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Don’t Bring Around a Cloud to Snow on My Parade: Holiday Songs I Love

December 7, 2010

I’m coming out:  I don’t hate xmas music.  It’s not my religious holiday anymore, but I still have fond memories and positive cultural associations with it.  Don’t worry, I still get bent out of shape when I hear songs and see decorations before Thanksgiving, I don’t forcefully wish or expect everyone to play along at home, and I hate the crass commercialization of the holiday, but hey, we’ve been bitching about that last part since we learned it from Charlie Brown and the pink aluminum trees.  I think complaining about Christmas is just as much a way of celebrating as any other.  It’s a complicated holiday, there is lots of misery attached as well, I’m no pollyanna, but what can I say – I still get chills when I hear the opening chimes of Mariah’s classic.  She’s not the only one I love.  To balance out our other post this week about holiday songs we hate, here are some holiday songs, new and old, that might trigger eye-rolling (or rage), but pass the eggnog, I’m dancing and singing.

Wham – Last Christmas

This song pretty much sums up every adolescent christmas time at school when I was really hoping a boy would like me enough to show it with a bottle of Love’s Baby Soft wrapped up with a nice bow.  That dream never came true, so I feel George’s pain.

Vanessa Williams – What Child is This

The Very Special Christmas albums have gone a little too far in saturation, and I’m not sure how much charity they’re even providing, but they’ve also given us some new interpretations of classics that I’ve enjoyed.   This fits nicely into the “Christmas in New York” fantasy.

Pogues – Fairytale of New York (Christmas in the Drunk Tank)

Yes, we know, that even you, a self-proclaimed xmas music hating person, love this song.  Everyone loves this song!  Well, anyone who has ever been drunk and sad.  “I could’ve been someone,” he says.  “Well, so could anyone,” she retorts.

Neil Diamond – You Make It Feel Like Christmas

Sometimes the best way to survive the holidays is to make sure you get in some loving.  Mr. Diamond is here to help with that.

Wilson Phillips – Hey Santa

Ok, I’m prepared to be alone on this one, but I have to try.  I find myself humming this song a lot more than is reasonable.

Donny Hathaway – This Christmas

The only opening bars of a song that get me more excited than Mariah are the horns on this one.


Ok, spill it all you closet christmas lovers.  What are your favorite songs of the season that you secretly wish people wouldn’t turn the radio from when it’s playing?

36 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2010 9:53 am

    omg, how could I forget one of my all time favorites?? this is how I thought being a grownup at christmas time would feel like.

  2. December 7, 2010 10:04 am

    You beat me to it! I was fixing to write one. Yours is better. Now I work on these damn Golden Globe Predictions!

    One of my favorite holiday songs. I just melt whenever I hear it

  3. December 7, 2010 10:05 am

  4. December 7, 2010 10:07 am

    You betta work, Lisa Germano!

  5. December 7, 2010 10:09 am

    I’m sucker for all songs about not being able to get home or being away from someone.

  6. December 7, 2010 10:10 am

    I love John for putting that accordion in….and how have I never noticed the Jesus kick drum before??

  7. December 7, 2010 10:20 am

    For some years, I used to buy one or two holiday albums each season. But out of all the albums I’ve purchased, my favorite has always been the one by the Muppets and John Denver.

    All: “Now bring us a figgy pudding… ”
    Miss P: “Piggy pudding?”
    Gonzo: “No, FIGGY pudding. It’s made with figs.”
    Miss P: “Oh.”
    Gonzo: “(…and bacon)”
    Miss P: “WHAT?”

  8. December 7, 2010 10:23 am

    Because of its use on Arrested Development and other places as an audio “dark cloud” that follows a character around, I don’t really think of this as a Christmas song, but it’s still a favorite from one of the best. holiday. shows. ever.

  9. December 7, 2010 10:36 am

    Redlami, I always sing “FIIIIIIIVE GOLD RINGS…..bah-dah-dah-dah” in the style of Miss Piggy, no matter what version of 12 Days of Xmas is on! And Vince Guaraldi is classic, no doubt. That was the only album at Borders everyone could agree on and provided a moment of calm during the retail customer service rush.

  10. December 7, 2010 10:56 am

    LOL. “Piggy Pudding”.

    ooh, I love this one…

  11. December 7, 2010 10:58 am

    It’s not the holidays until Trish Murtaugh goes on Letterman!

  12. December 7, 2010 11:00 am

    @raymondj, I almost posted the 12 Days of Christmas instead. I love the way they find ways to keep that song from getting boring, and the “bah dah dah dah” is the best!

  13. December 7, 2010 11:00 am

    I don’t like Mariah’s version of this song. She sounds brassy and desperate.

  14. December 7, 2010 11:09 am

    Mariah has her sistine chapel, I don’t need her singing really much of anything else christmas. ok, she can bust out O Holy Night live sometimes, though I kinda love Harry Connick’s version the best.

  15. December 7, 2010 11:13 am

    I don’t want to hear this one on repeat or anything, but it has its place:

  16. IrishUp permalink
    December 7, 2010 11:27 am

    Yay Muppets!

    I am a sucker for Bing’s Adeste Fideles (that ol’ RCC upbringing leaves it’s marks):

  17. December 7, 2010 11:32 am

    @Krista: yes! my favorite place to hear that song is while out in a store somewhere, actually, because I end up singing along and most people don’t know it as well. it needs rotation at least once per year.

    @IrishUp: my grandmother had an Andy Williams tape I loved hearing when we’d visit her.

