Author Topic: Songs you think of as being Xmas songs, even though they're not supposed to be  (Read 2688 times)

Glass of Champagne - Sailor
Always On My Mind - Pet Shop Boys
Justified & Ancient - KLF featuring Tammy Wynette

In relation to the selection of the PSBs' A Red Letter Day, I always associate it with the idea of a change of government. It was actually released as a single the week that John Major called the 1997 General Election. When you see the video (queues and queues), it makes even more sense.


actwithoutwords

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I can't help thinking of You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve by Johnny Boy as a Christmas song. It would be quite a suitable anti-Christmas hit I think given the lyrical content.

Chriddof

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I always think of They Might Be Giants' "They Got Lost" album (a collection of odds and sods from the late nineties to the early, er, naughties) as a Christmas record, as I got it for a present one Christmas about four years ago and listened to it almost constantly over that period. It doesn't actually sound very Christmassy at all, apart from one track that has sleigh bells on it ("The Army's Tired Now"), but I associate it with Christmas so much that I usually only tend to listen to it around that time.

Also there's this piece of music that's part of the opening screen of a ZX Spectrum game from 1989 that while being a kind of chiptune pastiche of 50's rock 'n roll, is very Christmassy to me as I got the game (part of the Sinclair Lightgun package - anyone remember that?) as a present that year.

I always think of They Might Be Giants' "They Got Lost" album (a collection of odds and sods from the late nineties to the early, er, naughties) as a Christmas record, as I got it for a present one Christmas about four years ago and listened to it almost constantly over that period.

That'd be why, now I think about it, Robert Plant's 'Now and Zen' and Queen's first album remind me of Christmas.  I must've nearly worn them out during Christmas '89.

Last Christmas, Ms Trotsky bought me that posh Robert Plant box set.  First thing I did after breakfast on Christmas day?  Played 'Now and Zen'.  Happy memories.

buttgammon

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I've recently got this odd idea in my head that 'Ship of Fools' by John Cale sounds very Christmassy. No idea why, but it makes me think of Xmas.

That's from a similar Cale time period as 'Paris 1919', isn't it?

buttgammon

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Sort of, yeah. I think it's on Fear which was from the year after Paris 1919.

LeboviciAB84

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I can't help thinking of You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve by Johnny Boy as a Christmas song.

I'll go with that. Anything lush and Spectorish, preferably with Bruce Springsteen's glockenspiel dinging away in the midst. Perhaps Christmas is when the Hold Steady sound worthwhile?

Lullaby, by Starsailor, always reminds me of Christmas. It's built around a sparse piano line that evokes Shaker furniture, garlanded porches and Clydesdale horses snorting vapour into the wintry sun.

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JJ72's "Snow" and Ooberman's "Why Did My Igloo Collapse?" are two more I've just thought of.  Both winter-themed rather than being specifically Xmassy, but would certainly fit the type of compilation I'm thinking of.

JJ72's "Snow" in particular sums up the angsty side of Christmas for me.  I've always assumed that the line "Why won't it snow like they said it would?" refers to that mythical idea of a snowy festive season, which as we all know almost never seems to actually happen.  It's probably not about that at all, though.

Interestingly enough, that track is also an absolute bugger to get hold of now.  iTunes don't sell it, you can't find the album it's from anywhere, and I've never seen a copy of the single in a second hand store.  I've just got a slightly distorted YouTube rip of it.

Not to give that evil Mr. Gervais any praise, but I always really liked the use of Yazoo's Only You, at the end of the Office Christmas Special, and so always consider that a good Christmas record now.

CaledonianGonzo

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Magic by Pilot.

Though I can't work out if that's because it has actually been used in a Christmassy context.  It seems an obvious choice to use in an Xmas tv ad.

CaledonianGonzo

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Not to give that evil Mr. Gervais any praise, but I always really liked the use of Yazoo's Only You, at the end of the Office Christmas Special, and so always consider that a good Christmas record now.

Presumably he used it due to its Christmassy Flying Pickets connotations.

'Whatever' by Oasis. I think it was released around Christmas time. Loads of albums that I got at Christmas do too, for no reason other than I heard them first during the festive period, I'm guessing.


Justified & Ancient - KLF featuring Tammy Wynette


The promo CHOC ICE 3 features an elongated instrumental (or anti-acapella, as Bill & Jimmy call it) where you can really hear the Christmassy elements of J&A (sleigh bells, echo, etc).

The KLF actually had two other Christmas singles, 1987's "Downtown" (which features a Brixton community choir and despite sleighbells isn't that Christmassy) and 1989's "No More Tears".  Actually, it was never released, merely pencilled in for December that year - but the leaked copy I've got, with its choir of children and lyrics about "sunlight on a winter's day", is very Christmassy indeed.

