Sunday, 29 November 2009

Alternative Christmas Number 1's

By Joseph Nockles

Does the Christmas no.1 mean anything anymore?

For the last four years, the Yule-tide chart topper has consistently been a product of the Simon Cowell pop production line, X-factor, and not one of them has carried so much as an ironic sleigh bell. The festive top slot shouldn’t the prize at the end of an ITV singing contest. It should be a cheese heavy aural fondue of bad writing and even worse singing, preferably fronted by a children’s TV character. Or alternatively, a work of art with a hint of Christmas cheer, but that can be a bit much to ask for.

Since Girls Aloud beat One True Voice to the top slot in 2002 with the brilliant, but by no means Christmassy Sound of the Underground, I’ve taken it upon myself to soundtrack the holiday for myself. The official no. 1 is chosen by confused Christmas shoppers who venture into HMV for the first time that year to buy gift vouchers for people they don’t really like and grab a Leona CD off the pile next to the counter because they saw her on telly and thought she was pretty…I despair. I choose my own Christmas no. 1 by actually listening to music. How novel!

So, if you want something new to play at your work Christmas party, something that isn’t Wizard and hasn’t been touched by the disease ridden fingers of Simon Cowell, just go out and look for it!

Here’s some of mine to get you started:


Pet Shop Boys – It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas

Re-released after ten years, this amazing nugget of synth pop realism will have you raving on your desk with Janet-from-accounts’ bra over your head in no time.
[Out on Dec 14th. Won't beat X-factor's offering, but should]


Sigur Ros – Olsen Olsen

An eight-minute Christmas song? A Christmas song without any audible lyrics? A Christmas song which isn’t at all cheesy? YES! YES! YES! It’s brilliant and at 4:31, it goes from being brilliant to life-changing.


Cyndi Lauper & The Hives – A Christmas Duel

A bizarre collaboration that truly has to be heard to be believed. All I will say is that it always leaves me gagging for fresh material from both parties. Please bring us a foul-mouthed come back album soon, Cyndi!


Sufjan Stevens – Get Behind Me, Santa

American indie superstar, Sufjan Stevens has a the ability to churn out vast quantities of mostly great but very rarely exceptional jangly tunes. This is probably the stand-out track on his cycle of five EP’s, Songs for Christmas. Although, I may just have fallen for it for the quality of the White Stripes pun.


Rufus Wainwright - Spotlight on Christmas

Once upon a time, Rufus was cool. He wanted nothing more than crystal meth and a bit of impersonal buggery. Then one day, Elton John made him sober up and record this for The Elton John Christmas Party album and Rufus gradually became less and less attractive while his music improved. Spotlight on Christmas is a song about how we should all be content with the company of loved ones at Christmas and not focus on material things...YAWN...despite this, it's a rather catchy little ditty.

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