  18. evmaroon permalink
    December 7, 2010 12:30 pm

    I can play the Xmas music from Peanuts on the piano. Let’s just say I had a little thing for Schroder at one point. And since everyone knows i’m a big old nerd anyway, I’ll just go ahead and say that there are a few songs from those kid’s Xmas specials that always make me feel like the holidays are here, like the Misfit Toys song, and the music from that animated mouse who breaks the clock of Christmas movie, if anyone knows what the he’ll I’m talking about (sorry, on my iPad atm).
    Great list, people!

  19. December 7, 2010 12:40 pm

    So many great picks! Here’s my pick (even thought it always makes me feel guilty):

  20. December 7, 2010 12:48 pm

    As the family heathen, I’ve always had a soft spot for the anti-Christmas songs, like “Ice” from Shelleyan Orphan:

    [audio src="" /]

    and the Kinks’ “Father Christmas”

  21. IrishUp permalink
    December 7, 2010 1:02 pm

    Andy!!! Although, thanks to Staples, that song now has September associations for us parental types. I think I have that CD in the Xmas collection.

    GREAT call on the Kinks! And Happy Christmas always makes me get misty.

    I’m not sure if this qualifies, I haven’t heard it get radio play yet, but as it was an ’09 release, maybe it’s still developing its audience. I could not stop watching this last year though:

  22. Val permalink
    December 7, 2010 1:36 pm

    Peanuts Christmas music! Yes! It’s some of the most Christmassy music I know. I also love the music from the original animated Grinch TV special, “You’re a Mean one Mr. Grinch” is a family favourite, but I love the Who-ville half-nonsense, secular hymn-stuff too. I have a weak spot for Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”. It must be heard at least once during the holidays.

    @redlami and @IrishUp everyone needs a favourite non-holiday Christmas song. My vote goes to Joni Mitchell’s “River”

  23. December 7, 2010 1:41 pm

    I think nobody should be allowed to sing “The Most Wonderful Time” except Andy Williams.

  24. metermouse permalink
    December 7, 2010 2:54 pm

    I also luuuuv Christmas music! Usually anything Vince Guaraldi Trio is enthusiastically approved by me, as well as most that have been mentioned above.

    One of my all-time favorite fun Christmas songs is “Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney. When I hear that synthesized… whatever that is in the opening I get all excited and ready to jostle and prance around like a little kid.

    @SnarkysMachine I totally agree about “The Most Wonderful Time” that version is just so iconic… plus it reminds me of Home Alone 2, one of my ultimate holiday guilty pleasure movies!

  25. edith prickly permalink
    December 7, 2010 4:28 pm

    Boney M Christmas songs yo! I can’t stop myself from singing along with “Zion’s Daughter” in stores while the aisles clear…

  26. Val permalink
    December 7, 2010 6:07 pm

    @edith prickly I knew someone out there must like them! A copy of the album would go well in a present already featuring faux leopard accessories, I’m sure.

  27. hsofia permalink
    December 7, 2010 10:20 pm

    I always loved hearing the Christmas music in the stores, but was about 30 years late to it, so no specific memories. In general, I favor the standards that convey warmth at the hearth in midst of winter or straight-up awe at Jesus’ birth. Stevie Wonder’s version of “Someday at Christmas,” Ella Fitzgerald’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Mahalia’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and BeBe & CeCe Winan’s “Silver Bells,” are on my personal Christmas Mix CD. I also can’t resist the Celine Dion version of “O Holy Night.”

    If I had to pick a few less-played (somber) songs, I’d choose the Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Little Drummer Boy” with Michael Franti. I love BBA, and will listen to anything they perform.

    And also, “Emmanuel” by Loreena McKennitt

  28. hsofia permalink
    December 7, 2010 10:27 pm

    Hmm; that’s weird. I must have selected wrong link for Loreena McKennitt song. Both songs have the same video image.

  29. December 7, 2010 10:38 pm

    @hsofia: I always loved the dark, dramatic and haunting songs too as a kid, like Little Drummer Boy and O Holy Night. Also We Three Kings, which is in a minor key, even.

    I can’t believe no one gave me isht for posting that Wilson Phillips video! Y’all are kind.

  30. December 7, 2010 10:48 pm

    my bad, I mean, um, just “Wilson”.

  31. December 8, 2010 9:59 am

    Darlene Love is THE ONLY ONE allowed to sing that song. Mariah, please take a fiver and hand the mike over.

    Speaking of girl groups. I love, love, love The Raveonettes “Christmas Song”. They combine the strolling clapa-clapa beat of P. Spec and Brill Building tunes with sweet boy-girl harmonies, fuzzed out organ, and sprinkle of jingle bells. So fantastic.

  32. Stroker permalink
    December 8, 2010 7:21 pm

    I like these… which I just discovered:

  33. December 8, 2010 11:39 pm

    Motown Christmas is stupendous! Right up there with the Phil Spector Christmas album.

  34. December 9, 2010 11:48 am

    ok, I love the “ho ho ho ho ho” at the beginning of that Rudolph/Roxanne video while Burl the snowman plays the hot licks on banjo.

  35. eieioj permalink
    December 10, 2010 11:31 am

    No embedding, but I love this version of “All I Want For Christmas is You.” They actually edited Olivia Wilson’s voice to make her sound more like a little girl, but dang, little girl can sing.

    Of course, there’s always this…

  36. December 10, 2010 11:43 am

    @eieioj, Love, Actually is my current favorite Christmas movie. I think I will go to sleep watching it every night until February.

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