The holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to bust out the holiday songs once again. Sure, you could play “All I Want For Christmas Is You” from now until New Year’s. If you shovel aside the usual radio hits and classic carols, though, there’s a trove of underplayed holiday songs to brighten your season from artists you probably didn’t even know sang holiday songs. Today is your lucky day because we did the shoveling already.
John Lennon had “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (1971), and you probably hear Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” (1979) just as often. In between those came George Harrison’s “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (Dark Horse, 1974). There’s precious little lyrical variety, but the beat and song structure make it memorable anyway, which sums up Dark Horse pretty succinctly, too.
“Fairytale of New York” might be a holiday song, but the sharp lyrics and style are pure Pogues, with the addition of Kristy Maccoll. It starts as a semisweet piece, equal parts ballad and pub song, about two lovers making the most of the time they have on Christmas Eve. But then that love turns sour, and now they resent each other. Not much of a happy holiday for the singers, but it still stands out as a highlight on If I Should Fall from Grace with God (1988).