If I Ran the Christmas Countdown

A few years ago, I counted down my top 25 Christmas songs. I’ve expanded the list a lot since then, and changed it, and this is what it looks like now. It’ll probably change again next year.
Note that I’m not saying that these are definitively the best Christmas songs. I’m also not saying that they’re not. What I am saying is that if you set me to come up with a top 100 list, this is what I’d come up with. Artists specified if there’s a definitive version or a best version, not if there’s not.
I hope you see something on here you don’t know, but like!

100. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
99. Every Year so Different (Cornershop feat. Trwbador)
98. Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects (Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings)
97. Elf’s Lament (Barenaked Ladies)
96. The Snow Miser Song/The Heat Miser Song (The Year without a Santa Claus OST)
95. Here Comes Santa Claus
94. Hard Candy Christmas (Dolly Parton)
93. Underneath the Tree (Kelly Clarkson)
92. WTF AMP (Letters to Cleo)
91. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas! OST)

90. Purple Snowflakes (Marvin Gaye)
89. Pretty Paper (Roy Orbison)
88. Away in a Manger
87. Angels We Have Heard on High
86. Snoopy’s Christmas (Royal Guardsmen)
85. Holiday Everything (Phil Marlowe)
84. Fairytale of New York (The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl)
83. O Christmas Tree
82. Do You Hear What I Hear
81. Christmas Vacation (Mavis Staples)

80. The Holly and the Ivy
79. It Came upon the Midnight Clear
78. There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In (Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello)
77. Silent Night
76. Christmas Night in Harlem (Louis Armstrong)
75. Donna and Blitzen (Badly Drawn Boy)
74. Close Your Mouth It’s Christmas (the Free Design)
73. Do They Know It’s Christmas (Band Aid)
72. My Favorite Things (The Sound of Music OST)
71. My Little Snowflake (Prozzak)

70. White Christmas
69. Christmas is All Around (Billy Mack)
68. O Little Town of Bethlehem
67. Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry)
66. Joy to the World
65. O Come All Ye Faithful
64. Christmas in Hollis (Run-DMC)
63. The Christmas Song
62. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (John Lennon and Yoko Ono)
61. Up on the Housetop

60. The Little Drummer Boy
59. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
58. The First Noel
57. Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee)
56. Winter Wonderland
55. We Three Kings
54. Green Christmas (Barenaked Ladies)
53. Father Christmas (the Kinks)
52. Christmas Wrapping (the Waitresses)
51. Huron Carol

50. Hallelujah Chorus
49. I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus (Barry Manilow)
48. Jolly Old St. Nicholas
47. It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
46. Santa Baby (Madonna)
45. Good King Wenceslas
44. 2000 Miles (Pretenders)
43. Holly Jolly Christmas
42. Christmastime (Oh Yeah) (Barenaked Ladies)
41. Lost Winter’s Dream (Lisa Mychols)

40. The Twelve Days of Christmas (John Denver and the Muppets)
39. I Saw Three Ships
38. Last Christmas (Wham!)
37. Another Christmas Song (Stephen Colbert)
36. Power Pop Santa (the Pointed Sticks)
35. Making Christmas (A Nightmare Before Christmas OST)
34. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Gayla Peevey)
33. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
32. Linus and Lucy (A Charlie Brown Christmas OST)
31. It Snowed (Meaghan Smith)

30. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
29. Silver Bells
28. Deck the Halls
27. Carolina Christmas (Squirrel Nut Zippers)
26. Blue Christmas
25. Christmastime Is Here (A Charlie Brown Christmas OST)
24. Cool Yule (Louis Armstrong)
23. Five Pound Box of Money (Pearl Bailey)
22. Christmas in Killarney (Barra MacNeils)
21. Oi! To the World

