the group were surprised when the song reached number 2 in the UK charts considering the very anti-loving Christmas sentiments.
9. Band Aid – Do They Know its Christmas? (1984)
The Charity music track of the 1980’s featuring many of the acts that it managed to beat to the coveted Christmas number 1 spot. Representative of the largest British and Irish chart acts of 1984, those invited to take part included Spandau Ballet, Phil Collins, Dire Straits and Sting.
10. ï»¿Elmo & Patsy - Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer (1979)
Hand grandma the eggnog, sprinkle some snow and let Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire send the reindeer. Only play this once in your Christmas Party disco, but its cheesy novelty on the Oink Records label became a hit on US country music stations and never really threatened the charts, but was popular enough to be covered by a number of American country and Bluegrass artists as well as a now divorced "Dr Elmo".
11. Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody (1973)
We’re back in 1973 and the Glam Rock Christmas Battle between Noddy Holder and Ron Wood. This Christmas hit was among seventeen top-20 singles for the group in the decade and the almost punk-rock shouting that it emitted from the very first words.
The credit for the hit must really go to the grandmother of group bassist Jim Lea. Apparently the song came about originally from a late 1960’s track Ride Yourself a Rocking Chair until the late Mrs Lea complained that there were no Christmas songs being written anymore. It is claimed that the song was then cannibalized to create the Christmas number 1 hit that beat Wizzard to the top of the charts, the third group that Woods had success with after The Move and ELO.