Advent song for December 20: White Christmas

Oh look! It’s the only artist among this year’s line-up who was on the shortlist for the Time magazine Person of the Year for 2018. She didn’t win, but Gaga is the queen of all our hearts nonetheless since shedding her pirate’s costume to win everyone over as the overwhelmingly normal Ally in hot Oscars favourite A Star Is Born (although EYE liked her before she was normal).

I somehow missed this version when we did our White Christmas special five years ago, so here she is with a 2011 rendition of everyone’s favourite seasonal standard. I agree with the top commenter, Erick Calderilla Videos, who says She´s Really A Good Artist. She Can Sing, Dance And Create New Things, Not Only In Pop Music… IN THE WORLD SHE´S A GOOD AND HAPPY PERSON.

Advent song for December 19: Black Christmas

Alright, this 2010 single is technically more of an anti-Christmas song, what with being inspired by the story of an LA killing spree by a gunman dressed as Santa and featuring lines like “A child was born on Christmas Day/But they crucified him anyway”, and its innate melancholy is further underscored by the fact that Poly Styrene, aka Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, died just a few months later from breast cancer at the horribly early age of 53. But the video also features her very-much-alive daughter, Celeste Bell-Dos Santos, who as well as looking nearly exactly like her mother is now busy making a film about her, and the spirit of Poly Styrene lives on in some of my favourite artists, including the star of tomorrow’s advent calendar, so although she may have left us, she isn’t gone, and here she’s perfect in the way that only punk superstars in their fifties ever are.

Advent song for December 18: Getting Ready For Christmas Day

There’s only one well-known Christmas song by Simon and Garfunkel: their haunting 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night which is a portmanteau of the well-known carol with a simulated (but based on real events) news broadcast which gradually takes over from the angelic singing to remind us that NOT EVERYTHING IS PEACE AND GOODWILL, MKAY? And Paul Simon clearly decided while writing this 2010 Christmas single that the format wasn’t broke so he wasn’t fixing it, and came up with a jolly, bob-along, Cecilia-ish track that hovers around the edges of being political and is superimposed over a sample of a 1941 sermon by the Reverend J.M. Gates. The result is a slightly complex mishmash of meanings (from which I think you’re allowed to choose your favourite), but if you ignore all of that and just listen to the sound of it I promise it’ll make you want to dance. Which is more than can be said for Silent Night.

Advent song for December 17: Mary, Did You Know?

Technically this song dates from 1991, but since this version of it is from 2012 it’s allowed. There’s a version by Pentatonix, whom we heard from last week with That’s Christmas To Me, which has a better video, but this version by CeeLo Green is my pick because his voice is just soaringly beautiful, it’s a better and more interesting arrangement and because at 2:24 it goes full Live And Let Die, which is what you probably, and I definitely, need on a chilly December Monday.

Advent song for December 16: Tinsel and Lights

Welcome to Crooners’ Sunday! This title track from Tracy Thorn’s 2012 album is most like a benign take on Fairytale of New York, but it has echoes of at least a dozen other Christmas classics, because Tracy Thorn is a brilliant songwriter as well as a beautiful singer. This one is best enjoyed with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine, which coincidentally is exactly what I’ll be having shortly.

Advent song for December 15: Joel The Lump Of Coal

Welcome to the Killers’ 2014 Christmas effort, with a video directed by Jimmy Kimmel and a story that lands somewhere between Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Ugly Duckling, which makes it both extremely Christmassy and very sad, but not if you can bear to hang in there until the end. If you can’t be bothered to follow the story just enjoy the animations and the Christmas jumpers, both of which are top notch.

Advent song for December 14: That’s Christmas To Me

Sorry today’s is so late, I was cleaning my now former flat and it took ALL DAY. But it’s worth the wait because this song is both perfect and awful in exactly the same way as Love, Actually or Songs That Make Will Feel Sick, which would make it perfect for Christmastime even if it weren’t a Christmas song, which it is. I assume Pentatonix all live in a house together and spend all their time working up acapella five-piece harmonies, but I’m too tired to Google them and find out. I mean, you would if you could, right?

Advent song for December 13: It’s Not Christmas Without You

I really like this ballady, wifty-wafty number, which is by Katharine McPhee, who turns out to be another of those US talent show winners who can actually sing. This is the only self-penned number from her 2010 album Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You and it sounds like it might be going to be insipid, but it’s got more depth than you think it’s going to have, whilst also sounding exactly like the music that would be used in the montage scene of a made-for-TV Christmas movie. But as you know, I love those movies. I’m also feeling seasonally sentimental because my Polish team have just given me a goodbye present of a gift box containing three types of honey and a bottle of vodka.

Advent song for December 12: When Christmas Comes

I had to swap today’s song with tomorrow’s, once I realised that my original line-up had two sad songs next to each other. There’s nothing wrong with a sad Christmas song, of course, but they’re better in small doses, and I’m moving house today so I need a song that will cheer me up and keep the energy levels high. So here with their second (and final) entry in this year’s advent calendar are Los Campesinos!, a band whose name even cheers me up.

(But yes, be warned, more Sad Christmas tomorrow.)