25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #18 What’s This? & Making Christmas

Thing about Christmas is that it’s like the English language: it soaks up anything it touches. Hanukkah, for instance. Clearly, Hanukkah is a thing on its own, independent of Christmas. But it’s also clear that an awareness of Hanukkah (however imperfect) is (now) part of the Christmas experience.

So: Joni Mitchell’s “River”. Folk song or Christmas song? Started as a folk song, but it’s both now. Hogfather: fantasy novel or Christmas novel? It’s both. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time of its initial release to know how much of a Christmas song it was considered to be at the time, but it’s certainly one now. Die Hard. Christmas movie? You bet it is.

Which is what makes the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas so great, because it plays on exactly this phenomenon. The characters in the movie think it’s about Hallowe’en taking over Christmas, but what it’s really about is Christmas seeping into Hallowe’en. This is all thanks to the main character, Jack Skellington, who falls in love with Christmas at first sight despite the fact that, really, he’s not capable of processing Christmas on any level. But even he still gets something out of it, because basically Christmas is for anybody who wants it.

Anyway, the thing that makes the movie work, that convinces us of the premise, is the delight that Jack takes in everything Christmas-related, as we see in two of the movie’s great songs. “What’s This?” lets us see Christmas through the eyes of someone who loves it but really doesn’t get it at all, and “Making Christmas” shows us how much he really doesn’t get it. “What’s This?” is more Christmassy but “Making Christmas” is catchier.

Let’s all snap our fingers in a jaded and ironic fashion for What’s This? and Making Christmas, from the OST of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol
#23: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas
#22: The Twelve Days of Christmas
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock

17 thoughts on “25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #18 What’s This? & Making Christmas

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