Finally, Jimmy Cauty on his own (with Guy Pratt) released a millennial Christmas record as the "Solid Gold Chartbusters" with 1999's "I Wanna 1-2-1 With You", which features cartoon mobile phones, wearing scarves and coats in a winter landscape, on the cover.  The actual track, though, is shit shite.

'A Tune for Jack' by Lemon Jelly.

I remember listening to the .ky album quite a lot one December a few years ago, so I always associate it with Christmas, but the twinkly piano bit at the beginning of 'A Tune for Jack' feels very, very Christmassy. 'His Majesty King Raam' is quite festive too. It's strange that it sounds so wintry, though, seeing as each individual EP was released in the summer.

LeboviciAB84

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For some bizarre reason, I've started associating Christmas with mp3 blogs, and mp3 blogs with sarcastic Americans in t-shirts. Which means that, in a roundabout way, New Grenada's XTreme Attack is the Christmassiest non-Christmas record yet.

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The KLF actually had two other Christmas singles, 1987's "Downtown" (which features a Brixton community choir and despite sleighbells isn't that Christmassy) and 1989's "No More Tears".  Actually, it was never released, merely pencilled in for December that year - but the leaked copy I've got, with its choir of children and lyrics about "sunlight on a winter's day", is very Christmassy indeed.

I've just realised that was the track they were talking about when they said in a newsletter "We have recorded a Christmas track with a children's choir.  Your worst fears will be realised".  I really love that song, and had never made the connection before.  I always assumed there was something else quite grotesque waiting in the vault somewhere.  It's certainly at least fifty times better than "I Wanna 1-2-1 With You" which, as you correctly point out, sucks Christmas logs. 

"Downtown" is a seriously strange record.  There always seems to be something jarring about it that stops me enjoying it as much as I should - probably the juxtaposition of Bill Drummond rapping and the gospel community choir. 

chocky909

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JJ72's "Snow" and Ooberman's "Why Did My Igloo Collapse?" are two more I've just thought of.  Both winter-themed rather than being specifically Xmassy, but would certainly fit the type of compilation I'm thinking of.

JJ72's "Snow" in particular sums up the angsty side of Christmas for me.  I've always assumed that the line "Why won't it snow like they said it would?" refers to that mythical idea of a snowy festive season, which as we all know almost never seems to actually happen.  It's probably not about that at all, though.

Interestingly enough, that track is also an absolute bugger to get hold of now.  iTunes don't sell it, you can't find the album it's from anywhere, and I've never seen a copy of the single in a second hand store.  I've just got a slightly distorted YouTube rip of it.

Here's an mp3 of Snow.

You can get the JJ72 album it's on for 1p (plus £1.24 P&P) from amazon marketplace. http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004Y39S/ref=ord_cart_shr Of course if you don't want to spend that much I'll 'lend' you a copy.

JJ72's "Snow" and Ooberman's "Why Did My Igloo Collapse?" are two more I've just thought of.  Both winter-themed rather than being specifically Xmassy, but would certainly fit the type of compilation I'm thinking of.

JJ72's "Snow" in particular sums up the angsty side of Christmas for me.  I've always assumed that the line "Why won't it snow like they said it would?" refers to that mythical idea of a snowy festive season, which as we all know almost never seems to actually happen.  It's probably not about that at all, though.

Interestingly enough, that track is also an absolute bugger to get hold of now.  iTunes don't sell it, you can't find the album it's from anywhere, and I've never seen a copy of the single in a second hand store.  I've just got a slightly distorted YouTube rip of it.

Psst.

While appreciating your take on it, and the briefly-intriguing oddness of the band, I find it very hard to listen to JJ72 now purely due to the singer's too-harsh vocals - especially having heard him even more shreddedly, live.

While "Once Upon A Long Ago" has been mentioned, the mid-Eighties Macca track that sounds more chillingly wintry to me is "Footprints" from the under-rated (if slightly too-synthy) Press To Play. A track which, with its hefty snow references, perhaps doesn't quite fit into the topic theme - but there are several songs which I tenuously force my family to hear on Christmas Day, with vaguely-linked Christmas tapes/CDs, and that's one I include - along with The Pretenders' "2000 Miles", which may mention Christmas (fleetingly), and include obligatory sleighbells and chiming, but isn't quite an all-out, obviously festive message.

