Contrary to what has become a popular understanding, the Wise Men – or Magi, if you’re feeling fancy – weren’t actually present at Jesus’ birth. If you were to ask a historian or just read the bible, you would find out that the Eastern travellers only came along by the time the little Baby Jesus had become the slightly bigger Toddler Jesus.
So they missed it. They missed the birth of our saviour. They missed the shepherds, missed the stable, they missed it all.
Poor form, Magi. Poor form.
The world’s most celebrated group of travelling mystics of all time were late.
So as you bear that in mind, I would like to very humbly offer an apology for the lateness of this post. Due to a combination of me being busy and of the dates of Christmas this year, I thought it would be best if I share days 11 – 18 today on Christmas Eve, then days 19 -25 tomorrow on Christmas day to round off the series.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, over the advent season, I have been sharing 25 of my favourite Christmas songs. There have been old songs and new, pop songs and carols, as well as some new versions of classic tunes.
So let’s get into it. Here is another week of Christmas cheer from me to you.
What Christmas Means To Me – Paul Young
“Candles burning low, lots of mistletoe…” Despite apparently growing up in the 1800s before electric light was commonplace, Paul Young’s Christmas memories are very sweet and are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. The standout from his 2nd Christmas album, unsurprisingly titled A Very Special Christmas 2, this old school song brings a cheerful sense of nostalgia about the holiday season.
Dear Santa – Mr. Little Jeans
Bringing things back into this decade, here is the oddly named female vocalist Mr. Little Jeans with Dear Santa. In this song, the Norwegian sings about the challenges of spending Christmas apart from her significant other. Unlike many other older or old-fashioned songs about lonely Yuletides, I like that today’s song does admit that “I wouldn’t need any presents at all, if I had my baby on a long-distance call”.
It’s perhaps a smidge less romantic than walking 1000 miles, but a cheeky Facetime with your long-distance partner on Christmas might be the best present you could get.
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
With a back catalogue that includes songs with titles like The Baker Man, Barbra Ann and Bull Session with the Big Daddy (and that’s just the B’s!), today’s song continues the Beach Boys’ seeming commitment to sing about literally anything.
This one details the disappointment of a little boy who visits ‘Santa’ at a shopping centre and promptly realises that the man is an imposter upon tugging on his beard. Traumatising stuff.
Sung in their distinctive surfer/barbershop style with their effortless harmonies, this song is a whimsical look into Christmas from the eyes of a five (and a half) year old.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Tenth Avenue North
This song featured on last year’s playlist, but I can assure you, Nat King Cole’s version sounds miles apart from today’s tropical house cover. This track features on their creative Decade The Halls, Vol. 1 album – an anthology of popular Christmas songs, but with each sung in the style of music from every consecutive decade from the 1920s onwards. It shouldn’t take a genius to work out that today’s song is the last on the album as tropical electronic music is peak 2010s.
As you might have noticed from the playlist so far, oftentimes even the newest Christmas songs have retro influences – Sia’s Santa’s Coming for Us, Bonnie McKee’s California Winter, or even Dear Santa above spring to mind. This song however, bucks the trend, bringing a truly modern take to this centuries-old song.
And luckily, this is only volume 1 of the Decade the Halls album so hopefully we can expect more next year.
You’ll Know It’s Christmas – Deacon Blue
Like many festive songs, this one is little more than a list of things that the writer enjoys about Chrsitmas. This time it’s snow, singing, people believing in each other and babies in manger nativity scenes.
Despite the hackneyed Yuletide motifs, this song presents a cheerful, optimistic and inspiring message, rather than merely the focus on gift-wrapping and icicles that much of Christmas music can have. I specially like how the song builds from a sombre contemplative start to the euphoric final chorus.
“You’ll know it’s Christmas when the snows are beginning and someone’s singing a song.”
Sounds about right to me.
Up On The Housetop – Pentatonix
The Pentatonix love Christmas. Having released a festive album every year since 2014, this a capella group take the whole ‘bringing glad tidings of great joy’ thing to the next level. Admirably, despite their sheer volume of output, they are still able to maintain the level of quality that got them noticed in the first place.
After a cappella music’s spike in popularity in the early 2010s, thanks to the likes of Glee, flashmobs, the Pitch Perfect films, and of course the band’s own viral sucess, it can be easy to forget just how much effort goes into all of their music. Every sound you hear is made by their mouths, yet each song plays like a fully produced studio track.
A testament to their skill, they even somehow managed to turn this quite frankly ridiculous Christmas ditty into a bona fide jam that makes me want to move my body.
Looks like this year, Santa’s bringing another kind of slayyyyy!
Enjoy their cool VR video below. The future is now.
My Gift Is You
To this day, I still have literally no idea what a hollaback girl is. Thankfully, in this new song, Gwen Stefani uses only standard English words.
Riffing on an admittedly now overused ‘all i want for Christmas is you’ trope, Stefani croons in her distinctive voice how her significant other is the only gift she needs, rather than money, a ring, or any of the myriad yuletide clichés.
Stefani reportedly wrote this song about her boyfriend – country music star Blake Shelton. Shelton recently received some stick for being chosen as People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive with many suggesting there were perhaps more deserving candidates.
Regardless, with this song, it is clear there’s only one winner in Gwen’s heart.