But by way of clarification, in case you do go back to read part one and/or part two of this exclusive three-part series, I would like to mention that some of the songs my sister mentioned are included in today's list, and as it turns out, I actually do have Gene Autry singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on my iPod, and I've had it all along. I played it for Shae this morning and she literally squee'd. That one was a terrible oversight on my part; I totally should have included that version in with yesterday's Christmas Classics. I've never been wrong before. I don't know how I will managed to live with myself from here on out. I hope you're all happy. Harumph.
So. Today's list is basically made up of "modern" Christmas songs, by which I mean stuff that I am pretty sure I grew up listening to as a kid, plus a couple of other things that I would very much have enjoyed listening to as a kid, if I had acted like an actual child at the time, and not some kind of weird time-bandit hippie who spent more time than was strictly necessary listening to Carly Simon, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, and Carole King. (I supposed it goes without saying that I fell hard for R.E.M., the Ramones, and the Cure once I got to college.)
Still and all -- and I say this with an absolutely straight face -- I don't consider it Christmastime until I have listened to the songs on this list at least a couple of dozen times. Even some of the ones on the bottom half of the list, the ones that are so goofy and out there that they border on the sacrilegious.
And now I present to you my Top Ten Contemporary Christmas songs, basically in the order in which I prefer them (favorites on top) -- with a caveat. The first 5 songs are the "real" ones, and the bottom 5 are sort of "novelty" songs, but I assure you, I love each and every one of them essentially the same:
- "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir -- "A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one without any fear." What more could anyone wish anyone else for the holidays? Not even Yoko Ono wailing through the backing vocals can ruin this song. (There are, of course, other versions, but why would you want them?)
- "Someday at Christmas" by Stevie Wonder -- "Someday all our dreams will come to be, someday in a world where men are free, maybe not in time for you and me, but someday at Christmastime." When I hear the opening chords to this song, I start tearing up, and by the time we get to the end of the first verse, I am done for. There aren't many songs that make me start bawling just from writing out the lyrics, but this is one of them.
- "Give Love on Christmas Day" by the Jackson 5 -- "Every little child on Santa's knee has room for your love underneath his tree." One of the few songs in the world that I have never heard covered, and I would like to keep it that way. I honestly think of this song as the "All You Need Is Love" of the Christmas season. Practically perfect, just as it is.
- "Keep Christmas with You All Through the Year" from Merry Christmas from Sesame Street -- I can't even pick a favorite lyric. I love this whole song SO MUCH. This record came out in 1975. I wasn't even a year old then. My sisters and I used to listen to this record ALL THE TIME. The actual record. Like, vinyl record. I remember listening to this in July once, on purpose. I think this song should close every Christmas pageant everywhere ever. It would totally be the Grand Finale! of the BGDCFCPE.
- "Welcome Christmas" from How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- "Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we." Love love love. Doesn't need any fussing or messing around with. The Glee cast version is also very good, but you need to get that one from iTunes.
- "Father Christmas" by The Kinks -- "But remember the kids who got nothin' while you're drinking down your wine." Totally kick-ass, but also a kind of important reminder that maybe if you can, you should give a little bit of something to those who have even less than you do. Somebody out there might really need some tomato soup for Christmas, you know?
- "Swiss Colony Beef Log" from Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics -- "Swiss Colony beef log, baby, that's what Christmas is all about." This song makes me laugh so hard I cry. Cartman is such an obnoxious little shit, but sweet cracker sandwich, this song is SO AMAZING. Second choice for best lyric: "I [expletive] hate egg nog, seriously."
- "The Night Santa Went Crazy" by "Weird Al" Yankovic -- "From his beard to his boots, he was covered in ammo like a big fat drunk disgruntled Yuletide Rambo." I defy you to spend more than an hour or so at the mall in the next two weeks and then tell me that you don't feel exactly like Santa in this particular scenario. And I will also tell you that [SPOILER ALERT!] if the elves did go work for the USPS, it would significantly improve service at my local service center.
- "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses -- "When what to my wondering eyes should appear, no lie, it's that guy I've been chasing all year." OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I LOVE THIS SONG SO MUCH SHUT UP DON'T YOU JUDGE ME.
- "Last Christmas" by Wham! -- Another song where I can't pick a favorite lyric, because COME ON. This song is so corny that it came full around to being awesomesauce again. There has not yet been, nor will there ever be again, another Christmas song in all the lands and the seas that is so earnest and emo. Oh, George Michael. I really thought we had a chance, you and I. I really did.
Oh! And because I care about you guys, I wanted to include a bonus Hanukkah song, too: "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel," also from Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics. Shae came home from school yesterday singing the "original" dreidel song, and it was the most adorable thing ever. I thought instantly of this song, which is totally amazing because at one point there are like six different musical parts going on at once, and also because this song manages to be respectful and totally disrespectful all at the same time. You'll get it suck in your head for weeks, though, be warned.
Okay -- have at it in the comments. What did I forget this time? Let me know.