Funny how Jona Lewie insists that "Stop The Cavalry" wasn't originally written as a Christmas song - but supposedly, his record company picked up on the one Christmas-mentioning aside, added a Salvation Army band, and hey presto... HAs there been any unLewie-esque confirmation of this? I dunno, may just be a subsequent story of his, to go with the sometimes-persuasive, sometimes-not explanations of the WWI/WWII clashing anachronisms, as an allegory of the universal soldier... I dunno.

Still my favourite "Christmas" song, mind.

chocky909

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Psst.

While appreciating your take on it, and the briefly-intriguing oddness of the band, I find it very hard to listen to JJ72 now purely due to the singer's too-harsh vocals - especially having heard him even more shreddedly, live.

His voice is 90% of it. If you don't like it then fair enough. It always reminds me of Richard O'Brien singing the opening theme in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, especially on October Swimmer.

Catalogue Trousers

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Madness's The Sun And The Rain. Has a brief lyrical mention of following "the Christmas lights downtown", but other than that no obvious seasonal connections. Really should have a deranged, vaguely Singin' In The Rain video to go with it.

Oh, hang on...

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPhQZWQmTPc[/youtube]

LeboviciAB84

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Off-topic perhaps, but breakbeats and crash cymbals are great for evoking the urban wintry. Listen to Aphex Twin's IZ-US, Pepe Deluxé's Woman In Black (Sonorous Star mix) or Sebastien Tellier's La Ritournelle (Jim Noir mix) and imagine yourself hurrying home in the inkening.

"Downtown" is a seriously strange record.  There always seems to be something jarring about it that stops me enjoying it as much as I should - probably the juxtaposition of Bill Drummond rapping and the gospel community choir. 

The 12" version intro is probably the most Christmassy bit of the tune - the piano and the choir singing "Jesus Jesus Jesus Christ was born today ... ".  After that, it does go downhill a bit, I think.

Also, the fact the KLF's biggest run of singles (It's Grim Up North, J&A, America What Time is Love, even the Extreme Noise Terror 3 AM Eternal) were all released - roughly - in winter 1991/2, always makes their later music seem intrinsically Christmassy to me.

Plus, there's their "New Year" singles: 1987/88's "Burn the Bastards" (which of course is meant to be recorded live at the Hogmanay party at Trancentral/the Benio) and 1991/1992's "January: What Time is Love?" (okay, only a rare promo, but with 1'30" of bagpipes play "Auld Lang Syne" before it breaks into "A:WTIL").

Do any other bands have a history of releasing "new year" singles?  Apart from the obvious millennium cash-ins, are there are "new year" songs people can think of?


CaledonianGonzo

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Apart from the obvious millennium cash-ins, are there are "new year" songs people can think of?

Happy New Year by ABBA is an obvious one, plus What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? by various schmalzy Americans.

Can't beat this fella, though:


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Do any other bands have a history of releasing "new year" singles?  Apart from the obvious millennium cash-ins, are there are "new year" songs people can think of?



From memory, Slade's "All Join Hands" was supposed to be to NYE what "Merry Xmas Everybody" was to Christmas, but I can't be bothered to put it on my stereo again to listen through it because, quite honestly, it's rather rubbish (like the majority of Slade's post-seventies output).  It managed to dent the Top 40 I think, but not much  more. 

Oh, and thanks for "Snow", Chocky and Baxter.  I knew if I mentioned it I'd inevitably get the usual "But JJ72 were shit" protests - I was never overly fond of them myself, but that track genuinely does strike a chord with me for some reason.  Then again, I haven't actually sat through a JJ72 album in what must be six years now, so perhaps I should go back and revisit them. 

Happy New Year by ABBA is an obvious one, plus What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? by various schmalzy Americans.

Can't beat this fella, though:



His singles collection was massive.  "Seven Inch Will Please a Lady".

Geraint

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Barcode Bypass by Mull Historical Society is pretty much impossible not to associate with winter for some reason

Barcode Bypass by Mull Historical Society is pretty much impossible not to associate with winter for some reason

Which is probably why Murray Gold produced the sub-Spector "Song for Ten" for the 2005 Doctor Who Xmas Special, a song so MHS-like that I still find it hard to believe it wasn't Colin McIntyre that sung it.  And then the next year, Gold re-wrote "The Snake" very slightly and claimed it was now called "Love Don't Roam". 

I wonder what we'll get this Christmas?  With Kylie on board the Titanic, maybe "I Just Can't Get You Out Of My Heart Will Go On", an original composition reaching the usual Gold standard?

Jemble Fred

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The first time I ever heard 'Gene Genie' was in the Richard Curtis Xmas classic 'Bernard & The Genie' (albeit a cover version), so that's always felt festive to me. I can't believe they haven't got to work on the remake of that film yet.

CaledonianGonzo

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Or even released the bally thing on DVD.  I've not seen it in years.