It's Christmas Eve, and after the difficult year we've all had, it's time to finally sit back and relax. So, for this month's post, we've put together our top ten most played festive songs this December, featuring both true Christmas classics and some more contemporary hits. We hope you enjoy, and from all of us at PHIX, wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with better things to come in 2021.
10. Thank God It’s Christmas - Queen
Written by lead guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, Thank God It’s Christmas was released in November 1984 and spent six weeks in the UK charts, peaking at No. 21. This understated song’s relative lack of Christmas chart success has been attributed to it’s simultaneous release with Band Aid's Do They Know It’s Christmas?, and May also believes that it was due to the lack of promotional video. He told Ultimate Classic Rock: "The funny thing is, it doesn't get that much attention in Britain as a Christmas single, because it doesn't have a video. Everything's about video these days and we never made a video for that song. It's all in your mind. But I'm very fond of it. I think it's a very different kind of Christmas song”. An official animated music video for the song was finally released on Queen’s Youtube channel last year, check it out below.
9. Christmas Eve (Soul Purpose) - Blossoms
According to a tweet by Blossoms frontman Tom Ogden, this brand new christmas tune was written "on the hottest day of the year", in June 2020. Stockport natives Blossoms released two new Christmas singles this November, and in true John & Yoko style, the tune features a children's choir from their hometown, the Stockport Junior Voices. Ogden, over Zoom from his home in Stockport, told GQ that: “We wanted that same feel as the hits of the 1970s and 1980s. There’s not been a decent, old-school-sounding Christmas song since The Darkness”. Christmas Eve (Soul Purpose) was released alongside It's Going To Be A Cold Winter, and is our favourite of the two, which do you prefer?
8. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
His first solo single since Wings was formed, Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime was released in November 1979. This song is a point of major contention for most music aficionados, you either love it or you hate it, but, including royalties from cover versions, it's estimated that McCartney makes $400,000 a year from this song, which puts its cumulative earnings at over $15 million. Not bad for a song listed by both Esquire and The Independent as one of 'The Worst Christmas Songs' of all time.
7. Step Into Christmas - Elton John
Released in November 1973, Elton John’s tune peaked at No. 24 on the UK Singles Chart, later reaching a new peak of No. 8 on the same chart in 2019, when it was certified platinum. Recorded at London's Morgan Studios, Step into Christmas was mixed as a homage producer Phil Spector's 1960s recordings, imitating his trademark wall of sound technique, according to an interview John gave Melody Maker. It's a real feel-good festive banger.
6. Do They Know It’s Christmas? - Band Aid
Written by Bob Geldoff and Midge Ure, the original Band Aid song was released in 1984 and made it to Christmas No. 1 on the charts, staying there for 5 consecutive weeks. The tune features drums by Phil Collins, and vocals from Bono, Sting, George Michael and others, as arguably the first ever charity 'supergroup’. The first line of the song was originally written for David Bowie, who was unable to make the tight recording slot, and Boy George was the last to record his solo part, having been flown over on Concorde from New York City, where he was amidst Culture Club’s US tour. This song was recorded and mixed within only 24 hours at SARM studios in Notting Hill, and it raised £8 million for victims of the Ethiopian famine within 12 months of its release. Check out the video below, which was made during the live recording at the studios.
5. The Darkness - Christmas Time
One of the more contemporary hits, this song by the British Rock Band made it to Christmas No. 2 single in 2003, joining 1987's Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, 1984's Last Christmas by Wham! and 1994's All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey as Christmas runners up. Frontman Justin Hawkins said of the song: "we managed to get bellend into a Christmas song without it getting banned! (And ringpiece!)”. Whilst it's certainly a less played-out festive song, It's one of our favourites at PHIX.
4. Mud - Lonely This Christmas
1974's Christmas No. 1 spent 4 weeks at the top, and certainly has resonance for a lot of people this year. This song was performed by the glam rock band as an homage to Elvis Presley’s later songs, such as Blue Christmas, and frontman Les Gray dons a classic white suit and aviators in the video. The tune was incidentally produced by RAK records, and we shot our AW20 collection at their recording studios earlier this year.
3. Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas
First released in 1986, Chris Rea's family feel-good song only peaked at No. 53 on the charts, but since 2007 has re-entered every year at christmas. Rea has claimed that he originally wrote the song in 1978, when he was travelling back to Middlesbrough from Abbey Road Studios in London. His wife came to drive him home in her Austin Mini, because Rea was recently out of contract with his record company and they refused to pay for his rail ticket. Rea had never played the song live until 2014 at Hammersmith Odeon, on 20th December. To mark the momentous occasion, he hired 12 snow cannons, and the venue allegedly charged him £12,000 for the subsequent clean up.
2. Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John & Yoko
Recorded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971 with the Harlem Community Choir, this song only made it to No. 4 on the charts the year of it's release. It later reached No. 2 in 1980, after Lennon’s death. Written as a protest against the Vietnam war, the initial acoustic guitar demo for this song was created in October 1971 in Lennon's rooms at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, where he and Ono were living. This one is a poignant Christmas classic.
1. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues ft. Kirsty MaCcoll
Released in November 1987, Fairytale of New York only made it to Christmas No. 2, but to date the song has reached the UK Top 20 on 17 separate occasions, including every year at Christmas since 2005, and in the UK is the most-played Christmas song of the 21st Century. The lyrics have been a source of controversy since its initial release and instigate debate every year, with BBC Radio 1 announcing that they would no longer play the original uncensored version of the song as of 2020. Controversy aside, it's still our favourite festive song.
We hope you enjoyed our Christmas round-up. Happy Christmas! - Team PHIX