Tis the season to be jolly for Lovesongs247 listeners who celebrate Christmas but hopefully it’s a time when we will also spare a thought for those across the globe for whom this time of year might not be such a great occasion. We’ll be brightening up the season with some great festive tunes for your enjoyment.
Music associated with Christmas is thought to have its origins in 4th century Rome. Christmas carols in the English language first appear in a 1426 work of English chaplain John Awdlay, who lists twenty-five “caroles of Cristemas”. Many carols or festive songs feature lyrics whose subject matter range from the nativity of Jesus Christ, to gift giving and merrymaking, to cultural figure such as Santa Claus, among other topics.
The 1930s saw the emergence of festive songs which did not explicitly reference the Christian nature of the holiday, but rather the more secular traditional Western themes and customs associated with Christmas. Since the dawn of the rock era in the 1950’s some seasonal songs have had explicit romantic tones, only using Christmas as a setting. Today traditional carol cover versions by various artists have explored virtually all music genres. Here’s a look at some great seasonal songs which are among the top 50 rated Christmas tunes.
“Mary’s Boy Child” – Harry Belafonte
The only song to hit Christmas number one, twice for two different artists. The American calypso star’s 1956 recording is a slow and steady ultra-classy arrangement which was a massive hit and is still delivering the Christmas magic nearly sixty years on. Boney M’s 1978 disco version also topped the charts and retains its global popularity with its bouncy danceable rhythm.
“What Christmas Means to Me” – Stevie Wonder
“What Christmas Means to Me” is the name of several different Christmas songs, with the most covered version written by Allen Story, Anna Gordy Gaye and George Gordy. Stevie Wonder’s 1967 cover is embedded in that irresistible Motown sound and features a mellow harmonica solo from the music maestro. This is a Christmas cracker!
“River” – Joni Mitchell
Spare a thought for Joni Mitchell and those who are in a similar place, heartbroken and wanting to escape the Christmas merriment all around them. The song is set near Christmas rather than being about Christmas and was taken from her 1971 album Blue. “River” was never released as a single but became one of her most recorded songs with over 500 versions to date. Not a very jolly ride but this song is still beautiful and delicate.
“I Believe in Father Christmas” – Greg Lake
You’ll want check this one out. Although categorized as a Christmas song this was not the intention of English musician Greg Lake. He says the song is a protest at the increasing commercialisation of the festive season. This 1975 track is Christmas cynicism at its most tuneful. In all the merriment some food for thought.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey
The song has been described as one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon. Since its release in 1994 it has become established as a Christmas standard and continues to surge in popularity each holiday season. It topped the charts in several European countries, reached number 2 in the UK and Japan and had top ten positions in many other countries. London has just had its first taste of Carey’s four year old Christmas show and no surprise that the song has jumped to number 5 in the UK charts. This irresistible hit is the eleventh best selling single of all time.
Have a great time with family and friends during the festive period and even if you don’t celebrate Christmas continue to enjoy the great music we’ve got for you at Lovesongs247.