FIERCE PANDA’S SIMON WILLIAMS PRESENTS HIS TOP NINE CHRISTMAS SONG COUNTDOWN
'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'
The fierce panda label bloody hecking well loves a Christmas song, as evinced by seasonal efforts by The Crookes and The Raveonettes as well as Pullover's seminal take on 'Last Christmas' back in 1995. We're definitely hanging with the ghosts of Christmas past and future with Pesky!, a collection of 12 year old kids from Ulverston in Cumbria who play girl-fronted sugargaze indiepop with a fuzzily morose demeanour. Perfect then for a go at one of Phil Spector's classics, originally given some Yuletide love by Darlene Love before Pesky!’s grandparents were even born, quite probably.
8) GREG LAKE
'I Believe In Father Christmas'
Being a child of the fantabulous early '70s, the Christmas smash hits seemed to come around every, well, Christmas actually. Classics by Slade, John and Yoko, Elton John and The Wombles will all set the radio sleigh bells ringing on Capital Gold at some point over the next few weeks, but even Lennon's tongue-lashings struggle to compete with this lavish stabbing into the broken heart of festive cheer. All together now, "They sold me a dream of christmas / The sold me a silent night..."
7) THE MACCABEES
'Walking In The Air'
For gentlemen of a certain rage a cartoon of a snowman flying over Brighton at night time captures that essence rare about the entire Christmastime malarkey. Rather excellently I had no idea ex-panda kids The Maccabees had even ever half-whistled this song until I was cruising the world wide interweb looking to revisit Seafood's epic reworking of the very same tune and tripped over this taut, traumatised session version instead.
6) KINGS COLLEGE CHOIR
'Once In Royal David's City'
Hipster logic dictates that we should be choosing Sufjan Stevens' version of this hymn, or indeed Daniel O’Donnell’s, but some Yuletide happenings are sacred. My crazy old mother passed away three years ago but I still feel obliged to carry on the family tradition of tuning into ‘Carols From Kings’ on BBC2 on Christmas Eve, because when the choral soloist breaks into tentative song to start ‘Once In Royal David’s City’ is the precise moment Christmas really starts, not when Stowmarket Co-op rolls out the mince pies in the bleakness of mid-September.
5) THE WALKMEN
'In The New Year'
The needles are falling off the tree, the in-laws have headed back up north and so postprandial solace is to be found in this hollering, clanging, mighty Wurlitzering paean to fresh beginnings and false starts (see also: 'The New Year' by Death Cab For Cutie). Gentle people with giant memories may care to recall The Walkmen headline show at ULU in 2008 when the snow started falling - quite literally - outside on the hushed streets of Bloomsbury.
4) LOVE UNLIMITED
'It May Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It's Spring)'
In which Barry White's regular backing troupe bring a touch of soul to the panda office party with this sublimely Supremes-esque happy / sad / happy again pop gem from 1973. As one youtube comment puts it, "You don't get good female singers like this today, it's all shouting to rubbish music." Until Adele has a go at 'Christmas In Smurfland', at least...
3) FLEET FOXES
'White Winter Hymnal'
Ironically enough I originally played the Fleet Foxes' debut album to death on a family holiday on Skopelos (not, sadly, Mykonos) so I guess you kind of miss the sentiment of the song, not to mention the point of the chilling clay-mation of the video, while lolling around a Greek swimming pool in yer dad trunks. Christmas cover bonus points however for the frankly alarming version of 'White Winter Hymnal' by Kim Wilde and her family which lurks elsewhere online..
'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day'
Jeff Lynne may never have sunk so ELO as to shilly shally with any Christmas classics himself but his old Brummie mucker Roy Wood showed no such restraint with this glam blam blast of fake-snow-festooned exuberance. Throw in a demented video with Wizzard in terrifying fancy dress entertaining some utterly baffled Grange Hill-esque schoolkids and away you go, all the way up to number 4 in the charts ('Merry Xmas Everybody' was the Chrimbo number one in '73, natch).
1) THE FLAMING LIPS
'Christmas At The Zoo'
Few rock stars capture the innocent spirit of Santa as joyfully as Wayne Coyne: glitter, zorbs, animal costumes, the soul of Miley Cyrus...verily there is nothing that he won't wear on his head in the name of entertainment. What is great about 'Christmas At The Zoo' is that it appears on 'Clouds Taste Metallic', back when his band were generally seen, by me at least, as strung-out one hit weirdos, yet it is a fully formed family-friendly festive hoedown four full years before 'The Soft Bulletin' bullied the mainstream. This song mentions peacocks, llamas, snakes, seals, elephants, orangutans, birds, kangaroos and heaps and heaps and heaps of snow. What's not to like?
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On December 11th 2016 fierce panda releases its 100th album, which is a t-shirt which says “Every day is record store day.” And which comes with a free album. Full details at fiercepanda.co.uk.