20. At Last I’m Ready for Christmas (Barra MacNeils)
19. Welcome Christmas (How the Grinch Stole Christmas! OST)
18. The Closing of the Year (Wendy & Lisa)
17. Sleigh Ride
16. What’s This? (A Nightmare Before Christmas OST)
15. F##k Christmas (Eric Idle)
14. Jingle Bells (Barenaked Ladies)
13. Jingle Bell Rock (Randy Travis)
12. Marshmallow World (Kim Stockwood)
11. We Need a Little Christmas (the Muppets)

10. White Wine in the Sun (Tim Minchin)
9. Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Christmas in Carrick) (Barra MacNeils)
8. Step into Christmas (Elton John)
7. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (Roy Wood and Wizzard)
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Ray Conniff Singers)
5. O Holy Night
4. Carol of the Bells
3. All I Want for Christmas Is You (Olivia Olson)
2. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Darlene Love)
1. Christmas Dream (Mistletones)

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #23 Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas

When I was a kid my parents had a couple of Christmas albums by the Ray Conniff Singers. The contents ranged from cheesy to not bad. My sister has said that, for her, Ray Conniff is what Christmas sounds like. But the one that sticks with me (the one that made me track the album down on CD years later!) is the medley of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Count Your Blessings”, and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

I know that at the time, “Let It Snow…” was my favourite Christmas song. Not sure why it was. It isn’t now; it’s just one of many acceptable songs. And “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is neither here nor there, although I am surprised to find out how old it is. Sixteenth century! No, the one that gets to me now is “Count Your Blessings,” which is the least known of the three; it was written for the movie White Christmas but is much better here. The thing about this song for me is, well, it plays on my weak spots.

One time two friends and I were talking, and this one friend asked the two of us what our thoughts were about marriage. We’re both married, see, with kids, and he’s not, and he was wondering if it was actually something we would recommend to him. And we did. But I said that one problem with it was that you’re giving hostages to fortune. You now have these people in your life that you not only care about but that you have to care about, and therefore you’re opening yourself up to how terrible it would be if anything happened to them. And there’s nothing to be done about that.

And my other friend said, basically, yeah, but you also get to share in their joys and triumphs and stuff, so you actually come out ahead on that.

Which had never occurred to me.

Not only hadn’t it occurred to me, it doesn’t even work for me. Not that I don’t enjoy watching my kids have fun or I’m not proud when my wife does something awesome again. I do and I am. But deep down I’m paranoid that something’s going to take it all away.

So that’s why the song’s so poignant for me: it’s giving me advice that I know I need and I know I’m incapable of following. This is just me, you understand; I don’t suggest that your reaction to it would or should be anything like mine. But it’s a good song.

Anyway, I give you the Ray Conniff Singers.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #24 Huron Carol

Next toy out of the bag is the Huron Carol, sometimes known as “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime”. Because Canada, that’s why. This is an old one; wikipedia tells us that it’s been around for more than three and a half centuries. I don’t know about a definitive version; check ’em out yourself. I will draw your attention to the Nylons rendition of it on their A Wish for You Christmas album, though; they go all spoken-word on the “Children of the forest…” part and it’s cool.

#25: Sleigh Ride

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #25 Sleigh Ride

So I have it in mind to count down the definitive list of the greatest 25 Christmas songs. (As determined by the scientific method of coming up with a list off the top of my head.)

The first item up for bid is “Sleigh Ride”, by anybody you like. Because here’s the thing about “Sleigh Ride”: I’ve never heard a bad version of the song. It seems to be pretty hard for musicians to mess up; you can get just about anybody to do it and it’ll come out okay. (There’s another Christmas song that shares this property, and we’ll get to it a bit later in the month.) (The wikipedia entry for “Sleigh Ride” says that it’s been done by a broader range of performers than any other song “in the history of western music.”)

One thing I like about it is that it’s sort of a vocal instrumental. The lyrics come at you so fast, tumbling over each other, that it almost doesn’t matter what they are; it just matters what they sound like. But if you can pick them out, they’re just as Christmassy as ever you please, even if they don’t specify Christmas. I give you Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”.