Advent song for December 5: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day

OK, not all of them are better than the originals. But what this effort lacks in musical brilliance, it makes up for in oddity value. You may remember – I don’t – a reality TV show from about ten years ago which reunited UK (and, I think, B*witched, and incidentally I am a big fan of unexpected punctuation in band names, from Hear’Say to Therapy? to Panic! At The Disco) bands of the nineties and early aughts in an attempt to, I think, record a charity single. But maybe they all had to live in the same house while they did it? It’s hard to work out from the limited accounts that survive, which I have decided is probably for the best.

There is, though, indisputably a single, and this is it. You will want to watch at least up to and including the rap by Abs from 5ive, who by this time should perhaps have been renamed 4our (unless it’s Ritchie, I can’t remember which is which and have not the faintest intention of checking).

Advent song for December 4: Fairytale of New York

Today is the day all my school friends come for a Christmas party (these days with various hangers-on), and you join me as I’m tasting the mulled wine (needs more sugar) and checking the sausage rolls (five more minutes). So of course it has to be this song, which I associate with them more than anyone else. I usually use the 1992 TOTP appearance where Kirsty edits out the contentious word, but in this even more wholesome version by Jimmy Fallon (sounding so extraordinarily like Shane MacGowan that I had to check) and Saoirse Ronan (sounding exactly like Saoirse Ronan) they get around it by leaving out that line altogether, which now I think about it is an even better idea, because although it’s a good song, I’m also kind of fine with it ending a bit sooner than it usually does.

Advent song for December 3: Santa Claus is Coming To Town

I don’t know if you can talk about different recordings of popular classics as ‘cover versions’, really, because they were written to be sung by multiple people and the earliest version is always one you’ve never heard by someone with a name like Freddy Dangle And His Jingle Jangles. But I have decided that in such cases it’s acceptable to offer a recording that isn’t the most famous. I don’t know why this isn’t the most famous version of this song, because it’s delightful and will, I cast-iron-promise-or-your-money-back guarantee, cheer you up and make your Saturday better.

Advent song for December 2: All I Want For Christmas Is You

CeeLo Green could sing almost anything and I’d like it, because he has the voice of an angel, but he had the Christmas Eve spot the year we had twenty four different versions of White Christmas (of which more to come), so this year I’m giving him a nice early slot. Do you know that both this and Last Christmas were once, before I knew better, among my least favourite Christmas songs? I don’t know what was wrong with me, but at least I grew out of it.

Advent Song for December 1: Last Christmas

Good crikey, it’s December. How did that happen? I am pretty sure it’s only just been August. No matter, because this year’s musical advent calendar is smoking hot and READY TO GO. You needn’t panic about being Whamageddoned, partly because Whamagddon is a terrible idea, what with making you have to avoid the nearly-best Christmas song of all* for nearly all of Christmas, and partly because this year’s theme is the biggest Christmas songs of all time, performed by someone other than the original artist, and cover versions don’t count in the official rules of Whamageddon, as I understand them.

(‘Biggest’ in this case is a sort of squinting hybrid of UK chart sales, US chart sales and Very Famous Songs Which Somehow Aren’t On Either List.)

And if that makes your heart sink because cover versions are never as good as the original, don’t worry! These ones are. We begin with an artist who is related to me, and who coincidentally has just racked up an exceptionally good year on Spotify, and if you listen to this you will see why.

*Obviously Mistletoe and Wine is #1 and all other songs are #2 or lower.

Advent song for December 20: Warm And Soothing

This is a Christmas song because it was the b-side to the 1980 single December Will Be Magic Again, and because it includes the line Cold and boozy, our holiday in the Alps which is Christmassy in spirit, if not in letter. In these uncertain times an upbeat holiday song doesn’t always fit the bill: this is mournful and beautiful and mad and sparse and feels right for a Monday.

Advent song for December 19: Little Town

You thought Mistletoe and Wine was going to make yet another appearance this year, didn’t you? And it will, but only in a supporting role, as for Cliffmas this year we are going back to the good end of the eighties, musically speaking, with the fabulous Little Town. If you’re my age this may not have the nostalgic heft of its more successful younger brother (which is here, if you’d like a go on it anyway, and I saved Cliff for Sunday to give you time to listen to them both), but it’s a gorgeous track in its own right and should have done better than peaking at number 11 in the UK chart, especially in a year when Renee and Renato were number one.

Advent song for December 18: Fairytale of New York

I never used to like this song, because I have an instinctive aversion to things which other people think are cool (I would make a terrible hipster), and because I agreed with all of this article, but then I found this 1992 TOTP version where they’ve already, almost thirty years ago, changed the words, which makes Laurence Fox’s characteristically ill-thought-through and petulant outburst and the Pogues’ response on Twitter this time last year even more delicious:

I feel as though we’ve heard less from Laurence Fox since then, which is nice. And in my middle age I have changed my mind about the song, too, as long as we sing the updated version.