HOLLYWOOD—Christmas is only five days away. Just like every year, everyone is stressed during this Christmas season. While Christmas movies are always fun to watch, Christmas songs always bring joy to our hearts. Christmas songs are as popular as putting up your Christmas elf. Although there’s been a fair amount of novelty rubbish written over the years, the reality is that a lot of Xmas songs are bangers.
Plenty of songs from decades ago, from the 40s thru 90s heyday of the Christmas record as an art form. But even though later generations of pop have produced plenty of gold. One of the best songs to brighten your spirits is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You,” it has always been a favorite of mine. The song has been around since 1994. Festive cheer has found its way into pop, hip-hop, R&B, metal, punk and indie…you name it.
Let’s begin with “All I Want For Christmas is You,” it’s hard to believe, but there was a time when Mimi’s inescapable ear worm was just a forgotten novelty song from yet another standard-issue pop singer holiday album. Now, in a post Love actually world, hearing that song is one of the most reliable signs that the holidays are here. The song snowballed in cultural cachet, slowly climbing in popularity every year before finally topping the US charts in 2019 and UK charts in 2020.
Complaining about its ubiquity has become a pastime for killjoys at pubs, but it is truly their loss. From the twinkly intro into Mariah’s tour-de-force delivery, everything here is as timeless as it is flawless. So how did Mariah write this amazing classic song? Let’s begin, by saying it’s an upbeat, catch song. So what inspired her? While she was living in upstate New York in the summer of 1994, she was watching “It’s A Wonderful Life,” that movie inspired her. She quickly stumbled on a chord progression and melody, which she captured on a mini tape recorder and brought it to her longtime collaborator Walter Afansieff. The rest is history.
Then we have “Last Christmas,” by Wham! A ballad of doomed romance, “Last Christmas” features sleighbells and synths, plus some truly memorable knitwear in the video. But what really sets “Last Christmas” apart is George Michael’s heart-on-sleeve delivery: his genuine heartbreak horror and wistful, sexy whispers. The words “Merry Christmas” never sounded so sultry until I heard that song. The power of nostalgia itself is greater than real memories. We can all hark back with Bing on this Irving Berlin-penned 40s number to a white Christmas just like the ones we used to know, even if our true past is full of crushing disappointments.
“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Euphoric and scathing, as hopeful as it is resigned, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s definitive festive peace-on-earth song has transcended its original anti-Vietnam War purpose to become a Christmas stalwart. There are many versions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by many artists from Bieber to Buble, but Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 is the most fun. The song is mainly used as a bargaining tool by parents, it does make sense to have kids on the mic.
The song, “Santa Tell Me” Ariana Grande didn’t score a Mariah-level megahit, with this peppy, upbeat ode to joy, but she came closer than almost any other pop star in the 30-ish years since “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Unlike Kelly Clarkson-who scored a memorable hit by channeling Darlene Love-Ari’s song fits right in her catalog of bops… meaning you can comfortably transition between this plea to St. nick and her recent hit about a late-night tantra session with relative ease.
Last but not least, Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas.” The king adds some characteristic swagger to this cover of the 1948 country original. Spawning plenty of tributes of its own, Presley sealed the deal for “Blue Christmas,” it’s now a festive staple.
Rose’s Scoop: Wishing everyone a Blessed Merry Christmas with family and friends.