Christmas Playlist 2011: All wrapped up

Christmas means many different things to many different people. For some it’s gifts, for some it’s chilling with the fam, for some it’s a time of worship. For me it’s […]

Christmas means many different things to many different people. For some it’s gifts, for some it’s chilling with the fam, for some it’s a time of worship. For me it’s all about the music. After a long, redundant year, the Christmas CDs can once again be hauled out of storage, dusted off and played to regain their former glory. Phil Spector is always first, naturally, with ‘A Very Ally Christmas’ (yay for classic 90s TV spin-off albums) coming a close second. However, there is always room for expansion. The genre of the Christmas song has indeed evolved over time. I mean, who would even buy a Christmas CD anymore? So, if like myself, you want take a few tentative steps away from the traditional, and welcome some new additions to your collection, here’s a roundup of this year’s best new festive offerings.


Justin Bieber, Under the Mistletoe


What better place to start than with the Bieber himself? Taking the only logical step after releasing a female perfume earlier this year, Bieber has released a full on Christmas album. Kerching.  The album is a mix of new material and Yuletide classics such as the saccharinely sweet ‘Silent Night’ and a Jackson 5-inspired ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’. He even ropes in a couple of friends for some light relief to help him on his way, including Boyz II Men.  Other collaborations don’t work quite so well. Sadly, his version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ with Busta Rhymes doesn’t even come close to that of epic duo Crosby and Bowie*(I blame the lack of round the piano chat), and Mariah Carey way out-divas the poor boy in ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’.  But, title track ‘Mistletoe’ with its Jason Mraz-meets-Jingle Bells feel would certainly be welcomed when decorating the Christmas tree. The only criticism: why did he get his hair cut for the video?


A perfect guilty pleasure if you like your Christmas songs with a modern twist. 3/5 jingle bells



The Killers, The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball


The 1980s were the glory days for rock bands and their Christmas songs. The likes of Wizzard and Slade led the way with their colourful costumes, vagabond beards and festive cheer. Today, that torch has been passed on to The Killers who are back this year with their sixth consecutive Christmas number (and some fine facial hair).  In 2009, The Killers teamed up with Mariachi el Bronx pushing the boundaries of the Christmas song with a crazy combination of guitarrón and jingle bells. “How can they top this?” I hear you ask. Well y’all, they only done and gone country! Based on a poem written in 1890 of the same name, the song recounts a visit to a town in Old Nevada to attend the cowboy soiree. It doesn’t actually sound much like a Christmas song. In fact, the only reference to any kind of Christmas festivities is in the phrase “Cowboy Christmas Ball”. But, it still has the energy of a good old festive hoe down, you’ll be singing that one phrase over and over again and all proceeds go towards the (RED) campaign.
They’re bringing country back. Yeeehaww! 4/5 jingle bells



TOWIE cast, Last Christmas


Calling all reality TV fans! If you thought your only reality TV Christmas song choice this year would be whatever drivel the X Factor contestants produced then think again. The cast of The Only Way is Essex have recorded a version of this Wham! classic all in the name of charity. Nearly-King of the Jungle Mark Wright is sadly absent but sister Jess lends her surprisingly good vocals to lead the gang assisted by crooner James ‘Arg’ Argent who appears to have gotten over the tragedy of his break up with Mark to continue on his quest to “bring back Dean Martin”. There’s not an overwhelming amount of participation from the rest of the cast, but the interjections of classic quotes from the series do add some humour and there’s no denying they look pretty reem in the video.


For those of you who like your Christmas reem. 3/5 jingle bells



She & Him, A Very She & Him Christmas


Listening to this record is as delightful as sitting in front of a roaring fire in your pyjamas, with a steaming cup of cocoa in hand, munching on freshly baked mince pies still warm from the oven that your Granny just made while the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle in the background. The indie dreamsters have kept it simple with a combination of guitars, ukuleles, piano and gentle harmonies to compliment the dulcet tones of Zooey Deschanel. The result has a retro Californian vibe that leaves you feeling as warm and fuzzy as a Starbucks eggnog latte. Simply delicious!


A smooth and take on some Christmas favourites. 5/5 jingle bells



Lady Gaga, White Christmas


If this was not a wholly unbiased critical analysis of a selected array of seasonal releases, I would say “screw the rest and buy this”. But, oh who cares, it’s Christmas! Screw the rest and buy this. We’ve had Beiber with his trendy modern interpretations, The Killers doing country, She & Him being dreamy and TOWIE, well, being enthusiastic.  But, being a traditionalist at heart, this gorgeous arrangement teamed with beautiful vocals really can do no wrong. This song really is classic Christmas music at its best. She even adds an extra verse about a lovely encounter with a snowman. Is there nothing this woman can’t do? Maybe we can get her to sort out Clarkson or those pensions?


A Christmas cracker. 5/5 jingle bells




Written by Anna McDonald, standing-room-only writer


Photo: ©