Cue the Pick of the Pops theme with overdubbed sleigh bells…
10. The line ‘The snowman brings the snow’ from Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Lucie Trombone on Twitter mentioned this recently, but it’s annoyed me for years. Because the snowman doesn’t bring the show, does he? He’s made of snow. He is snow. I mean, he might inadvertently bring some snow into your house, if he popped in to get a new carrot or something, but Roy Wood’s assertion introduces a whole ‘So who made God then?’ paradox, one that neither he nor the Stockland Green School choir fully explore.
Justin Lewis argues it’s a pun, and Wood means snowman as in ‘milkman’, ‘coalman’, etc. Well, maybe. But as with the ‘eggman/egg man’ gag in I Am the Walrus, I’m not sure it quite works.
Talking of jokes that don’t quite work:
9. The triple pun at the end of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody
It starts off so well with superb lines like ‘Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?’ and the bit about the granny, but then we get this:
Do you ride on down the hillside
In a buggy you have made?
When you land upon your head
Then you’ve been sleighed
Sleighed/slayed/Slade – geddit? Nope, I’m calling the joke police on this one. For a start, if you accidentally fall off a sleigh you haven’t been ‘slayed’. And ‘you’ve been sleighed/slayed/Slade’ isn’t even a phrase.
‘It’s Christmas’? It’s gobbledygook more like.
8. The implied threat in Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy
It’s this couplet:
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
The use of ‘made’ there. Chills the blood far more than Bing’s cardigan ever could.
7. The key change in Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone
In his excellent Popular blog (where he reviews every British #1 single in order), Tom Ewing writes: ‘Shaky for me is the sound of Christmas shopping, jingling on the Tannoy while you cross names off your list and look at the plastic reindeers in the shopping centre diorama. Still part of the experience, but never something you look forward to.’
I think he’s being a bit harsh there – amidst all the rotten 50s revivalists that cluttered the charts in the early/mid 80s, Shaky’s stuff always had a certain sparkle. My only complaint about his festive chart-topper is that key change, and I consulted Jason Hazeley for advice here – he tells me it goes from A major to B major. Meaning it’s a key change that literally takes Shaky from A to B. Probably with the aid of a wobbly Ford Capri gearstick.
6. The ‘OK, you lot – take it!’ bit from Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Roy’s second sin is his toecurling instruction to The Kids. The type of thing that could only put a great big smile on a UKIP voter’s face.
5. Andy Williams referring to ‘scary ghost stories’ in It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Like Slade, he starts off brilliantly:
There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
but then we get:
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago
Hmm. See, what you’ve done there, Andy, is you’ve mixed up Christmas…with Hallowe’en, haven’t you?
I mean, alright, he (or, more accurately, the song’s writers Edward Pola and George Wyle) could be talking about A Christmas Carol, but…it’s ‘stories’ plural. And in terms of high-octane scares, Dickens’ tale isn’t exactly The Howling III: The Marsupials.
Some of you will be yelling ‘M. R. James!’ at your screens. But try as I might, I can’t quite picture the Williams clan having an annual ritual where they settle down with Jonathan Miller’s production of Whistle and I’ll Come To You.
4. The word ‘faggot’ in Fairytale of New York
3. Boy George’s joyful ‘Oh-oh-oh’ bit in Do They Know It’s Christmas?
There are many offensive and terrible lyrics in this record: the ‘clanging chimes of doom’, the geographically illiterate claim that Africa has no rain, rivers or snow (maybe Roy Wood’s snowman could have brought some?), the repeated neo-imperial use of the third person, the strange line about ‘banishing shade’…but I can forgive most of it because it was written in a rush and Bob and Midge obviously had their hearts in the right place. It saved lives, which is more than this sneery blog has ever done.
But what’s very odd is Boy George’s soulful purring after (of all lines) ‘The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life’. He sounds really pleased about it. Bananarama were hungover as hell, but they’d never have dropped that kind of clanger.
2. The ‘satirical’ cash register at the start of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Because, like, Christmas is getting a bit, like, commercial, yeah?
Well, if you feel that way, don’t make a Christmas single. You just sound like Roger Waters in a santa hat.
Despite its many offences (it’s far too long as well), I still adore I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. That’s how brilliant it is. How many other records can you say that about?
1. The opening line of John and Yoko’s Merry Xmas (War Is Over)
So this is Christmas
And what have you DONE?
Yep, we’re going to start our Christmas single by telling you off.
Notice the horrible ‘So’ at the start too, like he’s a weary YouTube vlogger about to complain that there’s too many women in Star Wars. It gets worse, though:
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Which is right up there with Macca’s ‘ever-changing world in which we live in’.
And so this is Christmas…
I hope you have fun
Yeah, you too, you passive-aggressive twerps. Bet you spent Christmas in bed anyway.
Well, there you are – that’s my list. Please feel free send in your own suggestions. (Or ‘OK, you lot – take it!’ as Roy would say.) And remember: no matter how good or bad a Christmas record is, just be thankful it’s not this one: