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Former podcaster Matty Treats asked me for my Top 10 Christmas songs. His rules were that each artist can only appear once and each song can only appear once. Now, my interests are vastly different than his. If he and I both went out to buy 100 CDs maybe 3 would possibly be the same. And those would probably be wrestling related. Also, this is my first Christmas in … well, since I’ve been an adult, that I am employed outside of retail. I’ve been in retail probably a combined 20 years. And I’ve been unemployed at Christmas. This year though I not only am free of the crush of holiday shoppers, I also don’t have to hear the same Christmas songs every moment at work. Some songs that you might cherish won’t be on my list because I had to hear them too many times.
Looking over my list, I see what an example it is of my own personality. There are rock/metal selections. Humor. Classical. Vintage. Irish. Well, enough examples let’s get right to it.
Wizzard “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”.
I first heard this song playing at one of the many retail establishments I have worked at that are now no longer there. I know, I just said I’m sick of retail music. But this was such a surprise. I had never heard the song before and grew to look forward to it. In the middle of Christmas shoes, and hippopotamuses, and donkeys, and all that garbage I had a window of joy. For a few minutes the spirit of rock came down from the North Pole and it would be enough to keep me going until the next loop of the playlist. It’s also incredibly bizarre and if it wasn’t so obviously played straight I would think it a joke.
This pairs well with the next song.
Slade “Merry Christmas Everybody”.
This one had some familiarity but really joined my playlist over the last 10 years. I have no idea when I first heard it, but something feel like its ringing out from my childhood. Maybe one of my uncles played it. Maybe an odd episode of Solid Gold. Not a clue, but it adds a bit more of rock to counter balance Mariah Carey and Pentatonix.
The Pogues “Fairytale of New York”
I know. I know the song is not perfect and there are things that could be argued. But as a ballad between a couple, between the haves and have nots, I love it. It’s Irish and it’s New York City at the same time. Two places that my soul feels connections to. An entire play in four minutes.
Dropkick Murphy’s “The Season’s Upon Us”
This is so vulgar and crass and yet wholesome all in all. My brother, who is all those things as well, introduced me to the song. It’s a more realistic representation of Christmas with family than most other songs. For many people there’s the family member who will say something awful, who will be drunk before it’s dark, or worse one of them has a snot nosed kid. But dammit, that’s what family is all about.
Trans Siberian Orchestra “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”
What happens when members of the heavy metal band Savatage are messing around with side projects? This epic Christmas tradition. Mixing rock and classical so perfectly it satisfies both audiences, this is arguably their strongest track. Sure, the song is everywhere and heavily commercialized. But it is a modern classic that adds excitement to any Christmas gathering.
Twisted Sister “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”
I don’t think there’s a song my mom hates more. This was my Christmas time ring tone for years. Any time someone called to wish me Merry Christmas while I was with family, Dee Snider would serenade the entire house at full volume. While Twisted Sister was attacked back in the PMRC days and Snider testified in front of Congress, that doesn’t show the entire band. Dee is a great family man and Christian. This song isn’t in jest. It’s in tribute. His own brand and wheelhouse of tribute, but one nonetheless.
Queen “Thank God It’s Christmas”
Other years this spot might be taken by David Bowie and Bing Crosby “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth”. Freddie gets the spot this year because of all the examples over the past 12 months showcasing his incredible singing voice. “We Will Rock You” might be the first Queen song anyone born since Live Aid discovers, but the deep discography of the band ensures years of discovery. This song is both rock and hymnal.
Run-DMC “Christmas in Hollis”
My mom never made chicken and collard greens. Nor did I grow up in Queens. But at 9 years old “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World” were already over played. The perfect age to want something new, something your own, something your parents and grandparents hate. Thankfully the Kings of Rock provided. A tribute for Christmas to the only king they might rank higher.
The Jackson 5 “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
I hear your thoughts about Michael Jackson, and throw his dad in there too. Yes, this song is kind of odd when you really break it apart through a child’s eyes. Yet Christmas is about children and hearing a kid sing a song about Santa Claus and family and silliness should always have a spot on any play list.
The Temptations “Silent Night”
This is the re-recorded version, not the one off of the classic Motown Christmas album. There is just something about every part of this song that fills me with the Christmas spirit. The baritone, the harmonizing, the build, and for some reason the tag at the end. If music can be a blanket, then this final selection will always make me feel warm.