Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Today is Christmas, for what it’s worth, and as always, Christmas music has been earworming itself into our skulls, no matter how much we try to avoid it! (I tend to avoid it pretty well, because I don’t shop at malls very often and the radio at my part-time job is not locked on a Christmas-music-playing station.) I do like Christmas and the music that goes along with it, but it does get repetitive, which is annoying. This past week we had a potluck at work (not technically a party, since we were still working), and for one day, my boss put on the station that’s been playing Christmas music since, I think, the first of November. I heard several tunes (including “Last Christmas,” for instance), at least three times, and that’s just ridiculous. So I get why people get so angry about Christmas music all the time, because it becomes maddening. However, there are a lot of good Christmas songs, and I want to know your favorite!

I’m going to cheat and give two – one, a “popular” one, and the other, a more traditional carol. If you want to do that, that’s fine! My favorite “popular” Christmas song is also the best, which is a fact! It’s, of course, “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses. There is no other choice!

R.I.P. Patty Donahue. Don’t smoke, kids!

As for the more “traditional” song – I’ve always been a huge fan of “O Holy Night.” It’s a great song for a choir, and I always loved singing it in our high school chorus. I just love how it slowly builds to the triumphant chorus with “Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices” and then the soaring “Oh night divine.” It’s very cool. It works well when only one person sings it, naturally, but it’s really amazing when a choir does it.

What are your favorites? If you say “Last Christmas” or “All I Want for Christmas Is You” or, heaven forfend, “Wonderful Christmastime,” then we can’t be friends anymore. I’m sorry, but them’s the rules!

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas if you celebrate it, or just a great Sunday if you don’t! I’ve been slacking with my Questions of the Week, but I’m trying to get back on track, so we’ll see what happens in the new year!


  1. John King

    for a popular one I would pick “Run, Rudolph, Run” by Chuck Berry (one of the greatest song writers of the rock’n’roll eras)

    Being a weird fanboy I would make an odd/obscure alternative choice of 神様のプレゼント “God’s Present” an image song from the 1998 version of Secret Akko-chan (Because I’m in love with the voice of the actress singing it)

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    “Father Christmas,” by the Kinks. Cuts right to the heart of things: “Father Christmas, give us some money, don’t mess around with those silly toys…”

    30+ years in retail colors your view of Christmas.

    In the more traditional mode, there is no more beautiful song, to me, than “Silent Night,” (or “Stille Nacht,” if you prefer).

    Every year, since I found it, I have played the compilation CD Punk Rock Christmas, which is a wonderful antidote to the false commercial sentiment that gets shoved down your throat, by the corporate world. The Ramones, “Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want to Fight,” Mojo Nixon’s “Christmas, Christmas” (set to “Louie, Louie…”), El Vez covering “Feliz Navidad” (sped up, with tons of distortion), the theme song to “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians<' "You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch" and the Damned's "There Ain't No Sanity Clause." Then I watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," "A Wish For Wings That Work " (Bill & Opus!) and the 1951 "Scrooge," (aka A Christmas Carol, with Alistair Sim). So, cynicism, mixed with sentiment.

  3. tomfitz1

    Burgas: My fav all-time X-mas song is:

    (drum roll)

    (cymbals clash)

    (trumpet blares)

    The Rake of the Gate of Hell

    No need to thank me – it’s all part of x-mas giving spirit. 🙂

    1. HAL 2000

      Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love; Lonely This Christmas, Elvis Presley or Mud (!); In the Bleak Midwinter; The Holly and the Ivy; Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney (repetitive, goofy but catchy and cute. I know many people don’t like this but I don’t give a fudge about that!); Let It Snow, Dean Martin; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (and I feel no shame in that!); Fairytale of New York, Shane McGowan and Kirsty McColl; Send the Cavalry, Jona Lewie (not precisely a Christmas song but it’s great); The Neverending Story, Limahl (this is getting ridiculous…); and Walking in the Air, the original version from The Snowman. Yes, I like a lot of Christmas songs, don’t I? Hah. Christmas, a time when the possibility of a less harsh and wretched seems possible. Or did.
      I hope you enjoy a great Christmas, Greg, and a better New Year (compared with the hell of this one).

  4. Peter

    For pop/rock songs about Christmas, I agree with Jeff that it’s hard to go wrong with Father Christmas by the Kinks. Thoughtful but satirical lyrics about the commercialization of the holiday – though they also recognize the legitimate goodness at the heart of Christmas and that it is OK to be a little sentimental. It also features a great group performance and searing guitar work from Dave.

    I also really like “Jesus Christ” by Big Star – the title makes it seem like it’s going to be a snarky song but it’s actually a very sincere tune about the religious holiday.

    For more traditional tunes, “Silent Night” is the best religious one while “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a beautiful secular song. It is sentimental and melancholy in the right measure. Beautiful composition.

  5. Eric van Schaik

    I’m going for a song by a dutch artist. Her name is Fay Lovski – Christmas is a friend of mine. I heared it again after a very long time attending the Anneke van Giersbergen concert last tuesday. She sang some familiar ones but also this little gem.

  6. bretsector

    Father Christmas by the Kinks is my perennial favorite – but The Season’s Upon Us by the Dropkick Murphys is definitely cut from the same cloth and getting a lot of “airplay” on my audio devices this past Christmas season.

  7. I love the classic carols. O Holy Night is of course a great pick, but I also like joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful (the trinity of classic Christmas carols, I think) and maybe my personal favorite, Angels We Have Heard on High.

  8. What Christmas Means To Me – Stevie Wonder
    It’s Christmastime Again – Tom Petty
    The Bells Of Christmas – Julie Andrews

    But the list of the sacred stuff is very long, starting with parts of Handel’s Messiah

  9. Ecron Muss

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Merry Christmas Polka by Jim Reeves, so corny and comical, but unabashed fun too.

    Oh Holy Night, for the reasons already mentioned.

    At the point in my life where Christmas songs had finally, finally almost hit overload, I found a quaint, low budget mid-80s BBC children’s TV show set at Christmastime, with a familiar but fresh theme:


    and the closing credits:

    Even this is quaint and a little bit corny compared to the original piece it was taken from, Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s A Carol Symphony: Andante quasi lento e cantabile as performed by City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.


    For me, the song that saved Christmas, that year at least.

  10. Le Messor

    I was going to say Oh Holy Night, because the ‘Fall on your knees’ part just sounds so good to me. But you took mine.

    So I’ll say my other choice: Thank God It’s Christmas. Because it’s by Queen. 🙂

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