Friday, November 25, 2016

Pitchfork's 50 Best Christmas Songs

Read it and weep HERE.
Sure, one of the perks of making a Best Of-list is that someone else can disagree with it. But this Pitchfork-list is so, as CU tweeted, uninspired it's getting me nauseous. There are non-Christmassongs in the list. Songs that are overplayed. Two versions of the same song. And Low's Little Drummer Boy instead of Just Like Christmas? Really? REALLY?

Let's get a few things straight. When making a Best Christmas Songs-list, you need to set ground rules. Do hymns (O Come, O Come Emmanuel), traditional Christmassongs (O Tannenbaum) and pop songs compete with each other? Do you choose original versions or best versions? And, maybe the most important thing, what does your (play)list achieve; to heighten spirits, to have plain fun? Pitchfork's list just f's around, there's no real idea behind it.

So, whatabout us, CAGG-team and you, readers, make an alternative Best Of-list? Songs that are criminally overlooked by Pitchfork. Pop songs, rock songs, funk tracks. No hymns, no traditional songs, all original tracks from, the sixties 'til now. 50, to start, but if we get to 100, why the hell not?! Goal: to have a jolly good time in the days before Christmas.

To me, personally, a good solid Christmas pop song (with pop I mean non-classical, every other genre is allowed) is ABOUT Christmas. This sounds odd, but Pitchfork chose John Coltrane's 'Favourite Things'-version. Great version, no doubt. But no song and not about Christmas at all. And take 'Jesus', by Big Star, same thing. It's about the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate at Christmas. Let's not get biblical here, or scientific, but a song about Christmas is (to me) about the festivities and the feeling, not the facts (or, if your an atheist, 'facts'). A good Christmas song, even if it's anti-Christmas, is at heart a song about longing. Longing to be together, to celebrate together, or to NOT celebrate, NOT be together. 'Driving home for Christmas' is probably the best example of the feeling I'm talking about. It's aspiring, it has a huge sense of nostalgia, instead of actually celebrating the fest. Again, anti-christmassongs have that same sense, old experiences make the singers/artists rail against the obligation to celebrate Xmas. And, to be frank, the longing is better than the celebration.

Hope I made mayself clear. I've created a communal Spotify-list (HERE), to which you can add your song. But please, before you do, make a comment below about WHY this song has to be in that list. I've contributed Futureheads' 'Christmas was better in the 80's', because a) it's a fantastic song and b) it has that sense of longing and nostalgia that makes a great Xmas track. And I've added Low's 'Just like Christmas' and Ron Sexsmith's 'Maybe this Christmas', because, well, these songs NEED to be in a 50 Best Christmas Sogns list. Really.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen, brother! That list was a travesty in so many regards. I scoffed, derided, and did multiple spit-takes. Thanks for a great blog. While you may not get the level of feedback you deserve, your site has been a go-to for several years as I build my own annual mix.

Anonymous said...

Oh man,to pick 1 song is nearly impossible! I'm not sure if it made the list, as I got bored reading it, but I'd go for Soul Santa by Funk Machine. It's a great song for starters, but it's one that my kids recognise, and we all have a good singalong in the car on the way to school (they sing the chorus backing vocals). In a couple of years they'll be too old and too cool to join in with my silliness!
Enjoying the posts, BTW. Thanks! Hamptonoid

Stubby said...

It would seem to me that "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues would have to be on any such list. "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses, too. And, also dipping into the distant past, "Christmas Here" by Wednesday Week (from the Midnight collection; that one surely meets your "longing" test).

However, my personal nominee would be "Everything's Dead Pretty When It Snows" by Pete Green. I love that song. Wouldn't be lost on a desert island without it.

vollyrocks said...

Whoa, Pitchfork's major Christmas song f•••up. I mean, The Kinks better than The Pogues & Kirsty? These people have holly up their ears.

My totally esoteric Xmas top three:

1. Archie the red nose reindeer - Tapper Zukie
2. Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus? - Charo
3. Ho Ho Ho - Katja & De Jeugd

Heeft er iemand een piek voor me? Ik wil me lekker voelen...

George Mastalir said...

Sorry, can't limit myself to just one.

Santa Will Find You - Mindy Smith
Song the Season Brings - Beta Radio
Whatever Happened to Christmas - Frank Sinatra

Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Everly Brothers - Christmas Eve Can Kill You. The longing. The icy thin Hammond intro. The image of a lone traveler in the middle of a snowed in nowhere. The harmonies ofcourse.

Evan said...

White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin.

Richard S. said...

"Space Christmas" by Shonen Knife - Happy, bubbly, catchy.... No schmaltz or sentimentality here!

Richard S. said...

"Space Christmas" by Shonen Knife - Happy, bubbly, catchy.... No schmaltz or sentimentality here!

Guuzbourg said...

Thanks for the contributions, keep 'm coming. The idea is to make an alternative list, without songs already chosen by Pitchfork, so that's why there's no Pogues or Waitresses in the list. Shonen Knife's Space Christmas isn't on Spotify, just like Pete Green and Tapper Zukie.

Fred said...

I'd like to add our lovely Fay Lovsky with "Christmas was a friend of mine", together with Jona Lewie's "Stop the Cavalry".

