Advent song for December 24

When I was deciding how to rank this year’s songs I originally had Cliff at number one and this at number two, until I realised that if I were to make a list of my favourite songs, rather than my favourite Christmas number ones, this would still be near the top, whereas although Mistletoe and Wine is my favourite Christmas song, I’m not sure what merits it has outside of being Christmassy.

In a rare example of the law of increasing returns, this song gets better each time someone covers it. Elvis’s version is better than Willy Nelson’s, and when the Pet Shop Boys got their hands on it they turned it into nothing more or less than the perfect pop song.

I have chosen this video rather than the regular one because it doesn’t have a fat man talking throughout, and because Neil’s leathers are quite becoming. If you are at home, it’s time for a glass of fizzy wine. If you are at work, it’s time to go home. Happy Christmas!

Advent song for December 23

I don’t think there’s anything to say about this song that I haven’t already said here: this is the third or fourth time I’ve posted it over the years, so if you’ve been paying close attention, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, you’ll already know that this is my favourite Christmas pop video EVER.

It occurs to me, incidentally, that when I said that the Spice Girls were one of two acts with more than one song in the top 24 I was thinking that Cliff also had two entries, with this and Saviour’s Day, whereas in actual fact he is the outright winner because he also appears, at some length, in Band Aid 2.

Anyway, this beats both of those into the dust. Go to fullscreen, turn up the volume, have a mince pie  and a cup of tea (or a sherry, if you’re reading this after midday) and enjoy the wonder that is Mistletoe and Wine, Christmas number one from 1988. The whole video is superb, but everything from 2:25 onwards is pure Cliffmas gold.

I suspect that ardent scholars of chart history will already be able to work out what tomorrow’s song is. To make it even easier here are the ten I rejected, in chronological order:

Mr Blobby, Mr Blobby (1993) – Obviously not.

Michael Jackson, Earth Song (1995) – I love Michael Jackson, but Earth Song is truly terrible and I didn’t want to sully his memory with it.

Spice Girls, Too Much (1997) – It’s a good song, but it’s nowhere near as good as the two I chose, and you can have too much Spice Girls.

Westlife, I Have A Dream (1999) – An insipid cover by an insipid act of one of my least favourite Abba songs.

Bob The Builder, Can We Fix It? (2000) – Oh, come on.

Band Aid 20, Do They Know It’s Christmas? (2004) – This made the original cut over Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, but I couldn’t find a video for it that wasn’t awful, and anyway, two versions in the winning line-up is enough for any song.

Shayne Ward, That’s My Goal (2005) – Never heard of it.

Leona Lewis, A Moment Like This (2006) – I sort of remember this, but it didn’t do anything for me.

Leon Jackson, When You Believe (2007) – Who? Alright, I know who he is, but never was there a more anonymous X Factor winner.

Rage Against The Machine, Killing In The Name (2009) – SIGH. This record was bought by tedious fools the first time around, never mind last year. I admit that X Factor has spoiled the fun of finding out who will be Christmas number one, but this was the least imaginative, least joyous alternative possible.

Of course, since I started we have a thirty-fifth Christmas number one in Matt Cardle with, um, whatever his song is called. For the sake of completeness I can confirm that he would also have been rejected, squeaky-voiced borefest that he is.

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s Cliff:

Advent song for December 22

I’m sorry that this is so late; I have been in transit from Dublin since 7.30am and I was too bleary from sleep and nervous about getting home to post a song that early in the morning. But we have made it home for Christmas, and in celebration here is another unChristmassy Christmas number one.

I don’t think it’s the done thing to prefer this 1983 version to Yazoo’s original of the year before, but I do. It’s a one-trick pony of a song alright, but the trick is a good one. I also like how manifestly eighties it sounds, which you wouldn’t think could be possible with an a capella song. And I like the contrast between the blokeiness of the video and the sweetness of the song itself.


Advent song for December 21

You didn’t really think I preferred the 1989 version, did you? Everything I said about it is true, but it’s still a pale imitation of the original – which, as I said the last time I wrote about it (are you paying attention?) is still the song most guaranteed to get people in pubs singing along at this time of year, despite being 26 years old. And, well, they’re all just so young and gorgeous. Except for Bono, who is only young, and Phil Collins, who is neither.

If tomorrow’s song doesn’t appear, it’ll be because I’m stranded at Dublin airport trying to get home for Christmas. Wish me luck!

Advent song for December 20

There are many things wrong with this video: the faceless Father Christmas; the snowman who isn’t made from snow and chases small children; the terrifying expression on the face of Shakey’s sledging partner; the choice of an eight-year-old girl as the recipient of his kiss under the mistletoe. But it’s all done with such innocent joy that he gets away with it. This is as Christmassy a video as there is, although my once-held belief (based on nothing at all) that it was filmed in Wales is, I think, incorrect. Never did a snow scene scream “studio shot” so loudly.

This was Christmas number one in 1985, which was just before my time as far as listening to the charts goes, which is a shame because I think I would have loved it when I was nine.  But I still like it very much at thirty four.

Advent song for December 19

The early 1990s were a bit of a wasteland for me as far as the charts were concerned. I can distinctly remember thinking, aged fourteen, none of these songs has a proper tune any more! And then I stopped listening to chart music anyway, and started listening to the bands that played at Reading and Glastonbury, which at that time were acts who barely bothered the charts at all.

And then in October 1994 I went away to university, and in my excitement and anxiety at being away from home for the first time I started listening to the local radio station, because it reminded me of Capital, which reminded me of home. So I started to listen to chart music again, and for the first time in several years I went out and bought a single, and this was it. I can’t tell you what I like about it musically, although it must have appealed at the time, but whenever I listen to it I can still conjure up that feeling of terrifying freedom that accompanied me through my early weeks at university. Also, I like the fluffy hoods and the Christmas bells that kick in at 3:15.

Advent song for December 18

With a week to go until Christmas it’s time for the first of the two acts with more than one song in this year’s advent calendar. Here are the Spice Girls with their first Christmas number one, from 1996, when they were still allowed to act up to their individual Spice personas – we get Scary looking scary, Sporty looking sporty, Baby looking cute, Ginger looking slutty-in-a-good-way (that should have been her nickname) and Posh looking, well, the same as always. I love this video and I love this song, mainly because they are both as perfectly Spice Girls as it ever got.

Advent song for December 16

I’ve watched this video twice to see whether I can make any sense of what’s supposed to be going on, and I can confirm that I have no idea. I can’t quite bring myself to look it up, but should you happen to know, feel free to post a comment.

There’s nothing Christmassy about the song, but it was Christmas number one in 1981, and what it lacks in yuletide spirit it makes up for in eyeliner. And it’s a great song, although listening it to it now I can’t imagine how anyone ever danced to it, even though I have distinct memories of it as a school disco staple. Perhaps we all just vaguely shuffled from foot to foot looking at the floor. After all, that was what we did with every other song.

Advent song for December 15

What I like about the video for Bohemian Rhapsody, which reached number one for the second time following Freddie Mercury’s death in November 1991, is that they didn’t fiddle around with it to make it a tribute to him; they just rereleased the original version, which is about as good a tribute as you could hope for. Freddie had frontman swagger and the voice of an angel – two things which should be prerequisites for a singer, but which mainly aren’t – and I could watch him for days.

(In my mind, the first invasion of Iraq and the death of Freddie Mercury are forever linked, despite having (a) happened ten months apart and (b) had differing worldwide significance, because each of them resulted in someone in my class being too upset to come to assembly that day. I can even remember who it was in each case, but perhaps it’s not polite to mention their names here.)