I'm not on Spotify, so could you please add them Guuz?

Guuzbourg said...

Fay's added, Jona...I don't know. Bit overplayed, innit?

Scott said...

I'm glad someone else noticed. It's as misguided as their list of best songs of the 80's.
My favorite recent-ish songs are:
Another Christmas At Home - Eux Autres
Cold Christmas - The Aislers Set
Don't Call Me Mrs Christmas - Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler
There's tons of older ones, but I like the Ike & Tina Turner song Merry Christmas Baby.
All versions of Santa Baby, Last Christmas and Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree are terrible.

Guuzbourg said...

Thanks scott. Alas that aislers set song is not on spotify

Evan said...

I like to include songs that were never intended to be Christmas songs, but still work in a Christmas song playlist. Examples:

'Long December' by Counting Crows
'Horchata' by Vampire Weekend
'Angel of Harlem' by U2
'Salt Truck' by Eleni Mandell
'Cold Out' by The Mysteries of Life
'November was White, December was Grey' by Say Hi

Der Bingle said...

No song for submission yet, but I just want to say, re: Pitchfork's list, that the Destiny's Child Christmas CD just about made my ears bleed.

Anonymous said...

The Dropkick Murphy's "The Season's upon us" may not be as good as Farytaile but it's dang good.
Christmas don't be Late by Powder.
Joseph who understood from The New Pornographers
I'm partial to Leigh Nash's version of Maybe Next Christmas
I can't see including the Frank Sinatra version of Have Yourself a Merry and bypassing Garland's version.
Here's to Christmas which I believe is from the Clumsy Lovers.
Christmas in the Snow by Marah
Present Face - Garfunkel and Oates
Little Jackie's Mrs. Clause Ain't Got Nothing On Me.
.....hmmm. That's 9 I'll make it an even 10 and put the Stevie Nicks version of Silent Night up too.

Anonymous said...

Oh. And Scott I think it's possible that there is a decent version of Last Christmas out there. You are certainly correct that Santa Baby and Rockin around the whatever are beyond hope.

Jason said...

"Santa Claus is Back in Town" will always and forever, like cash for WuTang, rule everything around me. A couple of a more (relatively) recent vintage that might fit well on this list: Harvey Danger "Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas" and Blackalicious' "Toy Jackpot" (maybe my favorite Xmas tune of the last 10 years. MC Chris' "Evergreen" is also tight, and his "Christmas Vacation" is all about the flick. Bloodshot Bill "Suffin' Her Stocking" is weird as hell and wild, and Brendan Hanlon & The Bat-Men's "Christmas Party" always gets hype.

DifferentStars said...

To be honest if made a best of list it would also be a weird mix of all genres. I always find it hard to choose favourites. These songs came to my mind. I most probably will be back soon with more... It always depends on my mood.

1. "Come on Santa" - The Raveonettes
2. "Little Drummer Boy" - Dengue Fever
3. “Noel Interdit” - DTCV
4. "Christmas Lights" - Purse Snatchers
5. "Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas"- Okkervil River

The Pitchfork list is just awfull.

PS: Two of the songs I know because of you <3

Brigitte xxx

HipPriest3 said...

I always liked off-beat christmas songs,a few favorites:

Brandon Hanlon & The Batmen - Christmas Party (best rock 'n roll xmas record)
Bobby Gaylor - Stop Giving Me Crap For Christmas (his real holiday wish!)
Macka B - Christmas Cancelled (strong message against xmas consumerism)
Toots & Maytals - Happy Christmas (moody)
Eilert Pilarm - Silent Night (by the tonedeaf Swedish Elvis)
George Jones - Lonely Chrismas Call (real sad)
The Louvin Brothers - The Friendly Beasts (for its melody and harmonies)
dj BC - From the Holly to the Ivy (my favorite xmas mashup)

Guuzbourg said...

Thankx Hip Priest. Alas, not all songs are on Spotify.

Blind Blake said...

A lesser known rock Christmas song that's become a favorite of mine is Buffalo Killers "Secret Santa"

Fred said...

After confusing you, Guuz, with Jona Lewie, I'd like to propose the following. I think your list wouldn't be complete with something by Sofia Talvik. I think her latest "When it rains on Christmas Day" expresses just the kind of longing you're looking for. But maybe it's to recent and you can add it to that list on Spotify. Then add her song Winter Canon to this list.

Quixotience said...

I was going to suggest a number of all-time greats, but so many of them were not on Spotify, which is why I hate Spotify. Some I did find:

In Excelsis Deo by There Will Be Fireworks
Schoolgirl Psychedelia by Fantastic Everlasting Gobstopper
I Did It for the Toys by Dance Hall Crashers
Red Candles by Danielle Howle
Christmas Vacation by The Descendents
Christmas in the Air by Jacques
Santa Claus Ain't Comin to Town by Elves of Heaven
Santa Claus Is Comin to Town by Joseph Spence
Silent Night by Klaus Nomi
Sugarplum Girl by Rondo Brothers

Guuzbourg said...

Ha! Thx!

Uke Goldberg said...

You forgot these rare Christmas 45s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i7-1DjXI4Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU7qdKEdlc4

Hoppy Holidays!